by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2 January 2, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
(278)Thesis:The "duration" of the Law's "lordship" over a person is dependent upon the "life" of that person.
Introduction:Several weeks ago we suspended our studies of Romans as a concession to the holidays. Before we did that, however, we considered the general form of Romans 7 as a prelude to our studies in that text. We saw that there is a major thesis followed by two crucial questions. The major thesis is found in 7:1 -- the Law exercises a lordship over man only as long as he lives. The first crucial question is found in 7:7 -- Is the Law sin (a harmful life-destroyer)? The second crucial question is found in 7:13 -- Is it the Law that kills?
As we embark upon our studies in this chapter, we need to understand one thing clearly: the chapter does not exist for us to ignore. I say this because the chapter is difficult and we tend to deal with the difficult by simply shoving it aside. But, the chapter follows hard on the heels of Romans 6 and its two major questions. The implication is that Romans 6 is not a complete answer to the problems of living. So, we need chapter seven and we need to understand its message.
Thus we will begin this evening to consider what Paul is saying in Romans 7. Our first observation is that he sets forth a rather obvious "thesis": the Law can only have a determinative impact upon a person who is alive. What is so important about this thesis?
I. Paul's Thesis in Illustration.
A. The thesis itself: man is only under the Law as long as he is alive.
B. The illustration.
1. The illustration introduces the first difficulty.
a. The "thesis" seems to be that a man can escape the dominion of the Law by dying.
b. But the "illustration" is of a woman who escapes the dominion of the law because her husband dies.
2. The illustration also introduces a second difficulty.
a. The focus of the illustration is upon a woman who joins herself to a man who is not her husband.
b. This "focus" seems to make the Law the villain because the woman's action is not seen as illegitimate...she can do as she wants as soon as the Law is set aside.
1) If it is "OK" for a woman to join herself to multiple men, what is the "problem" the "Law" has with her doing that if those men are not dead? Why does the "Law" care if the men are dead or not?
2) The initial impression is that the "Law" is simply being obstructionist...calling a thing "sin" that is not inherently "sinful".
3. The illustration, however, is illustrative.
a. It clarifies the point.
1) The point is one: Law is designed to address specific issues within specific circumstances.
2) The primary application of the point is also one: if the specifics are not involved the Law has no dominion.
b. It establishes the thesis.
1) The death of a man erases every connection he has to this creation.
2) The nullification of his connections alters every "issue" and "circumstance" that exist inthiscreation in respect to him -- thus annulling the Law's applicability to him in respect to this creation altogether.
4. And the illustration sets the stage for the significance of the point.
a. Paul is going to argue that all of us have a complex inner reality that is responsible for both the production of "fruit" and the end result of that fruit.
1) The husband/wife relationship is the best illustration of "fruit" production as a result of "personal" and "relational" involvement.
2) Each of us, male or female, have this inner reality of both male and female elements that produce the actions of our bodies and the consequent results of those actions -- Life or Death.
b. Paul is going to apply the illustration to our new creation-reality in Christ.
1) He argues that the only way "out" of the "sin" issue is to get "out" of this creation-order.
2) The only way "out" is by the death of the body.
3) Since our "baptism" into Christ was a baptism into His body, the death of His body constituted our way of escape...we are "out" of this creation-order.
II. The Point of Paul's Thesis.
A. Being "out" of this creation-order means we are no longer under the dominion of the Law.
B. If we are no longer under the dominion of the Law, we are free of its "criticism" and its ability to determine our circumstances.
1. The Law calls the woman joined to another man while her husband lives an "adultress": this is its "criticism".
2. The Law calls the woman an "adultress" as a prelude to the execution of its decree for adultery: this is its "ability to determine our circumstances".
a. The execution of the adultress determines her circumstances both in terms of cutting her off from any further experience in this creation-order and in terms of setting her up for her future experience in the new creation-order...those who die under the Law perish in the Second Death.
b. There is no escape from the Law's ability to determine our circumstances except One: we must escape from the domain of Law altogether.
1) There is no place where Law does not exist; there is only a domain where Law does not condemn.
2) Thus, this can only be done by regeneration: the creation of a truly righteous being.