Summary of passage: Sin makes man do what he does not what to do–evil things.
8 ) Paul is unspiritual because he is corrupted by sin. All believers have the seeds of rebellion in their hearts. The law is holy because it has its origin in God.
9) Personal Question. My answer: Sin is man’s nature and the struggle to overcome that is only won through Jesus’s death and the Holy Spirit within fighting daily.
10) Personal Question. My answer: Lose my temper too much. Help others more.
Conclusions: Again, I feel like so much is here and BSF does a poor job of pulling it out with these personal questions.
End Notes: “I am” suggests Paul is describing the personal Christian experience here (see YESTERDAY for in depth on this analysis).
“Unspiritual” is usually translated as carnal. Carnal uses the ancient Greek word sarkikos, which means, “characterized by the flesh.” In this context it speaks of the person who can and should do differently but does not. Paul sees this carnality in himself, and knows that the law, though it is spiritual, has no answer for his carnal nature.
“Sold as a slave to sin.” Very, very strong description that many refuse to accept it as descriptive of a Christian. However, it may graphically point out the failure even of Christians to meet the radical, ethical, and moral demands of the gospel. It also shows the persistent nature of sin.
Paul is in bondage under sin and the law can’t help him. The law can only help if he is innocent, but Paul knows that he’s guilty and that the law argues against him, not for him.
Paul is not saying how we hold no responsibility and sin is to blame for our actions. No. He’s merely pointing out how great control sin has over our lives.
You can be carnal and still be a Christian. It’s the awareness of our fallen nature, our acknowledgment and hatred of it in ourselves, which leads to praising and loving God.
Paul describes in verses 15-19 his feeling of helplessness. He wants to do what is right and indeed knows what is right but under his own power he cannot. The law gives us no power to keep them; it merely tells us what is right and wrong.
This paradox of recognizing we are sinners, owning our sin, and repenting of it comes from the law and not from our Christian nature.
What is the law anyways? To most of Paul’s audience, the word law stands for the huge collection of rules and rituals detailed in the Old Testament. Whenever he starts talking about “the new covenant” or “freedom in Christ”, his Jewish listeners want to know what he things about Moses’ law. Does God still require obedience? That’s what all of chapter 7 discusses.
Thanks to his years as a Pharisee, Paul knows Moses’ law well. This chapter, the most personal and autobiographical in Romans, reveals Paul’s thoughts on this issue.
When the Law is Helpful: Paul never recommends discarding the law. He sees it reveals a basic code of morality, an expression of behavior that pleases God. The law is good for one thing: exposing sin. Rules such as the Ten Commandments are helpful, healthful, and good.
When the Law is Helpless: The law has one major problem: After proving how bad you are, it doesn’t make you any better. Paul’s conscience is very sensitive from his legalism days. This makes him feel guilty. This law that shows us our failures cannot provide the power to overcome them. The law or any set of rules leads to death.
Romans 7 shows the struggle when an imperfect person commits himself to a perfect God. How can I ever get rid of my nagging sins? The invisible sins (lust, anger, coveting) can be just as toxic as the outward sins (stealing, adultery, murder). In the face of God’s standards, all of us feel helpless and that is precisely Paul’s point and confession. No set of rules can break the terrible cycle of guilt and failure. We need outside help and Chapter 8 brings it! Hint: The Holy Spirit!
We will be spending 3 weeks studying Chapter 8–hope!