The authority of the law
1 My Christian friends, you know about laws. You know that we have to obey them. The laws have authority over someone while they are still alive. 2 So think about this. A woman who has a husband must stay with him as long as he still lives. That is what the law says. But if her husband dies, she becomes free from that law about her marriage. 3 While her husband is alive, the law has authority over her. If she goes to live with another man, the law says that she has done something wrong. People will call her an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she becomes free from that law. If she then marries another man, she will not be doing anything wrong.
4 My friends, it is like that for you too. When Christ's body died on the cross, it is as if you also died with him. Because of that, you are no longer under the authority the law. Now you are free to belong to someone else. You belong to Christ, whom God raised up after his death. As a result, we can live in a good way that will please God. 5 In our old lives, we did the bad things that we wanted to do. God's laws brought bad thoughts into our minds. As a result, our bodies did many wrong things. In the end, those bad things lead to death. 6 But now we have become free from the authority of the law. It is as if we have died. So those rules no longer control us. We do not still try to obey rules that someone has written down. That is the old way. Instead, we serve God in a new way. God's Spirit helps us to please him.
7:5When Paul talks about death here, he means that people die in their spirits. They have become separate from God and the true life which he gives to believers. See Romans 5:12-14
God's Law teaches us about sin
7 So someone might say, ‘God's Law must be bad.’ No! Certainly, it is not bad! Without that law, I would not have known what sin really is. One rule says, ‘You must not want to take things for yourself that belong to other people.’ Without that command, I would not have known that it is wrong to want other people's things. 8 But the command gave sin a chance to come into my thoughts. As a result, I started to want all kinds of wrong things. If there is no law to tell us what is wrong, then sin has no power to make us guilty.
7:7When Paul talks about ‘God's Law’, he means the laws and commands that God gave to Moses for the Israelites to obey. Here, he uses one command as an example. See Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21.
9 As for me, there was a time when I did not know God's laws. I was living without any law to obey. But when I learned about that command, sin now had power in my life. 10 As a result, I became separate from God, as if I had died. So the command that should have brought life to me brought death instead. 11 That command gave sin a chance to deceive me. It caused me to become separate from God.
7:10Paul understood that he had not obeyed God's Law. He knew that he had become separate from God. He did not have the true life which God gives to believers. See Romans 5:12-14.
12 So we understand that God's Law and its commands are completely good. They are holy, fair and good.
13 But someone might say, ‘This means that something good brought death to you.’ No! God's Law did not do that! It was sin that brought death to me. Sin used God's good Law to show that I was guilty. Because of that, we can see that sin is really very bad. The commands in God's Law help to show that sin is completely bad.
The power of sin in our lives
14 We understand that God's Law is spiritual. But I am weak and human. I am like a slave that has sin as my master. 15 I do not understand the things that I do. I do not do the good things that I want to do. Instead, I do the things that I hate to do. 16 But I do not want to do those wrong things. So I am agreeing that God's Law is good. 17 So it is not really I myself who am doing those wrong things. Instead, sin has power in my life. It is sin that causes me to do wrong things.
18 I know that there is nothing good in me. I am weak and human. I want to do what is good. But I am unable to do it. 19 I do not do the good things that I want to do. Instead, I continue to do the bad things that I do not want to do. 20 So, when I do bad things that I do not want to do, it is not really I myself who do them. It is sin that causes me to do wrong things, because it has power in my life.
21 So I understand what is happening in me. Whenever I want to do something good, I can only choose something bad. 22 Deep inside myself, I really love God's laws. 23 So my mind tells me to obey God's laws. But my body wants to make me do something else. Every part of me fights against what my mind tells me to do. Sin has power over my body so that I am like a prisoner. 24 This makes me very sad! My body is leading me to death. I need someone to make me free from the power of sin over my body. 25 I thank God! He has made me free, because of what Jesus Christ has done.
So with my mind I want to obey God's laws. But, at the same time, I serve sin as my master, because I am weak and human.