7 Brothers, all of you understand the law of Moses. So surely you know that the law rules over a person only while he is alive. 2 For example, a woman must stay married to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies, then she is free from the law of marriage. 3 But if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, the law says she is guilty of adultery. But if her husband dies, then the woman is free from the law of marriage. So if she marries another man after her husband dies, she is not guilty of adultery.
4 In the same way, my brothers, your old selves died, and you became free from the law through the body of Christ. Now you belong to someone else. You belong to the One who was raised from death. We belong to Christ so that we can be used in service to God. 5 In the past, we were ruled by our sinful selves. The law made us want to do sinful things. And those sinful things we wanted to do controlled our bodies, so that the things we did were only bringing us death. 6 In the past, the law held us like prisoners. But our old selves died, and we were made free from the law. So now we serve God in a new way, not in the old way with written rules. Now we serve God in the new way, with the Spirit.
Our Fight Against Sin
7 You might think that I am saying that sin and the law are the same thing. That is not true. But the law was the only way I could learn what sin meant. I would never have known what it means to want something wrong if the law had not said, “You must not want to take your neighbor’s things.”[a]8 And sin found a way to use that command and cause me to want every kind of wrong thing. So sin came to me because of that command. But without the law, sin has no power. 9 I was alive without the law before I knew the law. But when the law’s command came to me, then sin began to live. 10 And I died because of sin. The command was meant to bring life, but for me that command brought death. 11 Sin found a way to fool me by using the command. Sin used the command to make me die.
12 So the law is holy, and the command is holy and right and good. 13 Does this mean that something that is good brought death to me? No! Sin used something that is good to bring death to me. This happened so that I could see what sin is really like. The command was used to show that sin is something very evil.
The War Within Man
14 We know that the law is spiritual. But I am not spiritual. Sin rules me as if I were its slave. 15 I do not understand the things I do. I do not do the good things I want to do. And I do the bad things I hate to do. 16 And if I do not want to do the bad things I do, then that means that I agree that the law is good. 17 But I am not really the one who is doing these bad things. It is sin living in me that does these things. 18 Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me—I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good. But I do not do them. 19 I do not do the good things that I want to do. I do the bad things that I do not want to do. 20 So if I do things I do not want to do, then I am not the one doing those things. It is sin living in me that does those bad things.
21 So I have learned this rule: When I want to do good, evil is there with me. 22 In my mind, I am happy with God’s law. 23 But I see another law working in my body. That law makes war against the law that my mind accepts. That other law working in my body is the law of sin, and that law makes me its prisoner. 24 What a miserable man I am! Who will save me from this body that brings me death? 25 God will. I thank him for saving me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So in my mind I am a slave to God’s law. But in my sinful self I am a slave to the law of sin.
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