25 I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
25 I thank God [for deliverance]—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Paul’s thanksgiving to God was for the positional victory already obtained (chapter six). He elucidated this further in chapter eight.
Here the “who” of the previous verse is answered—“Who will deliver me from the body of this death?” Since believers died federally in Christ, we enter into a state of deliverance through Christ. This is a life by faith in Christ’s work and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power. The way of victory in Christian living is to look outside self. We look to Him who resolved the sin issue (Ro 3-5) and gave us the indwelling Holy Spirit for power (Ro 8).
The operating assets that Jesus provides in Romans 6 give the believer deliverance from the sin capacity (8:2). This verse is preparation for 8:1-4. What Christ did regarding the law shows the deliverance God affords him.
The phrase “through Jesus Christ our Lord” carries the idea of mediation. Jesus does something for us that neither the law nor self-effort could do.
Paul summarized verses 13 to 24 with “so then.” There is an ongoing tension in the believer that struggles between serving the law of God and the sin capacity.
[on the one hand] with the mind [rational thought] I myself [very emphatic] serve the law of God,
Paul portrayed himself with two terms here: “the mind” and “the flesh.” The “mind” was his renewed person while the “flesh” was his sin capacity. His dilemma was that he served two different laws. One law was the law of God and the other was the law of sin. Paul was caught in a tension between both.
The “mind” is the part of the soul that contains a compilation of principles from God’s Word. Without these principles we cannot apply them to experience.
The word “serve” is in the present tense. There are two laws already present in Paul’s life whereby he served both God and sin. “Serve” applies to both the law of God and the law of sin. Paul presented these laws as active in his life. Both laws held tension in his life. He loved the Word but he was under the influence of the sin capacity. This tension is irreconcilable until the believer goes to heaven.
but [on the other hand] with the flesh the law of sin.
On the other hand Paul was still a slave to his sin capacity. The inward pull of the law of sin is the frustrating problem for Christians. Sanctification is an ongoing process. We never complete the struggle with sin as long as we live. The temptation to yield to the belief system and seek pleasure from this world system will always be there. The important thing is to know that the temptation will always be there and not to assume that there will be some point of complete victory over sin.
Death to sin does not mean freedom from commission of sin.
Both the “law of the mind” and “the law of sin” operate in their own sphere. Both seek to influence the soul of the believer every day. The Christian resolves the issue by applying principles of God’s Word to experience and dependence on the Holy Spirit (chapter 8). This is a daily issue.
It is painfully obvious that Christians do not have the resources in themselves to live the Christian life. This chapter has demonstrated that the sin capacity dwells in the believer, and his will is powerless against it without Christ. Discovery of the powerlessness to live the Christian life by the self is at the heart of Christian living.
There is nothing blameless in self but there is something worthy in the Savior. This prepares us for chapter eight—God’s answer to the powerlessness of the believer to live the Christian life.
Thank you so much for this interpretation. IIt is helpful in every way
I appreciate and admire this interpretation. It’s what we know made clear in words and what we may not realize simplified, thank you , thank you, thank you.
Thank you so much for clarifying this passage it helps me a lot to understand further Godbless
Central to an accurate understanding of the passage before us is this: Should chapters 6 thru 8 be understood in terms of 7:14-25; or, should we read 7:14-25 and base our decision as to whether Paul is speaking of himself qua Paul the regenerate Apostle, or whether Paul has utilized a literary device – viz., adopting another’s persona – in order to make a point, based upon that which precedes and follows (that is, 6:1-7:6 and 8:1ff). I’m going to suggest that Romans 7:7-7:25 is a rather long parenthetical discussion, such that Paul’s real argument and chain of thought proceeds immediately from 7:6 to 8:1. The assertion in 7:6 (“But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the [a]Spirit and not in oldness of the letter”)is the reason (“…therefore” 8:1) there is now no condemnation… Otherwise, if we look at the verse immediately preceding 8:1, the reason there is no condemnation… is because we serve the law of God with our minds, but with our flesh we are (still) serving sin. There’s no condemnation because we are (just?) serving the law of sin with our flesh? How does that status/phenomenon distinguish NT from OT believers? It does not. First of all, Paul has declared that we are DEAD TO THE LAW. How dead is dead, really, if we died with Christ? Secondly, the person speaking in 7:25b serves the law of sin with his flesh. But Paul had earlier declared that we are NO LONGER IN THE FLESH; that we are NO LONGER SERVANTS OF SIN. All of the assertions and exhortations Paul makes (“don’t keep presenting your members as servants of sin”; “he who has died is FREED from the Law,””we have died to the Law”; sin no longer reigns…, et al.); those assertions/exhortations are little more than pious wishful-thinking if he then turns around and declares the he (“I”) is sold under sin; that the motions of sin are still working in him, bringing him into captivity (7:23-ish). However, if we allow 6:1-7:6 and 8:1ff (that entire section surrounding 7:7-25) to be determining factor, vis-a-vis, the question of who is speaking in 7:14-25, the entire section (Romans 6-8) takes on an whole new meaning. Moreover, we must remember that Scripture is not supposed to “fit” our experience; rather, it is to challenge, to change, and to sanctify our experience. Thanks for reading…
George, very well reasoned.
Well, on a second look, it needs a bit of editing… But thank you for the kind remark, Grant. I think it’s all the more kind because it comes from you. That is, in a sense, I’m challenging your explanation. So, again, thanks for graciousness.
Let me propose something:
Let’s imagine for a moment every sin that it is either possible or conceivable for a human to commit. More to the point, for a Christian to commit. I’m going to assert that from that number of possible, conceivable sins there is not one that a Christian cannot avoid. (BTW-I’m not taking into consideration for the moment, John’s “sin unto death.” That’s a topic for another time…).
So then, if there is NO sin that a Christian cannot avoid, why can he not avoid all sins (and I’m speaking here of omissions/commissions, thoughts/words/deeds, dispositions/actions/reactions…)? If – per this line of reasoning – it is possible for a Christian to avoid any and all sin(s) individually and severally (sin a, b, c…, x, y, or z), then he should – by whatever “power” enables him to avoid those individual/several sins – be able to void them at all times.
Why does he not?
“Well, because of fallen human nature.” Or, “because of the ‘weakness of your flesh'”; or, “because of an imperfect will.” The proposed answers may be myriad. But whatever reason or excuse is given, it cannot then account for the instances wherein he DOES avoid those sins (individual and several).
“Well, when he does avoid a sin, it’s because of the power/grace of God.”
Fine. But then, where’s that power/grace in that case wherein he does not avoid the sin?
“Oh, well, he didn’t avail himself of that power; his fallen nature, the weakness of his flesh, the imperfection of his will gained the upper hand.”
But they didn’t seem to gain the upper hand when he did avoid that sin…
Grant, my fear is the Church at large is more afraid of the thought of not sinning than she is of sinning. “Well, we’re just all fallen, depraved, good-for-nothing sinners who are forgiven; saved by grace, don’t you know.”
So was David; he was forgiven… his sins were covered. Blessed be the man to whom the Lord does not impute guilt…; or, something like that. That’s OT I believe…
What the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh… God did.
What could the Law not do… it could not condemn sin in the flesh? What does that mean, to “condemn sin in the flesh”? Doesn’t the Law condemn sins that are committed?
What if by “condemn sin in the flesh” Paul meant to actually, absolutely put to death the body/substance/principle of sin (a fact we are to recognize, reckon and appropriate to ourselves), so that the righteousness required by the Law might be fulfilled, not FOR us, but BY us? We don’t annul the Law… we establish it. The Law was a tutor for slaves. But we are no longer enslaved, to either the Law or to sin: we are sons and we are free.
I think if we take the position that Paul is NOT describing his own personal spiritual experience in Romans 7:14ff, it opens a door – however slowly, and with whatever measure of reticence – to perhaps a vista, a triumph, a level of holiness that we often pay lip service to, but only approach in our wildest dreams; and that, like cats on a hot tin roof.
John said, “I’m writing these things to you so that you’d NOT sin. Now, I know that perhaps because of your immaturity; perhaps because you’ve not been receiving the variety of teaching that advocates – indeed, demands – the holiness He meant when He commanded us to, ‘be holy because I am holy,’ you may fall into sin. Well then, in that case, if any man sins… rest assured, we have an advocate with the Father. And, if we then confess our sins, He’s just…”
“IF any (believing) man sins, we have…” Not, SINCE every (believing) man sins.
Just some thoughts, bro.
I honestly had some issues with Romans 7 but thanks to the comments from Grant and George..its helping me though I seek more understanding of the concept Apostle Paul was teaching on.
I do believe that there are some sins: sinful thoughts that are impossible for me to avoid. I can be praising God when a sarcastic thought about God’s love for me pops into my head. I immediately ask for forgiveness and ask for my heart change– Dt 30:6 & Ps 51:10.
Pamela, sarcasm is not necessarily a sin. Paul was highly sarcastic toward the Corinthians. Maybe you were right after all! 🙂
Where I get hung up on George’s interpretation is Galatians 5:16-18…
16 I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Here, it’s volitional (you will to “walk by the Spirit”) and seems more parallel to Grant’s interpretation that the latter half of Romans 7 was Paul speaking a present reality for him. It seems that Galatians 5 does NOT lend itself to a hypothetical experience, but is speaking of present Christian potentials and realities. Does this not also go along with 1st Peter 2:11?
Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and exiles to abstain from sinful desires that wage war against the soul.
I welcome anyone’s thoughts; I’m a preacher and I still don’t have this dynamic figured out. It’s bothered me forever!
Keith, you are not alone in your thoughts. Note the Net Bible’s thoughts:
sn Romans 7:7–25. There has been an enormous debate over the significance of the first person singular pronouns (“I”) in this passage and how to understand their referent. Did Paul intend (1) a reference to himself and other Christians too; (2) a reference to his own pre-Christian experience as a Jew, struggling with the law and sin (and thus addressing his fellow countrymen as Jews); or (3) a reference to himself as a child of Adam, reflecting the experience of Adam that is shared by both Jews and Gentiles alike (i.e., all people everywhere)? Good arguments can be assembled for each of these views, and each has problems dealing with specific statements in the passage. The classic argument against an autobiographical interpretation was made by W. G. Kümmel, Römer 7 und die Bekehrung des Paulus. A good case for seeing at least an autobiographical element in the chapter has been made by G. Theissen, Psychologische Aspekte paulinischer Theologie [FRLANT], 181–268. One major point that seems to favor some sort of an autobiographical reading of these verses is the lack of any mention of the Holy Spirit for empowerment in the struggle described in Rom 7:7–25. The Spirit is mentioned beginning in 8:1 as the solution to the problem of the struggle with sin (8:4–6, 9).
Biblical Studies Press. (2019). The NET Bible (Second Edition). Thomas Nelson.