Struggling With Sin, Rom. 7:7-25
Please read the Bible text before reading my words. This is a battleground passage. The struggle between sin and righteousness is on full display. It is not a fair fight in two senses. Sin does not fight fair. Satan employs good things to achieve his diabolical purpose. He also cheats and lies along the way. But the victory is already assured for the one who finds life in Jesus Christ (v. 25). God is more powerful than Satan and righteousness is more powerful than sin.
This is also a battleground passage in the sense of theological differences. Some view the struggle in this context to be wholly on the part of the unregenerate soul. From this viewpoint, Paul is said to describe man’s struggle with sin apart from the help of God. On the other hand, Paul is said to depict the present struggle of a conscientious child of God. Let the words of the text speak for themselves. Understand the flow of thought from chapter 6 through chapters 7 and 8. Paul wishes readers to understand that the Law of God was not the problem, but neither was it the solution. Satan co-opted the Law and ramped up the conflict between good and evil.
Complicating our proper interpretation of the passage is the fact that Paul uses the word “law” in quite a few ways. Sometimes it refers to the Law of Moses. At other times law means a rule or principle, and perhaps the outcome of a sequence of events. It also seems that Paul uses law in speaking of the overarching moral law of God. We are all under law to God even though the Law of Moses was abolished 2,000 years ago. Sinners are made such now, not because of the Law of Moses, but by violating God’s everlasting principles.
Paul grew up under the Law of Moses and wrote Romans to those who still looked to it for life. The apostle would have them understand that although the Law defined sin and revealed sin in them, the Law was not the main problem. Satan used the regulations of the Law to stimulate and increase the effect of sin in their lives. The Law was good; it was God’s law. Although they had stood condemned by the Law, sin was the real culprit. Having been convicted by the Law, they could not be saved by the Law (Acts 13:39).
Paul presents both the problem and the solution in first person—from his own viewpoint. It troubles some to think of this great man of God struggling with sin. But we all struggle. We are humans with a weakness toward sin. The Greek word sarx or “flesh” represents the part of us that all too easily cooperates with sin. It has been described as Satan’s Trojan horse. Paul does not use the word in reference to the flesh on our bones, but rather of the human condition which Satan exploits. We are not born sinful, but we become sinful by personal practice. We understand the struggle pictured in the passage, do we not?
Satan has the world in his grasp. When we wish to do the right thing, sin’s allurement is right there with us! It is frustrating, and our fight would be futile without God’s help. If we are willing to accept that Romans 7 describes the Christians current struggle with sin, we are more ready to accept God’s help. The answer is Jesus Christ our Lord! Stay with us for chapter 8.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of the book of Acts. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.