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Summary: "Even though the believer wants to be delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin, he will not be free from the presence of sin until he goes to be with the Lord or Christ returns.

Struggle of a Saved Soul.

Romans 7:15-25

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.

16 If, then, I do what I will not to do; I agree with the Law that it is good.

17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

21 I find then a Law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do well.

22 For I delight in the Law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another Law in my members, warring against the Law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the Law of sin which is in my members.

24 O wretched men that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the Law of sin.

Introduction

Several interpretations have been suggested for these verses:

1. A reflection of life before conversion.

2. The experience of the saved or unsaved, who seek merely to obey the Law.

3. A picture of the carnal Christian’s internal struggle between the spiritual nature’s desire to obey God and the fleshly nature’s desire to go one’s own way.

4. The process of growing sanctification, after conversion.

The latter, #4, seems to me to be the more probable idea. Even though the believer wants to be delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin, he will not be free from the presence of sin until he goes to be with the Lord or Christ returns. The struggle against sin continues throughout life on earth. The difference for the Christian, who has the mind of Christ, is that there is the hope of being rescued from our sins; and the hope of having the power to achieve victory over the sinful nature. Even though the struggle with sin remains while he is on earth, the Christian is no longer condemned before God, but stands righteous before Him.

Paul has exclaimed that the Mosaic Law is Spiritual. If it is holy and good, why can’t the Law bring holiness? Paul immediately gives the answer; I am carnal, sold under sin. In this section the apostle continues to speak in the first person singular. He uses the present tense. Here, there is inward tension evident that was not evident in his discussion of the Law (7:1–13). Autobiographically Paul points out that even the believer is constantly beset by the tugs and pulls of a self-seeking and self-centered ego. Paul designates this ego “the flesh.” This is no straw man which he sets up, but in fact the anguish of Paul’s own soul. He knows to do right and to obey the Law, but in himself he cannot do either.

15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.

For what I am doing, I do not understand. While recognizing that the Law is spiritual, because it is God’s Laws, Paul also must admit that he is carnal. As a slave to the power of sin, Paul recognizes that those things he wishes he could do, he cannot do; and conversely, those things he knows he must not do, he finds himself doing. Every morally sensitive person is aware of what Paul means here. Friend, I have been there; and though it pains me, I confess that that is my current situation.

Paul is not attempting to rid himself of the responsibility for his sin. He is aware that in the Christian there are two wills, that of the fleshly, sinful nature which causes him to sin, and that which is born of God which does not commit sin—“Whoever has been [1]born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (I Jn. 3:9).

Now the apostle describes the struggle that goes on in a believer. It is the conflict between the two natures. He describes a man trying to achieve holiness by personal effort, struggling with all his might to fulfill God’s “holy and righteous and good” commandments (v.12), only to discover that the more he struggled, the worse his condition became. It was a losing battle, and no wonder, for it is not in the power of fallen human nature to conquer sin and live in holiness.

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