ROMANS 7: THE LAST REFUGE FOR SIN EXPOSED-BROTHER MICAH ARMSTRONG

 

Usually when preaching and talking to sinners and professing Christians about God’s command to repent from sin (Acts 17:30-31) and command to live a holy, sin free obedient life (Hebrews 12:14, 1 Peter 1:15-16, 1 Thessalonians 4:7) they will bring up Romans 7.  It is a shame people will use God’s holy Word that commands holiness as an excuse to sin and Romans 7 has been used as one of the biggest excuses. 

 

The purpose of this tract is to show the Apostle Paul was not talking about his experience after he was converted in Romans 7 but is writing about his experience before he was converted.  Paul grew up as a religious Jew under Jewish law. 

 

First in Romans 6 Paul makes it abundantly plain the Christian is to be dead to sin and free from sin. 

Romans 6:2-How shall we that are DEAD TO SIN LIVE ANY LONGER THEREIN? 

Romans 6:6-Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed, THAT HENCEFORTH WE SHOULD NOT SERVE SIN.

Romans 6:7-For he that is dead is FREED FROM SIN.

Romans 6:11-Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be DEAD INDEED UNTO SIN, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:12-LET NOT SIN THEREFORE REIGN IN YOUR MORTAL BODY, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

Romans 6:13-NEITHER YIELD YE YOUR MEMBERS AS INSTRUMENTS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS UNTO SIN:

Romans 6:14-FOR SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU: for ye are not under the law but under grace.

Romans 6:15-What then?  SHALL WE SIN, BECAUSE WE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW BUT UNDER GRACE?  GOD FORBID. 

Romans 6:16-Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, WHETHER OF SIN UNTO DEATH or of obedience unto righteousness.

Romans 6:17-But God be thanked, that YE WERE THE SERVANTS OF SIN, but have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 

Romans 6:18-BEING THEN MADE FREE FROM SIN, ye became the servants of righteousness. 

Romans 6:22-But now BEING MADE FREE FROM SIN, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. 

 

The whole subject of Romans 6 is once grace has been received the believer is to be dead to sin, free from sin’s power, live in victory over sin, and have dominion over sin. 

 

In Romans 8 Paul makes it abundantly clear the believer who walks in the Spirit will not walk in the flesh and will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh which is sin (Galatians 5:16-25). 

 

Romans 8:1-There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT.

 

Galatians 5:16-This I say then WALK  IN THE SPIRIT AND YOU SHALL NOT FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH.  If we are walking in the Spirit we are not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. 

 

Romans 8:2-For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. 

 

For someone to use Romans 7 as an excuse to sin you would have to make Paul contradict everything he wrote in Romans 6 and Romans 8.  Either the Bible contradicts itself or people are taking Romans 7 out of context. 

 

After Paul finishes Romans 6 he gives a brief analogy in Romans 7:1-3 of the believer’s relationship to the law and to Jesus Christ.  He gives an example of a woman married to an husband.  As long as the husband is alive she is married to the husband.  She is bound to her husband as long as he lives.  However once the husband is dead she is free from being married to her husband.  He uses this example to compare the believers relationship with the law and with Christ.  Before a person is in Christ they are under the law.  Once the person is in Christ they are married to Christ and no longer under the law.  In the example the dead husband represents the law, the living husband represents Jesus Christ and the believer is represented by the wife (Romans 7:4).   

 

This example introduces the subject of the remainder of Romans 7.  It is the person before Christ and still under the law.  This is very clear as the chapter continues. 

 

Romans 7:4-Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that ye should bring forth fruit unto God.

 

Now the believer is dead to the law and married to Christ.  Now that we are married to Christ we are to bring forth fruit unto God.  We are to no longer bring forth the “fruit unto death” talked about in the next verse when we were “in the flesh”. 

 

Romans 7:5-For WHEN WE WERE IN THE FLESH, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth FRUIT UNTO DEATH. 

 

Here Paul is clearly talking about his past life in the flesh.  Paul makes it clear in Romans 8:8-9-SO THEN THEY THAT ARE IN THE FLESH CANNNOT PLEASE GOD.  BUT YE ARE NOT IN THE FLESH, BUT IN THE SPIRIT, IF SO BE THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLETH IN YOU. 

 

 

If someone is born again the Spirit of God dwells in them and they are no longer “in the flesh”.

 

Paul shows us a contrast of those “in the flesh” who mind or obey the things of the flesh versus those “in the Spirit” who mind or obey the things of the Spirit of God. 

 

Romans 8:5-For THEY THAT ARE AFTER THE FLESH DO MIND THE THINGS OF THE FLESH; but THEY THAT ARE AFTER THE SPIRIT THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT. 

 

He finishes verse 5 talking about those in the flesh “bring forth fruit unto death”.  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and everyone knows that means eternal separation from God.  Romans 8:6-FOR TO BE CARNALLY MINDED IS DEATH but to be spiritually minded is LIFE AND PEACE.  Another way of saying someone is in the flesh is they are carnal.  They are not governed by the Holy Spirit of God but rather by their senses.  They are governed by their bodily appetites and not the Spirit of God.  Some try to teach there is such a thing as carnal Christians but not according to the Bible. 

 

Romans 8:7-BECAUSE THE CARNAL MIND IS ENMITY AGAINST GOD FOR IT IS NOT SUBJECT TO THE LAW OF GOD NEITHER INDEED CAN BE.  The carnal person is at enmity against God and is not in subjection to God’s law to love Him and his neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40) as the Bible commands.

 

To be carnally minded is death (Romans 8:6).  The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  The man in the flesh brought forth fruit unto death (Romans 7:5).  The carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:7). So here Paul is not talking about his post conversion experience but rather his pre conversion experience before Christ “in the flesh” and bringing forth “fruit unto death”. 

 

Romans 7:6-BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, that BEING DEAD wherein we WERE HELD; that we should SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT, AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER. 

 

Now Paul is contrasting his present life no longer under the law (Romans 8:2), and dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1, Romans 8:6, 13) with his new life in the Spirit (Romans 8:2), walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), and free from sin (Romans 6:18, 22, Romans 8:2). 

 

Romans 8:1-There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who not after the flesh but after the Spirit. 

 

There is no condemnation only to those who are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.  If you are walking in the Spirit you are not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. 

 

Romans 8:2-For the LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS HAS MADE ME FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. 

 

Romans 7:6-BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, that BEING DEAD wherein we WERE HELD; that we should SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT, AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER. 

 

Paul is talking about the same life in the Spirit in Romans 7:6 that he is talking about in 8:2.

 

Romans 7:7-What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?  God forbid.  Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  

 

If Paul was writing about his post conversion experience then why would he be saying above he did not even know what sin was.  How could the great apostle Paul not know what sin was as a mature Christian? 

 

Paul was writing about his preconversion experience as a Jew growing up under Jewish law.  If anyone was self righteous enough, disciplined enough, and moral enough to earn salvation through keeping the law it would have been the Apostle Paul.  Yet Paul growing up as the Pharisee of Pharisees and touching the righteousness which is of the law blameless  (Phillipians 3:5-6) he was convicted of his self centered covetous lifestyle by the law. 

 

Romans 7:8-But sin, taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence.  For without the law sin was dead. 

 

The law was holy, just and good (Romans 7:12) as Paul later points out.  The problem is not with the law.  It should be obeyed.  It shows man his sin, it shows man the holiness of God, and it shows man his need of a Savior.  That is the purpose of the law and the subject of Romans 7.  You cannot be saved by keeping the law and you need a Savior. 

 

The law showed Paul his sinfulness.  Paul seemed to be very moral and righteous but the law exposed his self centered lifestyle. 

 

Romans 7:9-For I was alive without the law once but when the commandment came sin revived and I died. 

 

The law showed Paul his sin.  Paul thought he was pleasing God until the law exposed his sin. 

 

Romans 7:10-And the commandment which was ordained to life I found to be unto death. 

 

That which was holy and just and good was the means of showing Paul the religious, moral self righteous Pharisee of Pharisees how far short he fell of God’s standard. 

 

Romans 7:11-For sin taking occasion by the commandment deceived me and by it slew me. 

Romans 7:12-Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 

 

As an unconverted Jew Paul does not speak evil of the law.  He holds it in high esteem.  He reveres it.  It is just and good. He does not treat it with disdain as many claim all unsaved people will do.  He admitted it should have been obeyed but he had not the grace to obey it with the heart (Romans 6:17), only from an outward, legal standpoint. 

 

Romans 7:13-Was then that which is good made death unto me?  God forbid.  But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good;  That sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

 

Now we come to a very important point. This may be the most important verse in understanding Romans 7. 

 

Romans 7:14-For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 

 

Paul now says in the present tense “I am carnal”.  To be carnal means you are governed by the senses and not governed by the Spirit of God. 

 

You cannot be free of condemnation if you are not walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:1).  You are fulfilling the lusts of the flesh and not walking in the Spirit if you are carnal (Galatians 5:16, Romans 8:2).  You cannot even be a child of God unless you are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14). 

 

“I am carnal”.  To be carnally minded is death (Romans 8:6) and the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) which means to be eternally separated from God.  The carnal mind (one who is governed by the flesh and not the Spirit of God-Romans 8:5) is enmity against God (Romans 8:7).  You cannot be against God and a loving follower of God at the same time.  The carnal mind is not in subjection (obedience) to God’s law (Romans 8:7) so one who is carnal does not love God (John 14:15). If you do not love God you are against Him according to the words of Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:24). 

 

Then Paul says in the last part of verse 14 “sold under sin”.  How can one be sold under sin and redeemed from sin at the same time?  To be redeemed means to be bought back from.  Bought back from under the slavery of sin.  The New Testament repeatedly makes references to the believer being bought back from sin (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:23, Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, 1 Peter 1:18-19) and redeemed from sin.  You cannot be sold under sin and redeemed from sin at the same time. 

 

Now we have a picture of an unregenerate man, a religious Jew who has strived to please God by keeping the law but realizes he cannot. 

 

Romans 7:15-For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

 

This is not the testimony of one who has been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) because “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). 

 

The grace that saves from sin does not just give us forgiveness for the penalty of sin but also victory over the power of sin.  If there is no victory over the power of sin then there is no forgiveness for the penalty of sin (John 8:32, 34, 36, Romans 6:16, 18, 22). It is the power to keep the law from a right motive from the heart (Romans 6:14-17).

 

Romans 6:14-For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 

 

Grace is power over sin to live a holy, righteous, and godly life. 

 

The Apostle Paul is the author of 1 Thessalonians.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:10 Paul says “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe”. 

 

Paul says with God as his witness his behavior, lifestyle, and actions before God were holy, just and unblameable.  He wrote this under divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost. 

 

Paul was not going around sinning every day in word, thought and deed. 

 

Paul also stated in Acts 24:16-Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men.

 

Romans 7:16-If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

Romans 7:17-Now then it is no more I that do it but sin that dwelleth in me. 

 

Paul is not denying any responsibility here.  He is acknowledging that as a person of their own free will continues to give themselves over to self gratification eventually that self gratification takes hold of them and holds them captive and they become a slave to it. 

 

Romans 7:18-For I know that in me (that is in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:19-For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Romans 7:20-Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 

Romans 7:21-I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 

 

Although Paul acknowledges the law is good and should be obeyed he is describing the state of the unregenerate man using himself as an example before he was saved.  The unregenerate man has repeatedly given himself over to gratify himself (carnal mind) and is now a slave to his selfishness.  Often when unregenerate (unsaved) people see God’s holy law they will make an attempt to please God by self reformation and obeying the law outwardly.  This is the condition Paul is describing. 

 

Romans 7:22-For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 

 

Once again as an unregenerate Jew Paul had a high regard for God’s holy law. 

 

Romans 7:23-But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 

Romans 7:24-O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from the body of this death. 

 

Paul realizes despite his best efforts to please God by keeping the law he is still a slave of sin. 

 

John 8:34-Whosoever commiteth sin is the servant of sin.

 

Matthew 6:24-No man can serve two masters:

 

Romans 6:16-Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death or of obedience unto righteousness. 

 

If we are committing sin we are serving sin and not Jesus. We cannot serve two masters and regardless of what someone says they are serving the one they obey. 

 

Romans 6:6-Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. 

 

Paul cries out for deliverance from the “body of this death” in Romans 7:24 but in Romans 6:6 he shows us the Lord Jesus provided this deliverance and providing freedom from sin. 

 

Romans 7:25-I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. 

 

In verse 24 Paul asks who will deliver him and in verse 25 he gives the answer.  Jesus Christ the Savior from sinning (Matthew 1:21, John 1:29, Acts 3:26, Galatians 1:4, Titus 2:14, 1 John 3:5). 

 

In the last part of verse 25 Paul summarizes the experience he has been describing in verses 5 and 7-24 before moving into the freedom and deliverance of a Spirit led, Spirit governed lifestyle in Romans 8. 

 

Romans 8:1-THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION TO THEM WHICH ARE IN CHRIST WHO WALK NOT AFTER THE FLESH BUT AFTER THE SPIRIT. 

 

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “ROMANS 7: THE LAST REFUGE FOR SIN EXPOSED-BROTHER MICAH ARMSTRONG

  1. I think I lost my Finis Jenning Dake Bible somewhere in Utah, but I believe this is what it said also.

  2. Brother Kenneth

    Brother Micah:

    Not sure how you reached this conclusion but I think that your position that Paul is talking personally about his own experience as Pharisee before his conversion or the alternative view that Paul is talking rhetorically about an ideal Torah observant Jew, the one that I personally am more compelled to support, are the only views that have been offered that make any sense if we are properly understanding Chapters 6 and 8. I prefer the latter view because in my opinion it better makes sense of Chapters 1-3 where he shows that Gentiles, apart from the law and Jews, despite the law are equally condemned in their sins and are equally in need of God’s grace. Whether you are right or me this time is not really all that important. The most important thing to understand is that freedom from sin is empirical evidence of genuine conversion, and that the Spirit filled life is necessary to remain free from sin. Chapter 7 dispels the notion that we are justified by our actions. It is in harmony with the overall argument of Galatians that trusting in the law is antithetical to walking in the Spirit. The question, then, as you well know, is not is it possible for a Christian to live free from sin but rather, can one remain in sin and be considered a believer. I John Chapter 3 is a clear answer to that. And you know as much as any what the verdict is.

  3. I agree with your writing brother Micah. Thnk u for this teaching.

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