Romans - Lesson 31

Romans 7:7-12

Lesson 31
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Romans 7:7-12

III. The Assurance Provided by the Gospel: The Hope of Salvation (5:1–8:39)

A. The Hope of Glory (5:1-21)

1. From Justification to Salvation (5:1-11)

2. The Reign of Grace and Life (5:12-21)

B. Freedom from Bondage to Sin (6:1-23)

1. "Dead to Sin" through Union with Christ (6:1-14)

2. Freed from Sin's Power to Serve Righteousness (6:15-23)

C. Freedom from Bondage to the Law (7:1-25)

1. Released from the Law, Joined to Christ (7:1-6)

2. The History and Experience of Jews under the Law (7:7-25)

a. The Coming of the Law (7:7-12)

b. Life under the Law (7:13-25)

D. Assurance of Eternal Life in the Spirit (8:1-30)

1. The Spirit of Life (8:1-13)

2. The Spirit of Adoption (8:14-17)

3. The Spirit of Glory (8:18-30)

E. The Believer's Security Celebrated (8:31-39)

Class Resources
  • This lesson offers a deep dive into Paul's Letter to the Romans, revealing its pastoral aims, Paul's intentions to visit Spain, Jerusalem, and Rome, and its relevance to early Christian dynamics and theological inquiries about the Law in Christ's time.
  • This lesson offers a fresh view of Paul's theology, focusing on Romans. It emphasizes the first-century context, highlighting Gentile inclusion and unity in Christ, challenging traditional views. Gain insights into Paul's message and its relevance today.
  • Explore the book of Romans for modern faith conflicts: balance tradition with contemporary practices, learn from history, and grasp Paul's ministry and Gospel's complexities.
  • Follow along with Dr. Moo as he begins a thorough review of Romans 1:2-5. You will learn how Paul emphasizes Jesus' earthly life, resurrection, and his appointment as the Son of God in power. This lesson examines the interconnectedness of faith and obedience, underscoring that while faith initiates salvation, genuine faith inherently entails obedience to Christ as Lord, maintaining a balanced Christian life.
  • By delving into Romans 1:16-17, you'll understand the Gospel extends beyond individual salvation, encompassing God's reign over creation and His establishment of justice. The Gospel challenges worldly powers, offering hope and transformation to all who embrace it.
  • Listen along as the class discusses questions and answers revolving around Romans 1:16-17.
  • In Romans 1:18-28, you learn that all people are held accountable by God, having knowledge of Him through natural revelation but some turn away. This passage highlights the manifestation of God's wrath against sin, the exchange of truth for falsehoods, and the absence of excuses for humanity's actions, ultimately emphasizing God's fair judgment.
  • Listen in as the class and Dr. Moo discuss aspects of Romans 1:18-28.
  • The lesson discusses Romans 2:1-11, it highlights the use of the diatribe device and the transition from focusing on Gentiles to Jews. It underscores the Jewish belief in their special status and their potential misunderstanding of God's judgment. The lesson reviews the focus of the text on key themes such as judgment, righteousness, and the relationship between faith and good deeds.
  • In this lesson, you'll review the significance of the Law, notably the Law of Moses, in God's judgment. Paul stresses that mere knowledge of the Law isn't sufficient for righteousness; obedience is key. The primary message is that salvation ultimately relies on God's grace and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as human efforts and consciences alone cannot secure salvation. This lesson highlights the importance of understanding these concepts in interactions with people of different religious beliefs.
  • The key takeaway in this lesson is that while being a Jew comes with a great heritage, it doesn't guarantee salvation. Obedience to God's law is crucial, and reliance on religious heritage or rituals won't save you. The lesson emphasizes the universal human condition of being under the power of sin, and people cannot be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the Law or by the works of the Law. Only through faith in Christ are we made righteous.
  • This lesson explores the New Perspective on Paul, emphasizing that the Law was for Jewish covenant status, not just salvation. It promotes a holistic faith view, balancing vertical and horizontal aspects, Spirit-led obedience, and 1st-century Judaism diversity, enriching Pauline teachings in the church.
  • In exploring Romans 3:21-26, you'll gain insights into the relationship between righteousness, faith, and salvation. Paul highlights God's righteousness, which is accessible to all through faith in Jesus Christ. By weaving together themes of righteousness, faith, and inclusivity, Paul challenges conventional Jewish and Gentile perspectives, emphasizing the continuity of God's salvation plan while underscoring the centrality of faith in Christ for all believers.
  • In this lesson, you will gain insights into the potential challenge in translating Romans 3:23-24, particularly the term "all" and its connection to the debate on universalism in evangelicalism. Dr. Moo stresses the importance of coherence in biblical interpretation and explores the themes of God's righteousness, faith, and grace in justification. The lesson reviews the cultural background of redemption, drawing parallels with the Greco-Roman slave market and emphasizing the need to understand both the problem of sin and the Gospel solution.
  • Embarking on this lesson, you'll gain insight into the historical development and contemporary challenges surrounding the doctrine of justification. Through exploring classic Reformation principles and contemporary reassessments, you'll understand the tensions between Protestant and Roman Catholic perspectives, particularly regarding the infusion of righteousness and the role of grace.
  • The lesson explores the intricate connection between faith and works, justification, and sanctification in contemporary theological discourse. It delineates divergent views on justification, with scholars like Piper advocating for the preservation of biblical distinctions amidst modern theological trends. The lesson examines key questions regarding the meaning, basis, time, and means of justification.
  • Students in Dr. Moo's class ask multiple questions about justification.
  • By studying Romans 3:27-4:25, you gain insight into Paul's theology, where faith, exemplified by Abraham's righteousness, transcends works and ethnicity, emphasizing the universal scope of salvation through Christ.
  • Hear the questions the students ask regarding Romans 3:27–4:25. And discover Dr. Moo's answers to the questions posed.
  • In Romans 5 – 8, you gain insights into profound theological concepts like justification, identity in Christ, and the tension between present reality and future hope, guiding you to embrace your changed identity and hope for future transformation amidst life's trials.
  • Students as deep questions about Romans 5-8. Hear what Dr. Moo presents as answers to their questions.
  • Through Romans 5:1-11, you'll review the contrast between the Old and New Realms, understanding the essence of living in grace, finding hope amid suffering, and experiencing the assurance of eternal security rooted in Christ's sacrifice and God's love poured into believers' hearts by the Holy Spirit.
  • In Romans 5:12-21, Paul contrasts Adam's sin with Christ's redemptive grace, emphasizing humanity's hope and victory over death through union with Christ, while various interpretations of original sin underscore the universal need for redemption and Christ's pivotal role in restoring humanity to God.
  • Listen to the thorough questions the students ask regarding Romans 5:12-21.
  • The students ask excellent questions of Dr. Moo in this insightful discussion on Romans 6:1-14.
  • Through this lesson, you will gain a deeper understanding of the theological implications of Christ's death and resurrection as explained in Romans 6. You will explore different interpretations of Paul's language regarding the old self and the new self, considering the implications for the Christian life. Ultimately, you will be challenged to recognize your identity in Christ and to actively live according to that identity, rejecting the slavery of sin and embracing servitude to God.
  • Hear the questions the students ask of Dr. Moo regarding Romans 6:1-23.
  • In diving into Romans 7, you'll explore the Law's role in Christian life. Paul's discourse clarifies the distinction between law and gospel, emphasizing the Torah's significance in understanding divine commandments.

Dr. Douglas Moo, from Wheaton College Graduate School, offers an exegetical examination of the book of Romans. This course was recorded during a D.Min. seminar at the Carolina Graduate School of Divinity in May 2012.

Please note that the audio mp3 file numbers on downloaded files are two greater than each lecture number beginning with number 15.

Romans 7:7-12


This transcript follows the main points of the speaker but is not always word-for-word.


Romans 7:7-12


What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.




A. Death to the Law Brings New Life: Going back to our text at the end of Romans 6; there is a death to the law but that brings new life. We can belong to another, to him who is raised from the dead bearing fruit for God. So, there is the Law in Christ; we can be bound to one or the other. But we can’t be bound to both at the same time, Paul suggests. To me, it is an old covenant and new covenant contrast. In the old covenant, people lived under the law of God; obviously they were to have faith and their hearts transformed. They were to love God and were bound to work out their life in God as the old covenant people of God by the stipulations of his Law. But with the arrival of the new covenant, it’s now Christ to whom we are fundamentally tied, not the Law. Paul then reminds us of something that he said a number of times in Romans; when we were in the realm of flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law worked in us so that we bore fruit for death. God gave the Law to take care of human passions. He gave the Law so that we wouldn’t have sinful passions. You can imagine people reading Paul or hearing him talk about this and wondering what he is talking about, ‘the law stimulates sinful passions?’ The contrast then with the but now; I love Martin Lloyd Jones’ comment in regards to the but/now contrast that you have in these New Testament texts. Once when, here is who I was, but now, here is who I am. This is the contrast between my past and my present; my life under sin, doomed to eternal death and the new life that I now enjoy again. We are released from dying to the Law; we are now serving in the new way of the Spirit. Paul does something which he often does; he announces a topic that is to become very important. He brings in the Spirit here. There are no references to the Spirit in verses 7-25. But in Romans 8, Paul is going to come back and develop that point.


B. In verses 7-25, the Law is Portrayed Negatively: A new way to think about the next part of Romans is to think that 7:7-25 is talking about this and Romans 8 is talking about the contrast between the old way of the written code and the new way of the Spirit. For the next part of Romans 7, we will begin to understand why Paul raises the question he does in verse 7. Some of the key texts leading up to this point is seen first in 3:20 where it says that no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the Law, but rather through the Law we become conscience of our sin. This isn’t a very positive way to talk about the law. Then in Romans 4:15, the Law brings wrath and in Romans 5:20, it says that the Law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. In Romans 6:14, we are no longer under the law and in Romans 7:4, it says that we have to die to the Law and we see that sinful passions are aroused by the Law in Roman 7:5. Paul has consistently talked negatively about the Law. The Law makes us aware of sin and it bring wrath. As Christians we are no longer under the law as it arouses sinful passions. So, we have had a litany of negative comments about the Law. So, Paul decides to explain more in-depth of exactly what he is saying about the Law.  So, is the Law sinful? This is in chapter 7 and verse 7. He answers strongly, no! May it never be! This is a strong negation. So, Paul is saying that we shouldn’t misunderstand him. The Law is not something that is sinful; rather it is God’s good gift to us. His commandments are holy and righteous and good. Nevertheless, Paul goes on to argue in verses 8-11 in regards to why sin can take God’s good law and create these negative consequences. The Law is a good thing, it’s spiritual and good and holy, but I am under sin, Paul says. That is why sin could use the Law in these negative ways.


C. Paul Changes Over to a Narrative Story Line: In verse 7-11, the Law is holy, righteous and good. Paul then develops this argument about an experience using the first person pronoun. What is famous and also contentious in 7-25 is Paul’s sudden use of a narrative style or writing that is all about me. There have been long debates about these verses. I think the initial reaction is about the academics creating issues that don’t exist. This does happen. Paul is the writer of the letter using the first person pronoun ‘I’. This is a somewhat common sense approach to Scripture which should be read and understood by the community of believers. But, our English Bibles are always going to be falling short of providing all the evidence people need. We have English Bibles, not Greek Bibles and many passages are difficult to translate; sometimes you can only do the best you can do but it isn’t perfect. And, I will remind you that we have the benefit of studying a lot of really good translations, where many of these have been written in the last twenty or thirty years. This gives us a good resource. And, honestly, I didn’t think knowing Greek would give you the access to the Word of God that you can’t get in English. Know that Greek and Hebrew are important tools, but they are only tools. But there might be some things in the Greek texts that aren’t brought out in the English text. Perhaps more important, it is possible that Paul is using a kind of convection of his day where contemporary readers don’t know about, especially people who don’t know the ancient world. There are possible linguistic traits that simply aren’t understood from that time. So, this use of the first person pronoun here is found sometimes in Scripture as a kind of device to personalize oneself. Another example of this is in Lamentations where in order to emotionally express the sufferings of Jerusalem, it is presented in the first person. For example, it says, ‘my walls are broken down and pagans are desecrating my streets.’ There is a long passage that uses first person singular to refer to Jerusalem. So, a common sense approach to Roman 7 says that Paul is talking about himself. In addition, when we see these ancient parallels, we recognize that there could be other options.


D. Options for Interpretation: Again, who is Paul talking about here? Look at the sequence in verse 9 and 10. Paul says, ‘once I was alive apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sins bring to life and I died. You have the transition saying that he was alive, and then the commandment came where I died. The majority interpretation takes a common sense approach. Well, Paul is describing his own experience. He was a self-satisfied Jew thinking that he was right with God. Then Paul came to realize what the Law really required perhaps at the time of his conversion. Other scholars think that perhaps when he became of age. Robert Gundry has written an interesting article suggesting that some of this language might reflect a point in time where sexual urges become significant and you kind of get the naivety of a boy who suddenly becomes a man. Paul realized what the Law really required and then realizes that he is spiritually dead. There is a lot to be said for this interpretation but it seems to me that we are reading too much into the passage when we interpret it this way.  Paul says that I was alive, the commandment came and I died. We are interpreting that to mean, ‘I thought that I was alive; I came to understand the commandment and I saw myself to be dead.’ Perhaps this is a legitimate interpretation. But that isn’t what Paul is saying. There is this transition from life to death at the time of coming of the commandment.


Two other options in understanding this; Paul isn’t talking about his own experience, but instead he is talking about who he is in Adam. The only human being besides Eve who has ever lived, who was fully alive and died when the commandment came, were Adam and Eve. Every person sense then are born dead in trespasses and sin. Taken the language in the strict way that it is actually used, this could be a description of the fall of humanity. Adam and Eve were alive in the Garden for God created them as good and in fellowship with himself. God gave the commandment to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That commandment was disobeyed and the first human pair died. So the second way of understanding the sequence here; Paul is talking about Adam and indirectly to us who are in Adam. This is from Romans 5 as the representative of Adam. Yet, another option which might be less obvious; Paul is speaking in terms of his identification with the people of Israel. Paul has used this kind of language a lot as we have already seen in Romans. The coming of the commandment, God’s Law to Israel, meant knowledge of sin which created wrath. It increased the trespass and roused sinful passion; Paul has been talking about the Torah. So, Paul is identifying with the people of Israel as a Jew under the Law. He has experienced the history of his people. I tend to favor this third view more than the other options. One in which my PhD student at Wheaton wrote on this issue, making a strong case in reference to Adam. I am inclined to bring Adam more into this than I did in my commentary. But I do tend to think that Paul is not so much describing his own personal experience, but instead experiencing who he is in terms of identification with Adam and the people of Israel.


E. Israelites and the Ancient World: A basic point about the ancient world that we need to recognize; we who are in North America are very individualistic in our viewpoint. Who I am is a matter of my decision and what I have decided to do and become; I can make myself whatever I want to be. This is part of the American myth. The idea that we have an equal society where everyone can ascent as far as they want is rubbish. People in other parts of the world understand that. They say, who I am, is a matter of who my family is. It is a matter of the village that I’m from, the people I belong to. This is what makes me the person that I am, not just my individual decisions. This was also very much part of the 1st century Jewish world. They would say that they are who they are because of the relationship to their people, Israel. For example, in the Passover ceremony, every year Israelites put themselves back into the Exodus experience. The whole ceremony puts them as a slave back in Egypt. God rescued me by parting the waters of the sea. They identify with their past experience. I think this makes sense of what Paul is saying on which he is reflecting on the way his people Israel have found the Law of God not to be a liberating force, but to be something that confirms them in their death. The fundamental analysis of the Law of God is that God gives his Law to people who are already sinful. They already have a bent to turn away from God. So when he gives his Law, the Law itself doesn’t enable them to obey it, it simply spells out in detail where they were falling short.