Sunday: Dead to the Law

(Rom. 7:1-6)

Carefully examine Romans 7:1-6 and summarize as well as you can what Paul is saying. Read it carefully, keeping in mind other Bible passages about the law.

Image © Jeff Preston from

Image © Jeff Preston from

Although some Bible versions incorrectly translate verse one to read that the law is binding until death, a literal interpretation is: every living person is under the rule of law. The emphasis is not on the dead but on the living.

The example from marriage demonstrates that any married person who has an intimate relationship with someone other than his or her spouse has broken the law and is guilty of adultery. Only if his or her spouse dies can he or she enter a relationship with another person without violating the law.

Also, some argue that this passage shows the death of the law; however, it really shows a person’s death to the law through the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4). According to Romans 6:6, the part of the person that dies is the old self. When united to the old self, the person is condemned by the law and thus trapped in a miserable relationship (Rom. 7:9-11, 24). After the old self dies, the person is free to enter into a relationship with another-the resurrected Christ (Rom. 7:4).

What Paul is saying is that because law binds every living person, God’s law must also govern the new union. However, the fact that the believer is now married to Christ means that the law is no longer an instrument of condemnation; the believer in Jesus is free from the condemnation of the law because he is covered in the righteousness of Jesus.

Paul is not stating that the Ten Commandments, which define sin, are now abolished; that would be contrary to so much of the Bible, his own writings included. Instead, he is talking about a new relationship one has to the law through faith in Jesus. The law still is binding; it’s just that for the believer in Jesus, the one who died to self and to sin, the law no longer holds him or her in the grip of condemnation because they now belong to another, Jesus.



Sunday: Dead to the Law — 10 Comments

  1. The law is a delight like David said to any child of God cos It protects him/her.The is is the Character of God.God's identity is enshrined in His law.Like the constitution of every nation, the law of God only condemns people who break them and the sentence is death. Yet Christ bestows to us His righteousness as a robe to cover our nakedness. We only have to receive this righteousness and let that character of God flow from within us.The just shall LIVE by FAITH; two elements here: live and faith. Have a great week

  2. Romans 7:1-6 is also a commentary on righteousness by faith/works. In Paul’s analogy the woman submits to and depends on her husband for support.

    The believer (woman) who is bound (married) to the carnal mind (husband) is obligated to the contract (law) which governs the relationship. The law requires obedience to God’s standard. The believer (woman) initially depends on the carnal mind (husband) to achieve this. However the carnal (fallen nature) only produces sinful passions or corrupt works (Romans 6:13; Galatians 5:19-21).

    When Christ is invited to kill the carnal mind (Galatians 5:24) and take its place there is a termination of the old contract (covenant) and a generation of a new contract (covenant), resulting in a transfer of dependence form the carnal to Christ. In the former union (marriage) there was righteousness by works (Isaiah 64:6). In the new union (marriage) there is righteousness by faith, or dependence on Christ’s merits and enabling power. Out of this is produced the fruit of the spirit (fruit to God in Romans 7:4) (Galatians 5:22, 23).

    The law still requires obedience and the believer (woman) by the aid of Christ (husband) now delivers according to the spirit of the law (Romans 7:6), a higher standard than the letter of the law. So the believer no longer simply tries to avoid literal killing. He/she goes ahead and loves the enemy.

    To depend on self or make one’s own laws (or substitutes) while claiming Jesus is to experiment with spiritual adultery. There is ever a risk of resurrection of the carnal, but submission to Christ and partaking of the divine nature keeps it in the grave.

  3. Hugh, I think your explanation is a good one considering the difficulty Rom 7 has even with theologians. What I would like to point out is that up to about the beginning of Rom 6 Paul’s entire argument is over how we are saved. To him we are saved because we are justified by grace through faith which is a declaration of righteousness. It does not change us – it only declares as a matter of proclamation. Sanctification is the thing that actually changes us but that is something that takes a lifetime and as far as I am concerned will extend into our time in Heaven and the new earth. To clarify this a bit I would like to ask if anyone really thinks that they are perfect. Paul certainly didn’t (Phil 3:12) and Ellen White says as much concerning all of us (Acts of the Apostles, p 562).

    Therefore, what I have come to believe that Paul is addressing in Rom 7 is the direction we choose to go in as a matter of faith. If the direction is toward Christ then we are continually justified and because of that we are considered righteous. If on the other hand we attempt to become righteous through the law as a matter of works rather than faith then there is no hope of that ever happening because we cannot of ourselves produce righteousness even though we try as hard as we can (Jer 13:23).

    To Paul there is an internal struggle with our carnal nature that involves choice so what he ends up saying is that even though he fails at times in his fight with his sinful nature he, in faith, looks to Christ who is our victory though justification and sanctification. “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” (Rom 7:25 NKJV).

    Remember that in Rom 6 Paul has already dealt with caving in to the carnal nature. We are to choose to live a Christ-like life in spite of failures and have faith in Christ to cover our sins.

    • Tyler,thank you for expounding more clearly brother Hugh's point. I would have not seen it more clearly than through your eyes. Stay blessed.

  4. We are free from the Law of sin=death. Jesus gave himself for us so despite the fact that we have sinned we may live through him. He has also freed us from the law sinners=devil's property. His death gives us the choice as to who we will serve. I want to say as for me and my house we will serve the Lord Joshua 24:15 and humanity using his manual for health living(physical, spirtual, mental) the 10 commandments.

    • Gina, I believe you made an important point by noting that Christ's death has given us a choice. Because of His death, we are free to choose Him as our Lord or remain in slavery to sin and Satan.

      Without Christ's intervention, none of us would have a choice, because sin enslaves.

  5. Paul is using the marriage contract as a symbol. One aspect of the marriage contract is its oneness. A man and a woman join together and become one flesh.

    Now based on these verses, it could be that at the fall Man became one with sin thus the law of sin ruled which results in death. Jesus became sin yet he remained without sin. In His death the law of sin died. In His resurrection, we are called to be one with Him. This is also like a marriage. We are in a marriage contract with Him where sin no longer rules. Because we are one flesh with Christ, His righteousness becomes ours. It is through this marriage contract with Christ that we begin to live a new life through Him. A life of righteousness that meets the requirements of the law.

  6. Many people cite this scripture to prove that the Law of God is no longer in effet. It is important to note that Paul stated "you...are become dead." He did not say, "the law is dead." Christ's sacrifice did not do away with God's Law. Rather, by acceptance of his sacrifice (repetance-leading to baptism and receiving of the Holy Spirit) as the payment of the death penalty for their sin, the people had become dead to the law. Thanks.

  7. The word 'law'in my opinion include the ten commandments but is not limited to it .We spend too much time focused on the law and not on Jesus. Jesus wants our focus to be on him and then he'll show us his character through his law.

    How wonderful to know that the law was good before Sinai and it is just as good after the cross
    The law was not meant to save us from sin.For that we need Jesus. Only Jesus can bring me salvation


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