The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Romans 7

Rom 7:1

Rom 7: In this ch, the apostle is expanding upon his initial answer to the questions posed in Rom 6:1,15, as well as expanding upon his statement in Rom 6:14: "You are not under LAW, but under grace."

While it is all very well to say that the believer has changed Masters, yet there is one thing that has not changed: the body itself is prone to sin, through an inherent weakness. How does this body stand in relation to Yahweh's code of righteousness -- His Law?

DO YOU NOT KNOW, BROTHERS: The conjunction in the Gr, at the beginning of this verse, shows the flow from Rom 6.

THE LAW HAS AUTHORITY over a man: In Rom 6:9 Paul said that "death" had the "dominion"; in Rom 6:14, that "sin" had the "dominion"; and now -- finally -- that "law" has such "dominion". Such an interrelationship is also stated in 1Co 15:56: "The sting of DEATH is SIN, and the power of sin is the LAW."

AS LONG AS HE LIVES: That is, but only as long as he lives! Contrary to a belief in a mythical and ever-burning "hell", DEATH terminates the individual's condemnation; it is the end (Rom 6:21)!

The law has authority over a person only for his lifetime. Since it has been established, in Rom 6, that the believer died with Christ, one can anticipate the conclusion -- that whatever authority the law continues to exercise over others, for the believer that power has been abrogated. Only for him who in faith appropriates the righteousness of God in Christ is the law abolished. It remains, of course, as an entity that expresses the will of God; the life under grace does not belittle the ethical demands of the law -- even if its power to condemn has been terminated.

Rom 7:2

Vv 2,3: In order to illustrate his thesis, Paul now expounds what he elsewhere terms "a great mystery" (Eph 5:32). The divine allegory of marriage is the perfect analogy, since marriage is a "type" in a "natural" sense of what God has been preparing in "spiritual" excellence from the beginning of creation: a multitudinous "bride" to join His Son Christ in an eternal union.

A MARRIED WOMAN: Lit, "hypandros" = one who in UNDER a man. Specifically, one who -- like Eve -- has taken a vow in the presence of God (Gen 2:23; Mat 19:6).

IS BOUND TO HER HUSBAND: "What God has joined together" (Mat 19:6).

AS LONG AS HE IS ALIVE: Thus, the operative law which binds man and woman together in marriage is operative so long as he (or they) live.

Rom 7:3

IF SHE MARRIES ANOTHER MAN WHILE HER HUSBAND IS STILL ALIVE: The Gr is, literally, "she become another man's". Such a position was "suffered" by Moses under the Law, "for the hardness of their hearts" (cf Deu 24:1,2; Mat 19:7,8).

SHE IS CALLED AN ADULTERESS: Called, that is, by divine decree (so "chrematisei" is use 7 of its 9 times in the NT: Mat 2:12,22; Luk 2:26; Acts 10:22; 11:26; Heb 8:5; 11:17; 12:25).

BUT IF HER HUSBAND DIES, SHE IS RELEASED FROM THAT LAW: The law of marriage binds the partners together only until the death of one or the other; cf 1Co 7:39.

Rom 7:4

YOU ALSO DIED TO THE LAW THROUGH THE BODY OF CHRIST: This happened at the time of baptism: being buried with him by baptism into death (Rom 6:3,4).

THAT YOU MIGHT BELONG TO ANOTHER: "...that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him" (Rom 6:6-8). Now the individual consciousness, the rational mind, which has shown the desire to destroy the lusts of the flesh (the old man) in baptism, is now free to marry the "new man" (Eph 4:24; Col 3:10).

TO HIM WHO IS RAISED FROM THE DEAD: The significance of being "raised from the dead" lies in the fact that it was Christ's death the made the fatal blow to the power of the "old man" -- the seed of the serpent, or lust. It is only through the power of Christ's resurrection that the efficacy of his victory can pass to us by our identification with his death in baptism, for we must be raised to "a new life" (Rom 6:4). But how can we do this if Christ himself did not rise from the dead (cf 1Co 15:17; Phi 3:10)?

IN ORDER THAT WE MIGHT BEAR FRUIT TO GOD: Union with the "old man", Lust, produced "seed" or "fruit" unto death (Jam 1:15; Rom 6:21). But in marriage with the "new man", we have "fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life" (Rom 6:22). It is Christ, the "husband", who brings about the conception of "holy fruit" in us, his "bride" (Eph 5:8-11; 3:17; 5:25-27; Col 1:27; 2Co 11:2; Rev 19:7,8).

It should be recalled that in our Lord's teaching the secret of fruit bearing is union with himself (John 15:1-8), the very truth emphasized in the passage before us. A somewhat different background for fruit bearing is predicated in Gal 5:22,23, where the fruit is attributed to the Spirit, in contrast to the output of the flesh and of the law. Since Paul speaks of the Spirit in Rom 7:6, the parallel with Gal 5 is close. The attribution of fruit to Christ in one instance and to the Spirit in another is not disturbing, because there is much common ground in their relationship to believers (cf Eph 3:16,17).

Rom 7:5

WHEN WE WERE CONTROLLED BY THE SINFUL NATURE: That is, when we were "married" to the carnal mind, or the "flesh" -- for "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so" (Rom 8:4,6-9).

The KJV has "in the flesh", but this is erroneous, since -- literally -- Christ was "in the flesh", yet he did not bear fruit unto death.

"The phrase 'controlled by our sinful nature' is an attempt to render 'in the flesh.' Paul has used 'flesh' in several senses thus far: (1) the humanity of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:3); (2) the physical body (Rom 2:28), (3) mankind -- 'all flesh' (Rom 3:20); and (4) moral, or possibly intellectual, weakness (Rom 6:19). Now he adds a fifth: the so-called 'ethical' meaning of flesh, which is the most common use of the word in his writings and denotes the old sinful nature. It is this sense of the word that pervades Rom 7; 8, together with a final use in Rom 13:14. Paul did not employ the word 'flesh' in this sense when exposing in his earlier chapters the universality of sin. In noting that the passions are aroused by the law, Paul is anticipating his fuller statement in vv 7-13 about the manner in which the law promotes sin" (EBC).

THE SINFUL PASSIONS: The "old man" husband, the passions of lust (cf 1Jo 2:16; Gal 5:24).

"Although a sinner may have been 'delivered from the power of darkness', or ignorance, and have been 'translated into' (Col 1:13) the hope of 'the Kingdom of God and of his Christ' (Rev 11:15), by faith in the divine testimony and baptism into Christ -- yet, if he turn his thoughts back into his own heart, and note the impulses which work there, he will perceive a something that, if he were to yield to it, would impel him to the violation of the divine law. These impulses are styled 'the motions of sins' (Rom 7:5). Before he was enlightened, they 'worked in his members', until they were manifested in evil action, or sin; which is termed, 'bringing forth fruit unto death'. The remote cause of these 'motions' is that physical principle, or quality, of the flesh, styled indwelling sin, which returns the mortal body to the dust; and that which excites the latent disposition is the law of God forbidding to do thus and so; for, 'I had not known sin, but by the law' " (Elp).

AROUSED BY THE LAW: "Through (dia) the law". It was through the presence of the divine law that "Lust" became "Sin" (see vv 7-13; Rom 5:20).

WERE AT WORK IN OUR BODIES: The Gr is "energeito" = to be energized. The faculties of the body were energized by last (cf Rom 6:13,19; Col 3:5; James 4:1).

SO THAT WE BORE FRUIT FOR DEATH: "Death" is the only FRUIT that "Lust" can produce (Jam 1:15; cp Rom 5:12; 6:21).

Rom 7:6

BUT NOW, BY DYING TO WHAT ONCE BOUND US, WE HAVE BEEN RELEASED FROM THE LAW: The Law has been "reduced to inactivity" (Vine), or "abolished" (Eph 2:15, sw). Christ by his death rendered the Law "inactive", having discharged the curse upon him, for he was cursed under two laws (Gal 4:4): (1) by being "made of a woman", he came under the law of condemnation in his natural body (cf Gen 3:19; John 6:63; 2Co 5:16; 1Co 15:50; Gal 5:24; Col 2:11), and (2) especially, and particularly, in his death, by being hanged upon a tree (Gal 3:13). Christ died once to the power of sin (Rom 6:10), and therefore the law had no power over him. If we die WITH Christ (Rom 6:5), then we will assume the same "victory" (1Co 15:55-57).

SO THAT WE SERVE IN THE NEW WAY OF THE SPIRIT: As serving the new master: see Rom 6:18. We have risen to "newness of life" (Rom 6:4) as a "new creation" (Gal 6:15), under the "new covenant" (Heb 9:15); we are married to a "new man" (Eph 2:15; 4:24; Col 3:10), and walking in a "new and living way" (Heb 10:20).

Paul is amplifying the thought of Eph 4:22-24: "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."

AND NOT IN THE OLD WAY OF THE WRITTEN CODE: "Spirit" and "letter" are similarly contrasted in Rom 2:29 and 2Co 3:6. The "written code" here draws attention to the Mosaic ordinances (cp Heb 8:13; Col 2:14). The believer, however, is not absolved from responsibility to Yahweh's Code of Righteousness, for a law still operates to bind him to the "New Man", Christ. This contrast is not between a literal mode of interpreting Scripture and one that is free and unfettered. The written code, which has special reference to the law rather than to Scripture in general, has no power to give life and to produce a service acceptable to God. Only a person can beget human life, and only a divine person can impart spiritual life, which is then fostered and nurtured by the Spirit.

The word "new" has in it not so much the idea of newness in time as freshness and superiority. This is "the Law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom 8:2), which is contrasted to "the law of sin and death". And the believer -- far from being free from ALL law -- will in fact be judged by this "new" law!

Rom 7:7

Vv 7-13: In case any reader concluded from Paul's previous remarks on release from the dominion of law, that the Law of Moses was evil, he now shows that this was not so. Actually, the Law revealed to man the true nature of his previous "marriage" to the Lusts of the Flesh and the evil nature of "sin" which was the product of the relationship. The Law condemned certain actions and desires which were always latent. They were not sinful, however, until the Law forbade them, and showed how much the flesh ruled over men.

Paul points out that the Law was not evil (actually it was very good: v 16). However, by placing restraints upon the flesh, it revealed the flesh as prone, disposed, to sin. The verses in this section are in the past tense, and therefore had particular reference to Paul's experience with the Law prior to his conversion to Christ.

WHAT SHALL WE SAY, THEN?: "What shall we conclude?" (cp usages, in Rom 3:5; 4:1; 6:1; 7:7; 8:31; 9:14,30).

IS THE LAW SIN?: Having seen in v 5 that the passions of sin came through the Law, the question naturally arises: 'Is the law therefore the originator of sin?' Is it in itself evil and sinful?


I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN WHAT SIN WAS: "Known" here is "ginosko" = to know by experience or effort, to become acquainted with, to learn objectively: cp John 1:48; 1Jo 5:20; Eph 5:5.

EXCEPT THROUGH THE LAW: Not "BY" the Law, as KJV; sin did not come out of the law. But Law spotlighted the sin! "The law cannot be identified with sin, because it is the law that provides awareness of sin (cf Rom 3:20). Can one say of an X-ray machine that revealed his disease that the machine is diseased because it revealed a diseased condition? That would be utterly illogical" (EBC).

FOR I WOULD NOT HAVE KNOWN WHAT COVETING REALLY WAS: "Known" here is "oida", to know intuitively, without effort, to understand subjectively: see Rom 3:20; 4:15.

COVETING: "Lust" (Gr "epithumia": strong desire or passion of any kind: Vine). Apart from 3 refs where proper desire is indicated (Luk 22:15; Phi 1:23; 1Th 2:17; cp Deu 14:26), it usually connotes evil desire in the NT: eg Rom 6:12; 13:14; Eph 2:3; Heb 13;5; 1Co 12:31.

IF THE LAW HAD NOT SAID: That is, REPEATEDLY said (Weym). Suggesting constant repetition of the command every time the law is read.

DO NOT COVET: Cit Exo 20;14,17; Deu 5:18,21. Here, the verb form of "epithumia". The only prohibition in the Law which exclusively affected the emotions; an "internal" sin in the sense that it would go undetected by other men.

"To come to grips with this the apostle selects an item from the Decalogue, the very last of the Ten Commandments. Is he selecting more or less at random one of the ten for an illustration? Could he have chosen just as readily the prohibition against stealing or bearing false witness? Possibly he saw something basic here, for 'to covet' is more precisely 'to desire.' If one gives rein to wrong desire, it can lead to lying, stealing, killing, and all the other things prohibited in the commandments. The sin indicated here is not so much a craving for this or that wrong thing, but the craving itself (note that Paul does not bother to spell out the particulars of the tenth commandment, such as the possessions or wife of one's neighbor). In analyzing sin, one must go behind the outward act to the inner man, where desire clutches at the imagination and then puts the spurs to the will" (EBC).

Rom 7:8

SIN: "In this ch we must remember the personification which is employed. Paul as it were separates the individual from the impulses which belong to him and speaks of the impulses as though they were a separate power" (CRom).

SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY: "Taking occasion" (KJV). Gr "aphorme" = starting point. Cp Rom 13:14; Gal 5:13; 2Co 5:12; 1Ti 5:14. The word is often used as a military metaphor for "a base of operations" in war. "Sin found its rallying point in that command" (Williams). Paul continues the striking extended metaphor of warfare, the battle between the "spirit" and the "lusts" to control the "flesh" (Rom 6:13).

"In the background is the Genesis story of the temptation and the fall. Eve was faced with a commandment -- a prohibition. When desire was stirred through the subtle suggestion of the serpent, a certain rebelliousness came into play that is the very heart of sin -- a preference for one's own will over the expressed will of God. The warning 'Don't' to a small child may turn out to be a call for action that had not even been contemplated by the child. A sure way to lose blossoms from the garden is to post a sign that says, 'Don't pick the flowers' " (EBC).

AFFORDED BY THE COMMANDMENT: "Dia" = through the commandment. The individual precepts of the Law highlighted sin in its stark reality, and then the whole Law condemned it.

COVETOUS DESIRE: Gr "epithumia" again. Cp the three temptations of Jesus: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1Jo 2:16; cp Luk 4:13; etc).

APART FROM LAW, SIN IS DEAD: "For where there is no consciousness of law, sin shows no sign of life." Sin is dormant apart form law (see 1Co 15:56). The Law discloses all the evil desires and propensities of the flesh.

Rom 7:9

ONCE I WAS ALIVE APART FROM LAW: The "I" here is emphatic. When Paul was a boy he was not subject to the Law, and in relation to it he was without offence, and therefore "alive" (cp Rom 6:13). But when he became subject to the Law and its restraints at about 12 years of age, he realized there were impulses within himself which were contrary to the Law and which would produce death. "The state of unconscious morality, uninstructed but as yet uncondemned, may, compared with that state of condemnation, be regarded as a state of 'life' " (Ellicott).

BUT WHEN THE COMMANDMENT CAME: That is, "came home" -- to Paul's mind and conscience.

SIN SPRANG TO LIFE: Gr "anazao" = to live again. It was no longer dormant and its presence was now recognized. The conviction was produced that he was a convicted sinner (cp Acts 2:37,38).

AND I DIED: Now he had learned that he was constantly sinning and was therefore subject to the curse of the Law, which brings death (cp 1Co 15:5,6). This "dying" is subjective in its force. He felt within himself the sentence of death, becoming bogged down in hopelessness and despair in contrast to the blithe self-confidence he had had before.

Rom 7:10

THE VERY COMMANDMENT THAT WAS INTENDED TO BRING LIFE: KJV has "which was ordained to life". "Keep my decrees and laws, for the man who obeys them will live by them" (Lev 18:5). "If you want to enter life, obey the commandments" (Mat 19:17). "Do this and you will live" (Luk 10:28). Cp also Eze 20:11,13,21; Rom 10:5; Gal 3:12. Although it was intended for life, no one ever kept the Law (Rom 3:9,10). In addition, the Law could not give life of itself, but drew attention to the means of life, namely faith in the Everlasting Covenant, ie, the Abrahamic covenant which had been sealed with the blood of Christ (Heb 13:20; Gal 3:24).

ACTUALLY BROUGHT DEATH: Because no one could keep it perfectly (except Christ). The Israelites promised, "We will do everything the LORD has said" (Exo 19:8; 24:3). But they did not do so, and thus perished in the wilderness (1Co 10:5).

Rom 7:11

FOR SIN, SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY...: Returning to the point of v 8...

DECEIVED ME: An obvious allusion to Gen 3:13, where the serpent completely deceived Eve (cp 2Co 11:3; 1Ti 2:14: Adam was not deceived, but Eve was thoroughly deceived). "The HEART is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" (Jer 17:9; cp Eph 4:22; Jam 1:22).

PUT ME TO DEATH: "The Law while pointing out the way of life... was destined to become death by all that sought life by it. While it demonstrated perfectly to a man what was at enmity in him against God, it could not help him one whit to vanquish it. It merely brought him consciously into its power" (BLG).

Rom 7:12

THE LAW... THE COMMANDMENT: That is, the whole "Law" as well as each individual "commandment". (Since "commandment" is singular here, it may refer particularly to "Don't covet" of v 7.) Cf Mar 10:9; Heb 9:19.

HOLY: Gr "hagios": that to which reverence is due, that which is separated. Infers separation from sin and consecration to God: Exo 3:5; Mat 27:53; Luk 1:35. The law is holy because it comes from a holy God and searches out sin.

RIGHTEOUS: Gr "dikaios": fulfilling all duties which are right and becoming. The law is righteous in view of the just requirements it lays upon men, righteous also because it forbids and condemns sin.

GOOD: Gr "agathos": that which, being good in its character and constitution, is beneficial in its effect. Yahweh Himself is essentially good (Mat 19:17). The Law possessed all these attributes because it revealed man for what he was, as well as his basic need for redemption (Gal 3:24). The Law is also good because its principal aim is life (v 10); its goodness is reaffirmed in v 13.

Rom 7:13

DID THAT WHICH IS GOOD, THEN, BECOME DEATH TO ME?: The Law does not "kill" anyone; man is "killed" by his own sins -- the Law only "spotlights" them.

BUT IN ORDER THAT SIN MIGHT BE RECOGNIZED AS SIN: Or "appear" (Gr "phaino": to shine forth) in its true character.

IT PRODUCED DEATH IN ME: "Working" (AV) death as the final product in the process.

THROUGH WHAT WAS GOOD: KJV has "by", but Gr is "dia" again, as earlier. "Death" does not come "out of" the Law, but "dia" (through) the Law. "How evil must that thing be which works the greatest evil through that which is the perfection of righteousness" (Haldane).

MIGHT BE UTTERLY SINFUL: "Sin is an exceedingly great sinner" (JT), showing the personification of Sin!

"This enemy within the human nature is the mind of the flesh, which is enmity against God; it is not subject to His law, neither indeed can be (Rom 8:7). The commandment of God, which is 'holy, just and good', being so restrictive of the propensities, which in purely animal men display themselves with uncontrolled violence, makes them appear in their true colors. These turbulent propensities the apostle styles 'sin in the flesh', of which it is full; hence, he also terms it 'sinful flesh'. This is human nature; and the evil in it, made so apparent by the law of God, he personifies as 'pre-eminently A SINNER' (Rom 7:12,13,17,18). This is the accuser, adversary, and calumniator of God, whose stronghold is the flesh. It is the devil and satan within the human nature; so that 'when a man is tempted, he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed'. If a man examine himself, he will perceive within him something at work, craving after things which the law of God forbids. The best of men are conscious of this enemy within them. It troubled the apostle so much, that he exclaimed, '0, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death' (Rom 7:24), or, this mortal body? He thanked God that the Lord Jesus Christ would do it; that is, as he had himself been delivered from it, by God raising him from the dead by His Spirit (Rom 8:11)" (Elp ch 3).

Rom 7:14

Vv 14-25: Paul having discussed his own experience while under Law, he now moves on, by an appeal to his present position (as witnessed by the change in verb tense here), to prove the holiness of the Law in the face of an uncontrollable body of flesh springing from innate sinfulness. Paul demonstrates that man cannot attain to righteousness by the exercise of his own will-power to obey Yahweh's code of righteousness.

Two principal influences emerge in this section, and need to be clearly distinguished: (a) those innate evil impulses that are the ever-present possessions of a "carnal" or mortal body, and (b) the individual conscience in a man, which represents conscious, deliberate desire: the mentally processed ideal. In this case it is Paul's conscious desire to serve the New Man, even though housed in a body which prompts him to evil.

THE LAW IS SPIRITUAL: "Pneumatikos" = belonging to or proceeding from the Spirit. "Things which have their origin with God, and which, therefore, are in harmony with His character" (Vine). This statement is consistent with v 12. Cp also Psa 19:7,8; Psa 119.

The Law here is not exclusively the Law of Moses, but more generally Yahweh's Code of Righteousness (which included the LM), to which all believers down through the ages are subject and by which they must be judged (cf vv 22,25; Mat 5; 7:12; Rom 8:4; 9:30,31; 1Co 9:21; Rom 2:2,5).

BUT I AM UNSPIRITUAL: Gr "sarkinos" = "fleshly". "Carnal" (AV). "Man is carnal, made of flesh, in which resides a principle contrary to God. It produces works which are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:19-24)" (CRom). Corrupt passions still retain a strong and withering and distressing influence upon the mind.

SOLD AS A SLAVE TO SIN: Sold, as into slavery (cp Rom 6:12,13). Sin, from the time of Adam, has purchased all flesh, and though the mind may be "transformed" (Rom 12:1,2) from the realm of King Sin, the body continues to be haunted by the impulses of its previous possessor. This is the experience of every bond-slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rom 7:15

I DO NOT UNDERSTAND: Gr "ginosko" = to recognize as a result of experience. "I do not understand my own actions." "I do not approve..." "As the slave performs his task, blindly unquestioning, not having regard to why the task is set and what the object is, but simply in response to command of the owner, so there is a surrender to sin's service. It is a service which is not the voluntary act of a righteous man, but an act he really repudiates" (CRom).

I DO NOT DO: "Do" (Gr "prasso") = to practice habitually, continually, and repeatedly. "I do not practice what I desire" (Diag).

BUT WHAT I HATE I DO: "Hate" (Gr "miseo": to hate, usually implying active ill will in words or conduct: Vine). We must hate wrongdoing (Rom 7:15), iniquity (Heb 1:9), evil in general (Jude 1:23; Rev 2:6). Cp Psa 119:104,113,128,163.

"Do" = Gr "poieo": the external act or completed action. This "differs from the preceding word 'prasso' in that 'prasso' has a conscious aim in view, while 'poieo' simply describes a series of acts which may be void of such conscious aim and be merely mechanical" (Vine). "Paul's figure of slavery is cogent here, since he is forced to carry out what he does not want to do, what he really hates, whereas what he would like to do never seems to materialize" (EBC).

Rom 7:16

I AGREE THAT THE LAW IS GOOD: The failure to do what he desires to do is not to be attributed to a wrong attitude toward the law, since he concurs in the verdict that the law is praiseworthy. In fact, the Law is good because it inculcates the right kind of conduct, the things that are beneficent in their results. See v 12n.

Rom 7:17

"Paul is not, in fact, one person, but two. The 'I' in these verses is that part of him that is the man who aspires to the godly life of the Spirit, whilst the 'me' is that part of him that is the man of the flesh -- which houses the evilly inclined disposition" (Spongberg).

"If the failure does not come from a wrong attitude toward the law, such as indifference or defiance, then the doing of things contrary to the law must be traced to the power of sin working within him" (EBC).

Rom 7:18

NOTHING GOOD LIVES IN ME, THAT IS, IN MY SINFUL NATURE: Or "flesh" (AV). This statement repudiates any theory in the mind of Paul's readers concerning "inherent goodness" as being an innate possession within "flesh"; the "flesh" is radically bad!

In Victor Hugo's story, a ship is caught in a storm. The frightened crew hears a terrible crashing sound below. Immediately the men know what it is: a cannon has broken loose and is crashing into the ship's side with every smashing blow of the sea! Two men, at the risk of their lives, manage to fasten it down again, for they know that the unfastened cannon is more dangerous than the raging storm. Many people are like that ship -- their greatest danger areas lie inside, not outside!

LIVES IN ME: Instead of "lives" in Rom 7:18, the word might better be rendered "dwells" (AV): it is "nothing good" that "dwells" in me! The invader -- which is "sin in the flesh" -- has managed to secure more than a foothold; he roams the place, considering it his home. In putting the matter like this, Paul has moved from a consideration of outward acts to an emphasis on the unwanted tenancy of sin. With this alien master in control, no matter how strongly a man wants to do the good, he finds himself checkmated. He cannot carry it out.

I HAVE THE DESIRE TO DO WHAT IS GOOD, BUT I CANNOT CARRY IT OUT: "The spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Mat 26:41; cp Phi 2:13; Gal 5:17).

Rom 7:19

V 19 is a virtual repetition of v 15.

Sometimes we can find it a real struggle to walk the Christian life with all the temptations and pressures life throws at us. Sometimes it can even get depressing when we tally up our day or our week and realize how often we have failed to do what we should have done, or have done the things that we shouldn't have done.

While there is no excuse for sinning and we must still confess our sins to God and ask for forgiveness, we can be encouraged by the fact that even Paul, whom we admire as one of the greatest men of God, struggled with exactly the same sins as we do. He said that the good that he wanted to do he did not do, and the things that he did not want to do, he did! We all have exactly the same problems -- whether we are as great as Paul, or whether we consider ourselves the lowest of the low. Yet Paul, at the end of his life, despite his struggles, was 100% confident that his Lord was prepared to give him a crown of everlasting life.

Despite our struggles too, we can have the same confidence as Paul and know for sure that we will be given the kingdom. It is not an excuse for sin, but a faith and confidence in the grace and mercy of our God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

Rom 7:20

V 20 is a virtual repetition of v 17.

Rom 7:21

I FIND THIS LAW AT WORK: This "law" is a principle of operation, ie a rule or "habitually repeated fact". "Principle" (NEB). Cf Rom 3:27; 8:2.

WHEN I WANT TO DO GOOD, EVIL IS RIGHT THERE WITH ME: The fact was that the lusts of the flesh against which he contended were proven to be stronger than his human will. "For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want" (Gal 5:17).

Rom 7:22

IN MY INNER BEING: Lit "the man within". This qualifies the "I" above: the inward man was the real Paul: his intellectual individuality and consciousness. Cf 2Co 4:16; Eph 3:16; 1Pe 3:4.

I DELIGHT IN GOD'S LAW: Cp Psa 1:2; 119:33-35,97.

Rom 7:23

THE MEMBERS OF MY BODY: "Melos" here (see Rom 6:13; 7:5n). This is Paul's "outward" man, in contrast to the "inner man" (v 22).

WAGING WAR: The Gr denotes -- not a single battle -- but a whole military campaign. This is a lasting war!

MAKING ME A PRISONER: A "prisoner of war" (cp 2Co 10:5; 2Ti 3:6; Eph 4:8). Cp v 14: "sold as a slave to Sin".

Rom 7:24

WHAT A WRETCHED MAN I AM! WHO WILL RESCUE ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH?: Paul felt that he bore a loathsome, leprous nature which he called "a vile body" (or a body of humiliation: Phi 3:21). Such a nature is incurable.

This account of the pervasiveness of sin is finished most impressively by the groans of the wounded captive. Having long maintained a useless conflict against innumerable hosts and irresistible might, he is at last wounded and taken prisoner; and to render his state more miserable... "There seems to be an allusion to the ancient custom of certain tyrants who bound a dead body to a living man and obliged him to carry it about, till the contagion from the putrid mass took away his life" (Clarke).

WRETCHED: "Talaiporos": to endure toil, pain, and hardship as from severe bodily effort.

Rom 7:25

V 25: a summary of the chapter. "My mind" is a synonym for the intellectual assent of the believer; and "the sinful nature" for the human, sin-prone flesh he bears.

"Paul was human and he knew the difficulties of life. His apostleship did not exempt him from any conflict that is the common lot of all. His early efforts to keep the law of Moses, combined with his later knowledge of God's purpose, must have given him a fearless and honest power of introspection. While it is one Paul, he yet recognizes that he is under two influences. In Galatians he says 'I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me' [Gal 2:20]. [But] here he says, speaking of failure to do as he would have liked, 'It is no more I, but sin that dwelleth in me.' There is a danger of these words being used to get rid of personal responsibility. They will always remain true when every effort has been made to follow righteousness, but should only be used when that effort has been made, when the words from Galatians can also be used. To follow a way of sin and excuse it by putting the blame on 'sin that dwelleth in me' is as far removed as possible from Paul's position. In fact, it would seem that those only can rightly use his words who are trying most to be followers of Paul as he was of Christ" (CRom).

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