Contextual Study on Romans 7

The following is a contextual study on Romans chapter 7. Please read through Romans chapter 6 and 7 at least 7 times prayerfully. Ask yourself (or write down) questions and see the answers in the verse:


Rom 6:7 "For he that is dead is freed from sin"

Q) What does it mean to be dead?

A) To be free from sin

Have a look at the example of Romans 7 below and follow it.

Rom 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

Study Notes:

Who are Paul’s brethren?

- Those who know the law

Who is He speaking to?

- Those who know the law = the Jews

What kind of Jewish people?

- Those who specialize in or know the law
- Like the Pharisees and the Sadducees

How long does the law have dominion over a man?

- As long as he lives
- Therefore the law does not have dominion over a man when he is dead

Rom 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

Study Notes:

How long is a woman bound to her husband?

- As long as he lives

What law is this?

- The law of marriage

How does Paul describe their union?

- Bound

What does the word bound refer to?

- Under dominion
- She is ruled by her husband

What happens when the husband dies?

- She is loosed from the law of her husband
- She is loosed from the law of marriage

These two examples expound two things:

- Bound to the husband
- But when there is death there comes about freedom

Rom 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Study notes:

So then, if she is married to another man while her husband is alive what is she called?

- An adulteress

But if her husband is dead and she is married to another man what is she free from?

- The law of her husband
- Ref Romans 6:6-7 (Parallel language)
- Therefore if the old man/husband is dead we are free to marry or be joined to a new man

Rom 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 we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Study notes:

- Wherefore refers to a temporary conclusion based on what he has already said

What are we dead to?

- To the law

What does it mean to be dead to the law?

- Free from the law (Rom 7:3)

But based on Romans 6 how we are dead to the law?

- We are free from it’s condemnation

How are we free from the [condemnation of the] law?

- Through the body of Christ
- His death for us
- And our being crucified with him

Who are we married to?

- Jesus

For what purpose?

- To bring forth fruit unto God

What fruit is that (Romans 6:22)?

- Fruit unto holiness

What is holiness (Rom 6:19)?

- Righteousness = Obedience

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What does it mean when he says in the flesh?

- The old man (Rom 6:6)

What are the motions of sins?

- The acting of sin
- The influence of sin

What are the motions of sin by?

- The law

Can there be sin when there is no law?

- No (Rom 4:15)
- These sins are sin because the law exists
- Sin owes its existence to the law

What is the fruit of sin?

- Death

Why does sin produce such fruit?

- Because sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4)
- Transgression of the law leads to death (Rom 6:23)

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What are we now delivered from?

- The law


- Being dead wherein we were held

How can we be delivered from the law if we are dead?

- Chirst paid the penalty that the law demands of guilty sinners
- Therefore we are delivered from its condemnation

Why are we delivered?

- So we can serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter (Romans 6:4)
- Newness of life when we are dead with Christ (Rom 6:6)

What does Paul mean when he says oldness of the letter?

- Formality of religion without spirit and power
- If the old man is not dead you are serving God with the oldness of the letter

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What is the function of the law?

- To point out sin

Which law is he talking about?

- The ten commandments

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

Study notes:

Without the law what happens to sin?

- It is dead.
- Without a true knowledge of the law we do not know sin

What is concupiscence?

- Lust

Why do you think Paul points out the very last commandment?

- Because this one takes a change of heart
- Whereas it is possible to keep the other nine outwardly, in the oldness of the letter
- But the last one takes a real and complete change of heart

How do we know it is the heart?

- Wrought in me
- Working concupiscence in my heart

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

Study notes:

When was Paul alive?

- When he did not have a true understanding of the law

When did sin revive?

- When there came a true understanding of the law

What was the result of this reviving of sin?

- He died

Paul is speaking to the Pharisees about a heart religion and not a mere formality of outward show. If we look at the commandments of God in the life of Jesus, then we will see the sin that exists in our soul.

Paul says that as "touching the righteousness which is in the law"--as far as outward acts were concerned --he was "blameless" (Philippians 3:6); but when the spiritual character of the law was discerned, he saw himself a sinner. Judged by the letter of the law as men apply it to the outward life, he had abstained from sin; but when he looked into the depths of its holy precepts, and saw himself as God saw him, he bowed in humiliation and confessed his guilt. He says, "I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Romans 7:9. When he saw the spiritual nature of the law, sin appeared in its true hideousness, and his self-esteem was gone. {SC 29.3}

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

Study notes:

What is the purpose of the commandments of God?

- Life

But what did Paul find them to be?

- He found them to be unto death

Rom 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me

Study notes:

What deceived Paul?

- Sin

How did sin deceive him?

- Not discerning the spirit of the law
- Sin exists because of the commandment
- He did not understand the spiritual nature of the law
- Therefore sin deceived him and slew him

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

Study notes:

What is he trying to say about the law?

- Paul is explaining the true requirements of the law
- Holiness, just, goodness
- These are all spiritual characteristics and not merely an outward description
- It was this aspect that made him realize his sin

Rom 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.

Study notes:

Was the law made to be death to us?

- God forbid

But what is the purpose of the law?

- For us to understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin

What does sin work in me?

- Death

How is sin revealed to us?

- By that which is good
- By the law
- And it shows us that sin is eating away at our lives
- It is working death in us

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

Study notes:

What is the law?

- Spiritual

What are we?

- Carnal
- The old man

What is the condition of the carnal man?

- Sold or in slavery to sin

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What does Paul not allow?

- That which he does

What does he do?

- What he hates

What can he not do?

- That which he would
- Paul is talking about one who knows the law, one who is convicted but is not converted

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

Study notes:

If I do something that I know I should not do what do I consent to?

- The fact that the law is good

But what is he doing?

- That which he would not

Is he convicted?

- Yes

Is he converted?

- no

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

Study notes:

Who does it?

- Sin that dwells in me

What does that mean contextually?

- Intellectually I know what to do
- But because I am enslaved to sin I cannot obey the law of God in my own strength

What is the sin that dwells in me?

- The old man is still alive
- The old man is enslaved to sin

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What dwells in our flesh?

- No good things
- We have sinful human flesh

What is present?

- To will
- A desire or willingness to do that which is good

But what does he not find?

- How to perform that which is good
- No godliness within

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

Study notes:

What does he not do?

- The good that he would

What does he do?

- The evil that he would not

Rom 7:20-22 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

Study notes:

Paul is explaining the fact that though he desires with his mind to do the right thing, though he is very very convicted he is unable to do it. Why? Because of the old man that is in him is enslaved to sin, that old man is referred to as sin or the body of sin (Ref: Romans 6:1,6)

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What is in my members?

- Another law?

What does this law war against?

- The law of the mind

What does this do?

- Brings me into captivity or slavery to sin
- There is a war going on but the unconverted man always loses

Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

Study notes:

What is a wretched man?

- One who knows the law and yet is unconverted and is unable to obey the law
- In slavery to sin but desires to do the right thing
- Revelation 3:17-18 - the only other place in the whole bible that uses the word wretched

Rom 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.

Study notes:

What does he serve with the mind?

- The law
- He wants to obey
- He consents that it is good

But what does he serve in the flesh?

- Sin
- He is always losing
- No victory over sin

See also:

The purpose of God in the creation of Man

What happened to man character after the fall?

What is righeousness?