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. Chapter 7.

An Analogy from Marriage

1 You cannot be unaware, my friends—I am speaking to those who have some knowledge of law—that a person is subject to the law so long as he is alive, and no longer. 2 For example, a married woman is by law bound to her husband while he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the obligations of the marriage-law. 3 If, therefore, in her husband's life-time she consorts with another man, she will incur the charge of adultery; but if her husband dies she is free of the law, and she does not commit adultery by consorting with another man. 4 So you, my friends, have died to the law by becoming identified with the body of Christ, and accordingly you have found another husband in him who rose from the dead, so that we may bear fruit for God. 5 While we lived on the level of our lower nature, the sinful passions evoked by the law worked in our bodies, to bear fruit for death. 6 But now, having died to that which held us bound, we are discharged from the law, to serve God in a new way, the way of the spirit, in contrast to the old way, the way of a written code.

The Problem of Indwelling Sin

7 What follows? Is the law identical with sin? Of course not. But except through law I should never have become acquainted with sin. For example, I should never have known what it was to covet, if the law had not said, 'Thou shalt not covet.' 8 Through that commandment sin found its opportunity, and produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. In the absence of law, sin is a dead thing. 9 There was a time when, in the absence of law, I was fully alive; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. 10 The commandment which should have led to life proved in my experience to lead to death, 11 because sin found its opportunity in the commandment, seduced me, and through the commandment killed me.

12 Therefore the law is in itself holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. 13 Are we to say then that this good thing was the death of me? By no means. It was sin that killed me, and thereby sin exposed its true character: it used a good thing to bring about my death, and so, through the commandment, sin became more sinful than ever.

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am not: 15 I am unspiritual, the purchased slave of sin. I do not even acknowledge my own actions as mine, for what I do is not what I want to do, but what I detest. 16 But if what I do is against my will, it means that I agree with the law and hold it to be admirable. 17 But as things are, it is no longer I who perform the action, but sin that lodges in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lodges in me—in my unspiritual nature, I mean—for though the will to do good is there, the deed is not. 19 The good which I want to do, I fail to do; but what I do is the wrong which is against my will; 20 and if what I do is against my will, clearly it is no longer I who am the agent, but sin that has its lodging in me.

21 I discover this principle, then: that when I want to do the right, only the wrong is within my reach. 22 In my inmost self I delight in the law of God, 23 but I perceive that there is in my bodily members a different law, fighting against the law that my reason approves and making me a prisoner under the law [Or: by means of the law.] that is in my members, the law of sin. 24 Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of this body doomed to death? [Or: out of the body doomed to this death.] 25 God alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Thanks be to God! In a word then, I myself, subject to God's law as a rational being, am yet, [Or: Thus, left to myself, while subject ... rational being, I am yet ...] in my unspiritual nature, a slave to the law of sin.

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