O Wretched Man! - Romans 7

O Wretched Man!

Romans 7:1-25

The wretched man of Romans 7 is really messed up.  He says, "What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do."  Romans 7:15.  "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice."  Romans 7:19.  He wants to serve God, but serves sin instead.

Who is this wretched man?  Is the great apostle Paul writing about some unsaved, self-righteous Pharisee?  No, not at all.  He is writing about himself.  He didn't say, "O wretched man that you are."  No, he cried out, "O wretched man that I am."  In turbulent frustration he added a plea for help, saying, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?"  Romans 7:24.

We know the answer to that question, and so did Paul.  "I thank God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:25.

That's how the chapter ends, but it begins with a comparison of the Christian's freedom from the law and the marriage relationship.  Husband and wife are bound to each other by the law.  They are not free to commit adultery.  However, when one party dies, the other is free to marry someone else.  Paul wrote to the believers at Rome, "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ that you may be married to another---to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."  Romans 7:4.

In Romans 6 we learned that Jesus "died to sin," and that we should reckon ourselves to be "dead indeed to sin."  Romans 6:10, 11.  Here in Romans 7 we are taught that we also died to the law.  "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by."  Romans 7:6.  Dead to the law, delivered from the law!

Then the question is raised, "What shall we say then?  Is the law sin?"  Some teach that the law mentioned in Romans 7 is not the law of Moses, not the Ten Commandments, in particular.  But they are wrong.  This is the law that says, "You shall not covet," a clear reference to the Ten Commandments.  Paul answers these questions emphatically, "Certainly not!"  Romans 7:7.  On the contrary, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good."  Romans 7:12.

The problem is not the law, but the big I"For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin."  Romans 7:15.  When you read Romans 7:15-25, notice how many times the word I appears.  Sin cannot be separated from our carnal nature, which is also called "the flesh," and "the body of sin."  Someone has said, "You can't spell sin (S-I-N) without the I; deliverance is through the S-O-N, the O coming from the "O wretched man that I am."  When the poor man cries to the Lord, He delivers him from all his troubles.

Some see the final statement in this chapter as one of victory.  "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."  That's a false conclusion.  That's the basis of the demoralizing struggle that we find throughout Chapter 7.  A frustrated Paul testifies, "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man."  So far, so good.  However, he continues, "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."  Romans 7:22, 23.  Serving the law of God is not the answer.  "We should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter."  Romans 7:6.

 

Heavenly Father, we can see ourselves in these verses.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Nevertheless we look to you, and pray that we may know anew and afresh the liberating power of Your Son.  May we know the joy of serving You in the newness of the Spirit.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!

 

The Spirit at Work - Romans 8

 
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