Who Is This Man?

ROMANS 7

 

Rom. 8:12 is clear in pointing out that we who have believed in Christ are no longer "debtors to the flesh to live after the flesh." As another has said, "we donít owe this old do-it-yourself-nature one moment of our time." Our "old man," (Eph. 4:22) no longer has any claim on us. We have been eternally freed from its dominion, its power, itís authority. Never again can sin rule over us - EXCEPT AS WE ALLOW IT. Ponder that, brethren, for this principle is the key that unlocks Romans 7:14-23.

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING REFERENCES:

ROM. 6:12 - "Let not sin therefore reign. These four words, "Let not sin reign," tell us that we have been put in control of sin in our lives. If it controls us, itís because we have turned control over to sin - we have consented to its rule, at least for the moment.

Vs. 13: -- "Neither yield ye your members..." We have a choice, do we not?

Vs.14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you." What more powerful incentive could there be for us to live righteously? Sinís dominion is out, choice is in.

Vs. 16: "...to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are." Someone may say, "I see, so itís really up to me to decide whom Iím going to serve, sin or righteousness." Absolutely! Once we were held captive to "the law of sin," as was the man of Romans 7, a law that kept us from doing the right things, the honorable things, things we knew we should do but didnít. And how often, how terribly often, did we do the things we knew we shouldnít do?

This subjection of sin to our wills, brethren, explains why Paul could write in Romans 8:37, " WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US." And Phil. 4:13, "I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST..."

Vs. 7: "For he that is dead ("crucified with Christ") is FREE from sin."

Vs, 18: "Being then made FREE from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Having in us the resurrection power of Christ, we now have the authority to serve God acceptably and refuse the rulership of sin.

The man in Romans 7 says of himself, "For that which I do [the things I do that I know are wrong] I allow not [Iíve given no consent to sin but I do it anyway]...what I hate, that I do...the good that I would, [the right and honorable thing that I want to do] I do not: but the evil which I would not, [the things I despise] that I do." Rom. 7:15-20.

Notice, brethren, here is a man who sins even though HE DOES NOT ALLOW IT, DOES NOT CONSENT TO IT. If this is the apostle Paul, how can it be said that he was "born again...crucified with Christ.... made free from sin," and longer under the dominion of sin? (Read Romans 6:7, 14, 18, 22 carefully!)

Whoever this man is in Romans 7, he is clearly, in bondage to sin, a slave of sin, and helpless before the power of sin. In Phil. 3:17, Paul wrote, "Brethren, be followers together of me." Did God actually expect the saints of Philippi to follow a man who was in bondage to sin while they themselves were free from "the dominion of sin"?

"But," someone may say, "Brother Bob, it was simply Paulís old nature that sinned while his new nature rebelled against it, proving that the warfare was between Paulís old and new nature."

Pause right there for just a moment, friend, and allow me to re-emphasize the fact that Romans 6 spells out the problem, that it is the Christianís choice, his preference, his own, personal free will that makes the difference between sinning and not sinning, not his Adamic nature. First because weíre dead to sin (Rom. 6:2) and, second, because we have heavenís written guarantee that our old nature shall not have dominion over us - except as we allow it. (Rom. 6:14). Brethren, we either believe that or we donít!

Look, if the man in Romans seven was Paul, then our apostle was a miserably defeated wretch of a man who was constantly losing the battle against sins that he didnít want to commit. And the things he should have been doing he couldnít because sin kept getting in the way. That presents us with a hopeless contradiction! Here it is:


ROMANS 6 PRESENTS THE APOSTLE PAUL AS FREE FROM SIN,

ROMANS
7 REVEALS HIM AS BOUND BY SIN
if, indeed, Romans 7:14-24 is the apostle Paul

One doesnít need an I.Q. of 200 to recognize this as a discrepancy of such proportions that, at least in this case, it makes foolish the wisdom of God to those who hate Christ and seek occasion against Him and His Word.

On the other hand, if we accept the fact that the man of Romans 7 is NOT the apostle Paul but simply a poor unsaved, unregenerate soul, struggling against "the motions of sins" in his members, the contradiction is erased.

1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:2 combine to makes it all too clear that God has given to the church the apostle Paul as an example of Christian conduct. How could that possibly square with the sin-laden, spiritual-disaster- of-a-man in Romans 7?

Too, try to imagine Christ, the head of the church, giving us this totally defeated individual to be our "minister....our preacher.... our apostle....and our teacher. Rom. 11:13; 15:15-16; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11. It doesnít make sense, but many of the most literate professing Christians in America believe it.

In 1973, Dallas Theological Seminary (a fundamentalist stronghold) copy- righted a book of Bible expositions authored by the Dallas seminary faculty, entitled, "Bible Knowledge Commentary." On page 468-9, Vol. 2, John A. Witmer, commenting on Romans 7, writes,

"Obviously he [Paul] was describing his present conflict as a Christian with indwelling sin and its continuing efforts to control his daily life....This principle (of sin) is continually doing two things: (1) waging war against the law of the believerís mind and (2) making him a prisoner of the law of sin at work within his members. The indwelling principle of sin is constantly mounting a military campaign against the new nature, trying to gain victory and control."

Here is a professor in the highly respected Dallas Theological Seminary lock-stepping with the general concept held by most evangelical ministers. Witmer presents Rom. 7:14-24 as an on-going struggle between Paulís old and new nature. The only way this conclusion could have come about was for the professor to have ignored Romans 6 while commenting on Romans 7.

In fact, Romans 7 presents a man who is daily fighting a losing, bitter, heart-breaking battle between his conscience and his Adamic nature. Since this man was not "free from sin," and therefore had no new nature with which to successfully oppose sin, what else, except his old nature, his conscience and "the law of God" (the 10 commandments) could have been involved in this spiritual tug-of-war?

 

THE MYSTERY MAN OF ROMANS 7

Then who might this person be who was forever fighting this losing battle, ever seeking to live the life he did not have, trying desperately to live up to the urgings of his own conscience and determined to keep the 10 command- ments which he loved? Had not his own father, a highly respected Pharisee, taught him that this was the way, as did also his academic and spiritual mentor, Rabbi Gamaliel, a great Jewish Scholar and member of the Sanhedrin?

Strangely, however, following in the footsteps of his father and his famous teacher had only succeeded in making him more aware of his subju- gation to sin Oh, yes, he could control those hated Christians, no question about that, but he couldnít control his own flesh! One day, in desperation and despair, Saul of Tarsus, himself a proud Pharisee, but now contrite and humbled, cried out, "O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24) It may well be that it was shortly after this that He met the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, who asked him, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" (See Isa. 66:2).

When Saul did turn to the Lord, Romans 6 makes it clear that he was instantly and forever delivered from the controlling power of sin. (Romans 6:7, 18, 22) Yet many believers still insist that Romans 7 is a description of the victorious, joy-filled, "I-can-do-all-things-through-Christ-which-strengthen-eth-me" apostle Paul. This irrational conclusion would put Paul back under law and bring him into subjection to the very thing from which his new life in Christ had delivered him!

AFTER SAULíS CONVERSION

After his new birth, (please get this!) Paul could joyfully declare, "...not I but Christ....I keep my body under....for to me to live is Christ....I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth meÖI have kept the faithÖ..in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of GodÖI die daily.... brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example....those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you...follow me." Gal. 2:20; 1 Cor. 9:27; Phil. 1:21; 2 Tim. 4:7; 2 Cor. 6:4Ö 1 Cor. 15:31; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 1 Cor. 11:1.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the above description of the apostle Paul, our Lordís example of godly living, is oceans apart from the pitiful, pathetically weak, wretched, sin-serving figure of a man portrayed in Romans 7:14-24. The spiritual distance between the two is too obvious to ignore.

 

A CARNAL MINDíS DUMPING GROUND

One is forced to wonder how many professing Christians have used Romans seven to excuse sin in their lives. ("After all, look at the apostle Paul, all the problems he had trying to keep his flesh under control. Iím sure no better than he was when he was around.")

Such carnal reasoning is totally out of harmony with Romans six, as al- ready shown. Thus, every time you and I have been controlled by sin (and we must all plead guilty here) itís because we handed control over to sin. Needless to say, this battle between our old and new nature will not cease until the Lord takes us home. Meanwhile, I would urge us all to not use Romans 7:14-24 as a means of excusing a weak, vacillating Christian walk.

 

A QUICK REVIEW

There is no doubt in my mind, brethren, that Romans 7:14-24 is a divine flash-back of Paulís life under the law when he, as an un- saved Jew, was Saul of Tarsus. As a Pharisee, he delighted in the law of God, yet, because of the weakness of his flesh, he was unable to obey it. His conversion to Christ, however, and the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Spirit, enabled him to "fulfill the law." (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:14).

In spite of his having had the same sinful, fallen nature that you and I have today, we can safely and joyfully follow Paul. Who can deny that his persecuted, self-sacrificing, Christ-centered life eminent- ly qualified him for the post. (2 Tim. 2:2; 2 Cor. 11:24-33)

In this review, permit me to once again remind all of us that having been set free from the power, control, authority and dominion of sin, we who are saved, have, by virtue of our Lordís victory on Calvaryís cross, been given total control over sin in our lives. Letís thank God for it, walk in it, and rejoice in our freedom in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Objections received from brethren to the above position!

 

Objection # 1. "Romans 7:14-24 is speaking in the present tense, therefore it is not speaking of Paul before his conversion."

Answer: A brother in Florida made this astute observation, "Some people give personal accounts of past events but tell it in the present tense. Iíve done it, perhaps you have too. Should not the apostle Paul, in relating his pre-conversion experience, be granted the same liberty? Example: ĎHere I am, in the middle of nowhere, with no signpost to guide me, no compass by day, no star by night, hopelessly lostÖí Yet this man was talking about an experience he had 30 years ago!í"

 

Objection # 2. "Remember, we do have an old and new nature and Rom. 7:14-24 shows those two natures at war with each other."

Answer: That every Christian has an old and new nature at war with one another, we can not deny, (Gal. 5:16-17). But those two natures are not in view in Rom. 7:14-24. Perhaps someone who disputes this fact can to tell the rest of us (1) Where in Romans 7:14-23 can we find the believerís freedom from sin? (2) where in those verses we can we find the Holy Spirit who empowers us to "walk worthy of the vocation" wherewith we have been called.? (Eph. 4:1) and,(3) where in Rom. 7:14-24 we can find the Lord Jesus Christ whose resurrection power in us makes us "more than conquerors?" (Rom 8:37)

Objection # 3. "If no good thing dwelt in Saulís body, no "new man," no "fruit of the Spirit," where did he get the craving to do good?"

Answer: Before Saul was saved, his CONSCIENCE, which someone has said, "decides the moral quality of manís words, thoughts and deeds," encouraged obedience to "the law of God," (Rom. 2:14-15) but, like the law itself, did not impart the power to keep it. (Rom. 2:15; James 2:10; Rom. 8:3) After Saulís new birth, however, he was instantly "free from sin" so that he was at once able to do all that God wanted him to do, and refrain from doing the things he shouldnít do. (p.s.: this statement is not intended to indicate sinless perfection in Saul, for none can claim that. Weíre simply talking here about faithful obedience to the Word of God.)


Objection # 4. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
"THIS," says our critic, "IS EXACTLY WHAT HE [Paul] SAID ABOUT HIMSELF IN ROMANS 7."

Answer: Sorry, but your statement is not in keeping with the facts. Look again at verse Gal. 5:16,

"Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Obedience to a Biblical injunction, of course, indicates a choice, which agrees with Romans 6. There we are told that upon being crucified with Christ we were "freed from sin" (Rom. 6:7) that we might be "servants to righ-teousness." (Rom. 6:19) The man of Rom. 7, on the other hand, was in bondage to sin without a choice.

 

Now Gal. 5:17, "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would." Many believe this is generally what Paul was experiencing in Rom. 7:14-23óa battle between his two natures. At first glance this seems reasonable, but the facts argue otherwise.

It is not unusual for a child of God to be rendered spiritually impotent due to a conflict of interests, the world pulling him in one direction and his new nature pulling him in the other.

Because of this ever-present possible conflict of interests throughout the Christian life, we are urged in Eph. 4:22 to "put offÖthe old man...which is corrupt" and "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9-10).

But, the man in Rom. 7, had no such choice. Sin was calling the shots while the poor manís tender conscience gave him no rest. Lacking the spiritual resources to combat sinís pernicious influence, he stood helpless before the law of God, frustrated by the law of sin, and defeated to the point of utter dispair. Finally he cried out, "O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death.?" (Rom. 7:24).

SPECIFIC QUESTIONS

Letís first review the laws that eventually brought Saul to his knees.

1. "THE LAW OF SIN" (that dwelt in Saul, continually frustrating his sincerist efforts to please God)

2. "THE LAW OF MY MIND" (Saulís good conscience monitored his every thought and deed, making life even more miserable)

3. "THE LAW OF GOD" (the 10 commandments) that Saul loved but could not keep. These laws left Saul in a hopeless state of wretchedness.

 

THREE QUESTIONS

(1) Might there ever be a time when a Christian would fall into a state of wretch- edness? Of course! Any Christian who allows himself to drift into immorality, for example, daily aspiring to gratify the lusts of his or her flesh while grieving the Holy Spirit, (Eph.4:30) is going to experience wretchedness. He or she might even be taken home to be with the Lord under the chastening hand of God. (Romans. 8:6, 13; 1 Cor. 5:5)

(2) BUT, could there ever be Biblical grounds for a Christian to ask, "who shall de- liver me from the body of this death?" Absolutely not! We were delivered from the body of this death when we trusted Christ for salvation, as in Col. 2:11: "in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision (crucifixion) of Christ. (Col. 2:11) Thus, God can now say to us, "...ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3) Yes, indeed, we have already been delivered "from the body of this death."

(3) (One more time around) If Romans 7:14-24 is talking about Paulís two natures, why is it that these verses we find:

1. NO FREEDOM.
2. NO BLESSINGS.
3. NO CHOICES.
4. NO RIGHTEOUSNESS.
5, NO NEW NATURE.
6. NO FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT.
7. NO VICTORY.
8. NO HOLY SPIRIT.
9. NO LORD JESUS CHRIST.

ONLY THE OUT-WORKINGS OF THE FLESH AND THE RULE OF SIN!

I donít know about you, brethren, but in view of the above evidence, I am persuaded that the man of Romans 7:14-24 is NOT the apostle Paul but Saul of Tarsus.

To teach otherwise is to give the lie to the ministry of Paul who was called of God to be our role model. (1 Cor 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:2). What believer in his right mind would prefer to follow Saul, the Christless, miserable, sin-driven man of Romans 7 as his or her example of Christian conduct?

Closure: The negatives of Romans 7:14-24 should serve to increase the wonder and appreciation of our deliverance from the tyranny of sin and to spur us on to lives godly lives as we recall the painful struggle many of us endured before we were born again (1 Peter 1:23), before we allowed the Lord to impute to us His righteousness, (Rom. 3:22) and before we were created anew in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:17). These reminders should also cause us to offer with increasing joy the "the sacrifice of praise to God continually" for our redemption and forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:14, Heb. 13:15)

God forbid, but should we sin, He has told us that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 We can confidently move on.

Bob Thompson

For FREE, Christ-centered Bible studies, write
4056 Skyline Rd., Carlsbad, CA 92008
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e-mail: bthompson123@sbcglobal.net
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Telephone: 760-729-6541
(s)

 

NOTES

BIBLE Questions ó Set #3

from John Airy, age 17, of La Mesa, Ca.
to Bob Thompson (email: Berean81@aol.com)

1. Did Satan know that Jesus was God before the cross?

The answer, of course, is yes, he did. Not only did Satan know it, but hordes of demons knew it, too.. For example, in Matt. 8:29, we read the ac- count of two men, "exceeding fierce....possessed with devils". These devils (demons) asked the Lord Jesus, "....art Thou come hither to torment us before our time?"

Furthermore, Satan is well acquainted with Micah 5:2 as well as Isa,. 7:14; (repeated in Matt. 1:23) to say nothing of Psa. 110:1; Isa. 9:6; 44:6, 24; 45:15, 21-22, etc. all of which clearly point to the deity of Christ.


2. What did Paul commit to the Lord in 2 Timothy 1:12?

I believe we can safely say that Paul committed the keeping of his soul AND the stewardship of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 1:9; 3:1-10) which he had already passed on to Timothy, who was, in turn, to pass it on yet again to other faithful Christians, (2 Tim. 2:2) who were to pass it on to still others. In brief, Paul knew he could trust the Lord to keep his soul and see to the perpetuation of his stewardship through faithful men, Please read 2 Tim. 1:12 and 2 Tim. 2:2 together.

3. Brother Bob, what was Paul talking about when he said in Rom. 7:14, "I am carnal, sold under sin....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." Was Paul in a defeated state at this time?

To understand Romans 7, John, one must understand Romans 6. Romans 6 first gives us the sequence of events in the salvation of every Christian.

(1) Romans 6:3óWe were baptized into Christ (notice, into Christ, not into water) vs. 4, "buried WITH HIM by baptism into death....." not "LIKE HIM. Here is our identification with, not our imitation of, Christ in His death. Remember, there is but ONE baptism today: Eph. 4:5).

(2) Romans 6:4ó At the time of our induction into Christ by spiritual baptism (Gal. 3:27) we were supernaturally identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, thereby making it possible for us to now walk in "newness of life," i.e. resurrection power. See Eph. 1:19-20, Phil. 3:10.

This new life in Christ is the fountainhead of every blessing, John. And one of those blessings is our being "MADE FREE FROM SIN." This amazing deliverance from the power, the control and the dominion of sin is repeated in verses 7, 11,14,18 and 22. Read them, John, and rejoice anew in your freedom from that evil tyrant, inherited from Adam, called sin. This is why I call Romans six and eight the Christianís emancipation proclamation.

The rest of the chapter six (verses 11 through 22), explains how we now have a choice throughout the day and night as to whether or not weíre going to obey "the motions of sin" (Romans 7:5) which are still resident in our bodies, (and will be Ďtill weíre taken Home) or, we can reckon ourselves "dead, indeed unto sin" (vs.11) and "walk in newness of life." (vs. 4) thereby triumphing over sin in our daily walk.

Rom. 8:12 is clear in pointing out that we who have believed in Christ are no longer "debtors" to the flesh "to live after the flesh." As another has said, "we donít owe this old-do-it-yourself-life one minute of our time" In other words, our "old man," our lower nature, no longer has any claim on us. We have been eternally freed from its dominion, its power, and its authority. Never again can sin rule usóexcept as we allow it. Ponder that!

If we walk in carnality, itís because we allow ourselves to be carnal, not because weíre in bondage to sin and canít help ourselves. Can you grasp the significance of this, my brother?

 

SPEAKING OF CHOICES,
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING REFERENCES

 

Rom. 6:12ó" Let not sin...reign Those four words, "Let not sin ....reign," tells us that we have been put in control of sin in our lives. If it controls us itís because we have turned control over to sin.

Vs. 13, "Neither yield ye your members..." Thatís also a choice, is it not?

vs. 14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you." What more powerful, incentive to live righteously do we need? Dominion of sin is out, choice is in.

Vs. 16. "..to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are." I see, so itís really up to me to decide whom Iím going to serve. Right? Absolutely right! There was a time when the law of sin in our members, John, brought us into captivity and kept us from doing the things we wanted to do. Not now! Sinís awful hold on us has been broken!

Vs. 17: "...ye WERE the servants of sin." Notice, past tense, "ye WERE the servants of sin." It is past tense because from now on, you and I (not our sinful, carnal, natures) are to determine the course sin takes in our lives.

This mind-boggling subjection of sin in our lives, John, explains why Paul

could write in Romans 8:37, "WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US." And Phil. 4:13, where Paul exclaimed, "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Vs. 18: "Being then made FREE from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Having in us the resurrection power of Christ, we have the authority to serve God acceptably and refuse the rulership of sin.

Vs. 19: "But now being made FREE from sin, and become servants to God...." It just doesnít get any better, John., We are FREE to serve our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, whenever and wherever we please, and "the law of sin" in our members has nothing to say about it.

This is because, as Romans 6:4 says loud and clear, "SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU...." Each day, then, we can take God at His word and act on it. And no one, not even the devil, can hinder us . Here is cause for great jubilation, John. Letís count our blessings!

 

PERHAPS, NOW, WE CAN UNDERSTAND ROMANS SEVEN

 

THIS CHAPTER PRESENTS
THE WORD PICTURE OF A MAN
WHO IS PATHETICALLY UNDER THE POWER ,
CONTROL, DOMINION AND AUTHORITY OF SIN!

In Rom. 7:24, we hear him crying out in hopeless despair,

"Oh wretched man that I am,
who shall deliver me
from the body of
this death?"

Since this is
an autobiography
of the apostle Paul, he is
either speaking of himself before
he was saved, when he was Saul of Tarsus,

or
, he is speaking of himself as Godís minister to the
Gentiles. Bear in mind that Paul is OUR EXAMPLE whom
God has given us to follow See 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 4:9.

 

ROMANS 7:18

"For I know that in me (that is, in my fleshócp. with Gal. 2:20) dwelleth no good thing..." No Christian can truthfully say that. Never. All saved ones have the very life of Christ indwelling them by the Holy Spirit. Plus, they have the "new man" abiding there. This new man is perfect and can not sin. See Col. 3:10; 1 John 3:9 and 5:18.

Notice, brethren, it does NOT say, "For I know that in me, (that is, in my old nature), dwelleth no good thing.That has been assumed by those who prefer to believe that Rom. 7 is speaking of the apostle Paul instead of Saul of Tarsus.

Romans 7:18, goes on to say, "......for to will is present with me [I want to do the right thing] but HOW to perform that which is good I find not.:"

Again, no Christian can honestly say that he can not find how to perform that which is "good," Thatís why the Word of God was given us, to "furnish us unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16-17. We Christians also have a new nature abid- ing in us, plus the Holy Spirit who desires to guide us into all truth. 1 John 2:20; John 16:13

RECAP

I believe Romans 7:14-24 provides us with a divine flash-back of Paulís life under the law (written in the present tense probably to provide additional impact) when he, as an unsaved Jew, was Saul of Tarsus.

But, the man God has given us to follow (and who is not in view in Romans 7:14-24) is the converted, regenerated, new-creature-in-Christ-Paul, whose very name is largely synonymous with the "fruit of the Spirit," love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, temperance." Gal. 5:22. Yes, I believe we can safely and joyfully follow the apostle Paul, for he was eminently qualified to be our example. 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 9:27.

 

Objections to the above position:

1. "Romans 7:14-24 is speaking in the present tense, therefore it is not speaking of Paul before his conversion."

We find an interesting parallel in the book of Revelation. The apostle John is writing in the past tense yet is speaking of the future, things yet to be.

How can this be? It is because John had been projected by the Spirit of God into the tribulation and beyond and is now looking back and writing what he saw. See Rev. 1:9-10.

In the instance of Rom. 7:14-24 the Holy Spirit presents Paul as he was before he was saved. Regressed back into his pre-conversion days, he speaks in the present tense as one going through this chilling experience nowóquite unlike the apostle Paul who later could say, "for me to live is Christ....not I but Christ liveth in me....the power that worketh in me mightily.....I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me...." etc. Phil. 1:21; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:29; Phil. 4:13

Paul wrote in 1 cor. 9:27, "BUT I KEEP MY BODY UNDER, and bring it into subjection (note: the apostle Paul was in charge of sin in his life, not the other way around, as with the man of Romans 7:14-24).

Does Paulís statement, "But I keep my body under" sound, by any stretch of the imagination, like the sin-dominated, sin-shackled man in Romans seven who was totally "unspiritual" and "sold under sin"? Hardly.


2.
"Remember, we do have an old and new nature and Rom. 7:14-24 shows those two natures at war with each other."

That every Christian has the old and new nature living within him/her we can not deny, but that is not the subject of Rom. 7:14-24. Instead we are presented with a man obsessed, controlled and driven by sin, incapable of right doing because of the ruling law of sin in his life.

Does this sound like a Christian who is "freed from sin"? [Romans 6:7; 18, 22] Does it sound like the apostle Paul who declared in Rom. 8:18 that we are "MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US." ??

Note, John, the "new man" is conspicuously absent in Romans 7:14-24.
Neither is there the slightest hint that the Holy Spirit dwells in him.

The conscience, "the law of the mind," also referred to as "the inward man," however, is quite visible and delights in the law of God.


3.
"If no good thing dwelt in Paulís body, no Holy Spirit, no godly influence, and nothing good living in him, then from whence would he get the will to do good." Answer: his conscience, of course. See Rom. 2:15; 2 Cor. 4:2.

Thus the war in Rom. 7:14-24 was between Saulís "good conscience" (Acts 23:1) and his sinful nature, a struggle we all experienced before we were saved.

After the new birth, however, we were given victory over sin. As already noted, if we sin, it is because we permit it. Rom. 8:12 defines our control over sin in this manner:

"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors,
  not to the flesh, to live after the flesh"

This means we have power over sin in our lives,
while the man in Romans 7 evidenced no such power!

A brother in Christ, in a recent letter on the subject described it this way: "We have, then, both Christ and the Holy spirit dwelling within us. Satan is therefore outnumbered, overpowered, out-classsed, defeated, over and done with. All we need do is reckon it to be so, i.e. "walk in the Spirit," and we will not Ďfulfill the desires of the flesh.í" Gal. 5:16.

Agreed! We see, then, that Gal. 5:16, also reveals that we Christians have a choice, every moment of every day. We can either follow "the motions of sin" in our bodies or walk in freedom as the Holy Spirit works in us His perfect will for our lives. I personally have not been able to find any evidence that the man in Romans 7:14-24 had any such choice. I would appreciate it being pointed out if it is there.

Consider this, too, John:

(1) IF Romans 7:14-24 is speaking of the apostle Paulís Adamic nature and not his conscience, how does that oncept measure up against what he wrote of himself in 1 Cor. 9:27-28, that he kept his body under?

Remember, he was so surely in control of his body that the Holy Spirit set him forth as an example for the entire church to follow. Note Phil. 4:9 in particular.

On the other hand,

(2) If it is speaking of the entire man, the apostle Paul, where do we find the indwelling Christ and Holy Spirit in this portrait of a defeated, beaten, sin conquered, sin-driven example to the church


IN CONCLUSION, John, so as not to miss the most important lesson of all, letís recognize that Romans 7:14-24 is, indeed, a sober reminder of the awful struggle each one of us experienced before we were "born of God." John 1:13; 1 John 3:9; 5:1,18. Today we stand free in Christófree to serve sin and self or live in joyful "obedience unto righteousness" Rom. 6:16. Our daily choices de- termine our eternal rewards. 2 Cor. 5:10.

 

ROMANS 7:14-24

 

Rom. 8:12 is clear in pointing out that we who have believed in Christ are no longer "debtors" to the flesh "to live after the flesh." As another has said, "we donít owe this old-do-it-yourself-life one minute of our time" Our "old man," our lower nature, no longer has a claim on us. We have been eternally freed from its dominion, its power, and its authority. Never again can sin rule usóexcept as we allow it. Ponder that, brethren.

If we walk in carnality, following the course of this world, (Eph. 2:2) itís because we have allowed it, not because weíre in bondage to sin and canít help ourselves.

SPEAKING OF CHOICES,

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING REFERENCES

Rom. 6:12ó" Let not sin...reign Those four words, "Let not sin ....reign," tells us that we have been put in control of sin in our lives. If it controls us itís because we have turned control over to sin, we have given our consent.

Vs. 13, "Neither yield ye your members..." That, too, is a choice, is it not?

vs. 14, "For sin shall not have dominion over you." What more powerful incentive to live righteously do we need? Dominion of sin is out, choice is in.

Vs. 16. "..to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are." I see, so itís really up to me to decide whom Iím going to serve. Right? Absolutely! There was a time when the law of sin in our members brought us into captivity and kept us from doing the things we wanted to do, from the very things we ought to do. Not now! Sinís awful hold on us has been broken!

Vs. 17: "...ye WERE the servants of sin." Notice, past tense, "ye WERE the servants of sin." It is past tense because from now on, you and I (not our sinful, carnal, natures) are to determine the course sin takes in our lives.

This mind-boggling subjection of sin in our lives, brethren, explains why Paul could write in Romans 8:37, "WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS THROUGH HIM THAT LOVED US." And Phil. 4:13, where Paul exclaimed, "I can do ALL THINGS through Christ which strengtheneth me."

Vs. 18: "Being then made FREE from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Having in us the resurrection power of Christ, we now have the authority to serve God acceptably and refuse the rulership of sin.

Vs. 19: "But now being made FREE from sin, and become servants to God...." It just doesnít get any better, beloved. We are FREE to serve our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, whenever and wherever we please, and "the law of sin" in our members has nothing to say about it.

This is because, as Romans 6:4 says loud and clear, "SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU...." Each day, then, we can take God at His word and act on it. And no one, not even the devil and his hordes, can hinder us . Here is cause for great jubilation. Letís earnestly count our blessings!

The bottom line is this, we Christians now have dominion over sin; it is under our author- ity. If we sin, if we walk in the flesh, if we are carnal, it is because we have allowed it, we have given our consent for sin to rule over us.

 

OUR CRUCIFIXION WITH CHRIST
GAVE US THIS CHOICE AND POWER!

"Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" Rom. 6:16.

Why a choice, brethren? Clearly God wants us to decide this matter of sin in our lives, not circumstances (that are often beyond our control) nor how we were reared (that people often blame for their sinful ways) nor sickness, nor poverty, nor any other adverse condition, no, not even our dread adversary the devil.

What is the Christianís secret weapon in these matters? Weíve been set free, brethren, free from the power and authority of sin. At the same time this freedom makes us more responsible to make right decisions, decisions which will effect our rewards throughout eternity. 2 Cor. 5:10.

In spite of these undeniable facts, the vast majority of professing Christ-ians today believe that Romans 7:14-24 is a Paulís confession of his inability to control sin in his life, that it was beyond his control. For example, Romans 7:15:

 

"FOR THAT WHICH I DO I ALLOW NOT
....WHAT I HATE THAT DO I...."

If we have been set free from the power and authority of sin why would Paul make a statement like this? If we Christians have the power to say no to sin, as Paul has assured us we do in Romans six, why a statement like this?

Brethren, if Romans 7:14-24 is a profile of the apostle Paul, then we have here the greatest, most glaring contra- diction of Scripture in all the Bible!!

Note the remarkable contrasts in the following verses:

Romans 6:12: ó "Let not sin....reign." We have a choice!

In Romans 7:14-24 sin reigns! No choice is in sight.

Romans 6:13: ó "Neither yield ye your members...." We have a choice!

Romans 7:15 ó ".....What I hate, that I do." This man is "a servant to sin." Can this be the apostle Paul who wrote: "he that is dead is freed from sin"? Rom. 6:18. Did Paul lie?

Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you."

Romans 7:19: - Yet Paul wrote: "...but the evil which I would not, that I do." Here is a man controlled by sin, dominated by sins he has not not consent to. How, then, can this be the apostle Paul who says we are free from sin? Did Paul write to deceive us?

Romans 6:7, 18, 22: ó "For he that is dead is freed from sin....being then made free from sin...but now being made free from sin, and become servants to God...."

Romans 7:20: ó "Now if I do that I would not (I do not give my consent to sin) it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." Yet Christians are free from sin, free from the power, dominion and authority of sin, and must give consent before sin has power over him. How then can Romans 7:14-24 be speaking of a born again child of God, one who has been given power over sin but canít keep from sinning?

Brethren, please hear me: if the one speaking in Rom. 7:14-24 is the apostle Paul and not Saul of Tarsus, then, in all honesty, you and I must conclude that Paul willfully chose to live selfishly and ungodly "in this present evil world;" that he preferred sin and self to Christ, and that he refused to be the example to the church that God had called him to be: Phil. 4:9; Phil. 3:17; 1 Cor., 4:16; 2 Tim. 2:2.

Itís my personal conviction, John that in this remarkable passage of Romans 7:14-24, we are watching Saul of Tarsus lose a bitter, heart-breaking battle between his good conscience (see Acts 23:1) and the law of sin working in his members. Written in the present tense, it depicts Saul in an on-going war.

Thankfully, Saul eventually saw that inside his intellectually and socially acceptable, "a Hebrew of the Hebrews," exterior, lived a "wretched man," a hopelessly sinful man, and he looked around and cried out, "......who shall de- liver me from the body of this death?" Rom. 7:24. After his conversion he could joyfully say, "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh [my body] I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Gal. 2:20.


ROMANS 6  EXPLAINS ROMANS 7:14-24

One is forced to wonder how many Christians have used Romans seven as an excuse for a multitude of sinful practices. But it wonít work. Romans 6 makes it abundantly clear that we who are born again are not in bondage to sin; rather we are governed and controlled by sin only as we allow it. Nothing is more clearly taught than this. We have a choice; (just as in Gal. 5:16.) but the man in Romans seven has no such choice. As an unwilling slave to sin, he states his case: "I am carnal, [unspiritual] sold under sin [given over to sin]."

Think what a contrast we find in Godís promise to you and me:: ".......SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION OVER YOU." 6:14. And three times we are informed that we who are saved have been made "FREE FROM SIN." (vs. 7,18, 22) Thus we can say with Paul, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Phil. 4:13)

Poor unregenerated Saul, seeking to live the life he did not have, a life of goodness and righteousness. Void of the new life that is in Christ Jesus, he could not even live up to the dictates of his own conscience. He finally gave up in despair. It is at this point that the Lord Jesus comes back into the picture as the One and only solution to the problem of sin. Now consider the following:

ROMANS 7:14-24

vs. 7:14 ó "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, [I am un- spiritual, NIV] sold under sin (a slave to sin).

vs. 15ó"For that which I do [the things I allow myself to do] I allow not [I donít want to do them], for what I would [the things I want to do] that I do not; [ I simply can not do what I know I should do]; what I hate, [the things I hate doing] that I do [I do them anyway] (Imagine following a man who canít do what he ought to do because of the power of sin in his life!)

vs. 16ó"If then I do that which I would not do [the very things i know I shouldnít do] I consent unto the law [10 commndments] that it is good." (The law reveals Godís righteous standard, BUT does not empower me to live it)

vs. 17ó"Now then it is no more I that do it [my conscience has not given consent to these things that I know are bad for me], but sin that dwelleth in me. [sin has taken charge] (But Rom. 6:14 contradicts and says, "Sin shall not have dominion over you.")

vs. 18ó"For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh [in my body cp. Gal. 2:20] dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me [I have the basic desire to do the right thing], but how to perform that which is good I find not."

vs. 19óFor the good that I would [the things that I know are right and decent] that I want to do, but the evil which I would not, [the bad things I know I shouldnít do] that I do. (I canít help myself, lím in bondage to sin, controlled by sin, driven by sin)

Vs. 20ó "Now if I do that I would not [if Iím doing the very things I donít want to do] it is no more I that do it [my conscience has not consented to it] but sin that dwelleth in me [sin went for the jugular and is causing me to do the very things I donít want to do]. (And this man is OUR EXAMPLE for godly living?)

vs. 21ó "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." [Iím tryng my best to do the right thing but sin is constantly steering me away from the good I want to do]. (Does this sound like the joyful, victorious, pace-setting apostle Paul weíve come to know and love? Give me a break!)

vs. 22óFor I delight in the law of God after the inward man." (My conscience joyfully agrees with the commandments of God}.

vs. 23ó "But I see another law in my members [the law of sin] warring against the law of my mind [my conscience], and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." [Iím hopelessly in bondage, a victim of my own sinful desires] (And this loser is an example for the body of Christ to follow?)

Vs. 24ó "Oh, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of

this death." (Here is a cry oceans apart from Phil. 4:13).

Must we conclude, then, that Paul CHOSE to walk in sin, chose to live selfishly and ungodly in this present evil world? And that he then chose to obey the Lord and then chose to be an example to the church?

Bob Thompson

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