by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 8 May 8, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
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.
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.
1901 ASV Translation:
21 I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
I. Paul's Conclusion From the Inner Turmoil.
A. There is a "law" governing the issues. It consists of the presence of four "laws". There is the "law" that evil will always triumph over the "will". There is the "good Law of God". There is the "Law of my mind." And there is the "Law of Sin" in my members. This may reduce to three in that the "Law of my mind" is in agreement with the "good Law of God" making them essentially the same...the statement of what "ought" to come out of the body as fruit.
1. There is an "inner man" that "rejoices together with" the Law of God.
2. But there is a "law in my members" that "wages war against" the "law of my mind". This "law of my mind" has to be connected in some way to the "inner man" that rejoices with the Law of God.
3. This war-waging law is identified with "the Law of the Sin which is in my members".
a. It does no good for the "inner man", the "law of the mind", to be in harmony with the Law of God as far as the actual production of behavior out of the body.
b. There is a potent strategist in the members that is able to circumvent the "mind" and bring "me" into captivity.
1) According to Romans 12:2 it is by the renewing of the mind that a person is actually transformed.
2) According to Romans 7:11 it is only by the "deceiving" of the mind that Sin can regain the dominion over the body.
3) This means that, though the "mind" has no power in itself/of itself, it is the critical agent of determination of which actions will proceed from the body.
a) It is by "understanding", as a function of the mind, that behavior is governed, though not empowered.
b) The major problem is when men are "deluded" into "thinking" that they have the resources to empower the behavior that they are enslaved. They are set free when they "turn to the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:16). There are two issues here: there is the real issue of the true recognition of what is actually legitimate, which is a function of the Law of God, because there can never be any empowerment from God for ungodly goals; and there is the issue of the actual empowerment that occurs by the Holy Spirit. For this cause, there are also two issues involved in the "delusion" that enslaves: there is the perverse establishment of a goal that is not a legitimate goal (like seeking respect); and, then, there is the perverse pursuit of that goal by the power of the flesh (which is invariably self-destructive).
c. Paul's ultimate conclusion is that "I myself, indeed, serve the Law of God with the mind, but "I myself, indeed, serve the Law of Sin with the flesh."
d. This is a "wretched" condition that can only be resolved by the presence of Jesus Christ our Lord.
B. The "governed issues".
1. "I" am "willing" to do "the good".
2. But "the evil" is "present" to me.
a. This is exactly the terminology of 7:18 where "to will" is "present" to me. This raises an interesting question: when the will is "present", it is ineffectual, but when the evil is "present", it is dominant; so what is Paul saying?
b. But the difference is this: the "will" does not carry the day; the "present evil" does.
1) That the "will" exists to do "the good" only does one thing: it proves an inner agreement to the thesis that "the Law is good" (7:16) -- a thesis that he took pains to establish in 7:7-12.
a) This "agreement" creates the inner turmoil, the deep frustration that exists because there is a strong awareness that God's ways are good while in the condition of not being able to follow them.
b) This "agreement" can only arise out of those who were sufficiently "alive" at one point to recognize the great benefits of God's Truth (7:9). This is a post-conversion reality.
2) The reason the "will" cannot carry the day is that the "good Law of God" has, once again, become the dominant focus of attention in a "stratus" above the one which actually produces the behavior of the body (7:9). Men cannot live with their focus upon "the good Law of God" (7:6 and 10). They must go "below" this area of focus to that stratus in which the real issues of where the actions of the body come from exist. This is the stratus of the "spirit/Spirit" and the issue of focus in this stratus is notwhat must come out of the body, but how the body is controlled. Walking by the Spirit means being focused upon the Spirit of God as the "producer" of the fruit of righteousness through the body. This is a "faith in the grace of God" issue wherein God, the Spirit, acts on our behalf within our bodies to produce the Life of Jesus. The "will" fails precisely because it brings a "determination" to the table to "martial the resources of the flesh" to produce "godliness" and "the flesh" is totally incapable of that effort.