Red light cameras. You know, I don’t really mean to run through the red light. However, the intersection is so large, and the yellow light is so short! The end result—click. There is the ticket in the mail. Surely this is the highest form of injustice, that someone (or something) is watching me, making sure I keep the written laws of my society.
But honestly, I am glad we have traffic lights. My commute to work would be much more difficult without them. I am really glad we have laws that bring a measure of order and function to our society. The law is a great thing for the law-keeper. It is more difficult for the one who is set on being a law-breaker. And that’s the problem—we all break the law.
The book of Romans has been called the greatest legal document in the history of mankind. It explains the function of the law in a way that highlights our need for the gospel. But to understand Romans chapter seven, we first need to review the first six chapters:
- Chapters 1-3 — every human being, without exception, is guilty before God and needs to be made right with Him.
- Chapter 4 — the only way to be justified and have our sins forgiven is by faith in the work of Christ.
- Chapter 5 — reveals the greater power of the grace of God in our lives: where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; when sin increased, grace increased all the more. Because of sin, death reigned, but now because of grace, life reigns.
- Chapter 6 — just as Jesus was raised from the dead and death has no power over him, we were buried with him and then raised with him to newness of life. Sin’s power over us is broken, so we must not let sin have power over our lives.
There is great freedom in being “dead”. In chapter seven, Paul shows us a dead man is no longer bound to the condemning power of the law. We used to be controlled by the sinful nature, and we bore fruit unto death. Now we are joined to Christ, and we bear fruit unto life.
Some mistakenly read this chapter as saying, “I want to do good, but I can’t” or “I don’t want to do evil, but I can’t help it.” But Paul is not saying that we have two natures fighting one another. Rather, he is saying that we were once “in Adam” and hopelessly bound in our sin; and now we are “in Christ” and set free from this bondage.
Nothing good lived in my “in Adam” self. But because of grace I died and was raised to my new position of “in Christ”. Now there is freedom, life and no condemnation in Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:1-2).
Because Christ died and rose again, I died, and I am now alive like never before. Grace and life now define my life. I am free to do what is right and have unhindered fellowship with the God who made me. I am dead to sin, and I am loving it!