Righteous Living and the Law

Romans 7:1-14

Jerry A. Collins




A significant transition for Ruth and me has been managing our new parental role in Chandler’s life. Parenting is essentially establishing boundaries for your children that provide enough appropriate freedom for them to roam and grow and appropriate restrictions to ensure that they will not ruin themselves in the process. However, there comes a time when children must be released to establish their own boundaries. Our parental authority shifts away from boundary making toward a discipling relationship. He essentially is no longer under our authority. He is in a sense set free from that and so we as his parents must learn now how to manage our relationship with him in light of this change. So, too, as believers we have come under a new authority in our lives. In Romans six we have become dead to sin because of our vital union now with Jesus Christ. But in addition to that, we are no longer under the authority of the Law, particularly the Law of Moses, the authority of the Old Testament chp 7. However, while we are no longer slaves of sin, we are warned that we can still yield to sin and become slaves again chp 6. In chp 7, it is explained that we are no longer under obligation to keep the Law but warned that we can become enslaved to our flesh if we place ourselves back underneath this law. So let’s learn first what our relationship to the Law really is in Christ.


A. Law has jurisdiction as long as you are alive vs 1. After death law irrelevant. No longer pay taxes; get tickets; vote. Anticipating argument of jurisdiction of law over lives that have died with Christ and similarly law has no authority over us.

B. A marriage illustrates freedom from the law 2-3. A married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive. But in the event of his death she is discharged from this marriage. She is bound to him by marriage as her husband while he lives and freed from the law of marriage at his death. However, If a wife marries another man while her husband is still alive she is an adulteress. Death of her husband frees her from that marriage and free to marry again is not guilty of adultery. Therefore, the so called exception clause of Matt 5:32 & 19:9 cannot mean we can divorce and remarry without sin of adultery.

C. Application of marriage to believer and the Law 4-6. (1) In Christ we have died to the Law 4. Because of our death with Christ, we are free from the marriage to the law and brot into a new marriage with Christ. So when we were saved we died with Christ on the cross. When He died He was no longer under law and since we died with Him we also are no longer under the Law. Since we are freed from the Law we are free to belong to Christ. We cannot have two masters but since we now have none we can choose to make Christ our master.  (2) The purpose is to bear fruit of this new union 4b. Now married to Christ we can produce a new kind of product—holy living—a spiritual kind of fruit—new life. (3) Illustration of past fruit 5. If you try to become sanctified by law-keeping, you are going to have the same problem you did before you were saved—that is you will only produce death which is only thing sin can produce (5:15,17,21, 6:16,21,23, 7:10-11,13, 8:2,6,10, 13). The reason was because in our flesh, our human nature, the Law aroused sinful passions by prohibiting them. The same thing happens even to believers because we still have sin at work within us. (4) Production of present fruit 6.  Like a widow released from her marital obligations so we are released from the law and its arousal of sin. Both sin’s power and law’s authority have been broken in our lives. While we can still engage those powers if we choose to do so, we are now free to serve by means of this new source of life within us—the HS chp. 8. We have been regenerated—given new life. Even tho we are released from the older letter and bound to the newer more recent law of Christ, the Old law held at least 2 advantages: 1. It points out sin which is itself of no value but its valuable because it reveals the character of God. It describes the heart of God to us. He is not a God of lies, chaos, but order, righteousness, dignity, holiness, truth, justice and so on. 2. It produces in me the fear of God which is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom because it keeps me from sin Eze 20:18-20. I know that God will judge violations. So, too, the Law of Christ, Christ’s commandments, teach me the same and even more of God’s character and fear of Him. Law-keeping promotes pride because I make Christ’s laws keepable. Christ’s commands are  unkeepable and promote humility and develop dependency upon God for the power to keep them.


A. The problem: Is the law sin? 7a The law arouses sin in us but that does not mean the Law is sin. But why? The answer lies in the function of the law.

(1) The law defines sin 7b. By means of the Law I came to know of sin. For instance, I would not have recognized coveting as sin without the Law. So the demands of Law make me consciously aware of sin. And who is not guilty of this one?

(2) The Law provokes sin 8. Whenever someone establishes a law prohibiting something, the natural tendency of people is to resist it. We can create desires within others that to do something that was not there before. In this case all kinds of coveting is now being produced within me. So without a law sin is dormant or inactive but not impotent. It can spring to life at any moment given opportunity.

(3) The law is instrument of death not life 9-11. A. (9) Like Paul, there may be a time when in your personal experience there is no awareness of God’s commandments, unaware of its true demands but when, at conversion for instance, coveting is known to be sin, you now have a problem you did not have before. Sin becomes alive within you, it’s presence springs to life and the result is only death, under the sentence of its judgments and the consequences you must live with. B. (10) This commandment was given to help people see how to live but actually resulted in death dealing consequences of sin. C. (11) Sin personified as playing part of tempter. It deceived him—led him astray and it also put him to death spiritually. His sinful nature urged him to do the very thing the commandment prohibited.

(4) Conclusion: The Law is holy 12. Both the law and the commandment, which are part of the law, are holy because it brings into the open the power of sin. But it is also righteous and good because it reflects the mind of God when I look to the spirit in which it was given—to reveal God’s character and produce fear of God to keep me from violating it.

1.  Law keeping cannot save you and neither can it sanctify you. We need the same grace in sanctification that we were given in justification. Because while we are free from the power of sin and the authority of Law, we still struggle with sin making grace necessary.

2. Righteousnes does not come thru law but thru faith.

3. We as sons of God have a new relationship