Romans 7:14-25  


Romans 7:14-25

In this chapter Paul teaches us further what he wrote in chapter six.
There, he taught us about the FACT of our salvation and the need to experientially deal with the present warfare within our souls between THE sin nature and the Holy Spirit Who uses the Word of God to guide us.
In verses 1-13, Paul has discussed the relationship between the Law and the Sin nature.
The Sin nature is exposed by the law and is condemned by the law.
And we are delivered from both the sin nature AND the law through faith in Christ.

However, THE sin nature still resides within us as an enemy to our soul. But our salvation provides the basis for victory over the attacks of this enemy and the basis for experiencing peace, joy and inner stability while living here on earth.

Once we understand the reality of our salvation through faith in Christ, the most important thing to understand is the issue of fellowship with God. Fellowship comes from the Greek word, koinonia, which indicates communion, rapport, sharing and partnership. The word, fellowship, then, entails all four of these factors and is used in the bible to indicate the experience of a quality of life that operates on the same "wave length" as God, accomplishing what He wants us to do here on earth, pleasing Him and being pleased in every area of life.

Romans 14:17-18,

"For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking,
but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
For he who in this way serves Christ
is pleasing to God and approved of by men."

Our salvation relationship with God is a family status given through the impartation of spiritual life. This "eternal life" involves the removal of sin's penalty which is spiritual death. Romans 6:23 says, "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." We are thus placed eternally into a right relationship with God in which we are viewed as righteous in His eyes, and we are made heirs of an inheritance which is reserved for us in heaven (1 Pet.1:3-5).

From the first moment of this new relationship with God, we are in fellowship with Him. Our trust in Christ has accomplished a redemption from sin's penalty as a total forgiveness of all sins both past and future. Eph. 1:7 says, "in Whom (Christ) we have redemption through His blood (His sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty for sins); the forgiveness (release from debt) of our trespasses."

We thus, begin our Christian way of life (CWL) on the same wave length as God since we have just totally embraced His viewpoint concerning "sin, righteousness and judgment," the content of the gospel message that we believed (John 16:8-11), and He has totally accepted us as "righteousness" in His eyes (2 Corinthians 5:21).

As soon as we trust in Christ as savior, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside our soul and begins to work within us toward bringing glory to God (1 Cor. 6:19-20). We begin the CWL with the Holy Spirit filling us and controlling us. As we begin, in that very instant, "walking in the Spirit," for the very first time in our life the sin nature is not in control (Gal. 5:16) and as we thus "walk in the light" we experience fellowship with God (1 John 1:7).

Yet, that sin nature still resides in our body and it continues to promote its independence from God and darkness viewpoint within our soul.

Even though we now have a new desire to please and serve God, the sin nature is actively waging war with our soul to take us captive back to the old way of life.
Paul describes it at Romans 7:14-23.


For we know that the Law is spiritual;
but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to the sin (nature)

1. Of flesh: refers to the fact of living in a "physical" body and because of possessing that physical body, we also possess the sin nature.

2. Sold into bondage: refers to the condition described at Eph. 2:3,

"Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh
(the body controlled by the sin nature),
indulging the desires of the flesh (the body) and of the mind,
and were by NATURE children of wrath even as the rest."

3. The sin: refers to the sin nature within the body. Every time that the word "sin" occurs in this section (except at v. 25), it always has the definite article (the) with it and should be translated "the sin" to indicate the "entity" of sin within us which wages a very real warfare against our soul (v.23).
See Topic: The sin nature

In verses 15-23, Paul then describes the conflict that is raging within him as the sin nature wages war against that positive desire in his soul to please God.

V. 15,

For that which I am doing, I do not understand;
for I am not practicing what I want
(positive desire in the soul to please God),
but I am doing the very thing I hate.

1. What I am doing: refers to following the lusts of the sin nature.

2. I do not understand: communicates the frustration of the victory that the flesh wins even though Paul has a positive desire to please God.

3. Paul's new attitude which results from understanding divine viewpoint, wants to please God and hates anything that is contrary to God's standards.

V. 16,

But if I do the very thing I do not want {to do},
I agree with the Law, {confessing} that it is good.

This recognizes that the new standards in the soul accept God's viewpoint of good and evil.

V. 17,

So now, no longer am I the one doing it,
but THE sin (nature) which indwells me.

1. The "I" refers to the believer with positive desires to please God.

2. "The sin" refers to the sin nature which dictates to the soul darkness viewpoint in order to promote independence from God.

3. "Indwells me" indicates that we are talking about some kind of sinful force or inclination which resides inside the body.

V. 18,

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh;
for the wanting is present in me, but the doing of the good {is} not.

1. For: explains the "indwelling" in the previous verse.

2. Nothing good: describes the character of the sin nature.

3. dwells in me, that is, in my flesh: indicates that this sin nature resides IN the body (my flesh).

4. And it is for this reason that very often the word "flesh" is used to describe the sin nature.

5. For the wanting, etc: describes the conflict in the soul as the sin nature dictates its lusts to the mind.

V. 19,

For the good that I wish, I do not do;
but I practice the very evil that I do not wish.

This amplifies the conflict, indicating that there resides in the mentality of the soul, a positive desire to please God.

V. 20,

But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish,
I am no longer the one doing it,
but THE sin (nature) which dwells in me.

1. This is not an attempt to deny personal responsibility.

2. It is simply the recognition that when the sin nature is in control, it dominates viewpoint and attitude resulting in sin.

V. 21,

I find then the principle that evil is present in me,
the one who wishes to do good.

This verse concedes again the existence of the sin nature which influences the soul in opposition to the divine viewpoint desire which is there.

V. 22,

For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

This again states that there is a divine viewpoint standard in the soul which the believer has accepted and seeks to fulfill.

V. 23,

but I see a different law in the members of my body,
waging war against the law of my mind,
and making me a prisoner of the law of THE sin (nature)
which is in my members (physical body).

1. A different law: a different set of standards.

2. waging war: the very real warfare that exists in the soul between the Holy Spirit and the sin nature (Gal. 5:17) with the believer's self-consciousness right in the middle.

3. The law of my mind: refers to the divine viewpoint standards which the believer has accepted and is trying to fulfill.

V. 24,

Wretched man that I am!
Who will set me free from the body of this death?

This recognizes the frustration of the ongoing warfare and the need for outside assistance.

V. 25,

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind
am serving the law of God,
but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

1. The victory is through Christ.

2. He first accomplished the basis for victory by providing redemption through His payment of a ransom for sin.

3. Next, through the standards of divine truth, represented by the term, "law of God," we gain the offensive arsenal needed to shut down the viewpoint of darkness and avoid sin.

4. If we instead allow the "flesh" (physical body) to be the most important thing in our life, then through the "lusts of the flesh" we will serve "the law of sin" which is independence from God.

The victory over this "enemy within," involves two things.

First and foremost is our salvation relationship with God. Without being born again into the family of God it is impossible to live outside the controlling influence of the sin nature (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Secondly, we must allow the Holy Spirit to work within our soul promoting the viewpoint of God and seeking to keep us in fellowship with Him and following His truth. This requires that we "let the word of Christ abundantly dwell within us (Col. 3:16)" so that the Spirit will have divine viewpoint in our soul to use in fighting off the sin nature and its lusts. Gal. 5:17 tells us that the conflict within us is between the flesh (sin nature) and the Spirit.

"For the flesh (sin nature) lusts against the Spirit
and the Spirit (lusts) against the flesh;
for these are in opposition to one another,
with the result that you might not do the things that you desire
(positive attitude toward God)."

As we learn more and more of God's word, it functions as both a defensive support (belt of truth at Ephesians 6:14) and as an offensive weapon (The sword of the Spirit at Ephesians 6:17). Psalm 119.11 says,

"Your word I have stockpiled in my heart,
so that I might not sin against you."

The two "mights" in the above two verses indicate the choice that confronts every believer every moment of his life.

1.To fulfill our new spiritual desire to please God and let His word govern our attitudes and actions -


2. To resist that desire and sin against God by violating his moral and spiritual standards.

Our protection against sinning is to have those divine viewpoint standards in our soul where they can combat the human logic and darkness viewpoint which comes our way, not only from the sin nature within, but also from the world around us and the devil himself. 1 Peter 5:7 says,

"Be balanced, be alert;
your adversary, the devil,
prowls about like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour."

V. 8 continues,

"But resist him firm IN THE FAITH (not your faith)."

"The Faith," refers to the sphere of divine truth that is available to us as members of the family of God, for

"He has given us everything that pertains to life and worship
through the full knowledge of Him"

(2 Pet. 1:3).

The view that this refers to Paul's post-conversion experience and the experience of every believer is held by many reputable Bible teachers.
Counting heads doesn't prove anything, but this view happens to be held by:
Lewis Sperry Chafer
Kenneth Wuest
John Calvin
J. Vernon McGee
Chuck Smith
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

William Hendriksen: New Testament Commentary
In which he lists 23 men who believe that Paul is talking about himself and the struggle between the Spirit and the flesh that is common in all believers.
Also supported by:
The Westminister Confession
The Belgic Confession
The Heidelberg Confession


Questions and comments are always welcome

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İRon Wallace, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
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