Romans 7:4-6: “…….. YOU ALSO HAVE BECOME DEAD TO THE LAW through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit TO DEATH. 6 BUT NOW WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”
To understand these very concise verses, other verses must be acknowledged as equally valid. Some (actually a significant number) of those other verses are also guiding clues in explaining verses 4 through 6. Isaiah 28:12,13 warns us that just knowing small parts of the Bible here and there, without knowing the entire Bible, can ensnare us. Note that in Romans 7 major emphasis is on DEATH, DEATH, DEATH and SIN. The very major Old Testament principle of death and its relationship to sin is the main subject in the book of Romans, especially as shown in Romans 7:5,6,9,10,11, and 24. Ezekiel 18:4: “…… The soul who sins shall DIE.” Ezekiel 18:20: “The soul who sins shall DIE ……” Romans 6:23: “the wages of sin is DEATH.” James 1:15: “…… sin, when it is full grown, brings forth DEATH.” Romans 5:12: “…… DEATH spread to all men, because all sinned.” Romans 5:14: “…… DEATH reigned …… even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgressions of Adam ……” What law have Christians become dead to and delivered from? Near the beginning of the very next chapter Romans 8:2 pinpoints the exact law that they have been delivered from, THE LAW OF SIN AND DEATH. The specific law of sin and death, or the penalty part of the law for breaking the law, is distinctly different from the other part of the law, the obedience part of the law. A powerful clue that these Roman 7 verses DO NOT indicate law keeping has ended is the following logic. The word “sin” occurs frequently throughout the NT, 127 times in the New International Version. 1 John 3:4 defines sin as the transgression of the law, referring to the general law in the Bible. The Greek in 1 John 3:4 shows that the law includes many still applicable OT laws such as the tithing, dietary, and festival laws. If Jesus abolished the law, sin then becomes non-existent because laws no longer exist to break. But since the Bible all the way to Revelation repeatedly and solemnly warns Christians to avoid sin, defined Biblically as breaking the law, then the law is shown to still exist and be in full force. Also, if mainstreamers are correct that these Roman 7 verses provide permission to abandon law keeping then the Ten Commandments no longer need to be obeyed. The first Commandment is to worship only the one true God, not other gods. To interpret Romans 7:4-6 as proof that obedience to the law, which would include obeying the first Commandment as well as other Commandments forbidding lying and stealing, and other OT laws prohibiting bestiality or putting stumbling blocks in front of the blind, has become obsolete is therefore absurd, of course. Look at verses 7 and 12: 7 “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law……..” The “oldness of the letter” in Romans 7:6 refers to the original, legal condemnation for breaking the law, which was the automatic death penalty part of the law for violating the law (Numbers 15:35, Mark 7:10, etc.). 12: “Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Verses 7 and 12 emphasize that observing the majority of the Mosaic laws is still a necessary and integral part of Christianity. These verses are addressed to baptized Christians with the Holy Spirit faithfully obeying divine laws, thereby nullifying or suspending for themselves the penalty, and only the penalty, not the obedience part of the law, of violating Biblical laws. Romans 7:4 says that YOU, a Christian, have become dead (or immune) to the law (the penalty part of the law). Verse 4 does not say that the law has become dead. Verse 6: “But now we have been delivered from the law …..” The Greek word for “delivered” is katargeo, Strong’s number 2673, which means literally “to reduce to inactivity,” leaving open the interpretation that the law itself has not been abolished or destroyed, but that its potency or penalties have been rendered inactive. Loss of being is not implied, but loss of well being. Katargeo also appears in other verses such as Luke 13:7 in which a figless fig tree was making the ground it covered useless and inactive (but not abolishing or destroying the ground). Concluding, there is simply too much reasonable doubt to believe that Romans 7:4-6 conclusively and clearly proves OT law keeping has been annulled. A far larger number of verses not only support law keeping, but clearly support law keeping. For a better understanding please visit http://www.ucg.org/booklet/new-covenant-does-it-abolish-gods-law/justice-and-judgment-god/ then scroll down to the lower one third of that page. Another good site is http://rcg.org/questions/p155.a.html.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless indicated otherwise, all Biblical quotations on this page are from the New King James Version.