June 5, 2011
Romans #18

Romans 7:14-25

As I pointed out last time, I believe the context up to this point requires that Paul be speaking of himself.

Vv. 7-13, Past. Paul considers the law and its past effect on him as an unsaved man. He starts this section with I had not known sin...

Paul has made it very clear that the law was never designed to give life, nor does it have the power to produce a holy walk either in the converted or the unconverted. It never had nor has now any power to justify. Rather, its purpose was and is to define sin. The Spirit uses the law to show the sinfulness of sin and the results of sin.

Upon conversion, it still shows sin, as it reveals the holiness of God, and establishes those things which pleases and displeases God.

We saw that typical of all unsaved men, Paul was dead to the knowledge of sin as God sees it. Sin deceived him, and he thought he was alive, though he was dead. The Spirit revived the knowledge of sin, revealing the truth of sin, and he realized he was dead in sin.

V. 13, seeing sin as exceeding sinful, he was converted.

Vv. 14-25, is Paul speaking of unsaved or saved condition has been debated from the start of the Christian faith. There are good arguments on both sides. But I believe he is now speaking as a saved man, as he starts this section with but I am carnal...

This understanding is not inconsistent with what others who are far more qualified than I to speak on the subject discussed by Paul here.

We have already seen that we are told that all the Holy men of God who were used of God to write his word to us were men of like passions as we.

In vv. 14-25, Paul considers the law and its present effects on him as a saved man. He starts this section with but I am carnal...

We know that the law is spiritual, for it was given by the Holy Spirit, and it was applied to our corrupted conscience by the Holy Spirit. It revealed formally unknown sins to us. The things we at one time had no problem with, now present a great problem. And the Spirit shows us how to deal with that sin and death problem.

Carnal... Paul says that even after conversion, he is still a creature of flesh. Though there had been a mild conflict with his conscience before the law was made real to him, the conflict has greatly intensified. Now his conscience has been brought to life by the Spirit applying law of God. Now the never-ending and hot conflict really starts. The conflict is between the tempter and his lively conscience.

Sold under sin. That sale was made by Adam.

Though the mortgage has been paid by Christ, the former owner, the tempter, still works to reclaim what was his.

V. 15, allow is identified in the margin as know.

For that which I do, I know not... Because the flesh in which he still lives even as a Christian is corrupt, he was unable to recognize the true nature of sin. His spiritual perception was dulled by sin.

This is where sanctification inters in.

Paul pictures a dual life with which we can easily identify. Though we have high ideals of doing as God requires, we slip back into doing those things we hate.

V. 15 describes very well the battle waged between "good and evil" in our lives, particularly after conversion.

Paul says here that he falls into the trap of doing the things which he hates as a Christian. The former owner continually seeks to retake possession of what was his. And that which he hates he does.

Note: How true in our lives. How many times have we found ourselves doing those things we hate, though we tried to remain away from those things.

Though we try to keep the flesh and impure motives out of our efforts for the Kingdom's sake, it seems that the impure is always present, and even in control at times.

V. 16, could easily fit into what Paul has already said about the conscience. The unsaved man has a conscience, and in it is written the law of God. Whatever desire the unsaved has to do that which is good shows that he agrees that the law is good.

Even the worse of sinners will admit that certain things are wrong. In that admission, he agrees that the law is good, though he desires to ignore certain parts of it.

Note that it is interesting here that those who claim that we are under grace not under law—that is that God's law is no longer binding—still refrain from doing the things forbidden by the law. Though with their words they deny the law, with their actions, they consent unto the law that it is good.

When anyone admits that certain actions are not lawful actions, he shows that he accepts that God's law is good.

V. 17, Paul's true self desires that which is holy, just and good. But due to the power of the indwelling sin, he fails to consistently fulfill his holy desire.

He certainly in not trying to avoid his moral responsibility, as many do with We are all Sinners.

Note: Every person can identify with Paul here, in that what starts out holy, good and godly, ends up as sin, whether in motive or in action.

Vv. 18-20, fit more with Paul speaking as an unconverted individual, yet he is speaking in present tents. However, even as a Christian, I have found this fact to be true.

Vv. 18. Though Paul's will is from his higher self, he finds his lower self in control far too often.

Paul has made it clear that we were sold under sin in Adam. That sinful nature did not leave us at conversion. Rather, the desire and power of God was given to us at conversion to do good as required of us by the law, which is good and just and pure.

V. 19. We got a movie over Netflix, "My name is Howard H." It was the story of the man who started AA back in the early 1900s. It showed his struggle with drunkenness, showing how that no matter how hard he hated drunkenness, and tried to quit, he continually fell back into drink, destroying everything around him.

Sadly, it also showed how the roots of AA are very anti-Christian in the sense of victory without Christ.

Vv. 21-23 confirm that Paul is speaking as a converted man. And every Christian can identify with what Paul says in vv. 19, 20.

Vv. 19, 20, when the tempter wins out, it is no longer I, or my higher self doing it. Though it is his lower self doing the deeds, it is the sin that dwelleth in me doing the evil. He in not trying to avoid responsibility.

Remember, John said that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. 1 John 1:8, 9.

V. 21, Paul tells us that what he has presented in vv. 18, 19 as a law. This law says that when I would do good, evil is present with me.

V. 22, cannot be the words of an unsaved man, for the unsaved does not delight in the law of God. To him, it is a curse that is to be removed from him.

2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

V. 23, the war Paul describes here is one that is all too familiar to all Christians. The Christian is of two natures. The old nature that had dominion before we were saved, and still seeks to exercise that dominion. The new nature that became ours at conversion, and God's grace enables us to given dominion to the new nature.

The law of sin, or the use of our members as "instruments" of unrighteousness is a continual campaign against using our members as "instruments" of righteousness.

Paul's higher self agrees that the law of God is good, yet the tempter works to bring into captivity his members to the law of sin.

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Every Christian understands this war that Paul describes in v. 23, as the old nature seeks to bring again into captivity our members. But Paul told us at the beginning of this chapter that the power of that law of sin and death was broken by the death and resurrection of Christ.

V. 23, gives us a heart-rending cry from the depths of despair. (Robertson's...)

As we have already mentioned, Paul described himself,

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am ( not was) chief.

I believe Paul gives us a glimpse of the inner battles he faced, as he depended wholly upon the grace and power of God to do what God had assigned to him.

2 Corinthians 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Flesh may be taken literally for the body, or figuratively for the corrupt nature. Calvin and many others take the latter view. But there is no reason for departing from the literal meaning, which should in all cases be preferred, other things being equal. (Hodge)

Hodge is firm that it cannot mean evil suggestions, or fiery darts of Satan, as understood by Luther, Calvin and others. Calvin:

My opinion is, that under this term is comprehended every kind of temptation, with which Paul was exercised. For flesh here, in my opinion, denotes  —  not the body, but that part of the soul which has not yet been regenerated. "There was given to me a goad that my flesh might be spurred up by it, for I am not yet so spiritual, as not to be exposed to temptations according to the flesh."
He calls it farther the messenger of Satan on this ground, that as all temptations are sent by Satan, so, whenever they assail us, they warn us that Satan is at hand. Hence, at every apprehension of temptation, it becomes us to arouse ourselves, and arm ourselves with promptitude for repelling Satan's assaults. It was most profitable for Paul to think of this, because this consideration did not allow him to exult like a man that was off his guard. {3} For the man, who is as yet beset with dangers, and dreads the enemy, is not prepared to celebrate a triumph. "The Lord, says he, has provided me with an admirable remedy, against being unduly elated; for, while I am employed in taking care that Satan may not take advantage of me, I am kept back from pride."

There are as many understandings of what the thorn was as there are commentators, some ideas even ridiculous. No one can give a firm reason for his definition of thorn.

I do not think it could have been a physical deformity, for Paul had been a "Pharisee of the Pharisees." The Old Testament forbad any physical deformity from the priesthood in the tribe of Levi. Paul was from Benjamin, yet the Pharisees were known for their placing oral tradition above even the law of God.

The Pharisees had pretty much taken over the temple service by the time of Christ. I have little doubt but that they also assumed many of the Old Testament qualifications of the temple service, such as no physical deformities.

I certainly am not being dogmatic, but from what we see in Romans 7, I agree with Calvin that Paul's thorn was not a physical thorn. Rather it was some sort of spiritual infirmity under which he labored. He had to be totally dependant upon the Spirit of Grace, "My grace is sufficient for thee", to carry out God's commission.

When we realize how much sin is still in us, we should be ashamed, and humbled that God would see fit to call us to himself, and use us in his service.

Knowing the sin that still lies within each of us should stop any idea of pride.

V. 25. Again, Paul is speaking in the present, not in the past.

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

With the mind... This is characteristic of the renewed nature. Would a sinner make such a statement that with his mind he serves the Law of God.

I myself... He is one and the same person, yet he acts in this apparently contradictory manner.

The law of sin... The flesh has no natural tendency to holiness. Its corruption can only be overcome through the grace of God. In a Christian context:

1. Paul shows us the painful conflict between sin and God, even in Christians. They are opposed in all things.

2. Paul shows us the raging warfare even in Christians, and the destructive effect of sin on the soul. In all circumstances, sin tends to destruction, woe and death.

3. Paul shows us the inability of the moral law of God and of the conscience to overcome the power of sin in our lives. Both the law and the conscience only produce conflict and woe.

4. Paul shows us that only the gospel can overcome sin. The overcoming power of the gospel should be the subject of ever-increasing thankfulness on our part. The gospel alone can do what neither the law of Moses nor the inbuilt conscience could do.

5. Paul shows us that sin has taken its tole.

Paul ends this "down" chapter with an "up" look:

1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul had probably been married, http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/b-greek/1998-August/001320.html

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