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 Romans Chapter 7 – Part Two

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PostSubject: Romans Chapter 7 – Part Two   Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:04 pm

Romans 7:13

Paul then considered still another possible misunderstanding in his effort to clarify the relationship of sin and the Law. Taking the last-mentioned quality of the commandment (“good”), he asked, Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Once again his immediate response was a vehement denial (By no means! mē genoito; cf. comments on Rom_3:4), followed by an explanation. The principle of sin, not the Law, becomes death to an individual (Rom_5:12). But sin uses the commandment, the good thing, as an agent or instrument to keep on producing death in a person and thereby sin is seen as utterly (lit., “exceedingly”) sinful. The internal principle or nature of sin uses the specific commandments of the Law of God — in part and in the whole; a “holy, righteous, and good” thing in itself — to me This is speaking of the law and it’s asking “has then what is good become death”? Sin is the cause of spiritual death, not the good law.
An awareness of the true nature of sin and its deadly character, which brings the sinner to see his need of salvation, is the very purpose God intended the law to serve.
Until Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, there was no knowledge of good and evil. Sin entered into the world through Adam.

In the remaining verses of this chapter, some interpret this chronicle of Paul’s inner conflict as describing his life before Christ. They point out that Paul describes the person as “sold under sin”; as having “nothing good’ in him, and as a “wretched man” trapped in a “body of death”.
Those descriptions seem to contradict the way Paul describes the believer in chapter 6. However, it is correct to understand Paul here to be speaking about a believer. This person desires to obey God’s law and hates his sin. He is humble, recognizing that nothing good dwells in his humanness, he sees sin in himself, but not as all that is there and he serves Jesus Christ with his mind.
Paul has already established that none of those attitudes ever describe the unsaved. Paul’s use of present tense verbs in verses 14-25 strongly supports the idea that he is describing his life currently as a Christian. For those reasons, it seems certain that chapter 7 describes a believer.
However, of those who agree that this is a believer, there is still disagreement. Some see a carnal, fleshly Christian; others a legalistic Christian, frustrated by his feeble attempts in his own power to please God by keeping the Mosaic Law. But the personal pronoun “I” refers to the apostle Paul, a standard of spiritual health and maturity.
Paul must be describing all Christians, even the most spiritual and mature who, when they honestly evaluate themselves against the righteous standard of God’s law, realize how far short they fall. He does so in a series of four laments. (14-17, 18-20, 20-23, 24-25)
The internal principle or nature of sin uses the specific commandments of the Law of God — in part and in the whole; a “holy, righteous, and good” thing in itself — to manifest its true nature as opposed to God and to demonstrate its power within individuals.

Romans 7:14

The Believer And Sin
Understanding the conflict in personal sanctification involves seeing the relationship between a believer and his indwelling sin. In Rom_7:14 Paul made a transition from the previous subject (Rom_7:7-13) to the next one. The statement, The Law is spiritual (cf. Rom_7:12), is not only the conclusion of Paul’s previous argument but also an accepted fact among people. The Law comes from God who is Spirit (Joh_4:24) and expresses God’s will for human living. Paul, using himself as the example, said the problem is that I am unspiritual (sarkinos, “fleshy, made of flesh”). In addition he was sold as a slave (perf. tense, “had been sold and remained in that state”) to sin (lit. “Under the sin”; cf. “under sin” in Rom_3:9). The law is spiritual meaning it reflects God’s holy character.
Carnal means “of flesh. This means earthbound, mortal and still incarcerated in unredeemed humanness. Paul does not say he is still “in the flesh”, but the flesh is in him.
Sold under sin means that sin no longer controls the whole man as with an unbeliever, but it does hold captive the believer’s members, or his fleshly body. Sin contaminates him and frustrates his inner desire to obey the will of God.
In relating his personal experience in Rom_7:14-25 Paul consistently used the present tense whereas he had used the imperfect and aorist tenses. Obviously he was describing his present conflict as a Christian with indwelling sin and its continuing efforts to control his daily life. The clause, “sold under sin” (KJV), describes an unregenerate person; but sin also resides in a believer, who is still subject to sin’s penalty of physical death. As a result, indwelling sin continues to seek to claim what it considers its property even after one has become a Christian.

Romans 7:15-17

At the start Paul confessed, I do not understand what I do (lit., “what I am producing I do not know”). He was like a little boy whose honest answer to why he did something wrong is, “I don’t know.” A person’s actions are at the dictate of someone or something besides himself that he really does not understand and cannot explain. Paul continued to present this quandary he faced: For what I want to do I do not do (lit., “For what I am wishing, that I am not doing,” prassō) and conversely, What I hate I do (lit., “What I am hating that I am doing,” poiō). The sense here is that Paul found himself doing things he did not approve of.
We see in verse 15, the struggle that all mankind faces. The struggle is truly between our flesh and spirit. Paul desires to have his spirit in control at all times. He says that sometimes his flesh wins out. It is a daily struggle for all of us. To live for Jesus the spirit has to overcome the flesh.
Galatians 5:17 "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
No difference of emphasis can be put in this verse on the two Greek verbs translated “do” (even though such difference is significant elsewhere), because the occurrence of those two verbs is reversed in Rom_7:19. This statement can be made by an unregenerate person in his highest moral and ethical moments, but it can also be said by a regenerate person. There is no reason to conclude that Paul was not describing his experience as a believer at that time. Paul said, I agree that the Law is good. Paul’s new nature defends the divine standard; the perfectly righteous law is not responsible for his sin. His new self longs to honor the law and keep it perfectly.
Here the Greek word for “good” is kalos, “beautiful, noble, excellent,” whereas in Rom_7:12 it is agathē, “useful, upright.” Because of this evidence, Paul concluded, It is no longer I myself who do it (lit., “no longer am I myself producing it”; cf. Rom_7:15) but it is sin living in me (lit., “but the dwelling-in-me sin”). The quickest way to tell if we are following after the flesh is if whatever you are doing feels good to the flesh. If the flesh is enjoying your actions, it is probably displeasing to the spirit.
Paul’s new inner self, the new “I”, no longer approved of the sin that was still residing in his flesh, like his old self did, but rather strongly disapproved.
Paul was saying that his sin did not flow out of his new redeemed innermost (“I”) self, but from his unredeemed humanness, his flesh “in me”.
This does not mean Paul was avoiding personal responsibility for his actions; he was speaking of the conflict between his desires and the sin within him.

Romans 7:18-20

Paul’s experience convinced him that “the Law is good” (Rom_7:16). But he also concluded, I know that nothing good lives in me. Then he hastened to explain that by the phrase “in me” he meant in my sinful nature (sarki, “flesh”; cf. Rom_7:5, Rom_7:25). This is not literal physical or material flesh, but the principle of sin that expresses itself through one’s mind and body.
As support for this conclusion Paul explained, For I have the desire to do what is good (“For to wish is present with me” [or “is lying beside me”]), but I cannot carry it out (lit., “but to produce the good is not”) No man's flesh follows God. Man's flesh must be crucified for the spirit to reign.
The flesh serves as a base camp from which sin operates in the Christian’s life. It is not sinful inherently, but because of its fallenness, it is still subject to sin and is thoroughly contaminated.
The flesh is that part of the believer’s present being that remains unredeemed.
Galatians 5:24-26 "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
Paul is trying to say that the flesh of man is a hindrance to him. Even Jesus, when facing the cruel death of the cross, said (my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak). We must somehow get our flesh and the lusts thereof under subjection to the spirit of God within us.
Paul then repeated in slightly different words the statement of Rom_7:15, and then in Rom_7:20 he repeated in effect his statement in Rom_7:17. We see that flesh does not desire to do good, only evil. I feel Paul is making a point that we must stay away from the influence of the flesh.
Paul recognized that even as a believer he had an indwelling principle of sin that once owned him as a slave and that still expressed itself through him to do things he did not want to do and not to do things he desired to do. Paul is making a point, again, about the flesh in verse 17. This in the flesh sin must be put to death.
This is a problem common to all believers.

Romans 7:21-23

Paul was a person who tried to learn from his experiences, so now he concluded; I find this law at work. This is not the Mosaic Law, of course, but a principle drawn from experience. Also in Rom_8:2 “law” (nomos) means principle. This law or principle is the reality of ever-present evil in an individual whenever he wants to do good. Paul held fast to the fact that, as he said, In my inner being I delight in God’s Law (cf. Rom_7:25). “In my inner being” is literally, “according to the inner man.” (The “inner man” is used in the Gr. NT also in 2Co_4:16 and Eph_3:16.) Delight in God’s Law was the psalmist’s response, stated repeatedly in Psa_119:1-176 (e.g., Psa_119:16, Psa_119:24, Psa_119:47; cf. Psa_1:2). Because of regeneration, a believer has a new nature or capacity for loving spiritual truths. Yet, recognizing the facts of experience, Paul said he saw another law or principle at work within him. This is the principle of sin. Paul called it “sin living in me” (Rom_7:17, Rom_7:20), “evil” right there with me (Rom_7:21), and “the sinful nature” (Rom_7:5, Rom_7:18, Rom_7:25). Hear the cry of a man who desires to please God.
Psalms 19:12-14 "Who can understand [his] errors? Cleanse thou me from secret [faults]." (Added emphasis with italics by editor) "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."
This is not a reference to God’s law, but to an inviolable spiritual principle.
This principle is continually doing two things: waging war against the law of the believer’s mind and making him a prisoner of the law of sin at work within his members. The believer’s justified, new inner self no longer sides with sin, but joyfully agrees with the law of God against sin. This is a corresponding spiritual principle to the one in verse 21. But this principle, which Paul identifies as “the law of sin,” operates in the members of his body, that is, his unredeemed and still sinful humanness, waging war against his desire to obey God’s law.
“Law of my mind” is equivalent to the new inner self, which longs to obey the law of God. Paul is not saying his mind is spiritual and his body is inherently evil.
The indwelling principle of sin is constantly mounting a military campaign against the new nature, trying to gain victory and control (cf. “slave” in Rom_7:14, Rom_7:25 and “slaves” in Rom_6:17, Rom_6:19-20), of a believer and his actions. The new nature is called “the law” of the “mind” (noos; cf. Rom_7:25) because it has the capacity for perceiving and making moral judgments. Further, despite a believer’s identification with Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and his efforts to have Christ-honoring attitudes and actions, he cannot in his own power resist his indwelling sin nature. In and of himself he repeatedly experiences defeat and frustration.

Romans 7:24-25

Paul expressed that frustration in his exclamation, What a wretched man I am! Significantly Paul’s description of himself is part of John’s picture of the church of Laodicea — “wretched” (Rev_3:17). The apostle then asked who will rescue me from this body of death. Now we see Paul's point in all of this. There is no way within ourselves that we can overcome the problems between our flesh wanting to sin and our spirit knowing sin is wrong. The only solution is to give ourselves over to Jesus Christ and no longer live our own lives, but let Jesus live in us and through us.
In frustration and grief, Paul laments his sin. A believer perceives his own sinfulness in direct proportion to how clearly he sees the holiness of God and perfection of His law.
The word deliver means “to rescue form danger” and was used of a soldier pulling his wounded comrade from the battlefield. Paul longed to be rescued from his sinful flesh.
“Body of this death”: The believer’s unredeemed humanness, which has its base of operation in the body. Tradition says that an ancient tribe near Tarsus tied the corpse of a murder victim to its murderer, allowing its spreading decay to slowly infect and execute the murderer. Perhaps that is the image Paul has in mind here.
Paul recognized that as long as he was in his mortal body he would face the conflict with the indwelling sin principle and would have defeat in his own strength. Here he wrote of the “body of death”; in Rom_6:6 he wrote of the “body of sin.” These mean that sin works through one’s human body (cf. Rom_6:6, Rom_6:12-13, Rom_6:19; Rom_7:5, Rom_7:23), bringing death (Rom_6:16, Rom_6:21, Rom_6:23; Rom_7:10-11, Rom_7:13; Rom_8:10). Paul’s answer to this question was triumphant and immediate: Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul in this answer was looking to the final triumph of Jesus Christ for His people. Just as believers are identified with Him in His death and resurrection by faith here and now, so they will join their resurrected and exalted Lord for all eternity in new bodies, free forever from the presence of sin (Rom_8:23; Php_3:20-21). Meanwhile, in this life, Paul concluded, I myself in my mind (noi; cf. noos in Rom_7:23) am a slave (lit., “am serving as a slave”) to God’s Law, but in the sinful nature (sarki, “flesh”; cf. Rom_7:5, Rom_7:18, where sarki, from sarx, is also trans. “sinful nature”) a slave to the law of sin (cf. “slave to sin,” Rom_7:14). The first part of this verse answers the question Paul just raised. He is certain that Christ will eventually rescue him when He returns. The second half summarizes the two sides of the struggle Paul has described.
“With the mind” is the new inner self, which longs to obey the law of God.
“The law of sin,” operates in the members of his body, waging war against his desire to obey God’s law.
While awaiting freedom from the presence of sin, believers still face conflicts between their regenerated minds (or new natures or capacities) and their sin natures or capacities.
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Romans Chapter 7 – Part Two
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