There are vast numbers of books written on this much treasured epistle. Personally, I have three versions available. My appetite for this epistle was initiated by reading Watchman Nee's book, "The Normal Christian Life". We will be dealing mainly with the first eight chapters. As Watchman Nee points out there is a division between the first four and the last four in the eight. The first four deal with Sins, and the answer to sins is the blood of Jesus Christ which washes them away. But the second four deal with SIN and the answer to Sin is the cross. This involves learning how to die to one's own will. or as ch 8 says "Put to death the members of the body" No doubt we would have a different church today if all christians understood the difference between Sins and Sin. Sin is the nature of Satan and all that he represents. It is the very essence of that which produces sins. An apple tree may not produce apples but still remains an apple tree. We are sinners by nature. Our spiritual father is Satan himself. He works his life through our "flesh". But the first part of the gospel brings us the message of Justification by faith in the blood of Jesus. His blood continues to cleanse us from all our sins so that we can know continued forgiveness. But God desires his children to respond to his love and recognise sin as an enemy, which reigns in our human nature and is expressed in our mortal body. This leads us to comprehend the second part of the gospel which is "Sanctification". This means being Holy as God is Holy. Both these blessings,of Justification and Sanctification are to be found in Jesus. They are appropriated by faith. It was his blood that paid for our sin, and it was the surrender of His will which made us Holy children of God. (Heb 10:10) We do not obey God's commandments in order to be sanctified, we obey God's commands because we ARE sanctified. We know the joy and assurance of Justification by resting completely in what Christ has done by his death on the Cross, and we live by faith every day fully assured that being in Christ. No feeling of condemnation hangs over us. Similarly when we truly believe that we are Holy Children of God, we will by our new nature, reject the things of the the world and the devil by denying our flesh its former pleasures. This is where we come to understand about the battle between our flesh and the Spirit. " Every day's a Chooseday" We choose to live in the flesh or die daily and live in the spirit. It should not be too much of a struggle if the love of Christ holds us in a vice, as it did the Apostle Paul, who reckoned that if Christ loved him enough to give his life for him, then he should love Christ enough to do his will, and obey his commandments. In Thessalonians we read "this is the will of God- even your sanctification". As man's will is biased towards sin by nature, then for man to do the will of God, becomes a matter of obedience. Obedience by definition requires commands to be obeyed. Sadly a misunderstanding of the Gospel of grace can lead to thinking that sin does not matter. In one sense this is true, but Paul points out the dangers of this thinking in Galatians ch 2 verses 18 to the end. When we are living with God by faith, God can pour out his grace upon us. (Rom 4:16) We allow that grace (love) to fulfil its purpose, which is to stimulate a desire to please God. Note that Paul says in Galatians ch 2, he "does not frustrate the grace of God (A.V.) Frustration means not to be able to fulfil one's purposes. He allows grace to fulfil its purpose in his life. So when all is said and done we cannot boast in our sinlessness or holiness, nor our service for him, for we are merely living under the covering of blessings which come by Grace- undeserved favour. If we do not understand how the Gospel works we will never know its power. Some who do not understand its purposes tend to emphasise grace to the point that Paul comes to in chapter six, they continue in sin so that grace may abound. Any mention of keeping commandments is marked as "Legalism". This may be true for many believers who do not understand the Gospel but to the true christian, the legalism of the New Testament is written on the heart, and they obey because they want to express their love for Christ. So one man's legalism can be another man's gospel of sanctification
To get it right one needs to understand the Cross, and what Jesus actually did to bring us full salvation. As far as God is concerned, when we believe that we died when Christ died, then we were also circumcised in our hearts. Our old flesh life was cut off. God regards it no longer. He now sees his children in Christ Jesus and in Him they are, and always will be Just and Holy as He is.
The final chapter in our study, Chapter 8, is about how we live in that spiritual realm that God dwells in. We live there by truly believing in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. Hopefully you will remain in the study to the end, and come to realise how God uses all things to fulfil his purposes in our individual lives. and that even includes the works and schemes of the devil himself. May I suggest you read this summary a few times if you are new to the Gospel.