Christ Has Freed Us from the Law[a]
The Time of the Law Has Passed.[b] 1 Are you aware, brethren (for I am certain that you are people who have knowledge of the Law), that a person is bound by the Law only during that person’s lifetime? 2 For example, a woman is bound by the Law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from her husband in regard to the Law. 3 Therefore, she will be judged to be an adulteress if she has relations with another man while her husband is still alive. However, if her husband dies, she is free from that provision of the Law, and if she then has relations with another man, she is not an adulteress.
4 In the same way, brethren, through the body of Christ you have died to the Law and have been set free to belong to another, that is, to the one who rose from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, our sinful passions were aroused by the Law and at work in our bodies, and they bore fruit for death. 6 But now, we are released from the Law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit in contrast to the old written code.[c]
The Function of the Law.[d] 7 What then should we say? That the Law is sinful? Absolutely not! Yet if it had not been for the Law, I would not have known what sin was. I would not have known what covet is if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin seized the opportunity offered by the commandment and produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the Law, sin is dead.
9 I lived apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sin came to life, 10 and I died. The commandment that was for life proved to be death for me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity offered by the commandment, deceived me,[e] and through it killed me. 12 And so the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
13 Did what is good, then, cause my death? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as such, it brought about my death through what is good, and therefore through the commandment sin became completely sinful.
14 Sin and Death. We clearly understand that the Law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want; rather, I do what I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, then I agree that the Law is good.[f] 17 This indicates that it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot do what is good. 19 For I do not do the good I desire; rather, it is the evil I do not desire that I end up doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not desire, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I have thus discovered this principle: when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 In my innermost self, I delight in the Law of God, 23 but I perceive in the members of my body another law at war with the Law that I cherish in my mind. Thus, I am made captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body destined for death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then, with my mind I am a slave to the Law of God, but with my flesh to the law of sin.
- Romans 7:1 Human alienation finds expression in three main forms: sin, death, and law. Salvation delivers human beings from this threefold enslavement. The law here is, of course, the Law of Moses, but it is also the command given by God to the first couple and, in the last analysis, every law that is imposed from outside.
- Romans 7:1 Christians have been freed from the Law. This is a way of saying that a new regime, that of the Spirit, henceforth energizes their life.
- Romans 7:6 Written code or “letter” is here the written Law of Moses.
- Romans 7:7 Christ was put to death because he affirmed the priority of the spirit over legalism. In fact, it is sin that falsifies the human condition. Without having the power to neutralize it, the Law unmasks it and then buries human beings under the weight of guilt (see Gal 3:10-14, 19-22).
- Romans 7:11 Deceived me: an allusion to the temptation by the serpent in Gen 3:13.
- Romans 7:16 I agree that the Law is good: the Holy Spirit reveals to Paul the essential goodness of the Law even when Paul is inclined to rebel against it and disobey it.