Book of Romans
Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones’s sermons on the book of Romans were preached to the congregation at Westminster Chapel in the heart of central London on Friday evenings between October 1955 to March 1968. These sermons were preached from the beginning of October until the end of May each year, with breaks being taken for Christmas and Easter. Dr Lloyd-Jones began his ministry at Westminster Chapel in 1938, and his ministry there lasted for thirty years until his retirement in 1968. As such, his Romans series came at the end of his preaching career. Spanning 366 sermons over twelve years, his series on the book of Romans is the longest expositional series Dr Lloyd-Jones ever did.
Dr Lloyd-Jones regarded the book of Romans as the ‘first in importance’ among the New Testament epistles. Indeed, it is likely that Dr Lloyd-Jones saw his exposition of the book of Romans as his most important work, as evidenced by the fact that he chose his Romans sermons as the first of his many sermons to be published following his retirement. His official biographer Iain Murray writes;
Many hundreds of unrevised manuscript copies of sermons thus existed by 1968, of which, for reasons already noted, comparatively few had appeared in print. He did not hesitate in choosing to put his Romans sermons first for publication in book form, to be followed by those on Ephesians.
Dr Lloyd-Jones’s hope for these sermons on the book of Romans was that they will ‘not only help Christian people to understand more clearly the great doctrines of our Faith, but that they will also fill them with a joy “unspeakable and full of glory” and bring them into a condition in which they will be “Lost in wonder, love, and praise”’.
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How do Christians relate to the Law of God? Since we are saved, can we actually keep the law? What happens when we fail? In this sermon, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones shows us from Romans 7 a birds eye view of how Christians should view this controversial topic in this chapter of Scripture. According to Lloyd-Jones, most problems in the Christian life could be solved if we had a better understanding of Romans chapter 7. With a proper understanding of the teaching of this chapter, the Christian will have a better understanding of sin and it’s severity. Lloyd-Jones states that sanctification by the law is just as impossible as salvation by the Law. According to Paul, the Law actually hinders sanctification. There is only one way to bring fruit before God, and that is if we are married and joined to Jesus Christ. When we understand the relationship of the Law to the Christian, it helps us understand that simple morality and ethical living are not sufficient for salvation or sanctification. One must be joined to Christ for salvation, not simply follow the Law. The Law shows us how sinful we are, but only Christ can save us by His perfect life and His perfect righteousness.
What does marriage have to do with our relationship to the law? Paul begins Romans 7:1-4 by discussing how our relationship with the law closely mirrors our relationship with our spouse. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones creates four points to show how Paul is using the marriage relationship as an illustration. Just as the woman is bound to her husband by law, so we too are bound to the law. This reflects the dominion that the husband has over the household. In a marriage, the spouses are bound until a death breaks that agreement. We are also bound to the law until a death occurs. At this point, we would then be able to enter into a relationship. Death brings a freedom from the law. In the same way, we have died to the law and are now able to enter into a relationship with righteousness. Finally, the purpose of marriage is to replenish the earth and our relationship with God is to bring forth fruit. We must be delivered from the power and dominion of the law if we are to produce fruit. To recap, the Doctor says that we must first be separated from the old in order to conform to the new.
A general definition of the Christian life; a radical change; the tests of life; the centrality of Christ; the body of Christ; crucified and raised.
Union with Christ in His death to the Law; the old husband and the new; loyalty to the new husband; an indissoluble relationship
The privileges of our marriage; our possessions in Christ; His love and care; fruit; the purpose of the union.
What is the next greatest power after God himself? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones argues that it is the power of sin. As he breaks down Paul’s message in Romans 7:5-6, the Doctor outlines several key terms and defines them in the context of the message. It is essential for the reader to understand the terms in order to understand the apostle’s argument, the apostle’s doctrine of the law, and to understand the doctrine of salvation and sanctification. For instance, the term “flesh” can be defined many ways but the Doctor believes that Paul uses this term to refer to the opposite of what it means to have life in the Spirit. Those who are in the flesh are unregenerate and cannot please God. When Paul refers to the “motions of sin,” he is talking about our passions, affections and lusting. All natural appetites were created and given by God, but the law aggravates these appetites and we allow them to control us, which leads to sin and death. However, Christ is working for us in the members of our body. We have died with Christ and have died to the power of sin!
The completeness of the change for all Christians; our discharge from the Law's control; the aim of our deliverance; the new slavery; letter and spirit.
Seven particular differences between the old life and the new; the external and the internal; understanding; letter and spirit; motive; liberty; power; progression to glory.
Is the law sin? After repeated chapters concerning the Christian’s death to the law, some listeners may have asked Paul if the law was in fact sinful. Paul’s reply is “God forbid!” Those that have that argument completely missed what Paul was teaching, because in fact, he was teaching the exact opposite. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out in Romans 7:7 that Paul’s response is a self-reflection in order to help others understand. Paul says that he had not known sin apart from the law. He was not aware of the real nature of sin until the law made it clear to him. It is the law itself that enables anyone to understand the true nature and character of sin. As an illustration, Paul says that he did not understand that his lust was a sin until the law told him so! The law, showing our desperate need for a Savior, magnifies the gravity and weight of our sin. The law is merely concerned with the meaning and character of a man’s heart and his attitude toward sin. Therefore, the law is not sin, it merely shows us our sin, and Paul thanks God for the law.
How does sin seize the law as an opportunity? In the previous verse, Paul mentions that the law aggravates lusts and passions within him. Paul now goes on to explain that in further detail in Romans 7:8. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says that sin uses the law as a starting point to prove a result. The result is that sin essentially wreaks havoc in a person’s heart, producing lusts and desires in an evil sense. It uses the law as a fulcrum to completely take over in a powerful way. The law shows us how truly sinful we are because it is a guideline of how to live. We would never see our need for salvation if we did not understand how powerful sin was. What does this tell us? It further explains the nature and character of sin. Sin ignites rebellion in us causing us to become independent, feeling that we no longer need a God. This leads to complete lawlessness and destroys any order of discipline in our lives. The Doctor provides some modern-day illustrations of how we see this evident in our daily lives.
About Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.