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7. Struggling With Sin

1Or are ye ignorant, brethren (for I speak to men who know the law), that the law hath dominion over a man for so long time as he liveth? 2For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. 3So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man. 4Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God. 5For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were through the law, wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 6But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter. 7What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Howbeit, I had not known sin, except through the law: for I had not known coveting, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet: 8but sin, finding occasion, wrought in me through the commandment all manner of coveting: for apart from the law sin is dead. 9And I was alive apart from the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died; 10and the commandment, which was unto life, this I found to be unto death: 11for sin, finding occasion, through the commandment beguiled me, and through it slew me. 12So that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and righteous, and good. 13Did then that which is good become death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; --that through the commandment sin might become exceeding sinful. 14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practise; but what I hate, that I do. 16But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. 18For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good is not. 19For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise. 20But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me. 21I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

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4. Wherefore … ye also are become dead—rather, "were slain."

to the law by the body of Christ—through His slain body. The apostle here departs from his usual word "died," using the more expressive phrase "were slain," to make it clear that he meant their being "crucified with Christ" (as expressed in Ro 6:3-6, and Ga 2:20).

that ye should be married to another, even to him that is—"was."

raised from the dead—to the intent.

that we should bring forth fruit unto God—It has been thought that the apostle should here have said that "the law died to us," not "we to the law," but that purposely inverted the figure, to avoid the harshness to Jewish ears of the death of the law [Chrysostom, Calvin, Hodge, Philippi, &c.]. But this is to mistake the apostle's design in employing this figure, which was merely to illustrate the general principle that "death dissolves legal obligation." It was essential to his argument that we, not the law, should be the dying party, since it is we that are "crucified with Christ," and not the law. This death dissolves our marriage obligation to the law, leaving us at liberty to contract a new relation—to be joined to the Risen One, in order to spiritual fruitfulness, to the glory of God [Beza, Olshausen, Meyer, Alford, &c.]. The confusion, then, is in the expositors, not the text; and it has arisen from not observing that, like Jesus Himself, believers are here viewed as having a double life—the old sin-condemned life, which they lay down with Christ, and the new life of acceptance and holiness to which they rise with their Surety and Head; and all the issues of this new life, in Christian obedience, are regarded as the "fruit" of this blessed union to the Risen One. How such holy fruitfulness was impossible before our union to Christ, is next declared.

5. For when we were in the flesh—in our unregenerate state, as we came into the world. See on Joh 3:6 and Ro 8:5-9.

the motions—"passions" (Margin), "affections" (as in Ga 5:24), or "stirrings."

of sins—that is, "prompting to the commission of sins."

which were by the law—by occasion of the law, which fretted, irritated our inward corruption by its prohibitions. See on Ro 7:7-9.

did work in our members—the members of the body, as the instruments by which these inward stirrings find vent in action, and become facts of the life. See on Ro 6:6.

to bring forth fruit unto death—death in the sense of Ro 6:21. Thus hopeless is all holy fruit before union to Christ.

6. But now—On the same expression, see on Ro 6:22, and compare Jas 1:15.

we are delivered from the law—The word is the same which, in Ro 6:6 and elsewhere, is rendered "destroyed," and is but another way of saying (as in Ro 7:4) that "we were slain to the law by the body of Christ"; language which, though harsh to the ear, is designed and fitted to impress upon the reader the violence of that death of the Cross, by which, as by a deadly wrench, we are "delivered from the law."

that being dead wherein we were held—It is now universally agreed that the true reading here is, "being dead to that wherein we were held." The received reading has no authority whatever, and is inconsistent with the strain of the argument; for the death spoken of, as we have seen, is not the law's, but ours, through union with the crucified Saviour.

that we should—"so as to" or "so that we."

serve in newness of spirit—"in the newness of the spirit."

and not in the oldness of the letter—not in our old way of literal, mechanical obedience to the divine law, as a set of external rules of conduct, and without any reference to the state of our hearts; but in that new way of spiritual obedience which, through union to the risen Saviour, we have learned to render (compare Ro 2:29; 2Co 3:6).