TO CHEW ON: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of 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 7:24-25
Who of us can't relate to the split personality inside each of us that Paul writes about here? Some ideas he develops in this passage:
1. The law is a mixed blessing.
What law is Paul talking about? I think we can safely assume he is referring at the very least of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). He mentions one of them ("You shall not covet") in verse 7.
Jewish readers would also probably have thought of the myriad of laws connected to their worship. These involved offerings, feast days, circumcision, refraining from certain foods etc. We know a lifetime of religiously doing such things can put one into bondage, fearing that if something is left out, it will lead to damnation, It's another way the law puts one in shackles.
Paul describes the law as the thing that revives an inner struggle (so, in a way, bad) and also "holy, just, and good" (Romans 7:12).
2. Awareness of the law awakens within us the desire to break it (Romans 7:7-12).
The very presence of a rule is a challenge to our perverse human nature to break that rule.
3. We are born in sin with a bent to rebel against God and His law.
The tendency to sin is our default setting (Romans 7:14-18). And so as Christians, our desires (wanting to obey Christ) and our actions (disobedience, because it comes naturally) often contradict each other (Romans 7:19).
4. But there is a way out of this law-awakened rebellion against God—a way to get unchained from this "body of death":
This body of death: The figure of a person chained to a corpse from which he cannot be freed, despairing of deliverance…"It is "Through Jesus Christ our Lord":
"But despair gives way to a declaration of victory, not because the struggle ceases, but because human strength is exceeded by the power of the Holy Spirit" - Wayne Grudem, commentary notes on Romans, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1561).
As we experience what Paul is talking about, let's allow the Spirit full sway in our hearts to change our desires so that we fulfill the "law of God" (Romans 7:22) not only with our minds but with our flesh as well.
PRAYER: Dear Holy Spirit, be alive and active in me so that I desire to obey—not rebel—God's will as expressed through His moral laws. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.