Five Minute Devotions: Romans 7
Paul begins Romans 7 by extending his discussion about how dying with Christ releases the Christian from his or her relationship to sin. He does this by using the metaphor of marriage, how two individuals are committed to one another in relationship for life. However, if one dies, the other is free to remarry (Rom. 7:1-4). In the same way, Christians are to forge a new marriage relationship with the Spirit rather than the old marriage relationship with sin (Rom. 7:5-6). After this, Paul again turns to the role of the law to expose sin and sinful actions. He does this in very personal way, choosing to speak of his own struggle with sin and the law (Rom. 7:7-20). He concludes the chapter by speaking of the war against sin and the struggle to let the Spirit-self win against the natural-self (Rom. 7:21-25).
A Marriage Made in Hell
Usually, when one discusses Romans 7, the focus is on Paul’s “beautiful person” rhetoric in verses 15-20. Unfortunately, that means his stunning and almost offensive analogy in the previous verses often go unnoticed. Paul compares mankind’s relationship to sin with the marriage relationship. Human beings have a close, intimate knowledge of sin. There is the expectation that one will sin. There is the desire to sin. There is even almost the demand to sin.
The marriage relationship is a beautiful picture of Christ’s relationship with his church, as Paul notes elsewhere, but here he perverts that image with an analogy meant to shock and offend. We have covenanted with sin. We have pledged ourselves to sin. And the only way to get out from under sin’s contract is death.
So we must die, not physically, but spiritually. We must spiritually die to spiritually live. We must first divorce our relationship to sin and the law in order to marry ourselves to a relationship with Jesus. That changes how we think about sin. To engage in sin is to commit spiritual adultery. To engage in sin is to be spiritually promiscuous. When we sin, we make God a jilted lover.
Sin is not some small thing. It is not some simple mistake or accident. It is something most serious. All too often, we take what we believe to be a high view of grace and a low view of sin. We believe that grace covers our sins, so we don’t worry too much about it. But that severely downplays the severity of sin. Yes, grace covers it. That does not mean it is to be taken lightly. Having been saved from our relationship with our abusive lover, we should not return to it.