Romans 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
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.
In verse 20 Paul continued to teach on the facts regarding the life of the true child of God. Paul was a true born again Christian, and thus he was a changed man. As we have noted before, Paul was not denying that he sinned. He was pointing out that sin was contrary to the new nature that he had received at salvation.
We see once again that a born again Christian cannot live in sin. It is not possible for the true child of God to live in sin. True Christians will sin, but they cannot live in sin. Paul was directed by God to remind us that sin will always be an issue for the child of God. The devil is not content to leave a true child of God alone. He will do all he can to get a true child of God to sin. The old man is still there. The true child of God will not be content to live in sin.
In verse 21 Paul reminded us of a law that he had discovered since he was saved. God showed him this. When the true child of God chooses to do good, evil is always there trying to interfere. As we already mentioned, the devil is not content to let the true child of God serve God. He hates God and tries to attack God as much as he can. We noted from the book of Job that the devil is always looking for a way to create chaos.
God is good and He shows us the facts. Sin is truly a curse. God alone can save lost sinners. He gives the saved person a new nature. The saved person has the ability to identify sin. The saved person has an awakened conscience and he desires to please God.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
In verse 22 Paul reminds us of that fact. The true Christian does not regret being saved. He understands there is a war taking place inside, but he knows the solution is to draw closer to God. The “inward man” is that new nature that God gives every one of His children.
In verse 23 Paul mentioned another law in his members. This law was warring against the law of his mind. The law of his mind was the law of the new nature. The law in his members was the law of the old nature. Paul was directed by God to teach that at times the law of my members (the old nature) will win over the law of the mind (the new nature). Paul is not making excuses. He is directed by God to state the reality of the true Christian life.
We have noted before that no true Christian can say they never sin anymore. That is a lie. The true child of God will acknowledge that they sin at times. No true child of God will boast about their sin. Paul was not boasting here. He was pointing out the challenge that his new life in Christ was. He was not a brand new Christian when he was writing this. He had been saved for a while. He had been trained by the Lord Jesus Christ to be an apostle. He was travelling around and preaching and teaching the Word of God. He was writing letters to churches. Yet God directed him to write about the challenges that a true child of God will face. These challenges are not insurmountable. They are not depressing. They can be won, but they are there.
In verse 24 Paul declared the reality of this challenge. The Greek word translated as “wretched” means: “enduring trial”, “miserable”. We need to remember that God was directing Paul to write these words. Paul found no joy in sinning. It was contrary to the new nature he had been given. He asked an important question. The war that every true child of God faces, is a war that cannot be won in the flesh. Paul was not strong enough to win in this war on his own. He did not know of any person who could win this war for him. Where was the victory to be found, or was there a victory to be found?
In verse 25 he was directed to give the answer to this important question. The answer is “God through Jesus Christ our Lord”. It is impossible for the lost person to live the Christian life.
Yesterday I witnessed a conflict between members of a family. It was and unnecessary conflict, but it was there. The father eventually stepped in and stopped the conflict to a degree. He insisted that an apology be made for the conflict. Those involved complied with his demand but it was obvious that the conflict was not over inside. Was the father wrong in stepping in? No! The failure in that whole matter was that there was no recognition of the source of the conflict and how to build a right relationship. The conflict was between unsaved people and the counsel was given by an unsaved father.
The solution to our troubles in life is to turn to God in repentance and in trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. As we notice here again, when a person is truly saved, Jesus Christ becomes the Lord of our life. The saved person knows this, but he does not always yield to that fact. Sometimes the saved person will ignore the Lord Jesus Christ’s counsel and will choose to indulge the flesh. The Holy Spirit is at work in the life of every saved person, but the saved person must be yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit.
The apostle Paul was directed by God to show us the real work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a saved person. He was not supportive of the lies that the Charismatics teach about the Holy Spirit.
Some years back I was working for a seed company. They had two yards. I was told to go to their main yard to pick up some seed. I met another worker there who was going to help me load the seed. We got talking and he claimed to be a Christian. He asked me if I spoke in tongues. I told him why I did not speak in tongues, but he rejected that. He told me I needed to speak in tongues to have the real power of the Holy Spirit. After we were done loading, I needed to go to his office to sign some paper work. I entered the office and he closed the door. On the inside of that door was a full blown picture of a scantily clad woman. As he would be working in that office, he would constantly see that picture. I knew from that moment, this man was not a saved man. He was feeding the lust of the flesh. His gibberish which he claimed was speaking in tongues was not of God. I knew that before but this just confirmed that fact. He had no interest in addressing the sin that was staring him in the face every time he was in that office.
The apostle Paul was directed by God to remind born again Christians that there is a war taking place in the heart and life of every true born again Christian. That war is winnable as the true child of God walks in the Spirit. The true child of God has the prompting of the Holy Spirit working inside him. He also needs the external prompting of the Word of God through godly individuals. The true child of God will not be content to indulge in sin. He will want to have victory over sin.
As Paul stated in verse 25, that with the mind he served the law of God. With the flesh he served the law of sin. God had showed him what the issue was and God also showed him how to address the issue. This same fact is true for every born again Christian.
The apostle Paul was an apostle, but he was still a human being. He was not up on a spiritual pedestal. He made that clear here. God wants every one of His children to know that there will be a war taking place in the life of every true born again Christian for as long as we live on this earth. God shows us how to be equipped to win this war. He shows us that we will not always succeed in this war, and He also shows us why we will not always succeed. However, He also shows us that the true child of God will never be bogged down in sin as the lost person is. The saved person has been given all that is needed to deal with temptation and to deal with sin.
We are reminded once again why no true Christian can be an “island unto himself”. We need the fellowship of true saints. We need a daily feed on God’s Word. We need to meditate on God’s Word day and night. We need a true local church to be a part of. The true child of God wants to draw closer to His Saviour and Lord.