When Paul wrote to the Romans, there were Jewish Christians who were relying on the law for justification. For them, salvation would have to be given on the basis of personal righteousness, Rom. 4:4. Since Paul has already established that ‘none are righteous’, we see that righteousness by works is not possible. 

Paul shows that the Law had a purpose which was to bring the knowledge of sin, Rom. 

7:7,12-13. But now the Law has phased out and replaced by the Law of Christ.

The Jews who are in Paul’s audience are struggling thinking that God’s Law has failed since being ‘Jew’ seems to have no advantage. Paul shows that God’s word did not fail but instead that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law, Rom. 9:6,25,26; 11:1-6; 3:1ff. If they missed the message of faith in Christ, then they missed the aim of the Law which was to bring sinful men to Christ, Gal. 3:24.

Paul wants it to be clear that there is only one way to heaven and it is through faith in Jesus Christ. In Rom. 1, Paul says that righteousness comes through believing the Gospel of Christ, Rom. 1:16,17. Explaining the inability of the Law to make righteous, since we are sinful, Paul says God devised His plan to make us righteous by faith, something the prophets foretold, Rom. 3:19-24. In Paul’s discussion of Abraham, he says that Law keepers seek justification by their works but Christians seek to be justified as a gift, Rom. 4:4,5. Some may boast in their own works, but God’s righteousness comes by faith separate and apart from the Law, Rom. 3:27,28. To the Jews who still relied on keeping the Law and circumcision for being righteous, Paul says to them they have been divorced from that Law in order that they may be married to Christ, Rom. 7:4. It seems that the struggle being described by Paul in the latter part of Romans 7 is one that the Law keepers can identify with as they continually feel frustrated by maintaining a relationship with Moses and with Christ. The Jewish Christians are butting heads with the limitations of the flesh and Law keeping, Rom. 7:14-25. Faith in Christ is the only answer for this struggle and hopelessness. The Jews wanted to be righteous before God, but Paul shows them that the Law can’t do it. The requirement of the Law is perfection which isn’t possible except by turning away from the Law and and learning to walk according to the Spirit in Jesus Christ, Rom. 8:3,4. In chapter 9, Paul has shown that the Jews-as a whole-are lost because they did not follow Christ whom the Old Testament prophecies all pointed to, Rom. 9:6,12-17. The Old Testament prophecies pointed to the time when salvation and righteousness would come through faith Christ and not through works of the Law, Rom. 9:30-32. The Gentiles received salvation because they pursued salvation by faith whereas the Jews sought it by works. Therefore Paul says that “Christ is the end of the Law” for to seek salvation by the Law is akin to bringing down the work of Christ, Rom. 10:4-6. So has the word of God failed for the Jews? No, in fact God showed that it would only be a righteous remnant who would embrace God’s plan, Rom. 11:4-6.

Romans 6:1 and the question of whether we should sin more to make God’s grace even greater is intended to address the charge being made by Jews that Paul was teaching a type of antinomianism-the system of faith without the necessity of works/Law-since Paul was making it so clear that the Law of Moses was dead. Paul said that those making that charge to suggest such a thing were condemned: faith in Christ does not preclude or exclude obedience. In chapter 6 Paul shows that in fact there is no justification for continuing to sin as their own baptism was about dying to sin and living a new life as a slave or righteousness, Rom. 6:3-11. Baptism the that threshold moment where Jews and Gentiles were saved by God grace because with obedient faith, they got baptized and appealed to God for salvation, 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:26,27, Col. 2:12. In Baptism, the sinners “obeyed from the heart” the Gospel and they were saved.

Some even today will think they are Christians while their faith lays heavily on the Ten Commandments. When they are taught that the Law was done away with to be replaced with the Law of Christ (Heb. 9;15-17; 8:6-7,13), they balk as they cannot understand how God could release us from a Law that says not to murder or commit adultery. They do not understand that the Law of Moses was replaced by a higher and more spiritual Law that addresses not only the outward acts of the person, but also goes to the very heart. We don’t look upon a woman to lust after her. We don’t hate our neighbor so that we don’t kill him with our thoughts. Because many even today are relying on the Ten Commandments to be counted as righteous, they have been shown to rely not on the sanctifying work of Christ as they still rely on their own goodness and ability to be righteous. – Dan Mayfield

Categories: Law, Moses, Uncategorized

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