Romans Chapter Seven

Searching For Sanctification

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In our study of Romans chapter seven, we look at man's efforts to find sanctification. Many people confuse sanctification which is a work in progress with justification which is an act that happens immediately when we accept Yeshua Messiah. As we shall see, this confusion leads men to try to achieve sanctification on their own but they are destined to fail.

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Romans 7:1

Surely you know, brothers - for I am speaking to those who understand Torah - that the Torah has authority over a person only so long as he lives?

Paul was speaking to Jewish believers in Yeshua Messiah so they should have known that they were under grace and not the law. When we accept Yeshua as our Lord and Savior, we die with him and so the law has no authority over us anymore.

Romans 7:2 & 3

For example, a married woman is bound by Torah to her husband while he is alive; but if the husband dies, she is released from the part of the Torah that deals with husbands. Therefore, while the husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress if she marries another man; but if the husband dies, she is free from that part of the Torah; so that if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

Many have wrongly tried to take this passage and make it into rules for Christians about marriage. Paul is using this example from the mosaic law to make a point and we must remember that, through Yeshua Messiah, the law does not apply to us. Paul gives this example to them because they were trying to achieve sanctification by observing the law through their own power.

Romans 7:4

Thus, my brothers, you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah's body, so that you may belong to someone else, namely, the one who has been raised from the dead, in order for us to bear fruit for God.

Paul explains that, in the example of the law of marriage, once the husband died the law no longer applied to the bride. Throughout the Bible, the church (those that believe in Yeshua) are called his bride. Therefore, when Yeshua died on the cross, he set us (his bride) free from the law. He did this so that the world would see the glory of God and that is what he is talking about in bearing fruit. Our duty is to help others to see and feel the glory (presence) of God.

Romans 7:5

For when we were living according to our old nature, the passions connected with sins worked through the Torah in our various parts, with the result that we bore fruit for death.

Have you ever seen a child that wants something that is bad for them only because they know that it is forbidden? Our old nature (the flesh) was controlled like that and so we were controlled by those things which lead to death. The law was given by God for our own good but, because the law said that some things were forbidden, we wanted them even more.

Romans 7:6

But now we have been released from this aspect of the Torah, because we have died to that which had us in its clutches, so that we are serving in the new way provided by the Spirit and not in the old way of outwardly following the letter of the law.

The law does not apply to us as believers but, because we love God and have his Spirit living in us, we serve him. That service is offering ourselves to him and walking with him in the Spirit. That Spirit living in us will guide us and give us the power to be sanctified.

Romans 7:7

Therefore, what are we to say? That the Torah is sinful? Heaven forbid! Rather, the function of the Torah was that without it, I would not have known what sin is. For example, I would not have become conscious of what greed is if the Torah had not said, "Thou shalt not covet."

Paul, once again, uses questions to help people to understand. We see, through his answer to his own question, the purpose of the law in the lives of God's people. That simple purpose is to make us aware of sin and what it is. It is impossible for man to accept the gift of grace (Yeshua dying for our sins) if we do not understand what sin is and the fact that we need a Savior.

Romans 7:8

But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, worked in me all kinds of evil desires - for apart from Torah, sin is dead.

Sin gets into our heart and produces all kinds of desires that God says are not appropriate for his people. But, through Yeshua Messiah, we are a new creation with a new heart. We are not under the law and so sin is dead to us. The law does not give us the power to be sanctified and so those who search for it in the law will come up empty.

Romans 7:9 & 10

I was once alive outside the framework of Torah. But when the commandment really encountered me, sin sprang to life, and I died. The commandment that was intended to bring me life was found to be bringing me death!

We must remember that this letter was written by Paul who was highly trained in religious law before he came to Yeshua Messiah. This passage describes his life as he had trusted in the law but, when he met Yeshua, he realized how dead he was in that law.

Romans 7:11

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me; and through the commandment, sin killed me.

Many are and were deceived by thinking that they could keep the law well enough to be saved. We forget that the penalty for one sin is death and therefore the standard of keeping the law would require complete perfection. Because we cannot keep that standard, we are put to death by the commandment if we do not trust in Yeshua Messiah.

Romans 7:12

So the Torah is holy; that is, the commandment is holy, just and good.

The law is good and right but it does not have the ability to save us or give us the power to follow it. It is good in that, without the law, we are not conscious of sin and its effects on our relationship with God. Through the law, we are able to see our inability to keep it and so we see our need for a savior which is Yeshua Messiah.

Romans 7:13

Then did something good become for me the source of death? Heaven forbid! Rather, it was sin working death in me through something good, so that sin might be clearly exposed as sin, so that sin through the commandment might come to be experienced as sinful beyond measure.

The commandments from God are good but they become death to us when we trust in our own obedience to them for salvation. Their whole purpose was to get us to understand sin.

Romans 7:14 & 15

For we know that the Torah is of the Spirit; but as for me, I am bound to the old nature, sold to sin as a slave. I don't understand my own behavior - I don't do what I want to do; instead, I do the very thing I hate!

Paul describes one of the battles that we all face which is the battle between the flesh and the spirit. We were all sold as slaves to sin through the fall of Adam and inherited the sinful nature. Our spirit wants to obey God because we love him but our flesh (human side) looks for pleasure. Paul describes how easy it is to end up doing something that you really do not want to do.

Romans 7:16

Now if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am agreeing that the Torah is good.

Paul reminds us that the law is good to make us aware of the problem of sin. The fact that we cannot perfectly keep the law does not change the fact that it is good.

Romans 7:17 & 18

But now it is no longer "the real me" doing it, but the sin housed inside me. For I know that there is nothing good housed inside me - that is, inside my old nature. I can want what is good, but I can't do it!

He continues by explaining that it is not a conscious decision that he makes but sometimes the human side takes over. That is true for all of us, if we are honest with ourselves. But, the good news is that yeshua paid for all of our sins (even those that we have not yet committed).

Romans 7:19 & 20

For I don't do the good I want; instead, the evil that I don't want is what I do! But if I am doing what "the real me" doesn't want, it is no longer "the real me" doing it but the sin housed inside me.

There are those super pious believers that will judge you without getting to know the struggles that you face. They may even condemn you and say that you are going to hell but, as we see here, even Paul struggled with the flesh and sin. We see, from this passage, that there is a difference between deliberate disobedience and a struggle with the flesh. This struggle will continue until Yeshua comes back and the earth is rid of sin and its influence. If you have someone condemning you for the struggles that you are facing, then, pray for them to understand this passage (you can also share this study with them).

Romans 7:21

So I find it to be the rule, a kind of perverse "torah," that although I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me!

The struggle between good and evil will continue until Yeshua comes back to judge sin. Until then, we live in the midst of evil spirits but have been given the power to stand strong. (see Ephesians 6)

Romans 7:22 & 23

For in my inner self I completely agree with God's Torah; but in my various parts, I see a different "torah," one that battles with the Torah in my mind and makes me a prisoner of sin's "torah," which is operating in my various parts.

Even though we may know and love the Lord Yeshua Messiah, there is still this battle going on inside our bodies. This is the apostle Paul telling us that it is happening in him and so we can be sure that it will happen to us as well. We may lose some of these battles but we can be assured that we will win the war and it ends with the coming of Yeshua to take us home.

Romans 7:24

What a miserable creature I am! Who will rescue me from this body bound for death?

This verse sums up the experience of repentance as, when we realize just how much we need a savior, we can then turn to Yeshua Messiah.

Romans 7:25

Thanks be to God! - through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord! To sum up: with my mind, I am a slave of God's Torah; but with my old nature, I am a slave of sin's "Torah."

Our search for sanctification must begin and end with Yeshua Messiah. He is the only one that can rescue us from our "body of death". We, like Paul, will know in our minds that we are saved by grace and free in Yeshua but the sinful nature will still be used by the enemy to attack us. For a look at how to defend against these attacks, check out Ephesians 6.

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