In the previous chapter Paul taught that because Christians are dead to sin and alive to Christ, they must stop giving themselves to sin and instead give themselves to live righteous lives. Here Paul continues teaching how Christians should live. He starts by pointing out that Christians have died to the Mosaic Law (they are not under its jurisdiction) and have been joined to Christ (they are under Christ’s jurisdiction, the Law of Christ). Because of this new relationship Christians can bear fruit for God (vv. 1-6).
Verses 5-6 are important for this and the next chapter. Verse five is developed in the rest of this chapter and verse six in the next.
Verse five teaches that unbelievers are dominated by their sin nature (“flesh”); the Law stimulated more sin, resulting in death. Before one becomes a Christian one’s sinful passions react to the Law not with glad submission but obstinate rebellion (vv. 7-8). The problem wasn’t the Law but the sinful passions (vv. 9-11). The Law is holy, stating and enforcing righteousness, but it provides no power to keep it.
Verses 13-25 are from the standpoint of a Christian trying to obey the Law in his own strength. While there is a love for and desire to obey God, depending on self is guaranteed to fail. Instead, the Christian’s only hope is depending on Christ (vv. 24-25).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- The Mosaic Law is Scripture and thus is inspired and profitable for Christian life and growth (2 Tim 3:16-17). This is true of all Scripture. But that does not mean that Christians are responsible for obeying the Mosaic Law like Israel was in the OT. You can—and must!—learn about God and his will from all Scripture by accurately understanding and applying it to your life.
- If you are a Christian you have been joined with Christ (“married,” v. 4). Are you wholly devoted to him as a faithful “spouse”? With all that you are and have (cf. James 4:4)?
- Christian, you must obey God, but you cannot depend on yourself to do that! Your only hope is in Jesus Christ, not yourself. Just as you could not save yourself you cannot grow more like Christ by yourself. You must depend on Christ for salvation and Christ-like living!