The Law Can Be Your Friend - merge

September 8, 2007 Romans 7:1-13



This fall Pastor Viars started a new series in our Worship Service:  Reaching New Heights in our Ability to Grow!

  • As we study this subject in the worship service, our goal is to further APPLY the subject to our lives as an ABF, as families, as individuals!
  • We hope this will give you an opportunity to ask questions in response to the various passages we’ll be studying together
  • It also gives us time to think through more specific application to our lives


  1. Remember, a key principle we've always tried to follow:
  2. We meet people where they are, but then we help them take the next spiritual step!

i.e. we expect people to be growing and changing – that’s the NORM, not the exception!

  • Our Key Versein this type of thinking is based on:

Psalm 40:2  He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.

  • footsteps implies progress . . . we’re moving, we’re making progress along the way
  • Key Principle: Either you are growing or you’re not growing!
  • one of the characteristics of Christianity that we studied last week was that . . .
  • Christianity is a religion of ACTION!

God is a God of ACTION, and He expects us to be DOING something -- not sitting around being 'comfortable' in our faith and doing the 'easy' thing, but doing the 'right' thing!

  • Two weeks ago, we began challenging you to think about WHY we need a study on spiritual growth:

1) It’s a natural part of the Christian life. -- it's the norm from a biblical perspective

2) It’s commanded by God! - it's not an option

3) It’s part of the function of the local church – especially the pastors! - but to some degree we all have the responsibility to 'admonish one another'

4) Growing helps avoid problems. - As you mature, you see temptation coming and learn to handle it properly like Jesus did (He was tempted in all ways like we are, but without sin!)

5) Jesus grew . . . so should we!

  1. What is this whole process called? 

Progressive Sanctification = the doctrine of spiritual growth

  1. Three weeks ago the focus was specifically on  “The process of spiritual growth”
  2. HOWwe actually grow and change to be more like Jesus Christ
  3. i.e. to identify sinful habits of thinking and action that God wants to change and replace them with biblical thinking and biblical actions in order to be like Christ
  4. Remember, that is a PROCESS that never ends till either Jesus comes or He takes us home - we should all always be growing!
  5. In other words, what do we need to DO or HOW do we need to function or what is OUR RESPONSIBILITY in the growth process?
  6. We worked through the 'put off' and 'put on' process from Eph. 4:22-24
  7. One of the verses we focused on was:

Romans 6:13And do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

  1. Last week we asked the question “Who are you presenting yourselves to?”
  2. Paul raises a question at the middle of chapter 6 verse 15.
  3. Paul then goes on to’s a matter of presenting a soldier presenting himself to duty...
  4. How we are now free to present our thoughts to the Lord...and present our actions to the Lord...
  5. How that actually becomes habitual...we were slaves to sin, now we can actually become slaves to righteousness...

Application:  Rhetorical question

Who have you presented yourself to?

Are you a slave to sin or obedience?

John 14:21“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

Today’s Lesson - Principles to help us see how God’s law should be our friend.

Text:  Romans 7:1-13

  1. Man’s relationship with the Law
  2. What is the nature of man?

This question is answered in area of theology called “anthropology”

Anthropology ≡ The science or study of man.

It deals with man’s creation, his original state before the fall, the fall and man’s nature after the fall.

There are many anthropological views regarding the nature of man.

Have your class offer suggestions of different views of man’s nature or use Pastor Viars’

  1. A Secular View of Man (a man centered anthropology)

Pastor Viars offers three views

  1. For Freud it’s the super-ego, the person’s moral code fueled by their parents and religious teachers...who insist on all sorts of standards that breed false guilt...
    • So the problem is external and the solution is to free the person from these outside influences
    • When the person can act, apart from moral restraint, without feeling guilty, they are healed...
  2. For behaviorists...the problem is the environment...
    • The person’s around the individual did not provide the right kind of rewards for doing right so the person often chose what was wrong...because it appeared more beneficial to do so...
    • If you change the contingencies, you’ll change the person’s behavior...
    • So again, the problem is external...
  3. The third force psychology...
    • Psychology teaches that human beings were born morally positive...
    • If you would just leave them alone, they would unfold like a flower...
    • That is why there was a period of time not that long ago in American education where teachers were encouraged to ignore incorrect answers on a student’s assignment because marking the answer wrong would make the person feel badly about themselves...and feeling good about themselves was more important than actually learning the material...
  4. A Biblical View of Man (a God centered anthropology)
  5. Man was created. Genesis 1-2
  6. Man was created in the image of God.  Genesis 1:26
  7. Man falls.  Genesis 3
    • Man disobeys Genesis 3:6
    • Man is sentenced to death. Genesis 2:16-17
    • From our first parents we receive both the guilt of sin as well as a corrupt nature.  Romans 5:12-21
  8. The core problem is “within” and NOT false guilt, our environment or external influences.

Let’s not deny the influence of false guilt, our environment or external influences.

Christians have a more robust view of man that includes the heart of man and the sovereignty of God while allowing for our physical being (nature) and our surroundings (nurture).

The world’s Anthropology                                                                 A Biblical Anthropology

A biblical anthropology allows for what man observes but it expands its anthropology to include the “heart of man” and acknowledges the fact that there is a God who engages with mankind.

  1. Where does the “Law” fit in?
  2. The Law has authority in man’s life – Romans 7:1 & 9
  3. While a man is alive he is under the authority of “Law”
  4. In this text the word Law is used as “any law what-so-ever” and does not only mean the Law of God.
  5. Any law whether Roman, Greek or God-given biblical law has authority over a person as long as he lives.

Examples:  The law of God, the law of the land, the law of one’s parents.

  1.  The Law stimulates sinful passion – Romans 7:5 & 8

The unbeliever’s rebellious nature is awakened when restrictions are placed on him and makes him want to do the very things that law forbids (MacArthur Study Bible note)

  1. The Law yields the fruit of death – Romans 7: 5, 9 - 11
  2. Being under the authority of the law and violating the law has consequences.
  3. The outcome of violating the law is death.
  4. Remember – death = separation
    • Physical death = The physical body separates from the immaterial. (Romans 5:12)
    • Spiritual death = Man’s broken relationship with God here on earth. (Genesis 3:8, Romans 8:6-8)
    • Eternal death = eternal separation from God in hell.  (Revelation 20:11-13)
  5. The Law binds us.  Romans 7:6

1 John 3:4Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

  • The word “practices” is referring to a “habitual” practice.
  • Therefore man sins and becomes enslaved to his sin.

What is one to do?

What does one do when he comes to realize that man’s nature is sinful, it has a bent to disobey?

This sinful nature is under the authority of the law; it is bound to the law and suffers directly when violating the law.

The result is havoc, chaos and disaster that presents itself in every imaginable way. Mankind is suffering and desperate.

The world anxiously looks for answers. Well meaning people strive to find a solution to man’s problems. Their best answers fall woefully short. They place responsibility on the external. They blame the environment and they find excuse in biological shortcomings.

However they have an incomplete picture of man, their anthropology is incomplete; they will NEVER arrive at the complete and correct answer.

We Christians have a better way.

God provides an answer.

  1. Man’s release from the Law
  2. Man must die to the law

Romans 7:4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

  1. How does one die to the law?

Romans 7:4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

  • Death to the law is accomplished through the body of Christ.
  • The body of Christ here is a picture of the gospel.
  • Man’s only hope is through God’s gracious gospel.  1 Corinthians 3:3 -5, Romans 10:9 - 10
  • This is an excellent opportunity to introduce the gospel.
  • The result of dying to the law

Romans 7:4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.

  • We are joined to Christ
  • Salvation brings a complete change of spiritual relationship.
  • Just as remarriage after the death of a spouse brings a complete change of marital relationship, believers are no longer married to the law but are now married to Jesus Christ, the divine Bridegroom of His church. (MacArthur)

See: Ephesians 5:24-27 and 2 Corinthians 11:2

  1. The fruit of being joined to Christ

Charles Hodge wrote,

  1. “As far as we are concerned, redemption is in order to [produce] holiness. We are delivered from the law, that we may be united to Christ;
  2. And we are united to Christ, that we may bring forth fruit unto God.
  3. As deliverance from the penalty of the law is in order to [produce] holiness, it is vain to expect that deliverance, except with a view to the end for which it is granted”
  • We are saved to produce good works:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Titus 2:7in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,

1 Peter 2:12Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

  1. Application

We’re studying verse by verse through Romans 6-8, the most extended place in all the Bible dealing with the issue of progressive sanctification---specifically how a person changes and grows.

Two questions need be asked at this point.

  1. Have you personally had a true heart changing relationship with Jesus?
  2. This change is demonstrated through good works that are a byproduct of salvation. What evidence of good works do you see in your life?
  3. The change comes from the gospel message and the resulting new heart.
  4. Ezekiel 36:25 – 31
  5. Growth comes as we submit to God’s Word in our lives.

R. C. Sproul, "A static Christian is a contradiction in terms. Christ demands growth - growth to maturity, greater service, and obedience."

  • Growth is what we call “Progressive Sanctification”
  • To sanctify means to “make holy”
  • This is accomplished by learning the truth of the Word of God and living it.

John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.

Robert Reymond writes, "It is plain from Scripture, from beginning to end, that God desires that his people walk in holiness before him. And his people will so walk. For just as there is no sanctification that is not preceded by justification, so also there is no justification that is not followed by sanctification. The Scriptural demand for and expectation of holiness in the Christian should stir the professing Christian in whom there is no hungering and thirsting after righteousness to examine himself to see if he is actually in the faith

So how can the “Law be our Friend”?

1 Timothy 1:8 – 9But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners….

The law is our friend because it points us to our need for a Savior.

Is the law your friend?