Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Romans 7:17-25


Romans 7:17-25



Romans 7:17 "So now it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me".


Clearly Paul isn't saying that he is not responsible for his sins, or that he can't help himself (Romans 6:12-13,16,19). In the previous verse he has clearly stated his own personal responsibility, when he says, "I" do the very thing "I" do not wish to do (7:16)"Dwelleth": In the same sense that Christ dwells in one (Galatians 2:20), sin has an influence in his life. This isn’t an influence that is beyond our ability to resist (1 Corinthians 10:13; Genesis 4:7). Since Paul already has noted that he was born pure an innocent (7:9-10), Paul had sin given permission to dwell in him, that is, have an influence upon his life.


Romans 7:18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good {is} not.


"For I know"-an illustration or explanation of what he has just said. "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing"-clearly Paul can't be saying that he is wholly evil, for even in this state Paul "desires to do good" (7:15,19). Neither is Paul placing the blame upon his physical body, for Jesus had a physical body and yet never sinned (John 1:14; Hebrews 4:15)."'If flesh here means sinful nature we would have Paul saying that no good thing dwells in his sinful nature. Would that be necessary? Wouldn't that be like saying: ‘that bachelor is an unmarried man?’" Paul is saying, that outside of Christ, "good" has no permanent dwelling in him. It is erroneous to say that 'Paul didn't or couldn't do one good thing before he became a Christian (Acts 23:1; Philippians 3:6). "No good thing" gives the impression that Paul is saying he is unable to accomplish even one good act or thought. That isn't what he intends at all (the context reveals that). Of course he can do good things. The "good" that he speaks of in this section is "good" viewed in totality and in relation to Law.'


Paul, as all other's, found himself falling short (Romans 3:23) of the demands of Law (Gal. 3:12), he couldn't do good all the time, "goodness" didn't have a permanent abode in him. He contemplated "good", he "willed it", he "desired it", but he didn't ALWAYS perform it.


Romans 7:19 "For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practice".


"The evil"-since the Law demanded flawlessness, and those that didn't, found themselves condemned (Romans 3:23), and since Paul was as the rest of us, imperfect, he found himself engaged in evil acts (like persecuting Christians).


Romans 7:20 "But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me".


After all the "wishing" and "desiring" and "trying", being under the demands of Law, one finds that sin still gets it way. Of course not every minute of the day, but merely one sin a year is enough to condemn one under the Law. Again, remember Paul is trying to demonstrate why one needs to die to the Law. For a system of Law justification gives sin the opportunity to rule.


Romans 7:21 "I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present".


Under a system of law, not matter how hard Paul tried and desired to fulfill the demands of the law, he still found himself in sin. Paul had learned this by experience. "I find then the law"-"the principle" (NASV). All of us "found out" this same thing. We wanted to do the right thing, but we found ourselves in sin. Even those raised in "Christian homes" experienced this.


Romans 7:22 "For I delight in the law of God after the inward man":


"There are those who find this difficult to believe of an unforgiven man. But is it really so difficult? Haven't we all experienced strong traces of nobility or hungering after justice in our lives before we came to Christ!" Haven't we run across non-Christians that perfectly agreed with our Christian views on moral issues? Here is another verse that plainly refutes the doctrine of total depravity. In fact, for the gospel to appeal to people, there must be something in people to which the gospel can appeal! Anyone that can read the Bible and resent its message must have a big honesty problem. Even Paul, when outside of Christ, joyfully agreed that the Law of God was a good thing. Here is the good and honest heart (Luke 8:15). When the Christian no longer "delights" in God's law, when a person begins to resent sermons and lessons that present the "law" on the subject, one is in serious trouble. The Bible calls such a person "wicked" (Psalm 1:2,4).


"I delight"-to rejoice in with oneself, i.e. feel satisfaction concerning. "inward man"-"is the ‘I’ who reflects on the man as a whole, is the ‘I’ who can sit and look at my body and be aware not only of my body but can be aware of my being aware.'


Romans 7:23 "but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members".


"Different law"-"I see another principle" (Gspd); "rule of action, or compulsion" (Turner), a law unlike the character (different-Greek "heteros"-something of a different nature) of the law of God that he delights in. "Differing in kind and aim, not another merely" (Alford p. 901) The different law in this verse isn't the Law of Moses, for that is "good" (7:12). Despite Paul's best efforts and his desire to do good (7:21-22), under the system of Law justification, Paul still observed in himself that sin still was able to carry on a successful campaign against him. "In my members"-"in the members of my body" (NASV); 6:13,19. "Warring against"-"battling against" (Ber); "In conflict with" (Gspd). In continual dissension and conflict with. (Alford p. 901) Taking the field against (Vincent p. 82). "The law of my mind"-(7:22), Paul's agreement with the law of God. Paul sees two authorities saying to him, "Do this", and being under a system that demanded flawlessness, sin was able to take him as a prisoner of war. "Under the law of sin"-don't make the mistake of concluding that Paul is saying, "I couldn't help myself"(6:16) Rather, despite the best efforts and intentions, outside of Christ, you will always find yourself in bondage to sin. Sin always wins outside of Christ.


The Ancient World agreed: 'Thus Ovid: "Desire counsels me in one direction, reason in another". "I see and approve the better, but I follow the worse." Epictetus: "He who sins does not what he would, and does what he would not". Seneca: "What, then, is it that, when we would go in one direction, drags us in the other?"



Romans 7:24 "Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?"


"Wretched man"-enduring trial, i.e. miserable. "Involved in the word is ‘toil, hard work, burdensome labors’. Moses Lard translates, "Toil worn man am I". He's tired with toiling. He's a loser and he sighs for a deliverer. "Originally, wretched through the exhaustion of hard labor" (Vincent p. 84).



"Who shall deliver me"-by crying for a deliverer from all of it Paul admits that he himself is not able to win the battle. It is difficult to convert someone who doesn't see themselves as a sinner and as one who has lost the battle with sin (Matthew 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit"; Luke 7:36ff’ 18:14 "God be merciful to me, the sinner!").


"Body of this death"-Paul's body had been the instrument of sin (7:23; 6:19; 1 Timothy 1:13-15). His body couldn't keep up with the Law's demand of flawlessness. Hence it was a body that brought upon him spiritual death, and would result in eternal death, unless someone delivered him.



Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.


"I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"-someone had delivered him! He will continue this theme in Chapter 8. "The exclamation of thanksgiving shows that the longed-for deliverance has actually been achieved" (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 643). "So then"-The rest of the verse as a summation of 7:13-24. He is looking back at his condition as a non-Christian, as one under a system that demanded flawlessness. Remember the whole point in Chapter 7 is to demonstrate why we needed to "die", i.e. be released from a system of law justification. No, the Law isn't evil, for He agrees with everything for which it stood. And yet all his good desires and intentions under such a system didn't count. Standing on his own, in a body of flesh, he was unable to live up to the demands of the Law. Thank God for grace, forgiveness, the blood of Christ, repentance, and prayer! "Barclay, as his custom is, makes three very useful suggestions on this seventh chapter. One, this sections shows the inadequacy of human knowledge. (If knowing what is right were the basic issue, we'd have it easy). Two, this section demonstrates the inadequacy of human resolution. (To grit your teeth and resolve to do what is right isn't the accomplishment of the aim.) Three, this section demonstrates the inadequacy of (even correct) diagnosis. As important as this is, it isn't the whole answer at all. Cancer diagnosed remains cancer and needs more than recognition."

Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/503-644-9017