What does it say?
In Romans 4 Paul uses the example of Abraham, father of the Jewish nation, to show that we are saved by faith not by works. Abraham is blessed before he is circumcised. The blessing comes from believing God. Likewise, the blessing of Isaac, the son of his old age, is because of his faith in God’s promise, not his works.
Romans 5 describes the substitutionary nature of Christ’s blood sacrifice offered for us. Paul goes on to explain why the entire human race is affected by Adam’s sin and why the sacrifice of a single man, Jesus Christ, can be effective for the salvation of all that believe.
In the next two chapters (6-7) Paul describes our new life in Christ and our responsibility to serve God in righteousness. In chapter 7 Paul tells how the Law reveals to us the depth of our sinful nature and the struggle that ensues when we try to fight against it.
What does it mean?
To understand that we no longer live under the Law is not an excuse to live loosely. Our salvation makes us free to serve God, not free to sin. This is the point of chapter 6. In Galatians we saw that legalism actually fosters and encourages sin, and that is once again the point that Paul is making.
Chapter 7 follows chapter 6 and describes the frustration of trying to live by the letter of the law, whether the Law of Moses or laws of our own tradition and invention. The end result is the total frustration that Paul describes at the end of the chapter. No one can live by the Law. This is why Jesus Christ had to die in our place. After having put our faith in his finished work, why would we once again try to live by keeping the Law?
How will I respond?
Have I experienced the type of frustration Paul describes in Romans 7:14-25? Am I trying to live by grace or by Law? Sometimes I have had to surrender certain sins, habits, attitudes or actions to God. Perhaps today I need to surrender to God the goodness of the Law, not because it is good and reflects God’s nature, but because I needlessly am trying to obey it through my own effort.