Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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.
Often when we think about laws, we think of rules set down as the proper procedures for living. As Bible believing Christians, the first thing that comes to mind when we think of law is God’s law, and specifically, the law as set down in tablets of stone in the ten commandments. We also know, that because of the change of dispensation, we are not under law, but under grace.
The Apostle speaks in this passage about a law in his members battling the law of his mind. What is the law that he is talking about?
These laws are more like the laws of physics than they are laws as we commonly think when we are looking at the Word of God. The law of gravity, or the laws of thermodynamics, for instance, are not laws that say “do this or there will be retribution”, but they are laws that describe the nature of things as they are, and that in no physical phenomenon are these things violated. These physical laws are used as an evaluation point to determine whether a design is possible or whether it is a dream only possible in the imagination of the designer. The laws battling it out in our members are our very natures. The laws in our members can serve as a starting point to determine whether or not the ordering of society can function as intended, or is it only a dream that will never work. If we are ignorant of the laws of our nature, we will make attempts to better humanity and when it doesn’t work, we’ll scratch our heads wondering what happened. If we understand humanity and the laws at work in our nature, we will do things accordingly.
All human beings are partakers of Adam’s nature. We are born that way. The Apostle describes our state in Adam this way:
Ephesians 2:1–3 — “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.“
In Romans 6, we learn that our old man (the person that each one of us is by natural birth) is crucified and that we are to reckon him so. This is a positional crucifixion. As we are believers baptized into Christ (not into water), the death He died was reckoned to us, because God declared it so. We never felt the nails, but God said we are crucified with Him, so we really are. We didn’t spend three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, but God reckons us as buried with Christ. Christ arose victorious over death around 2000 years ago, long before any of us were born, yet God accounts us to have risen to new life with Him.
How could all of this happen?
2 Corinthians 4:6 — “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
God has created a new man. This new man is created in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). Paul speaks of the new man in Ephesians 2:15, 4:24, and Colossians 3:10. This new man, when compared to the old man, is often called the spirit when compared with the old man, the flesh. The new man is a new creature, or we could say, a new created order. The incorporation of this new created order is the one new man who is called the Body of Christ.
Man has a nature. In his nature he has laws that operate. These are the laws of his nature. This nature is called the old man (Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9) and the flesh (Romans 8:1–13; Galatians 5:13–24; Ephesians 2:3). Because man is a sinner, his nature is sinful. Sinful man even sins in doing things that are against his own nature (God’s created operative laws). See Romans 1:26–27.
The new man, created in Christ Jesus, has an operative law as well, and this operative law is the law that the Apostle is speaking of when he refers to the law of his mind. It is a back and forth struggle between the law in our members (the old man) and the law of our mind (the new man).
The old man, though positionally dead, is still operative and alive in our members, even as we are regenerated believers. Those who think that the sin nature is no longer present in believers have to be willfully blind. Such a person should take a look at reality, and instead of contemplating one’s own or others’ salvation, he should look to the Word of God for answers, because the answer is found here.
In Romans 7, we do not have a description of a man before salvation, or of a man who is not matured in his Christian walk. We have a statement of fact about the man in Christ with two opposing laws operating in him. The apostle is laying out the way it is, and he describes his own thoughts and feelings about it. The chapter begins its end with the lamentation, “O wretched man that I am!” and a cry for help:
“Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
Rather than leaving us in that state of despair, he answers with the answer of faith, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
This answer of faith leads us into the next chapter, where many a believer in despair has found great hope. It is indeed a pinnacle in God’s revelation to man through the Apostle Paul.
The operative laws in our members are at constant war. We do not find in this chapter how the victory of the new man is won. Ultimately it will be won when “the Saviour, our Lord Jesus Christ, will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).
Until that time, the Word of God does have a prescription for victory in the guerilla warfare that our old flesh does wage against us from its place on death row.
Galatians 6:8 — “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
Nothing that is done for that “dead man walking” will benefit, so take that to heart when making your decisions. We are not powerless against his attacks, but we can be undone by them if we do not take heed to the scriptural warnings and prescriptions for victory. The prescriptions for victory are not even particularly mysterious or conceptually difficult.
One comes to mind below:
Psalm 1:1–2 — “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
The law of the LORD in this psalm can and should be understood directly as the law of the LORD revealed to the children of Israel through Moses. That we today are not under that law is fully understood by this writer. But as David said this, the law was the word of God to him, and meditating day and night in it (not the mindless meditation of new age, but having the word of God his constant thought, that which he consistently “chewed on”), was the prescription for a blessed life.
Today, walking in the word of God to us, and mediating on it day and night, will have benefits for us as we fight the good fight of faith. Further, we can know that the war with our flesh is not abnormal, but should be expected. We should know too that it does not have to win:
Romans 8:37 — “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
In Christ, we have victory and are not the helpless victims of anything. If you are not in Christ, you are not right with God. You need salvation that is found in Christ, and you will find it by believing the Gospel that God gave to us, how that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again all according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). Your sins, all of them, past, present, and future will be forgiven and you will be translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of the beloved Son of God (Colossians 1:13, 2:13).
BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED!
Husband, father, engineer...Enjoys fishing, archery, guitar, running, and lifting, but most of all reading and studying God's Word.