21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.
I find [discover] then [hence] a [the—a principle already presented] law,
The “then” in this phrase indicates that verses 21 to 25a are a deduction from the ordeal the “I” faced in verses 14 to 20. Paul had now come to a settled conclusion about the sin capacity that it is an ever-present reality for Christians.
The word “law” here refers to a governing principle rather than the law of God. There was something so chronic in Paul that went against God’s will that it was an established principle (law). Paul designated the sin capacity as a dominating law. It was a controlling principle of life without a counteracting force.
that evil is present with me,
The principle of sin is right there with believers; it is difficult to escape evil. Since the sin capacity established its residence in the believer’s soul (vv. 17, 20), evil is close at hand to be utilized at any time.
the one who wills to do good.
Not only is there a weakness that originates in the sin capacity, but there is also a weakness in the believer himself, the “one who wills to do good.” He comes to a harsh discovery that there is something inveterate in himself that wants to go against God’s will. There is something convenient about the presence of evil in the Christian. In other words, there are opposite capabilities within the same believer.
The “for” here will amplify, in verses 23 and 24, the principle of verse 21.
I delight [rejoice] in the law [principles] of God according to the inward man.
The word “delight” is a strong attitude toward God’s law that became a ruling principle in Paul’s thinking. There is a joy in studying God’s Word. That principle operates according to the norm or standard of the inward man. The inner man is the redeemed person that God transformed.
The core of Paul’s Christian life took delight in the law of God even during his struggle with the sin capacity. This shows that Paul was referring to his present struggle with sin rather than his course of becoming a Christian.
The New Testament uses “the inward man” in two other places (2 Co 4:16; Eph 3:16). This inward man is the believer’s capacity for loving God’s Word.
It is possible to do honorable things on the outside but live inconsistently on the inside. The genuine believer with integrity loves the principles of God’s Word and is diligent to apply them to his life. He rejoices in God’s Word although it exposes the sinfulness of his heart. The essence of this rejoicing is that the Bible reveals the wonderful character of God.
Joy in the study of God’s Word is a crucial principle of Christian living.
There are those who take delight or joy in God’s Word. They have a hunger to hear from God. They believe that there is an answer in principle for every problem they face. This is a dynamic believer. Does this characterize you? It was the pattern of the Psalms:
Ps 1:2, But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.
Ps 40:8, I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your law is within my heart.”
Ps 119:14, 47, 77, 14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.47 And I will delight myself in Your commandments, Which I love.77 Let Your tender mercies come to me, that I may live; For Your law is my delight.