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Deacon Alfred Sturges’ Christmas Challenge: Romans 7
Released From the Law, Bound to Christ
Thanks for stopping by. Hope this challenge is drawing your nearer to Our Lord, Jesus Christ. And if you’re just coming by today, that’s fine, too. Here’s Romans 7 and a special guest post reflection below, from an author whom I deeply admire.
Romans 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 recognized 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.
It’s pretty clear what Paul is writing about in Romans 7. We all have sins that make us a prisoner of the law of sin. Just as I was wondering what to write, I opened my email and found a reflection from a friend. It really fits well with what Paul is saying about Sin and the Law and the Gospel being the power of God to rescue us. Below is Author Rich Maffeo’s reflection from one of his books and a link to the book as well. I’ve been a friend and a fan of Rich Maffeo for many years. Enjoy the read and feel free to offer your thoughts on Romans 7.
From Rich Maffeo’s Book, Lessons Along the Journey.
When I was four, my family lived near the Atlantic Ocean. “Close enough to enjoy the water,” my mother used to say, “but far enough that we don’t have sand in the house.”
One afternoon my father brought me to the beach to escape the blistering summer heat of our apartment. I still remember splashing in the water, squealing as the gentle waves surged and ebbed around me.
I suppose he was only a short distance away when he turned his back for a moment. But during that moment, a wave knocked me off balance and plunged my face beneath the water. Frantic, I fought to regain my footing as each successive swell threw me under again and again. Panic grew into terror as the current swept me deeper beneath the waves.
Then, from nowhere, strong arms suddenly pulled me free. Within moments, I found myself safely on the warm sand. The lifeguard had come to my rescue.
“Hey! What are you doing?” My father ran toward us, shouting angrily at the man who saved me. “I was watching him. He was okay.” Then he looked at me. “You were okay, weren’t you?”
I remember it was more a command than a question. Embarrassed and confused, what could I say? I stared at my feet and whispered, “Uh‑huh.”
Vindicated, my father led me back to our beach blanket. I didn’t feel like going into the water any more that day.
Years passed, and I discovered different waters in which to revel. Swept along by swells of ideas and temptations, I drifted from one immoral or rebellious pleasure to another. Life ebbed and flowed gently around me.
Then a wave knocked me off balance.
I fought to regain my footing, but each attempt met powerful and successive waves that pulled me deeper toward sin, desperation, and finally, despondency. I knew intuitively that my future promised little more than ever-increasing bondage to those very things I once thought gave me freedom. I knew I could no more stop doing what I knew to be wrong than I could prevent the ocean’s currents. But oh, how I longed for forgiveness, cleansing — and rescue. In despair, I cried out to the One I had for so long ignored, and begged Him to deliver me from myself.
I still remember His rescue. The Holy Spirit led me to friends who told me of God’s promise of salvation and the power to change direction. All I needed to do was ask God for mercy.
Suddenly, from nowhere, strong arms pulled me free from sin’s grip. Overwhelming guilt and fear gave way to assurance and peace. I’d been rescued. Lifted onto the Rock. Oh, how glorious was the sense of freedom, to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
But within days, friends and family rushed to my side. “You were okay, weren’t you? You weren’t really in trouble . . . .”
What could I say? What would I say?
It’s not surprising when pressure from friends or parents prevent a child from choosing right over wrong. But how should an adult react in the face of truth? Despite my self-assured façade, I desperately needed help, and the Lord Jesus so graciously reached down to rescue me.
What could I say? The choice could not have been clearer. It was time to put away childish things. It was time to shoulder my responsibility and admit that the gospel is the power of God to rescue from sin’s bondage everyone who turns to Christ (Romans 1:16).
Could I — could anyone — say less?
If you’d like to purchase Rich Maffeo’s book, Lessons along the Journey, click here. Or if you’d like further info about Rich Maffeo’s inspirational books, click here. I have read all of his books and have thoroughly enjoyed each one.