Romans 7: Law vs. Spirit

Reading for Wednesday, Feb. 8: Romans 7

It would be easy to assume that Paul has a negative view of the OT Law based on some of his writings (especially Galatians!). I think we have to remember that Paul is arguing against those who have improperly elevated the Law onto the same plane as the atoning work of Christ. It’s not that Paul dislikes the Law; in fact, as a Torah-observant Jew, he would have much use for it. See v12: Paul argues that the Law is holy in that it comes from God and illuminates our sinfulness. But Paul’s concern is to make the Law subservient to Christ — and in the case of Gentile converts, to render the Law obsolete for their relationship with Jesus.

We’ll talk more about this in Galatians, but Paul’s “salvation equation” works something like this:

Faith in Christ = Salvation

Paul is arguing against those who would want to make this addition to the equation:

Mosaic Law + Faith in Christ = Salvation

For Paul, adding anything to the first equation is a violation of the Gospel.

We can see Paul’s understanding of this new relationship with God through some of his phrases in this chapter:

v4 – bearing fruit to God
v6 – released from the Law
v6 – the new way of the Spirit

The purpose of the Law is to make us cognizant of our sin.

The purpose of Christ is to liberate us from this sin into a new life, a new Way of being — the new way of the Spirit.

This entry was posted in Gospel, Project 3:45, Scripture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Romans 7: Law vs. Spirit

  1. Charlton Rhinehart says:

    We are free from the old Law, but not free from the law of the Spirit (Rom 8:2), which is the law given by the Spirit (John 14:26), which is the law of Christ (Gal 6:2, 1 Cor 9:21), which is the new covenant (Matt 26:27). Saving faith requires us to keep that law, (Luke 6:46, Matt 7:21)

    • Jason says:

      I agree, Charlton. I love how Paul explains the depths of this “Law of the Spirit” in chapter 8.

      • Charlton Rhinehart says:

        We should be cautious how we explain being free from the Law so that we do not imply that we are free from all law. And careful not to imply the Spirit guides us without need for the Word, many think that because they have the Spirit, there decisions are right even if they condratict the Word. The Spirit is said to guide us, but our spirit often does the guiding, we must go to the Word, realizing it is our only source for truth (John 17:17). That is where the Spirit, that dwells in us (Rom 8:11) can guide us, but even then we can misunderstand. We must reguraly study, question and seek the Spirits guidance.

  2. Jason says:

    Again, I agree Charlton. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to say otherwise. I think Jesus says it pretty clearly in the Great Commission: He calls us to make disciples, “teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded.” It’s certainly true that many would want to abuse the liberty we have in the Spirit apart from obedience to the commands of Scripture. What I hear you saying is that the whole counsel of God here is balanced: we are set free from sin / death / law, but called to obedience as discipleship requires.

    • Charlton Rhinehart says:

      Yes we are called to obedience, but not only called, but expected and required. No, I do not disagree with you at all, but I do think it is wise to look at what the majority around us believe, and always teach in ways that correct common misunderstandings. Paul down plays the importance of works and obedience in Romans and emphasizes grace because he must have thought some were not crediting God or were trying to be justified by law alone (Gal 5:4). At other times we see NT writters countering the misunderstanding that we can have grace apart from obedience. But just like Paul countered the Romans misunderstanding, so we today should counter the common misunderstanding of the majority. That is the only reason I added what I did, because We can accidentally confirm misunderstandings by not countering them, all while saying true statements and using scripture. Just look at how John 3:16 is abused, to imply that belief alone is all God ask. Such is the case also today with grace, law and the Spirit. What good is it if we understand the truth ourselves but what we teach is misapplied? Your articles are good and true, I just wanted to add what many may be misunderstanding you to say.

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