Romans 7

This devotional is written by Becky Charles.

Romans 7

Released from the law, bound to Christ
7 Do you not know, brothers and sisters – for I am speaking to those who know the law – that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.

4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

The law and sin
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognised as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.


In the creation story in Genesis there are two fruit trees in the middle of the garden- the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and many others besides. God tells Adam not to eat from the tree of knowledge because the fruit will kill him- great advice right? But somehow the thing he has been told not to do becomes more interesting than the much better option next to it- of eating from the tree of life and living forever. It's this deception that causes us to fall over in the moment- the thing we know we shouldn't do looks much more appealing, practical, and gives us a sense of control over our lives, when in fact the opposite is true.

Before following Jesus Paul had led a religious life centred around obeying rules, and he is writing to Christians who also grew up with this rule-centred approach. He tells them that through Jesus' justification of them on the cross they are free from that way of living and are instead able to live intimately with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Having a good set of instructions and attempting to follow them wasn't enough for Paul to live a good life, and he describes deep frustration and confusion that he couldn't control his behavior.

Our sense of being 'OK' in God doesn't come from our own performance but from being God's creation, God's loved and enjoyed person covered by Jesus. God is well aware of our struggles and loves us in them. Brother Lawrence, a monk famed for his intimacy with God, said that we should implore God's help in our lives, minute by minute, just as things happen. God is always with us, and we can ask God to assist and enable us in every situation.

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