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Chapter 9: The Meaning and Value of Romans Seven

We must return now to our study of Romans. We broke off at the end of chapter 6 in order to consider two related subjects, namely, God’s eternal purpose, which is the motive and goal of our walk with Him, and the Holy Spirit, who supplies the power and resource to bring us to that goal. We come now to Romans 7, a chapter which many have felt to be almost superfluous. Perhaps indeed it would be so if Christians really saw that the old creation has been ruled out by the Cross of Christ, and an entirely new creation brought in by His resurrection. If we have come to the point where we really ‘know’ that, and ‘reckon’ on that, and ‘present ourselves’ on the basis of that, then perhaps we have no need of Romans 7.

Others have felt that the chapter is in the wrong place. They would have put it between the fifth and sixth chapters. After chapter 6 all is so perfect, so straightforward; and then comes breakdown and the cry, “O wretched man that I am!” Could anything be more of an anticlimax? And so some have argued that Paul is speaking here of his unregenerate experience. Well, we must admit that some of what he describes here is not a Christian experience, but none the less many Christians do experience it. What then is the teaching of this chapter?

Romans 6 deals with freedom from sin. Romans 7 deals with freedom from the Law. In chapter 6 Paul has told us how we could be delivered from sin, and we concluded that this was all that was required. Chapter 7 now teaches that deliverance from sin is not enough, but that we also need to know deliverance from the Law. If we are not fully emancipated from the Law we can never know full emancipation from sin. But what is the difference between deliverance from sin and deliverance from the Law? We all see the value of the former, but where is the need for the latter? Well, to appreciate this we must first understand what the Law is and what it does.

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