Saved by Grace – Grown By Grace.

We cannot be saved by grace and grown by the law. Trying to grow ourselves or others by the law is setting up any external standard of holiness by which to measure one's spiritual growth. Whether the standard is given by God or man, it can never produce spiritual growth.

We have already studied the position of the law (Romans 7:1-6) and the purpose of the law (Romans 7:7-13). Next, we will look at some precautions about the law (Romans 7:14-25).

The Law Has No Power to Mature Us (Romans 7:14)

Because the law has a purpose, it is not bad when used properly. Verses 12-16 say four positive things about the law: it is spiritual, righteous, good, and holy. God's Word is holy because it shows God's perfect requirements in contrast to our imperfections. It is righteous and just, completely equitable and fair. Jesus was the only completely perfect law keeper. We must look to Him as the good giver of salvation.

The law is not designed to sanctify us. It points to our need for saving grace. The law points out our inability to keep it. All of us fall short of its standards, even if we limit our discussion just to the Ten Commandments (1 John 1:8-10).

Deuteronomy 10:12-17 shows God's impartiality in salvation. Every person must come to God the same way: by grace. Our heart must be made new so that we can keep Christ's law of love.

The Law Cannot Help Us Honor God (Romans 7:15-21a)

Paul describes a heavy conflict inside himself. This was not the pattern of the apostle Paul's life, but at times, he battled extensively with his old nature. What causes this? Even healthy Christians must be careful; we will stop growing if we try to do so by law instead of by a genuine walk with God. Evaluating ourselves and others by law creates darkness in our lives. We will become harsh and angry fools. Only sin dominates a life that is trying to grow through the law instead of grace. This made Paul a very wicked person before he knew Christ. (See Acts 7-8.)

A Spirit-governed person lives out all the characteristics in Galatians 5:22-23, including patience, love, and self-control. They will address law-breaking in a gracious way. Systems of law are necessary for our governing and protection (Romans 13). However, we must do the right thing in the right way, with a big-picture view of growth in the law of Christ.

If you seek to govern yourself by mere external means and laws, you will struggle in your walk with God and doubt your salvation. You will fall and not be able to get up, and you will not be able to help others who fall. Efforts to grow by the law will never succeed. It is impossible to grow anyone by law.

In this passage, Paul uses the personal pronoun "I" over 20 times. A law-governed mindset is self-centered and ruled by the flesh instead of the Spirit of God.

The Law Cannot Provide Freedom (Romans 7:21b-25)

Remember that the context of this chapter is not dealing with legalism. Strictly defined, legalism is teaching that one can be saved by law. (See the book of Galatians.) This chapter is combating passive legalism, the idea that we can be grown by adherence to the law.

Paul's testimony is a great example of transparent spiritual authority. Paul's battle has made him a worn-out soldier, because the task he set about is impossible. Attempting to grow by the law only invites increased failure and anguish. Anything that causes us to fall instead of grow is law, not grace.

Because the believer is united with Christ, he is dead to the law and no longer under its authority, but he is alive to God and able to draw on the power of the Holy Spirit for growth in grace.

Application Points

  • Are you struggling in your walk with God? Your struggle may be self-inflicted. Are you attempting to grow by the law? Is your life governed by law? If you are living according to your success and failure, you think that God will love you less when you fail and more if you succeed. This is not true! God is good even when we have a bad day. He loves us because we are in Christ. Amazing grace compels spiritual growth. When you fail, be thankful for His grace and keep growing.

  • Find someone who has been in the Lord for decades and who displays a kind and humble disposition. Ask how they have been grown by grace. Listen to, watch, follow, and mimic them.

  • As you engage in disciple making, remember that growth happens all by grace. Never try to grow another person by holding them to an external standard. As we understand more about our own growth by grace, we will understand how to reach out and help others grow by the same means.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:6, Ephesians 5:1, 1 Corinthians 11:1 – Follow those who follow Christ.

  • 2 Peter 3:18 – Grow in grace.

  • 1 John 1:1-3 – We will continually grow until we see Christ.
A Hymn to Encourage: "Grace! ’Tis a Charming Sound"

Grace! ’tis a charming sound,
Harmonious to the ear;
Heav’n with the echo shall resound,
And all the earth shall hear.

Saved by grace alone!
This is all my plea:
Jesus died for all mankind,
And Jesus died for me.

’Twas grace that wrote my name
In life’s eternal book;
’Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb,
Who all my sorrows took.

Grace taught my wandering feet
To tread the pilgrim road;
And new supplies each hour I meet
While pressing on to God.

Grace taught my heart to pray,
And made my eyes o’erflow;
’Tis grace which kept me to this day,
And will not let me go.

Oh, let Thy grace inspire
My heart with strength divine;
May all my powers to Thee aspire,
And all my days be Thine.