English Standard Version
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There’s an old legend about how to deal with criminals who have committed homicide. The suspected guilty party was literally tied hand to hand and foot to foot with the person whose life they had eliminated. This was meant as both a deterrent for future crimes and a punishment for the actual crime. When the apostle Paul describes his wrestling match with his own sinful desires in Romans 7, it sounds a lot like this ancient legend. He says (Romans 7:24)”Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Paul was relating something to the Roman Christians which felt like dragging around a corpse. Paul is letting us all know the very real wrestling match that he has going on in his life. He carries the desire to do the right thing but also has a very strong desire to NOT do the right thing. This does not go away.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:21-23)
This negative and sinful bent is tied to him while he remains on this earth; some days its hideous nature grows and some days it is pushed down. But it is always present. And this is the apostle Paul. If he has such struggles, then we can take confidence in the fact that our own private wrestling with good desires and unhealthy desires is a part of the fallen human condition in the Christian’s life. This is what every believer in Jesus faces. Just because we believe in Jesus does not mean that all impure thoughts and notions disappear; they may, at times, rise up as a deadly scourge to lure us away from holy resolve.
Paul laments this agony but then he points to Jesus as the one who rescues him. “ Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). Jesus is the answer! Jesus is the power to daily rid our thoughts, our motives, and our actions from negative and deadly weight. Jesus brings us life out of death.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4)
Dear Jesus, by your resurrection we have the power to walk in the newness of life. Let our Old self be drowned daily so that the new believer in us would rise and live for your glory. In your Holy name, we pray, AMEN.