-Paul sets up his teaching on the Spirit-filled life by instructing on how the Law no longer applies post death. He uses a well known fact from the Law to point this out concerning marriage obligations (Romans 7:2-3). Just like this Law, Paul says that the believer has died to the old self, which was indulging in the flesh through the knowledge of the Law producing the fruits of death by our sinful passions (Romans 7:5). Christ Jesus frees us from the obligations of the Law, which held us in captivity, so that we can serve the Lord in the new way of the Spirit forsaking the necessity of the old written code (Romans 7:6).
-This does not give us the right to be licentious in any way. Paul says again, “Certainly not (Ma genoita, Romans 7:7)!” The Law is righteous and reveals what sin is. It doesn’t excuse us from it, but simply points us to the Savior, who can redeem us from its consequences in grace through His love and mercy. The commandment made sin alive and its temptation real in the lives of us all. It promised life to those who could follow it, but the sinful nature of mankind proves too strong to overcome by our own strength, which necessitates the need for a Savior, who is Jesus Christ our Lord. The Law is holy and righteous and good, but sin takes opportunity through the giving of the commandments to deceive and kill (Romans 7:10-13).
-The statement “The Law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin (Romans 7:14)” is critical for our understanding of this whole section of Scripture. We find ourselves in a cosmic war for our souls with a natural-fallen flesh that has a propensity toward sin and evil because of our inborn depravity through the sins of our ancestors (Remember in Adam all die, Romans 5:14-19, 1 Corinthians 15:22). This limitation restricts our understanding and confuses our ability to discern right from wrong, good from evil. This leads us to do the very things we hate and causes consternation within us taking our peace and oneness with the Lord. We might desire to do what is right, but we don’t have the ability within our flesh to carry it out (Romans 7:18). Nothing good dwells in us through our natural state. This message could resonate within the Hellenistic culture that Paul was teaching thanks to the Platonic thought where the flesh/spirit dichotomy was accepted and lived by. It is the sin within us as the operating power, which many scholars believe even extends to the believer in a carnal state of sanctified disease. This is why Paul says it like this, “For I delight in the Law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death (Romans 7:22-24)?”
-The conclusion to all of this confusion and hopeless is actually positive. The credit and thanksgiving goes to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior who rescues us from this total depravity and gives us His Spirit, which is taken up in the new life described in chapter 8.
-*Application* It is important for us to observe the first person personal pronouns that Paul uses to describe himself in this section. For an interesting exercise, count up all the “I’s” in this section. This is purposeful for our edification in this cosmic spiritual battle we find ourselves in. Compare the end of chapter 7 to the entire chapter 8 of Romans as the Spirit becomes the dominant Word for the power to live correctly in peace and victory. The point is this: We can’t live righteously by ourselves; it is only through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dominating our lives that we can overcome our sin nature and live a life pleasing to our Creator. Yield to the Spirit and quit trying to do it by yourself in the flesh!
Verse to Memorize- Romans 7:24-25