August 10, 2010

Romans 7: Law of Mind vs. Law of Sin

Paul refers to the "flesh" in two different ways in Romans 7.

(1) "While we were in the flesh" meaning past tense or the old self before conversion. The part that was crucified in Christ.

(2) "I am of the flesh" or "my flesh" meaning present tense or the new self after conversion. Something that he still contends with on a daily basis.

He repetitively contrasts the law of his mind with the law of sin which was at work in his flesh.

The Conflict of Two Natures

(v14a) For we know that the Law is spiritual,
(v14b) But I am of flesh

(v14c) sold into bondage to sin.
(v15a) For what I am doing, I do not understand

(v15b) for I am not practicing what I would like to do
(v16a) But if I do the very thing I do not want to do

(v15c) I am doing the very things I hate;(v16a) But if I do the very thing I do not want to do
(v16b) I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good

(v17a) So now, no longer am I the one doing it,
(v17b) but sin which dwells in me [is doing these things].

(v18b) The wishing (to do good) is present in me
(v18b) The doing of the good (is not)

(v19a) I wish to do good
(v19a) I do not do the good I wish; (v20a) I am doing the very thing I wish not to do

(20b) I am not doing what I am doing
(20b) Sin which dwells in me is doing what I wish not to do

(v21) I am the one who wishes to do good
(v21) Evil is present in me

(v22) I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man
(v23a) There is a law in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind

(v23) The law of my mind (opposite of the law of sin)
(v23b) That different law makes me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members; (v24a) I am a wretched man (v24b) I am a prisoner of the body of this death

(v25) With my mind [I] am serving the law of God
(v25b) With my flesh, [I serve] the law of sin

Bottom line? It is a struggle and we will all go through it to a greater or lesser extent in our lives depending on how close our walk is with God. To find true victory over this formidable combatant that resides within our own bodies we must draw on Jesus Christ fully and wholly/holy.


Anonymous said...

Another great post Andy.

We are free from the Penalty of sin, we are free from the Power of sin - ie. its dominion/rule but one day we will be free from the Presence of sin.

Soli Deo Gloria

Your Neighbor

Brian Hyde said...

What do you understand is Paul's exact meaning of "the law of sin"?

Andy Pierson said...

“the law of sin” νόμῳ τῆς ἁμαρτίας law of the sin refers to the “evil principle” or the idea of indwelling sin and how it is a monster in us. Believers are perfect as to their justification at conversion but we have this nasty situation of dealing with entrenched sin that we still combat throughout our lives in an act of sanctification. Sanctification in my opinion is a progressive work. If it is not and it is an instantaneous work at conversion, to me this means that every sin we commit after our conversion could constitute evidence that we are not really saved. I don’t believe this and neither is this what Paul states in Chapter 7. The mind is the source of intelligence to which to Word of God appeals, the body, flesh or σάρξ is the center or thing to which sin appeals. This is why we often see Paul refer to the world and the sins of the world with the Greek word σάρξ meaning flesh. Having stated this, the σάρξ is subject to the Fall. That is why when we die we kill off the fallen nature and transcend its bounds. It is also why we see Paul have what appears to be a split-personality in this chapter. The “I of myself” in Greek in the passage …“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.” That experience failure, frustration and defeat is the carnal man but the “I” as a believer (mind) moves us beyond ourselves by the power of the Indwelling Spirit instead of indwelling sin and we can become a “new creation” while we are still here alive on earth. Hope this made sense and answered your question.

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