FREEDOM FOR THE WRETCHED PERSON OF ROMANS 7:15-25
I believe that God allows us to reach that awful place (of Romans 7:15-25) before we become a new creation, so that we will never be deceived into thinking that it is our work instead of His.
On the road to eternal life, most Christians are stuck in the rut of Romans 7:15 and will never reach the Holy City because they have never been told that they MUST stop committing willful sin --and that it is possible to overcome the works of the flesh through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
That "rut" of Romans 7 is awful, and makes us wretched men*; but it is a necessary part of the journey in our walk of faith. (It hurts to be crucified and die --and the "old man" will try every device that he can to take a few more breaths of the old self-life.
But, those who become sons and daughters of The Living God, through faith, understand that "With God All Things Are Possible" as they cry out to Jesus for the enabling power of The Comforter.
They come to the understanding that the same God that created the universe is able to create in us a new heart and a right spirit. By faith, we are delivered from the power of darkness and are translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. To God be the glory!
Harold and Donna Kupp
* Note: More commentary follows ...
In Romans, verse l5, Paul says, "...for I am not practicing what I like, but nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not."
and in verse l9, "For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish."
That is a difficult passage because it seems to say that Paul could never cease from committing sin. However, if that were true it would contradict John who wrote: "No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him." I Jn 3:6
He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." I Jn 3:8
So what was Paul talking about when he said: "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 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. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 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.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from THE BODY OF THIS DEATH? 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." Romans 7:15-25
That passage speaks of the experience of all who would follow God and keep his commandments. When we first commit to obey God (Repent) we say that the law is "just and holy and good".
But when we try to obey it we find ourselves at war with our own flesh. To our dismay we do the very things we would not. What are we to do? Like Paul we have learned that "the wages of sin is death". Yet we cannot cease from sin!
It is at this point that we also cry out to God, just as Paul did:
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"
The answer is found in the next line: "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"
It is Jesus who will deliver us from the power of sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we are able to cease from sin and quit "living after the flesh". Not only able, but we must! That is why Paul carefully warned the Roman Christians...
"For if you live according to the flesh YOU WILL DIE, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body YOU WILL LIVE." Romans 8:13
As you can see in the above verses, in Romans 7 & 8, Paul was speaking of the transition from helpless sinner who lived after the flesh to victorious son of God who was led by the Spirit.
"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Rom 8:14
There is a very interesting historical note about the phrase Paul used when he said:
"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from THE BODY OF THIS DEATH?"
The term "the body of this death" refers to the practice of chaining the body of a murdered victim to the body of his murderer. This horrible fate of being consumed by the rotting flesh was the picture Paul was drawing of our being spiritually chained to our flesh which would inevitably be the cause of our spiritual death.
Sorry for the graphic ugliness but one cannot really understand the urgency and desperate plea of Paul to be delivered from his "body of death" without that explanation. The problem I see is that if a person is taught that he (or she) cannot cease from sin, they will never come to the point where they cry out with Paul for deliverance. I know that I personally went through a similar experience, where I wanted to obey God's law, but I could not. In helpless desperation, I cried out to God for help. I knew that if He wanted me to obey His Commandments, He would have to make it possible.
Soon after, I found in me the grace to obey. I am now able to resist the power of the flesh, where before I could not. And I too, with everlasting thankfulness am able to say:
"I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"