The Berean Expositor
Volume 52 - Page 182 of 207
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7: 8 - 8: 1.
pp. 81 - 85
From this point onwards Paul personifies sin as a powerful enemy ready to pounce
upon him and lead him to do the very things that he abhorred:
"For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment put me to death"
(vii.11, N.I.V.).
Yet, in spite of all this he declares that the law is "holy, righteous and good" (7: 12).
The fault is not in God's law, but in the sinner. It was weak only "because of the flesh"
(8: 3), the inability of sinful human nature to rise to its standards. This leads the
Apostle to his fourth question:
"Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! but in order that
sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in men through what was good, so that
through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful" (7: 13, N.I.V.).
The answer again is "no", his real enemy was not the law but SIN which forced him
against his better judgment, to do things the law had shown him to be wrong. In the
section that follows Paul continues to speak of himself. He leaves the past tense and uses
the present. There is no doubt that he is giving his own experience. It is a self-portrait,
an autobiography, yet this passage is one of the most controversial in the N.T. Volumes
have been written on it. One may ask, is it the experience of the believer? Is it the
experience of the unsaved wrestling with their consciences? Is it limited to the Jew under
the law of Moses? We do not hesitate to say it refers to the believer for 4 reasons:
The person here described "hates sin" (verse 15). This is not a characteristic of
the unsaved.
He "delights" in the law of God (verse 22). This is a characteristic of the
children of God as Psa. 1: 2 clearly testifies.
He looks for deliverance to Christ alone through grace (verses 24 and 25).
There is a passage in Galatians that covers the experience of Rom. 7: & 8:,
and the persons addressed are believers, not unbelievers:
"So I say, live by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature, for
the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the
sinful nature. They are in contrast with each other, so that you do not do what you want"
(Gal. 5: 16-17, N.I.V.).
100: H. Welch's comments are to the point here:
"While therefore Paul's experience may primarily set forth the vain endeavour of a
Jew to perform the law which has `enlightened his eyes, and converted his soul'
(Psa.xix.7-9), and so show to all mankind that the law can neither save, justify, nor
sanctify, the passage also sets forth in clear characters the warfare that must ever go on
between flesh and spirit, until the day of complete deliverance and the redemption of the
body" (Just and the Justifier, p.191).