by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 5 April 17, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
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.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
1901 ASV Translation:
15 For that which I do I know not: for not what I would, that do I practice; but what I hate, that I do.
16 But if what I would not, that I do, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.
I. Paul's Arguments.
A. I agree with the Law.
1. Paul's argument is that "if I do not wish what I do, I agree with the Law."
2. This negative reality of an over-ruling of the "will" indicates that the "will" is at least partly a mental activity wherein there is an evaluation of good and evil ... a recognition of the differences between what is "good" and what is not. It is also at least partly a matter of "desire" to be able to do what is good. But "desire" does not carry the day.
a. The "doing" here is Paul's third word from 7:15 where he had used three different words to describe his behavior. This is the more general term for the actual performance of some act and, in 7:15, it is tied to "what I hate". This is yet another indication of how the "wishing" is tied to the evaluation of what is good and what is evil. "Hating" is a determining that a matter/thing/person is of no positive value just as "loving" is a determining that a matter/thing/person is of positive value.
b. It is set in the form of "what I do not wish, I do" rather than the opposite "what I wish I do not do". This may signal a significant reality: the "overruling" is an agressive push to do some evil rather than an agressive opposition to the doing of some good. This fits the typical formulation of the Law as a "Thou shalt not" rather than a "Thou shalt" reality. In Exodus 20:1-17 there are ten "thou shalt not" commands/promises associated with the Ten Commandments which, themselves, have two commands that require rather than prohibit ["remember the Sabbath Day", and "honor thy father and thy mother"]. [But note that in 7:15 Paul did structure the issue in terms of "what I wish, that do I not".]
1) This perception of a pressing to do the forbidden rather than a reluctance to the doing of the good is significant. Evil is asmuch an opposition to the doing of beneficial things for the sake of others as it is a determination to do what is singularly self-centered. "If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children...".
2) This is a revelation of the reality that Sin is not as much "opposition" as it is "determined self-determination". Thus the Law is the chief instrument of Sin as the Law reveals the "wishes" of Another that overrule one's ability to be "self" determining.
B. It is indwelling Sin that is "producing".
1. The word "producing" in 7:17 is a return to Paul's first of three words in 7:15 -- the term that focuses upon the expenditure of energy to accomplish an objective. This word is the main thesis with "practicing" and "doing" as sub-sets of the thesis.
2. Paul disavows the appearance that it is "he" that is accomplishing the objectives. It is, rather, an indwelling power of evil that is over-ruling his reluctances.
a. This introduces a very complicated issue. If Paul is not the one actually producing the evil, how is he "responsible" before the Judge? How does the Judge impose condemnation upon one who is not actually the one doing the evil?
b. Is the context not determinative? Paul is presenting the reality of "it is not me" as a post-conversion fact, not a typical human fact. In typical humanity, the "person" is a unity between the "husband" (the old man) and the "wife" (the other aspect of the total person). In typical humanity, the "wife" cannot distance herself from her "husband" in the way that Paul is distancing himself from the production of sin by his members because the total person is always responsible for what is done. But, in post-conversion reality, the "wife" has been remarried to the risen Christ so that the total person is now a producer of holiness. In this new reality, the only way evil can be produced is by way of a deception of the "wife" by the "old man" so that it is a case of "rape", or at least "seduction", not marital harmony. It is true that James argues for a kind of "spiritual adultery" (rather than "rape") in James 4:4, but Paul and James cannot be "at odds" over such an important matter. Paul is also aware of the problem of "spiritual seduction" in 2 Corinthians 11:1-3 and the danger that the "chaste virgin" might be "corrupted". The issue seems to be resolved in that, once a person has been united to Christ as a new "husband", that person is never afterwards viewed by God as "united" to anyone else even though Sin does get "revived" and the former union does get reestablished to produce sins. Because the "union" is a "faith", rather than a "temporally actual", matter, every time "unbelief" enters the picture (a.k.a. "the Law enters" -- 7:9) the old union between the "wife" and the "former husband" is reestablished so that he is able to produce his fruit through her again. I need to explain what I mean by "temporally actual". The Holy Spirit of Jesus does "actually" indwell our bodies in time. It is by this reality that we are able to produce the fruit of Jesus out of our bodies. But, the "old man" yet exists in our bodies also even though "by faith" he is put to death. There will come a time when the "death" of the old man is not merely a "faith" issue, but is an actual eradication issue. That time is not yet; thus, my claim that the eradication -- the elimination of even the possibility of the production of sins -- is not "temporally actual". This seems to rest upon the "Abrahamic Faith" concept where God "calls the things that are not as though they are " (Romans 4:17). In other words, God is free to view us as only united to Christ even though that union has not reached its ultimate reality, and to ignore the various unions (that are reestablished by deception) with the old man ("Blessed is the man to whom God will not impute sins" -- Romans 4:8 -- [there would be no need for such a statement of "blessedness" if men did not commit sins because, in that case, God couldnot impute sins to them; but, our text says He "will not", thus implying that they commit sins but He refuses to acknowledge them]). Thus, our future sinless state is anticipated and declared by God as a "done deal" -- He calls what is yet a future issue as though it were a present reality. The present reality is this: "I" inhabit a "body" in which two "spirits of power" also dwell. There is the "spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2) and there is the "Holy Spirit of the resurrected Christ" Who has indwelt my body (1 Corinthians 6:19). "I" am the "woman" in the "marriage" analogy to which Paul appealed in Romans 7:1-6. "I", as the woman, am the one who "bears" the "fruit" of the "spirits" who dwell within. When I walk by faith, the Spirit of Jesus enables me to produce "holy fruit". When I walk under Law, the spirit of the old man is able to produce his "unholy fruit" through me.