7 Don’t you understand yet, dear Jewish brothers[a] in Christ, that when a person dies the law no longer holds him in its power?
2 Let me illustrate: when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, she is no longer bound to him; the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. 3 Then she can marry someone else if she wants to. That would be wrong while he was alive, but it is perfectly all right after he dies.
4 Your “husband,” your master, used to be the Jewish law; but you “died,” as it were, with Christ on the cross; and since you are “dead,” you are no longer “married to the law,” and it has no more control over you. Then you came back to life again when Christ did and are a new person. And now you are “married,” so to speak, to the one who rose from the dead, so that you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. 5 When your old nature was still active, sinful desires were at work within you, making you want to do whatever God said not to and producing sinful deeds, the rotting fruit of death. 6 But now you need no longer worry about the Jewish laws and customs[b] because you “died” while in their captivity, and now you can really serve God; not in the old way, mechanically obeying a set of rules, but in the new way, with all of your hearts and minds.*
7 Well then, am I suggesting that these laws of God are evil? Of course not! No, the law is not sinful, but it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known the sin in my heart—the evil desires that are hidden there—if the law had not said, “You must not have evil desires in your heart.” 8 But sin used this law against evil desires by reminding me that such desires are wrong, and arousing all kinds of forbidden desires within me! Only if there were no laws to break would there be no sinning.
9 That is why I felt fine so long as I did not understand what the law really demanded. But when I learned the truth, I realized that I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. 10 So as far as I was concerned, the good law which was supposed to show me the way of life resulted instead in my being given the death penalty. 11 Sin fooled me by taking the good laws of God and using them to make me guilty of death. 12 But still, you see, the law itself was wholly right and good.
13 But how can that be? Didn’t the law cause my doom? How then can it be good? No, it was sin, devilish stuff that it is, that used what was good to bring about my condemnation. So you can see how cunning and deadly and damnable it is. For it uses God’s good laws for its own evil purposes.
14 The law is good, then, and the trouble is not there but with me because I am sold into slavery with Sin as my owner.
15 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to—what I hate. 16 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. 17 But I can’t help myself because I’m no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.
18 I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn I can’t make myself do right. I want to but I can’t. 19 When I want to do good, I don’t; and when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. 20 Now if I am doing what I don’t want to, it is plain where the trouble is: sin still has me in its evil grasp.
21 It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; 23-25 but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.
So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done[c] by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.
- Romans 7:1 dear Jewish brothers, implied; literally, “men who know [the] law.”
- Romans 7:6 But now you need no longer worry about the Jewish laws and customs, literally, “But now we are delivered from the law.” with all of your hearts and minds, implied.
- Romans 7:23 It has been done, or “It will be done,” literally, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”