A Study of Romans 7:4-5
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
“When we were in the flesh” here means when we were unregenerate, unbelievers.
In that time we were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins with no inclination of, motive for, or power to serve the Lord Jesus Christ acceptably.
In that time, the Holy Spirit had not given us spiritual life, knowledge, grace, and power to live unto and love Christ and His glory, believe His truth, rest in His blood and righteousness as our only hope of salvation and glory, and repent of our sin, our dead works and idolatry.
All we could do in that time were “the motions (passions) of sin” which were stirred up within us “by the law.”
How could God’s holy law have stirred up such sinful passions within us?
The fault was not in the law but within us – sinful, selfish, fallen, human nature – the depravity of our own wicked hearts. How were we stirred up in our members, our human bodies and minds, by the law to “bring forth fruit unto death.”
It was in one of two ways:
1) Some unregenerate, unbelieving persons are stirred up by their own sinful passions to ignore and even to break the law of God. This is the rebellion of total immorality with no restraints of law and conscience.
(2) Others are stirred up by their own sinful passions to try to keep the law in order to be saved, preserved, and rewarded by God. This is the rebellion of self-righteousness and false religion that exalts man and gives him room to boast.
Either way, it is all “fruit unto death” because “the wages of sin (and it is all sin) is death” (Romans 6:23).
There is only one way we as sinners can bear and “bring forth fruit unto God” (Romans 7:4), that which is honoring and pleasing to God.
That one way is to be married (united) to Christ. All who have been united to Christ by electing, justifying, redeeming grace, must and will be united to Christ by regenerating grace in the new birth. Once God the Holy Spirit does this, the life of the Vine (Christ) begins to flow through the branches (His people). The branches then bear “fruit unto God” not of their own power and will, but of Christ’s power and grace.