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1: The apostle continues the comparison between the
former and the present state of a believer, and at the same time
endeavours to wean the Jewish believers from their fondness for
the Mosaic law. I speak to them that know the law - To the Jews
chiefly here. As long - So long, and no longer. As it liveth
- The law is here spoken of, by a common figure, as a person, to
which, as to an husband, life and death are ascribed. But he
speaks indifferently of the law being dead to us, or we to it,
the sense being the same.
2: She is freed from the law of her husband - From that law
which gave him a peculiar property in her.
4: Thus ye also - Are now as free from the Mosaic law as an
husband is, when his wife is dead. By the body of Christ - Offered
up; that is, by the merits of his death, that law expiring with him.
5: When ye were in the flesh - Carnally minded, in a state of
nature; before we believed in Christ. Our sins which were by the
law - Accidentally occasioned, or irritated thereby. Wrought in
our members - Spread themselves all over the whole man.
6: Being dead to that whereby we were held - To our old
husband, the law. That we might serve in newness of spirit - In a
new, spiritual manner. And not in the oldness of the letter - Not in
a bare literal, external way, as we did before.
7: What shall we say then - This is a kind of a digression, to
the beginning of the next chapter, wherein the apostle, in order to
show in the most lively manner the weakness and inefficacy of
the law, changes the person and speaks as of himself, concerning
the misery of one under the law. This St. Paul frequently does,
when he is not speaking of his own person, but only assuming
another character, (Ro 3:5,1Co 10:30,4:6).
The character here assumed is that of a man, first ignorant of
the law, then under it and sincerely, but ineffectually, striving
to serve God. To have spoken this of himself, or any true
believer, would have been foreign to the whole scope of his
discourse; nay, utterly contrary thereto, as well as to what is
expressly asserted, (Ro 8:2).
Is the law sin - Sinful in itself, or a promoter of sin.
I had not known lust - That is, evil desire. I had not known
it to be a sin; nay, perhaps I should not have known that any such
desire was in me: it did not appear, till it was stirred up by the
8: But sin - My inbred corruption. Taking occasion by the
commandment - Forbidding, but not subduing it, was only fretted,
and wrought in me so much the more all manner of evil desire.
For while I was without the knowledge of the law, sin was dead
- Neither so apparent, nor so active; nor was I under the least
apprehensions of any danger from it.
9: And I was once alive without the law - Without the close
application of it. I had much life, wisdom, virtue, strength: so
I thought. But when the commandment - That is, the law, a part put
for the whole; but this expression particularly intimates its
compulsive force, which restrains, enjoins, urges, forbids,
threatens. Came - In its spiritual meaning, to my heart, with the
power of God. Sin revived, and I died - My inbred sin took fire,
and all my virtue and strength died away; and I then saw myself
to be dead in sin, and liable to death eternal.
10: The commandment which was intended for life - Doubtless it was
originally intended by God as a grand means of preserving and
increasing spiritual life, and leading to life everlasting.
11: Deceived me - While I expected life by the law, sin
came upon me unawares and slew all my hopes.
12: The commandment - That is, every branch of the law. Is
holy, and just, and good - It springs from, and partakes of, the
holy nature of God; it is every way just and right in itself; it is
designed wholly for the good of man.
13: Was then that which is good made the cause of evil to me;
yea, of death, which is the greatest of evil? Not so. But it
was sin, which was made death to me, inasmuch as it wrought death
in me even by that which is good - By the good law. So that sin
by the commandment became exceeding sinful - The consequence of
which was, that inbred sin, thus driving furiously in spite of
the commandment, became exceeding sinful; the guilt thereof being
14: I am carnal - St. Paul, having compared together the past and
present state of believers, that "in the flesh," (Ro 7:5), and
that "in the spirit," (Ro 7:6), in answering two objections,
(Is then the law sin? (Ro 7:7), and,
Is the law death? (Ro 7:13),) interweaves the whole process of
a man reasoning, groaning, striving, and escaping from the legal
to the evangelical state.
This he does from (Ro 7:7), to the end of this chapter.
Sold under sin - Totally enslaved; slaves bought with money were
absolutely at their master's disposal.
16: It is good - This single word implies all the three that
were used before, (Ro 7:12), "holy, just, and good."
17: It is no more I that can properly be said to do it, but
rather sin that dwelleth in me - That makes, as it were, another
person, and tyrannizes over me.
18: In my flesh - The flesh here signifies the whole man as
he is by nature.
21: I find then a law - An inward constraining power,
flowing from the dictate of corrupt nature.
22: For I delight in the law of God - This is more than
"I consent to," (Ro 7:16). The day of liberty draws near.
The inward man - Called the mind,(Ro 7:23,25).
23: But I see another law in my members - Another inward
constraining power of evil inclinations and bodily appetites.
Warring against the law of my mind - The dictate of my mind,
which delights in the law of God. And captivating me - In spite
of all my resistance
24: Wretched man that I am - The struggle is now come to
the height; and the man, finding there is no help in himself,
begins almost unawares to pray, Who shall deliver me? He then
seeks and looks for deliverance, till God in Christ appears to
answer his question. The word which we translate deliver, implies
force. And indeed without this there can be no deliverance. The
body of this death - That is, this body of death; this mass of sin,
leading to death eternal, and cleaving as close to me as my body
to my soul. We may observe, the deliverance is not wrought yet.
25: I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord - That is,
God will deliver me through Christ. But the apostle, as his
frequent manner is, beautifully interweaves his assertion with
thanksgiving;' the hymn of praise answering in a manner to the
voice of sorrow, "Wretched man that I am!" So then - He here
sums up the whole, and concludes what he began, (Ro 7:7).
I myself - Or rather that I, the person whom I am personating, till
this deliverance is wrought. Serve the law of God with my mind
- My reason and conscience declare for God. But with my flesh
the law of sin - But my corrupt passions and appetites still rebel.
The man is now utterly weary of his bondage, and upon the brink