The law that we are under is not the law of works, but of faith. It is based on the principle and doctrine of justification by faith alone, and not by the law in any way. It is a law of grace, to lead us in the paths that God desires us to be and to conform us to His will. As a summary of what was discussed above, the Reformation Study Bible writes:
Paul is rejecting the law as the way of salvation. But since the law as moral demand was not given to sinners in order to justify them (vv. 19, 20), the principle of salvation by grace through faith cannot be a contradiction of the law. As he later demonstrates, the gospel upholds and furthers the law’s ultimate goal (8:3, 4; 13:8-10).
Romans chapter 7 is an excellent discussion on the law, the Christian and sin. I will not be able to give a whole exegesis on the passage, but I would like to take a look at some verses from here.
Died To The Law
Rom 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
Here the apostle sees the law is being antithetical to the work of Christ. We cannot, at the same time, in the same sense as Rom 7:4, belong to Christ and to the law. But in what sense is law being used here. Is it being used as a rule of righteousness that shows us what God desires, or is it being used as something else?
We have died to the law because we have died with Christ. We have died to the curse of the law in our Substitute. Those who were under the law were “held…captive” and served merely “in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6). We are dead to the law, not absolutely as a rule of righteousness, but in the way which the apostle in these passages describes the law and contrasts that with Christ. Barnes notes:
Ye also are become dead to the law. Rom 6:3, Rom 6:4, Rom 6:8. The connexion between us and the law is dissolved, so far as the scope of the apostle’s argument is concerned. He does not say that we are dead to it, or released from it as a rule of duty, or as a matter of obligation to obey it; for there neither is, nor can be, any such release; but we are dead to it as a way of justification and sanctification. In the great matter of acceptance with God, we have ceased to rely on the law, having become dead to it, and having embraced another plan.
Read in this way, this passage is similar to an earlier passage, Romans 3:27-31. We are released from the law as a covenant binding us, demanding perfect obedience and cursing us when we disobey (e.g., Gal 3:10-13). We are not free to follow our own will or to disregard the moral law in direct contradiction to what the apostle said in Romans 3:31. Rather, we are freed from the cruses of the law and from the law as a covenant of works because the demands of the law were fulfilled in our Substitute. Moreover, v. 5 adds more information about the way that Paul is speaking here. He speaks of the time before Christ when we, having the law either on the heart or in stone, were aroused by the law to sin. But how was that possible? Is the fault with the law? Such an idea Paul refutes in the following verses, saying that sin used even that which is good to work more sin in us. But, this was specifica...