Paraphrase of the Book of Romans
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

Chapter 7

Liberated From Under the Law’s Jurisdiction

1 In the last chapter, I indicated that we Christians are no longer legally under the law [Rom. 6:14]. I would like to amplify on this, as I am sure some of you will object to that statement. Don’t you realize, brethren, that when Christ liberated us from the dominion of sin He also delivered us from the jurisdiction of the law? May I remind you who are familiar with the law, [Jews implied] that the law has authority over a person only as long as that person is alive.

2 Take, for example, the situation of a married woman: according to the law of marriage, a woman is bound to her husband by the marriage vow as long as they both live. But should her husband die, she is immediately released from her marriage vow and is permitted to marry another man. 3 If, however, the woman leaves her husband, without Biblical grounds, while he is still alive and marries another man, she certainly will be considered as an adultercss. But this is not true if her husband dies and she later marries another man, since the marriage vow is valid only as long as “both shall live.”

4 This is precisely how Christ liberated us from under the law’s jurisdiction. All of us were bound to the law from birth, just as a wife is to her husband by marriage. This means the law had authority over us as long as we lived. But when we died in the corporate humanity of Christ, which, incidentally, we Christians have identified with by faith and baptism, we were released from the jurisdiction of the law; and this God did in order that we might be married or united to the risen Christ. The result is that now we can actually bear spiritual fruit unto God, because this is what Christ is able to do in us, something the law was incapable of doing.

5 But prior to this glorious event, while our sinful self was still ruled by the law there was absolutely no compatibility between the law and our sinful natures so that all that we did was in complete contradiction to the law’s requirements, which in turn meant we stood constantly under the condemnation of the law to eternal death. 6 But now that our sinful self is crucified with Christ and we have been released legally from under the law and are married to the risen Christ, we can serve God in a truly spiritual way, out of hearts full of love, gratitude, and joy instead of the old motivation of fear, which we did under the law.

God’s Law is Holy but We Are Sinful

7 Now does the fact that Christ has liberated us from sin as well as from the jurisdiction of the law mean that the law and sin are synonymous? No, never! In fact, the very opposite is true. It is through the law that we know the true and deeper meaning of sin; for sin is the violation of the law (IJohn 3:4). For example, I would never have known that it was a sin to covet or desire somehody else’s goods or wife if the law had not declared “thou shall not covet.”

8 But sin, being what it is, anti-law [Rom. 8:7], produced in me all kinds of covetous desires, thereby bringing to the open the fact that I am a miserable slave to sin and incapable of meeting the law’s demands, something I may have not fully discovered had God not given us His law. 9 In fact, there was a time when I had not fully understood the full implications of the law and consequently considered myself a righteous person worthy of eternal life [Phil. 3:6]. But when God opened my eyes and I realized the full and deeper meaning of the law’s demands, I discovered to my horror that I was a wretched sinner deserving nothing but eternal death. 10 I found that the commandments, which according to my upbringing were taught to me as the way of salvation, turned out to be the very opposite, the way of death.

11 It was really my sinful heart that utterly deceived me [Jer. 17:9] and gave me the idea that I could save mysclf through keeping the law. On the contrary, I have discovered that all that the law can do is convince me I am a sinner and condemn me to eternal death. 12 This is because the law is holy and its demands to qualify for life are absolute holiness, goodness, and righteousness.

13 But how can a holy law that is absolutely good be the means of my death? No! I did not say that; it is not the law that is the cause of death but sin that is the sting of death. But because the law condemns sin it gives sin the legal right to execute the sinner [1 Cor. 15:56]. However, the reason why God gave us His law was not to destroy us but to open our eyes to our utterly sinful state, something essential if we are to accept His gift of salvation in Christ.

Man’s Sinful Nature Is Incompatible With God’s Holy Law

14 So then, we may conclude that the law itself is holy and spiritual, but it is I that am sinful, sold as a slave to sin. 15 My own experience and that of every person that lives under the old covenant proves this beyond a shadow of a doubt. For even when I would like to live a good and righteous life, I discover that in practice I am doing evil—that which I hate to do. 16 And since I am doing what I really do not want to do, then I am admitting that the law’s demands, which I want to do, are good.

17 The real problem, then, is not my desire to do good but my sinful nature which controls me and will not submit to my good intentions prompted by the law. 18 By this l know that in me, that is in my sinful nature, nothing good resides; for while the inner most desires of my mind want to do good, I am incapable of carrying out those desires. 19 Instead, the evil which I detest, but what my sinful nature wants, is what I find myself continually doing.

20 Consequently, since my evil acts are really not my true intents, this is proof that I am a slave to my sinful nature which I was born with and which is the real culprit. 21 So then, this is what I have discovered to be my predicament: when I want to do good, my sinful nature dominates me and drives me to do the very opposite. 22 For deep down in my heart I really delight in the righteous requirements of the law of God; 23 but in reality and practice there seems to be another principle dwelling in my lower nature, the law of self, that continually contradicts my good intentions, making me a prisoner to sin’s power which has permeated my whole physical being.

24 Oh, what a miserable and wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from the plight of my sinful body by which I am doomed to death? 25 I thank God for the way of escape He has made for us in Christ. So then, in and of myself, apart from the power of God’s Holy Spirit, I am totally incapable of producing genuine righteousncss, for while my mind may wish to obey God’s holy law, my sinful nature simply will not comply and therefore enslaves me to sin. This is the predicament of fallen humanity and our only hope, therefore, is Christ’s righteousness, both imputed and imparted.

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