I think it’s safe to say that most of us are not the biggest fans of rules. I see this as I drive down Interstate 15 everyday. The lines that are supposed to keep each car safely in its own lane seem to rarely accomplish that purpose. The standard “two hands on the wheel, at ten and two, have now been replaced by the cell phone in one hand, breakfast in the other, and the knees are now steering the car. Speed limit signs – well let’s just be honest, they are optional at best.
Why do we have such an extreme aversion to obeying the laws? Why don’t we understand or care that rules, or in the traffic example--laws--are usually intended for our well being and safety? This is the issue Paul addresses in Romans 7:7-25.
Paul begins be comparing the law to sin and immediately gives a personal example of how the law taught him about his own sinfulness. He said he he would covet (Romans 7:7). Paul then goes on to describe how the law actually is a good thing! The law, it turns out, is the holy, righteous standard that God has set for us to know how we ought to order our lives (Romans 7:12). In reality, the law is God’s gracious way of showing us our faults, weaknesses, and ultimately our brokenness because of sin. Our sin nature is actually the problem, not the law (Romans 7:13).
Jesus knew that people in his day were confused about the purposes of the law, so he addressed it in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:17. Jesus was trying to help his audience understand that everything he was saying was directly in line with the law they had grown up hearing and his teaching was the completion of the purposes of the law.
I think our biggest struggle with a text like this is being willing to admit that at the end of the day we think we know best. As fallen humans, we get into the mindset that we’re pretty smart and therefore we don’t need to follow all the rules or heed all the warnings, because “we’ve got this.” I know myself well enough to know that I do too.
Paul also mentions that this is a battle we will not defeat overnight and it’s a battle we will fight most of our lives (Romans 7:16-20). It’s somewhat encouraging knowing that even Paul struggled with this!
My encouragement to you as you discuss this in your House Fellowship this week is to wrestle with the root problems of your own personal rebellion to God’s rule and reign in your life. Do we trust the heart and character of God enough to live under the authority of His Law? Do we believe that His way is actually the best way to live our life? Do we let the Word critique us or do we try to critique the Word? What’s wrong with that approach to Scripture?
Minister of Outreach and Discipleship
*Photo by Flickr.com user, "frankieleon" is registered under a Creative Commons License and is used by permission.