Romans 7:1-13

Free To Be Fruitful.

Romans 7:1-13

So, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the point: You died to the power of the law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for God. – Romans 7:4 NLT

Paul continues his diatribe about the law and its role in the life of the believer. He is having to instruct the believers in Rome, just as he had to do with those in Galatia, that the law is holy and its commands are holy and right and good. But there were those who were trying to say that keeping of the law was also a necessary requirement for salvation. This was a teaching that had cropped up in the early days of the church and had been following Paul in his missionary journeys throughout the Gentile world. Some Jews who had come to faith in Christ in the days immediately following the events at Pentecost, were convinced that conversion to Judaism was a required next step in the process of becoming a follower of Christ. For them, the law of Moses was still in effect, as was the requirement of circumcision for men, and the keeping of all Jewish religious festivals and rituals. So they were attempting to convince Gentile converts that their conversions were incomplete unless they became card-carrying Jews and kept the law of Moses.

As a former Pharisee and expert in the law of Moses, Paul knew exactly what the requirements of the law were. He had lived most of his life attempting to keep the law in order to attain a right relationship with God. But since his conversion to Christ, he had grown to understand that the law was never intended to save him. It was given to reveal the righteousness of God and the sins of man. And when Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty that God required for sin, because the wages of sin is death. His sinless life was what was required to satisfy the just demands of a holy God. He became the blameless sacrifice required to atone for the wrath of God against sinful mankind.

Paul loved the law and understood that it was given by God. But he also understood its purpose. “It was the law that showed me my sin” (Romans 7:7 NLT). The law revealed God’s righteous standard and exposed man’s inability to keep it because of his sin nature. But Christ’s death provided a way for us to escape the condemnation of the law. The law can no longer condemn us because we died with Christ. Our old man was crucified with Christ and we have been given new lives and a new power to live holy lives. Which is why Paul says, “We can produce a harvest of good deeds for God” (Romans 7:4 NLT). Not in our own strength, but through the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. Paul gives us the wonderful news that “we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit” (Romans 7:6 NLT). WE CAN SERVE GOD! Not through our own feeble attempts at trying to keep some written code or standard. But through submission to and reliance upon the Holy Spirit who Jesus sent to indwell us and empower us. We have a new power and a new capacity to live lives that are pleasing to God. But it requires that we come to grips with the painful reality that our self-effort is still inadequate to satisfy a holy, righteous God. If we allow ourselves to fall back into some form of rule-keeping, we will fail. We will become defeated and demoralized. The law is a constant reminder of our own tendency toward self-righteousness. We somehow want to try to measure up. We want to perform and earn God’s favor. We are prone to becoming spiritual over-achievers. But Paul wants us to know that spiritual fruitfulness is a byproduct of living in the power of the Spirit, not our own flesh. Only the Spirit of God can produce fruit that is pleasing to God. Only the Holy Spirit can produce holy people. And as soon as we realize that the life God is looking for in His people is of divine origin and not the product of human achievement, the sooner we will experience the fullness of life that Jesus came to bring.

Father, show me how to rely more on the Spirit and less on me. Open my eyes to the impossibility of trying to earn favor with You based on my own self-effort. Keep pointing me back to the futility of trying to earn my way into Your good graces or trying to live up to Your standards on my own. I needed Your Son to save me. I need Your Spirit to sanctify and transform me. Never let me forget that fact. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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