Romans 7:1-6

As long as he lives. If her husband dies. You also died to the law. Sins aroused by the law. The new law: life of the Spirit.

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"1Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives? (Romans 7:1)
Paul is implying that the law should no longer rule over you, the recipients of this verse. How is this possible? It is because you "died with Christ (Romans 6:8)" and "were buried with him through baptism into death (Romans 6:4)." This truth should be well known and accepted by those who have a strong faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yet, if you look at the majority of Christian teaching today and in the past, the law still rules over the masses of believers. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. Though the law may have led some to Christ, it still has a firm grip on them.


2For a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage. 3So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress. (Romans 7:2-3)

Paul is using a real world example, especially in the context of Jewish law, to teach us how a believer can be released from the law: If a married woman’s husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage so she can belong to another.


4So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)

In the preceding example, where the husband dies, it is Christ’s death in verse 4 that frees you from the law so that you can be joined to another, namely Jesus Christ.

Let me put it another way. You cannot belong to Christ if you are still under the law. Isn’t that a terrifying thought? Many people believe that by following the law, they can gain access to God, but this is not the case. Consider Romans 7:10, which we discussed previously:

So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death! (Romans 7:10)

The law is doing what it did to Adam and Eve when they first learned about it.

Last but not least, Galatians 5:4 should frighten those who insist on committing adultery with their old husband the law:

You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace! (Galatians 5:4)

All kinds of sin can be forgiven, but this one cannot: attempting to be declared righteous by the law.


5For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (Romans 7:5)

The law, while useful in revealing man’s sinful condition, does not prevent sin from occurring. On the contrary, it awakens their sinful desires and produces “fruit for death” rather than “fruit of the Spirit.”


6But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. (Romans 7:6)

Do you truly desire to serve God? Verse 6 explains how: you must die to the law. People who want to serve God by obeying the law produce dead fruit.

So, how do you serve God in your “new life in the Spirit?” Faith is opposed to works in the same way that the Spirit is opposed to the law-inspired flesh. In John 6, after witnessing Jesus perform the miracle with a few loaves of bread and fishes, the people became very interested in learning what God’s will is for them. They inquired of Jesus:

28… “What must we do to accomplish the deeds God requires?” 29Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires - to believe in the one whom he sent.” (John 6:28-29)

Do you believe that simply believing in Jesus is sufficient? Or do you believe it must be demonstrated through good works? Paul responds emphatically, “No.” He stated:

4Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5)

Jesus promises that those who abide in him will bear much fruit, which we might call works, but these works are born of God and from God, so no one should boast about themselves. And if the fruits, or works, are born of God, they cannot be inspired by the law, because the law, as stated in verse 5 above, only produces fruit for death.

The prophet Jeremiah predicted that our new life-of-the-Spirit relationship with God would be different from the Old Covenant:

31“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the LORD. 33“But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the LORD. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. 34People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the LORD. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

This is what it means to serve God in the new way, the way of the Spirit’s life as opposed to the old way of the written code as expressed in a plethora of rules and regulations: do this and thou shalt.

Nghi Nguyen

- Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This is my own opinion on the topic, which does not necessarily reflect the church's theology, or beliefs of the individuals in it — Nghi Nguyen

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