BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 5: Romans 7:21-25

Summary of passage:  Man’s nature cannot help but sin (a war between the mind and the body/flesh) and be a slave to sin.  But through Jesus Christ we are rescued from sin’s power.

Questions:

11)  He’s very distressed.  He feels powerless (“wretched”), desperate, and overwhelmed like we all do at times at his inability to overcome sin.  He probably feels tired from the constant battle of mind and flesh.  We should feel the same: crying out against our self and unto God.

12a)  Jesus is the answer.

b)  As we’ve discussed in depth this week, the law pushes us to sin more as it’s our desire to break rules.  Jesus is the only one who has the power to overcome our nature.  Otherwise, under our own power, we are helpless to live in sin.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin is always in my life and I feel like all my prayers to overcome sin are desperate.  I perpetually pray to have less of a temper and to soften my words towards others when flippant, indifferent answers arise.  The prayer is simple:  Jesus, give me your power to overcome sin.  I need you.  Come and fill me and let the Holy Spirit lead the way–not me.  I can do all things THROUGH you alone.

Conclusions:  The answers to these questions are done in 5 minutes.  The in-depth study I do afterwards is hours long.  This chapter is packed with our need for Jesus.  Please take the time to dwell on what Paul is saying and to not feel helpless and overwhelmed when you sin–for as Paul states we will sin because of our nature.  Rely on Christ.  Rely on Christ.  Rely on Christ.

End Notes:  We never know how hard it is to stop sinning until we try.  C.S Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good.”

The real self (inner self) is the one who delights in God’s law.  The impulse towards sin is a different law.

The old man is not the real Paul; the old man is dead. The flesh is not the real Paul; the flesh is destined to pass away and be resurrected. The new man is the real Paul; now Paul’s challenge is to live like God has made him.

Again, here’s the debate:  Was Paul a Christian during the experience he writes about here?  Some look at his struggle with sin and believe that it must have been before he was born again. Others believe that he is just a Christian struggling with sin. In a sense this is an irrelevant question, for this is the struggle of anyone who tries to obey God in their own strength. This experience of struggle and defeat is something that a Christian may experience, but something that a non-Christian can only experience.

Morris quoting Griffith Thomas: “The one point of the passages is that it describes a man who is trying to be good and holy by his own efforts and is beaten back every time by the power of indwelling sin; it thus refers to anyone, regenerate or unregenerate.”

Sin wins when you try to win the battle yourself.

The ancient Greek word wretched is more literally, “wretched through the exhaustion of hard labor.” Paul is completely worn out and wretched because of his unsuccessful effort to please God under the principle of Law.

Note how the great saints always speak of how bad they are, not how good.

Fun Fact:  Paul has referred to himself 40 times since Romans 7:13. In the pit of his unsuccessful struggle against sin, Paul became entirely self-focused and self-obsessed. This is the place of any believer living under law, who looks to self and personal performance rather than looking first to Jesus.

The words “Who will deliver me” show that Paul has given up on himself, and asks “Who will deliver me?” instead of “How will I deliver myself?”

“Body of death” is figurative for body of sin (6:6; 8:10) that hung on Paul like a corpse and from which he could not gain freedom.

Some commentators see a reference to ancient kings who tormented their prisoners by shackling them to decomposing corpses. Paul longed to be free from the wretched body of death clinging to him.

“It was the custom of ancient tyrants, when they wished to put men to the most fearful punishments, to tie a dead body to them, placing the two back to back; and there was the living man, with a dead body closely strapped to him, rotting, putrid, corrupting, and this he must drag with him wherever he went. Now, this is just what the Christian has to do. He has within him the new life; he has a living and undying principle, which the Holy Spirit has put within him, but he feels that everyday he has to drag about with him this dead body, this body of death, a thing as loathsome, as hideous, as abominable to his new life, as a dead stinking carcass would be to a living man.” (Spurgeon)

“Through” means that Paul sees Jesus standing between himself and God, bridging the gap and providing the way to God.”Lord” means Paul has put Jesus in the right place – as Lord and master of his life.

The last half of verse 25 is the summary of verses 13-24.  “I myself” is the real self–the inner being that delights in God’s law (vs 22).  “Slave to law of sin” is how Christians must reckon with the enslaving power of their sinful nature as long as they live–until “the redemption of our bodies” (vs 8:23).

Jesus does not take away the struggle; he only provides the victory over sin, hate, death, and all evil as we surrender our lives to Jesus and let Him live out victory through us.

Paul shows that even though the law is glorious and good, it can’t save us – and we need a Savior. Paul never found any peace, any praising God until he looked outside of himself and beyond the law to his Savior, Jesus Christ.

The law taught us what to do, encouraged us, and told us sin was our problem.  But it couldn’t save us–only Jesus can.  He is the answer!

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 4: Romans 7:14-20

Summary of passage:  Sin makes man do what he does not what to do–evil things.

Questions:

8 )  Paul is unspiritual because he is corrupted by sin.  All believers have the seeds of rebellion in their hearts.  The law is holy because it has its origin in God.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sin is man’s nature and the struggle to overcome that is only won through Jesus’s death and the Holy Spirit within fighting daily.

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Lose my temper too much.  Help others more.

Conclusions:  Again, I feel like so much is here and BSF does a poor job of pulling it out with these personal questions.

End Notes:  “I am” suggests Paul is describing the personal Christian experience here (see YESTERDAY for in depth on this analysis).

“Unspiritual” is usually translated as carnal.   Carnal uses the ancient Greek word sarkikos, which means, “characterized by the flesh.” In this context it speaks of the person who can and should do differently but does not. Paul sees this carnality in himself, and knows that the law, though it is spiritual, has no answer for his carnal nature.

“Sold as a slave to sin.”  Very, very strong description that many refuse to accept it as descriptive of a Christian.  However, it may graphically point out the failure even of Christians to meet the radical, ethical, and moral demands of the gospel.  It also shows the persistent nature of sin.

Paul is in bondage under sin and the law can’t help him.  The law can only help if he is innocent, but Paul knows that he’s guilty and that the law argues against him, not for him.

Paul is not saying how we hold no responsibility and sin is to blame for our actions.  No.  He’s merely pointing out how great control sin has over our lives.

You can be carnal and still be a Christian.  It’s the awareness of our fallen nature, our acknowledgment and hatred of it in ourselves, which leads to praising and loving God.

Paul describes in verses 15-19 his feeling of helplessness.  He wants to do what is right and indeed knows what is right but under his own power he cannot.  The law gives us no power to keep them; it merely tells us what is right and wrong.

This paradox of recognizing we are sinners, owning our sin, and repenting of it comes from the law and not from our Christian nature.

What is the law anyways?  To most of Paul’s audience, the word law stands for the huge collection of rules and rituals detailed in the Old Testament.  Whenever he starts talking about “the new covenant” or “freedom in Christ”, his Jewish listeners want to know what he things about Moses’ law.  Does God still require obedience?  That’s what all of chapter 7 discusses.

Thanks to his years as a Pharisee, Paul knows Moses’ law well. This chapter, the most personal and autobiographical in Romans, reveals Paul’s thoughts on this issue.

When the Law is Helpful:  Paul never recommends discarding the law.  He sees it reveals a basic code of morality, an expression of behavior that pleases God.  The law is good for one thing:  exposing sin.  Rules such as the Ten Commandments are helpful, healthful, and good.

When the Law is Helpless:  The law has one major problem:  After proving how bad you are, it doesn’t make you any better.  Paul’s conscience is very sensitive from his legalism days.  This makes him feel guilty.  This law that shows us our failures cannot provide the power to overcome them.  The law or any set of rules leads to death.

Romans 7 shows the struggle when an imperfect person commits himself to a perfect God.  How can I ever get rid of my nagging sins?  The invisible sins (lust, anger, coveting) can be just as toxic as the outward sins (stealing, adultery, murder).  In the face of God’s standards, all of us feel helpless and that is precisely Paul’s point and confession.  No set of rules can break the terrible cycle of guilt and failure.  We need outside help and Chapter 8 brings it!  Hint:  The Holy Spirit!

We will be spending 3 weeks studying Chapter 8–hope!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 3: Romans 7:7-13

Summary of passage: The law reveals what sin is as man’s natural tendency is to break the law.  The law defined sin and therefore gave birth to sin and with sin the consequence of death ensued.

Questions:

6)  The law reveals what sin is as man’s natural tendency is to break the law.  The law defined sin and therefore gave birth to sin and with sin the consequence of death ensued.  Sin uses the law to cause us to rebel more.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All sin is harmful, period.  In short, sin draws me away from God.  That’s the most potent consequence.  The rest is varied based on the sin.  You can both spiritually and emotionally harm your body, mind, and emotions.  Sin reveals what God is not and does not want and magnifies His holiness.  I respond by obeying Him with reverent awe.

Conclusions:  2 questions on some of the most key verses in all of the Bible.

End Notes:  Paul is now answering the question raised, “Well if the law is bad, is the law sin?”  Paul says, “No.  The law is good because it reveals sin to us.”  Sin, however, corrupts the law because of our natural tendency to break what is forbidden to us.  The desire is awakened by the prohibition.  Look at Prohibition in the United States.  Once a law is instituted we want to break it.

The word opportunity in the original is a military term meaning a base of operations where sin is awaiting a chance to spring from.

The weakness isn’t the law–it’s us.  We took something good–God’s law–and turned it to evil.

Paul was once alive because he didn’t know or understand the law like children.  He had not been put to death yet because of the law.  With the knowledge of law, it excited our rebellion, bringing sin and death.  Paul is either referring to the time before his bar mitzvah or before his conversion where the true rigor of the law became clear to him (Luke 18:20-21; Philippians 3:6).

The law does not deceive us.  It’s the sin that uses the law to cause us to rebel.  The truth sets us free from the deception of the law (John 8:32).

Sin kills us.  Satan tries to twist this by making sin seem like a good thing that God merely wants to deprive us of (Eve, anyone?)

There is nothing wrong with the law.  The law is holy.  The problem lies within man.  However, because of man’s nature, sin ends up corrupting the law so we must die to both (Romans 6:2; 7:4).

The law, however, is good because it makes our sin more pronounced so we recognize it!

Sin becomes utterly sinful by hiding within God’s good laws.

Explanation on BSF’s note (Romans 7:13-25):  Whether Paul is describing a Christian or non-Christian experience here has been hotly debated through the centuries.

Argument supporting non-Christian life:

  1. The use of the phrases such as “sold as a slave to sin”, “I know that good itself does not dwell in me” and “What a wretched man I am” which do not seem to describe a Christian experience
  2. the contrast between chapters 7 & 8, making it difficult for the other view to be credible
  3. the problem of the value of conversion if one ends up in spiritual misery.

Argument supporting Christian life:

  1. the use of the present tense throughout the passage
  2. Paul’s humble opinion of himself (vs 18)
  3. his high regard for God’s law (vs 14, 16)
  4. the location of this passage in the section of Romans where Paul is dealing with sanctification–the growth of the Christian in holiness.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 12, Day 2: Romans 7:1-6

Summary of passage:  Paul uses an example from the law (marriage) to explain what Christ’s death means.  In Jewish law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives.  If he dies, she is released from this law.  If she remarries while her husband is still alive, she is still bound to her first husband.  This is the same relationship when Christ died.  With his death, we (believers) were released from the law and free to serve in the Holy Spirit.

Questions:

3)  Christ’s death grants us the Holy Spirit within (basically Christ within), uniting us closer to him.  Baptism as well.  His death crucified our old life into something new.

4a)  His death freed us from the law.  We belong to Christ so we can bear fruit to God.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer I’m sick of answering:  I’m trying to walk the path God wants me to and that path walks me through work, family, community, etc.  The freedom is in my attitude and beliefs and steps on that path.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  These are opposites in every facet of life.  We either live and work for God or the devil/death.  We either sin or we don’t (new way versus old way).  Life of the Spirit is avoiding all sin which is the old way of the written code (sinful nature).  I’m gonna take issue with “patterns”.  I walk in the Spirit with stumbles (sin) on that path.  There is no pattern to it.  It’s either you walk with God or you don’t.  You won’t be perfect in your walk with Him, but the pattern is the same.

Conclusions:  Could Question 4b be any broader?  Question 5 has one answer:  opposites and I think we all can see that. There’s not a variety of ways to say it.

End Notes: In Romans 6:14, Paul told us that you are not under law but under grace. After the discussion in Romans 6:15-23 regarding practical implications of this, he now explains more completely how it is that we are no longer under the dominion of the law.

The ancient Greek wording here has no word “the” before law. This means Paul speaks of a principle broader than the Mosaic Law, which includes our innate law of creation and conscience.

Paul makes the point that death ends all obligations and contracts.  It decisively changes a person’s relationship to the law.

In Romans 6:3-8, Paul carefully explained that we died with Jesus and we also rose with Him, although Paul there only spoke of our death to sin. Now he explains that we also died to the law.  Paul wanted to make it clear to all that the law does not dictate our living nor sanctification before God.  We can’t do anything to win salvation.  With this freedom, however, we aren’t free to sin as Paul has carefully explained.  We are free to be married to Jesus and serve God and His will, not ours.

The law’s power to condemn no longer threatens believers.

Under the law, we did not bear fruit to God. Instead we bore fruit to death, because the law aroused the passions of sins within us.  The fruit of our union with the law was a physical and spiritual death–a separation from God.

To bear fruit to death: Paul will explain this problem of the law more fully in Romans 7:7-14.  We can only bear fruit to God if we’re free from the law because the law stimulates sin since the natural human tendency is to desire the forbidden thing.

Sinful nature is usually translated sinful flesh, which refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.

When we are united to Christ the fruit of holiness is produced.

Verse 6 summarizes Romans 7:1-5.  The law does not justify nor sanctify us.  With Christ’s death, we are released from the law and free to serve God better.