Earlier in my Christian life, I was encouraged to memorize Romans 6 and Romans 8 (both great chapters to memorize), but chapter 7 was kind of left out. It seems so anticlimactic; such a downer in between the good solid salvation of chapter 6 and the encouraging excitement of chapter 8. What’s up with that?
We happen to be reading through Romans at the same time that I’m in the middle of reading a book by Watchman Nee entitled “The Normal Christian Life”, which is primarily about Romans chapters 6-8. I highly recommend it because it’s helpful in understanding what Paul is saying in these important chapters in Romans, and how it applies to us today. What he wrote about Romans 7 has stuck with me ever since reading it a few days ago, so I wanted to share some portions of it here. He begins,
“Romans 6 deals with freedom from sin. Romans 7 deals with freedom from the Law. In chapter 6 Paul has told us how we could be delivered from sin, and we concluded that this was all that was required. Chapter 7 now teaches that deliverance from sin is not enough, but that we also need to know deliverance from the Law. If we are not fully emancipated from the Law we can never know full emancipation from sin. But what is the difference between deliverance from sin and deliverance from the Law? We all see the value of the former, but where is the need for the latter?”
Watchman Nee continues a little later with,
” Many Christians are suddenly launched into the experience of Romans 7 and they do not know why. They fancy Romans 6 is quite enough. Having grasped that, they think there can be no more question of failure, and then to their utmost surprise they suddenly find themselves in Romans 7.”
Why do we hit this wall in our Christian experience, where we’ve been delivered from sin, but yet we keep on struggling with sin? Don’t we all know what that’s like? How does Romans 7 help us here? Again, Watchman Nee says later in his book,
“God’s requirements have not altered, but we are not the ones to meet them. Praise God, He is the Lawgiver on the Throne, and He is the Lawkeeper in my heart. He who gave the Law, Himself keeps it. He makes the demands, but He also meets them…We see the Law and we think that we must meet its demands, but we need to remember that, though the Law in itself is all right, it will be all wrong if it is applied to the wrong person. The ” wretched man ” of Romans 7 tried to meet the demands of God’s law himself, and that was the cause of his trouble. The repeated use of the little word ‘I’ in this chapter gives the clue to the failure. ” The good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise ” (Rom. 7. 19).”
I’d encourage you to read the whole book by Watchman Nee, but the chapter I’m quoting can be read here: http://articles.ochristian.com/article1929.shtml. Praise the Lord that, though I am as familiar as anyone with the cry of frustration in Romans 7:24 (“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body?”), Every one of us in Christ can come back with the promise of Romans 7:25 (“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”). What an incredible privilege!