Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 7:1-12 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul asks us whether “the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives” (Romans 7:1b).
I love getting away with not having to do what everybody else is required to do. Maybe I shouldn’t be this way. Maybe I should feel some sort of guilt when I have special privileges, but I don’t.
Once, when I went to renew my driver’s license, I almost left after seeing the crowd of people waiting to be served ahead of me. I knew I was in for a long wait even as I took my number. There wasn’t a single vacant seat; I had to stand against a wall.
Then something amazing happened. I heard my name called. I looked up, and standing on the other side of the counter was one of my church members. She waved me over and asked what I was doing there. When I told her, she winked and said, “Follow me to counter number 12 and I’ll take care of you right now.”
The rules of waiting my turn didn’t apply to me anymore. I was not under that law. My “savior” for the day liberated me from that law and took care of my needs outside of the system of rules. The law of the line ceased to have authority over me as soon as my friend waved me over.
There are laws that apply to me that I’m bound to keep. Stop signs, taxes, and gravity all require my obedience. I’m under the authority of those laws. There are other laws that don’t apply to me, but they do apply to other people.
When my son was young, there was a law in my home that he had to go to bed at 7:00 p.m. every night. This was a law that didn’t apply to me. I have a niece who lives according to the law that she can’t eat anything containing peanuts (or she’ll die). This law doesn’t apply to me.
In Romans 7, Paul is trying to explain to Christians with a Jewish background that much of the law (ceremonial more than moral) that was given on Mount Sinai doesn’t apply to Gentiles. Gentiles are not bound by many of those 613 laws. Gentiles aren’t bound by Jewish fashion laws, by many of the dietary laws, or even by some of the numerous Sabbath day/week/month/year laws. At least not as prescribed in the Law of Moses.
Jewish Christians aren’t under the authority of those 613 laws either. Paul explains that the death and resurrection of Christ, accepted through faith, put to death the authority of the law over every believer, now binding them to the liberating law of Christ through the Holy Spirit. This is a higher calling than the Sinai law that Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 3 as the “ministry unto death.” People who obey the law of Christ as written in their hearts are more diligent in their obedience to God’s leading in their lives than those who simply tries to “observe” the law handed down at Sinai.
Recalibrate: How does a Christian know which laws in the Bible are binding and which are not? Does the Bible give us a way to make this determination?
Respond: Ask God to write His laws into your heart today as you strive to live as an example of His love.
Research: Read 2 Corinthians 3:7-18.
Remember: “Still, the Law and its commands are holy and correct and good” (Romans 7:12, CEV).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Pacific Union College Church in Angwin, CA. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mark has served as a youth pastor, Bible teacher, college and academy chaplain, and lead pastor in the United States and Canada for the last 33 years. He has also authored four books: Born Chosen, Live Out Loud, Portals, and Just Jesus.
Make faces in the mirror with your child. Happy. Sad. Funny. Sleepy. Surprised. Talk about what makes you feel happy, sad, funny, sleepy, and surprised. Take every opportunity to tell your little one that nothing they do can change how much you love them.
Make a list of the rules that you live by in your home. What are they and why do you have them? Paul opens Chapter 7 by saying “Do you not know?” Do you know why you have the rules in your home? Are they correct and good—and possibly even holy—like our words to remember for this week? Check them out in Verse 12. Are there times when those rules don’t apply to you? When and why?
When I was in fifth grade, we had a huge pizza party at school. The teachers asked what kind of pizza we wanted. It seemed like every pizza option contained pork. Since I had grown up Seventh-day Adventist, all I knew was that pork was a big no-no. So in order to dodge answering weird questions, I went up to my teachers and told them that I was allergic to pork. The funniest thing is that they bought the lie! Guess who got a whole cheese pizza to himself? As a child, I could never figure out why some Christians ate pork and some didn’t. But as I’ve grown older, I realize that there are many “rules” some Christians keep, and many “rules” other Christians break. How do we figure out which rules are for us and which rules aren’t? Today, I want you to ask yourself why you follow the rules you follow. What rules do you keep? Why do you keep them? Do they help you see God more clearly? How do they benefit your life?