These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Romans 7:13-25 Inductive Bible Study
I. Does the law cause death? (verses 13-14)
II. Struggle against sin (verses 15-23)
III. Final victory in Christ (verses 24-25)
13.What is the cause of death, the law?
Then what does verse 13 say the purpose of the law is?
What does it mean that sin would become utterly sinful?
14. How do we understand this passage? Is it Paul describing his former life, his current life, or someone else’s life? Why?
If Paul is describing his life, and therefore the life and battle facing all believers, how to explain that he sold into sin and that nothing good dwells in him? Why did Paul have such a negative view about himself? What was he evaluating himself by?
15. Why would Paul do the very thing he hates? What is he referring to? And if he is doing that, wouldn’t that prove he doesn’t hate it at all?
16. Explain verse 16.
17. Does verse 17 mean that it is not Paul’s fault, and he doesn’t have responsibility for his own sin? Do you face this own struggle in your life? What do you think is the difference then between a believer and an unbeliever?
18. Why does Paul clarify nothing good dwells in HIS FLESH? Would it be accurate for a believer to say this in verse 18?
19. Do you ever feel like this?
20. What does it mean that his sin is doing it and not himself? 1 John 1:10 (doesn’t mean he is not responsible).
22. What does Paul mean that he agrees with the law of God in the “inner man”?
23-24. The situation seems pretty helpless if even mature believers like Paul cannot escape sin. So then, what hope do we have?
Reasons this passage is discussing Paul’s current life (and by implication the struggle all believers face) –
1. He uses the personal pronoun throughout, “I”, referring obviously to himself and not to a carnal or legalistic Christian.
2. He uses present tense verbs throughout, which would be very strange if he was referring to his past life.
3. He is describing a vicious struggle between doing right and wrong, a struggle that really only becomes a major struggle when someone turns to Christ.
4. He mentions many times his desire to do what is right including verses 15,18, and 19. Before in Romans he said that an unbeliever does not seek after God. In other words this new desire of his mind to serve God implies a new nature.
5. In verse 18, when he says there is no good in him, he qualifies that by saying “in his flesh”. This qualification statement is unnecessary if he was an unbeliever at the time of this struggle since there is no good anywhere in him, not only in his flesh.
17. Galatians 5:16
22. 2 Cor 4:16, Eph 3:16
25. 1 Cor 15:50-58
Law- Again law (or commandment) is a key word. Paul continues his examination of the law as it relates to the believer in verses thirteen and fourteen.
Flesh/Body- These two words have almost the same meaning in this chapter. They are both referring to the old sin nature that we have. Ephesians 4:22 says, “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind” and Colossians 3:9-10, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the One who created Him.” Both of these verses talk about the old man, the old self, or the old nature. While we are on earth and in this body we will still have this old nature. This means we will have the desires or temptations to do the wrong thing. In Christ, we can, and should, have victory by taking the way of escape offered in 1 Corinthians 10:17 and following Colossians 3:2-3 which says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on he things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” In this chapter of Romans from verses fifteen to twenty-three Paul is describing the struggle he is having with this old nature, a struggle that every believer faces.
Good/Law of God- The opposite side of this flesh is the “good” that Paul can now do because he is saved and Christ is living in him. The “good” and the “evil” have a constant war (verse 23). So we must be ready for this because Satan “roams around like a prowling lion searching for someone (like you and me) to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Verse by Verse Commentary
Verses 13-14 This half-chapter is really divided into the three sections I mentioned under the outline. The first section perhaps goes better with the first twelve verses of the chapter. In those twelve verses Paul asked the question is the law evil? We found out that of course the law is not evil. It is good because it shows us our sin, but people can have two responses to the law. The first is to repent. The second is to do more sin. So in verses thirteen and fourteen Paul asks if the law caused death for himself? Then he says, NO! The law did not cause the death. The sin caused the death. The law still has a purpose, to show us our sin (verse 13). According to verse fourteen the law gives a good spiritual code to follow, but because Paul, and all people, are slaves to the old sin nature before trusting in Christ the Law can’t save us.
Verses 15-23 In these verses Paul shows us inside his mind and tells us how he feels about sin. The basic idea here is that Paul is facing a continuous battle to do right. The old nature is strong and Satan, the flesh, and the world want to tempt us to sin. Paul is not the only one who faces this. In these verses Paul could be writing the thoughts from my own mind! I have thought these same things to myself many times before. I love God; I want to put Him first; I want to serve Him with my life; I know sin is wrong and I hate to do it. But why, WHY do I keep doing it!? Every time I sin I immediately regret it afterwards and feel guilty. It doesn’t bring joy or happiness. It makes no sense to do sin, but many times I do it anyway. This is the struggle that Paul faces. This is the struggle I face. I’m sure mine is much much worse than Paul’s! Do any of you have this struggle? What is your attitude against sin? Do you hate it? If you don’t hate sin that is the first problem and that problem is HUGE. I think that is one of the first signs of a Christian. A true Christian will hate sin. If anyone doesn’t care or doesn’t feel guilty when they sin they are not a true Christian. Psalms 97:10 tells us, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord.” We cannot serve two masters. Either we love God and hate evil or we love evil and hate God. Which will we choose? I’m sure all of us will quickly say we choose to love God. But we must show this love by our actions and not only speak it with our mouth (James 1:22).
” The more pure and holy the heart is, it will have the more quick feeling as to the sin that remains in it. The believer sees more of the beauty of holiness and the excellence of the law. His earnest desires to obey, increase as he grows in grace. But the whole good on which his will is fully bent, he does not do; sin ever springing up in him, through remaining corruption, he often does evil, though against the fixed determination of his will. The motions of sin within grieved the apostle. If by the striving of the flesh against the Spirit, was meant that he could not do or perform as the Spirit suggested, so also, by the effectual opposition of the Spirit, he could not do what the flesh prompted him to do. How different this case from that of those who make themselves easy with regard to the inward motions of the flesh prompting them to evil; who, against the light and warning of conscience, go on, even in outward practice, to do evil, and thus, with forethought, go on in the road to perdition! For as the believer is under grace, and his will is for the way of holiness, he sincerely delights in the law of God, and in the holiness which it demands, according to his inward man; that new man in him, which after God is created in true holiness.”
There are three steps or phases that a true believer will take. The first is when we are born. At that time we are slaves of sin and enemies of God. Paul mentions this step in verse fourteen. But after we trust in Christ we take the second step and enter a new stage. At this time Christ forgives our sins and comes into our heart. He adopts us as sons or daughters and makes us our friend, giving us eternal life. In this second stage we are no longer slaves of sin! We can have victory in Christ. But the old sin nature is still with us because of the curse that God gave to Adam. So we have this old nature until we die. When we trust in Christ this nature is defeated. That means we are not slaves of it. But when we are weak and don’t take the strength from God this old nature will quickly rise up like a snake and cause us to sin. This second stage is the stage Paul was in. It is the stage each of you and I am in. We wish to do good (verse 18); we joyfully want to follow God’s law (verse 22), but there is still evil (verse 21).
So this is a problem. What is the answer? How do we reach the goal of victory over sin? The answer is in the last section, verses twenty-four to twenty-five.
Jesus Christ is the only answer. He is the one that sets us free from the body of death. Now He gives us victory over sin, but in the future He will bring us into the third stage. What do you think is the third stage? When can we get rid of the old man and its temptations and be totally free from sin? Think about this answer before you read on.
When? When we enter heaven God will give us a new body, a perfect one, that won’t be cursed (Revelation 7:17) and that will have no sin and no temptation. This is the final stage. When we die and go to heaven or Christ returns and takes us to heaven it will happen.
So what is the answer for us now? It is very simple and all of us know the answer. While we are waiting for Christ to return we must grow closer to Him everyday through prayer and reading His word and use His strength and His power to defeat sin in our lives. We must hate sin and put on the armor of God to protect ourselves from it (Ephesians 6)
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