The Law and the Believer

romansAn exposition of Romans 7:1-25. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, January 31, 2010.

As Christians what is our relationship to the Old Testament?  I know that there are those who think all that really matters is the New Testament.  There are others who take that even further and say what really matters is the “red letter” words.  “You just need to read what Jesus said,” is their motto.  As if the words of Jesus stood in opposition to the rest of the inspired record.  Others think it a crime if you only carry a New Testament as if by doing so you were ignoring everything else God had said.  I remember having struggles with our homeschool basketball program because we had kids who could not play from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.  No, we didn’t have any Jewish families we had some Adventists and 7th Day folks.  They even needed to know what kind of hotdogs we where serving in the concession stand.  Where they beef or pork?  I remember some Adventist friends in Fort Worth who were all excited about a new product that looked, felt and tasted like ham but wasn’t ham, so they could eat it.  I never understood why, if it was wrong to eat pork, you wanted to eat something that looked like pork, had the texture of pork and tasted like pork but technically was not pork!  Just what is to be our relationship with the Old Testament law?  We are agreed that we are a people of the Book.  By that I mean the whole Book both the Old and the New Testament.  We are a Bible people not just a New Testament people.  But does that mean the laws of the Old Testament apply to us the same as it did to ancient Israel?  Is it wrong for us to eat shell fish?  Are we sinning because we wear a cotton blend?  Must I give up my cheeseburger?

On the other hand am I free to just ignore what God has spoken in the past?  Am I to understand that to be under grace rather than law means there are no rules?  Am I to approach the Old Testament in cafeteria fashion taking what I like and leaving behind what is less desirable?  It’s not an easy question to answer.  Paul is clear, the law does not save.  It never has and it never will.  That was never its intent.  Rather the law was given to reveal the sinfulness of sin.  Its purpose was to unmask us as sinners and expose us as those needing a savior.  We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of our sin is death.  We, because of our sin, stand under the wrath of God.  We are weighed and found wanting.  We are guilty as charged and the sentence is death.  But God has demonstrated His love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us.  God manifested a righteousness that is outside of us, apart from the law and becomes ours by faith.  By our faith and trust in God’s gracious provision in Christ we are declared righteous and have peace with God.  But is that an excuse for lawlessness?  Is it a free pass?  How are we to relate to God’s law?  That is what our text is about.  Our text this morning is Romans chapter 7.

Text: Romans 7:1-25

  • Romans 4 speaks of God’s provision in Christ.
  • Romans 5 speaks of the result of God’s provision – peace with God, union with Christ.
  • Romans 6 deals with how we are to respond to grace – press on toward holiness, obedience.
  • Chapters 7 and 8 speak of the believer’s struggle with sin (7) and his victory in Christ (8).

This morning I want us to explore the believer’s struggle with sin in light of his relationship with God’s law.  As we explore this section we’ll discover…

Thesis: While the law no longer has a claim on us the law continues to be God’s instrument for refinement and purification.
There are three things I want us to note.

  1. Because of our union with Christ the law no longer has its claim on us.  (7:1-6)
  2. The law serves God’s good purpose of convincing and convicting us of sin bringing us to the end of ourselves.  (7:7-23)
  3. Our victory comes not from our heroic struggle in fulfilling the law but rather through God’s gracious provision in Christ.  (7:24-25)
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