LIVE FREE (OR DIE HARD)
My God, in my busy, cluttered world, I long to see Your face and be touched by Your healing grace.
Read Romans 7:1–6
Released From the Law, Bound to Christ
7 Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
- Romans 7:5 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.
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ReflectOur body (‘flesh’, v 5) is not evil, but (as with the Law) sin takes and twists what is good. To prepare for Romans 7, write a short prayer based on verses 13 and 19 from chapter 6. Learn it by heart.
For Paul’s Jewish readers, the Law was a force for good, helping God’s people avoid and deal with sin. But here he says (shockingly) that we have died to the Law (v 4) as to sin (6:2,11). For the Law is weakened by our ‘fleshiness’ and twisted by sin, which abuses it to arouse sinful passions (v 5). Is this something you recognize within yourself: the thrill of doing something you know you shouldn’t?
Paul’s negativity toward the Law led some Christians to reject it completely – yet in tomorrow’s passage he defends it (see v 12). And in verse 6 he says we are released from the Law ‘so that we can serve in the new way of the Spirit’. Christians must still serve God (or ‘bear fruit’, v 4) – but out of freedom, having been set free from the Law and given righteousness as a gift, not as an attempt to earn it for ourselves.
The question is, how do we serve? Or, to put it another way, where in the Bible has God shown and told us what a holy life looks like?
Reflect on who you are and what you have. Ask yourself: (1) Am I grateful for what God has given me, or frustrated about what he hasn’t? (2) How can I use what God has given me to serve Him?
Father God, help me turn my eyes away from my performance and rather, turn them towards Jesus. As I look upon Him, I know the Spirit will transform me.