Summary: If you walk in the Spirit, you'll not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
We must remember that we must not judge the meaning of the Word of God by what our lives are, but we must judge our lives by what the Word of God says.
The 7th chapter of Romans is probably one of the most controversial, and I think one of the most misunderstood, chapters in the Bible.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
First let us look at 'for we know the law is spiritual.' Paul wrote...
Rom.7:12 - Wherefore the law is holy; and the commandment holy, and just, and good...
It was holy commandments given by holy God.
It was not the law that was the downfall, it was the flesh... the sinful nature inherent in man.
Paul said of the law...
Hebrews 10:1 - For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offer year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Hebrews 7:19 - For the law made nothing perfect, BUT THE BRINGING IN OF A BETTER HOPE DID; BY THE WHICH WE DRAW NIGH UNTO GOD.
Romans 8:3 - For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, CONDEMNED SIN IN THE FLESH:
And it was that weakness of the flesh - the nature of unregenerated man that Paul was talking about when he went on to say... But I am carnal, sold under sin.
The apostle here is demonstrating the insufficiency of the law in opposition to the gospel.
That by the former is the knowledge of sin; by the latter, the cure of sin.
He cannot mean that he is a regenerated man of God- a Christian is subject to sin.... but we all were under the bondage of sin BEFORE being made new creatures.
IF THE CONTRARY COULD BE PROVED, THE ARGUMENT OF PAUL WOULD GO TO DEMONSTRATE THE INSUFFICIENCY OF THE GOSPEL AS WELL AS THE LAW.
That would annul what he wrote in 2Corinthians 3 about the glory of the gospel outshining the glory of the law.
Adam Clarke says...
It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the church, or prevailed there, that the apostle speaks of his regenerate state; or the regenerate state of any born again believer.
This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character.
It requires but little knowledge of the spirit of the gospel, and of the scope of this letter, to see that the apostle is here either personifying a Jew under the law and with the gospel, or showing what his own state was before knowing Christ as his savior.
This we can prove by a myriad of other scriptures. And it has beens said that the scripture is the best interpreter of scripture.
In this and the following verses Paul states the contrareity between an unregenerate and the law.
Of the law he says- it is spiritual.
Of the unregenerate- they are carnal, sold under sin.
It is carnal man in opposition to spiritual law.
Paul refers to the man he describes as 'sold under sin'. This is spoken of the man without Christ.
Being sold under sin is a strong statement. It means total bondage. Without the ability to liberate oneself because he possesses nothing with which to do so, and as a total slave, he has no hope of gaining anything with which to liberate himself. Everything he possesses or could hope to possess is really the property of his master and he has no power over it.
The soul of such a man has no authority over the appetites of the body and the lusts of the flesh.
Reason does not have the government of passion.
He minds the things of the flesh; he is at enmity with God.
In all these things, the spiritual man is the reverse; he lives in a state of friendship with God in Christ, and the Spirit of God dwells in him; his soul has dominion over the appetites of the body and the lusts of the flesh; his passions submit to the government of reason, and he BY THE SPIRIT mortifies the deeds of the flesh.
It cannot be said of the spiritual man that he is sold under sin. Scripture is plain about that...
John 8:36 - If the Son therfore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. [He has been redeemed from the state of being sold under sin].
Romans 8:2 - For the law of the Spritit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.