Romans 7:14-25

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

Text: Romans 7:14-25

THE INABILITY OF THE FLESH

INTRODUCTION:

When we were born, we were born with one nature. It is an old sin nature which all of us inherited from our fathers. This old sin nature goes all the way back to Adam, and it is passed on to us through our fathers. This old nature will remain with us throughout our lifetimes. It is never eradicated in this lifetime.

When we are saved, we receive a new sinless, Christlike nature. As believers, we have two natures; and these natures are in constant conflict with each other.

In Romans 7:14-25 we see the inability of the flesh, another name for the old sin nature, to have victory over sin. Victory over sin comes only by the power of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In this passage we see three confessions. Each confession contains a statement, a proof, and a conclusion. The pattern is repeated in each confession.

We see -

I. THE FIRST CONFESSION - 7:14-17

There is -

A. The first statement - v. 14

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

We know indicates that there is no doubt in the Apostle's mind regarding this.

What we know is that the law is spiritual. The Mosaic Law is spiritual; there is nothing wrong with it.

Spiritual means pertaining to the spirit. It suggests that the Law was inspired by the Holy Spirit and that spiritual persons recognize it properly.

But introduces a mild contrast to his statement We know that the law is spiritual.

I am carnal, where I is emphatic, means I am fleshly or I am in the manner of the flesh. Fleshly is used in contrast to spiritual.

The tense of sold indicates an action completed in the past with the result continuing on. Paul is saying that he was sold under sin in the past and that he remains in that state.

In this context under sin suggests under the power of sin, under the rule of sin, or under the sovereignty of sin. Paul finds himself under the rule of sin or under sins rule.

Then there is -

B. The proof of the first statement - v. 15-16

Romans 7:15-16 - (15) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. (16) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

In verse 15 Paul seeks to explain why the Law is spiritual but why he is carnal, sold under sin as is indicated by for.

Paul says -

1. I do not understand what I do

That which I do is what I am achieving or what I am accomplishing.

Allow means understand or comprehend, and its tense also indicates continuous action. I allow not is to be understood in the sense of I do not comprehend, I do not understand, I am not comprehending, or I am not understanding.

Paul also says -

2. I do not do what I resolve to do

What I would means what I will and is used of purpose or resolve. Its tense also indicates continuous action.

That refers to what I would.

Do I not means I do not accomplish or I do not practice. It is present tense and indicates continuous or habitual action. It is something that is going on all the time.

Not is placed in a position of emphasis in the Greek text, which reads literally, Not what I will, this I am practicing.

In addition Paul says -

3. I do what I hate

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to what I would, that do I not.

What I hate is used in the sense of what I detest or what I abhor. Its tense indicates continuous action in the sense of what I am detesting or what I am abhorring.

That refers to what I hate.

The tense of do I is also indicating continuing action in the sense of I am doing. The reason Paul knows that the Law is spiritual and that he is carnal is because he is not doing the things he is determining or resolving to do but is doing instead the things he is hating.

In verse 16 Paul reasons -

4. If I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good

If then I do that which I would not is a condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. Since it is true, if should be understood in the sense of because, since, or inasmuch as.

Then is used in the sense of now and indicates a continuation of the thought of the previous verse.

I do is I am doing.

That which I would not is what I do not will. This clause is literally, Now, if what I am not willing, this I am doing.

The conclusion of this conditional statement is I consent unto the law that it is good. Since the condition is true, its conclusion is also true.

I consent is I am agreeing. The law is the Mosaic Law, and Paul is agreeing with the Law that it is good. Since Paul does the things which he does not will to do, he agrees with the Law that it is good because the things he wills to do are consistent with the Law.

Lastly there is -

C. The conclusion of the first statement - v. 17

Romans 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Now then introduces Paul's conclusion of this first confession. He uses a strengthened form of now for emphasis, and then is used to continue the thought.

No more means no longer.

It is no more I that do it is I am no longer doing it, and I is emphatic.

Do is the word meaning achieve or accomplish. It is the same term translated by the first do in verse 15 and is used in reference to what I do not wish and what I hate from verse 15.

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to it is no more I that do it.

Sin is doing it (i.e. what Paul wills not to do and what Paul hates) rather than Paul himself doing it.

This sin is described by that dwelleth in me (i.e. that is dwelling in me). This is not some specific sin; rather, this is the old sin nature which still has its residence in Paul even though Paul has died with reference to it so that it can no longer rule over him apart from his permission. Paul has realized that it is not he who is doing what he hates but his old sin nature which is doing what he hates.

Next we see -

II. THE SECOND CONFESSION - 7:18-20

There is -

A. The second statement - v.18a

Romans 7:18 a - For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:

For I know expresses Paul's certainty.

What he knows is that in me . . . dwelleth no good thing.

In me is amplified by that is, in my flesh. By in my flesh Paul means in his old sin nature. He does not mean in his physical body.

The tense of dwelleth indicates continuous action in the sense of dwells or is dwelling.

Then there is -

B. The proof of the second statement - v. 18b-19

Romans 7:18 b-19 - . . . (18b) For (it may be causal = because) to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. (19) For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Paul says -

1. To will is present with me

It means that Paul intends to do right, and its tense indicates that this is Paul's customary or normal habit. It is always this way.

Paul also says -

2. But how to perform that which is good I find not

But introduces a statement in mild contrast to to will is present with me.

How to perform is used in the sense of how to achieve or how to accomplish. Its tense indicates continuous action in the sense of how to be achieving or how to be accomplishing.

I find not is I do not discover.

In spite of Paul's intention of doing good, somehow the good that he desires to do keeps on eluding him. Therefore, Paul concludes that no good thing dwells in him.

Romans 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Paul continues -

3. For the good which I would, I do not

For the good that I would is the good that I will. Would is the same word used in verses 15 and 16. It was also used in verse 18 but was translated will. It means will and indicates purpose or resolve. What good Paul wills (or determines) to do, he is not doing.

Paul goes on -

4. But the evil which I would not, that I do

But introduces a statement in strong contrast to the good which I would, I do not.

What Paul finds himself doing (i.e. accomplishing or practicing) is evil. It is the opposite of what he wills to do.

Verse 19 is understood in the sense, For I am not doing what good thing I will to do, but I am practicing what evil thing I will not to do.

Lastly, there is -

C. The conclusion of the second statement - v. 20

Romans 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Verse 20 sounds familiar. In the Greek text now if I do that I would not is a quotation from the first half of verse 16 with one slight exception. An emphatic form of the personal pronoun I is used in verse 20 which was not used in verse 16.

In addition, It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me is a quotation from verse 17 except that the first two words in verse 17 are not repeated in verse 20.

This shows that Paul's line of reasoning in verses 14 and 15 is parallel to his line of reasoning in verses 18 and 19.

Finally, we see -

III. THE THIRD CONFESSION - 7:21-25

There is -

A. The third statement - v. 21

Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

Then introduces an inference Paul is drawing from the previous verses. It is understood in the sense of therefore, so, or you see.

I find a law is I find the law. It is the specific law (or principle) which follows: That, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

When I would do good is literally with the one willing to do good, i.e. with me, where me is emphatic.

Evil is present with me, where me is again emphatic, means that evil is present with the Apostle Paul who wills to do good; and what is true of Paul is true of all other believers as well.

This should not be understood to mean that evil is present with Paul only when he wills to do good, as if he might only will to do good at certain times. This is clearly not the implication of this text. Evil is always present. Paul refers to himself literally as the one willing to do good. The tense of would, i.e. willing, indicates that this is his constant desire and intent. Consequently, evil is also constantly present with him.

The idea that chapter 7 refers to the time in Paul's life before he was saved while chapter 8 refers to the time in Paul's life after he was saved is not consistent with the rest of Scripture. Nor is it consistent with experience to believe that chapter 7 refers to a carnal state which Paul overcame once and for all when he was filled with the Holy Spirit in chapter 8.

It is far more reasonable to understand both chapters as normal for all believers. Chapter 7 details the conflict between the old and new natures, both of which are found in every believer; whereas, chapter 8 explains how every believer can enjoy victory over sin through the Holy Spirit in spite of the presence of an evil sin nature.

Then there is -

B. The proof of the third statement - v. 22-23

Romans 7:22-23 - (22) For I delight in the law of God after 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.

Paul says -

1. for I delight in the law of God after the inward man

Verse 22 might be used to explain verse 21, or it might serve to show cause, i.e. to show the reason why verse 21 is true. If it is used to explain, then for is to be understood in the sense of now. However, if Paul intended to show cause, then for is to be understood in the sense of because.

I delight means I joyfully agree with.

What Paul delights in (or joyfully agrees with) is the law of God. The context indicates that this law is the law which God, i.e. God the Father Himself, gave. The law of God is used in contrast to the law of sin in verse 23.

After the inward man means according to the inner man, with reference to the inner man, or pertaining to the inner man. This verse shows that Paul's attitude toward God and His Law was good.

Paul continues -

2. I see another law in my members

Verse 23 forms a mild contrast with verses 21 and 22 as is indicated by but.

I see another law in my members indicates a second principle.

In my members is in my parts or in my limbs and has reference to parts of the body. In my members is just another way of saying in me.

a. This other law wars against the law of my mind

Warring against means warring with.

This second law is at war with the law of my mind. This law of Paul's mind is the one referred to in verses 21 and 22 where Paul described it as the law of God after the inner man. Paul wills to do good.

b. This other law also brings me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members

The result of this second law is described by and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Bringing into captivity is capturing in war.

To the law of sin which is in my members is the means by which Paul is captured.

The law of sin means the law (or principle) which is sin.

Lastly, there is -

C. The conclusion of the third statement - v. 24-25

Romans 7:24-25 - (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this 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.

Paul exclaims -

1. I am wretched - "Oh, wretched man that I am!"

Paul wills to do good, but he finds himself captured by sin. Paul exclaims, O wretched man that I am! Wretched means miserable or distressed, and I is emphatic.

Paul acknowledges -

2. I am helpless - "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

He asks, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The war which is going on is in his members. He is not asking to be delivered from his physical body but from the body of this death, i.e. the body characterized by this death. His question makes it clear that Paul has concluded that he needs help from someone outside of himself if he will ever be delivered.

Shall deliver me means shall save me, shall rescue me, or shall set me free.

Paul realizes -

3. I thank God (that deliverance comes) through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Romans 7:25 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.

In verse 25 Paul answers his own question from verse 24, but he does not express himself completely. His answer is, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In order to complete the thought the reader must supply something in his mind, such as that deliverance comes or that deliverance is, so that the entire answer, if completely expressed, would read, I thank God that deliverance comes through Jesus Christ our Lord or I thank God that deliverance is through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul also realizes -

4. With the mind I serve the law of God

Paul concludes his thoughts in chapter 7 with a summary, So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Deliverance from this body of death has already been provided.

Two words, which are translated so then, are used together for emphasis.

I serve is I serve as a slave, I perform the duties of a slave, or I obey.

With my mind is by means of my mind. What Paul serves is the law of God.

The law of God is best understood as God Himself. It is God he serves by means of his mind.

In addition, Paul realizes -

5. With the flesh I serve the law of sin

But introduces a contrast. With the flesh is by means of the flesh where the flesh is the old sin nature. With the flesh Paul serves as a slave to the law of sin.

The law of sin means sin itself. Although Paul serves God by means of his mind, he serves sin by means of his old sin nature.