Summary of passage: Man’s nature cannot help but sin (a war between the mind and the body/flesh) and be a slave to sin. But through Jesus Christ we are rescued from sin’s power.
11) He’s very distressed. He feels powerless (“wretched”), desperate, and overwhelmed like we all do at times at his inability to overcome sin. He probably feels tired from the constant battle of mind and flesh. We should feel the same: crying out against our self and unto God.
12a) Jesus is the answer.
b) As we’ve discussed in depth this week, the law pushes us to sin more as it’s our desire to break rules. Jesus is the only one who has the power to overcome our nature. Otherwise, under our own power, we are helpless to live in sin.
13) Personal Question. My answer: Sin is always in my life and I feel like all my prayers to overcome sin are desperate. I perpetually pray to have less of a temper and to soften my words towards others when flippant, indifferent answers arise. The prayer is simple: Jesus, give me your power to overcome sin. I need you. Come and fill me and let the Holy Spirit lead the way–not me. I can do all things THROUGH you alone.
Conclusions: The answers to these questions are done in 5 minutes. The in-depth study I do afterwards is hours long. This chapter is packed with our need for Jesus. Please take the time to dwell on what Paul is saying and to not feel helpless and overwhelmed when you sin–for as Paul states we will sin because of our nature. Rely on Christ. Rely on Christ. Rely on Christ.
End Notes: We never know how hard it is to stop sinning until we try. C.S Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is until he has tried to be good.”
The real self (inner self) is the one who delights in God’s law. The impulse towards sin is a different law.
The old man is not the real Paul; the old man is dead. The flesh is not the real Paul; the flesh is destined to pass away and be resurrected. The new man is the real Paul; now Paul’s challenge is to live like God has made him.
Again, here’s the debate: Was Paul a Christian during the experience he writes about here? Some look at his struggle with sin and believe that it must have been before he was born again. Others believe that he is just a Christian struggling with sin. In a sense this is an irrelevant question, for this is the struggle of anyone who tries to obey God in their own strength. This experience of struggle and defeat is something that a Christian may experience, but something that a non-Christian can only experience.
Morris quoting Griffith Thomas: “The one point of the passages is that it describes a man who is trying to be good and holy by his own efforts and is beaten back every time by the power of indwelling sin; it thus refers to anyone, regenerate or unregenerate.”
Sin wins when you try to win the battle yourself.
The ancient Greek word wretched is more literally, “wretched through the exhaustion of hard labor.” Paul is completely worn out and wretched because of his unsuccessful effort to please God under the principle of Law.
Note how the great saints always speak of how bad they are, not how good.
Fun Fact: Paul has referred to himself 40 times since Romans 7:13. In the pit of his unsuccessful struggle against sin, Paul became entirely self-focused and self-obsessed. This is the place of any believer living under law, who looks to self and personal performance rather than looking first to Jesus.
The words “Who will deliver me” show that Paul has given up on himself, and asks “Who will deliver me?” instead of “How will I deliver myself?”
“Body of death” is figurative for body of sin (6:6; 8:10) that hung on Paul like a corpse and from which he could not gain freedom.
Some commentators see a reference to ancient kings who tormented their prisoners by shackling them to decomposing corpses. Paul longed to be free from the wretched body of death clinging to him.
“It was the custom of ancient tyrants, when they wished to put men to the most fearful punishments, to tie a dead body to them, placing the two back to back; and there was the living man, with a dead body closely strapped to him, rotting, putrid, corrupting, and this he must drag with him wherever he went. Now, this is just what the Christian has to do. He has within him the new life; he has a living and undying principle, which the Holy Spirit has put within him, but he feels that everyday he has to drag about with him this dead body, this body of death, a thing as loathsome, as hideous, as abominable to his new life, as a dead stinking carcass would be to a living man.” (Spurgeon)
“Through” means that Paul sees Jesus standing between himself and God, bridging the gap and providing the way to God.”Lord” means Paul has put Jesus in the right place – as Lord and master of his life.
The last half of verse 25 is the summary of verses 13-24. “I myself” is the real self–the inner being that delights in God’s law (vs 22). “Slave to law of sin” is how Christians must reckon with the enslaving power of their sinful nature as long as they live–until “the redemption of our bodies” (vs 8:23).
Jesus does not take away the struggle; he only provides the victory over sin, hate, death, and all evil as we surrender our lives to Jesus and let Him live out victory through us.
Paul shows that even though the law is glorious and good, it can’t save us – and we need a Savior. Paul never found any peace, any praising God until he looked outside of himself and beyond the law to his Savior, Jesus Christ.
The law taught us what to do, encouraged us, and told us sin was our problem. But it couldn’t save us–only Jesus can. He is the answer!