Originally published as a single article in DBSJ 2 (Fall 1997): 81–103. Used by permission.
This installment continues our study of the believer’s struggle with sin, focusing on Romans 7.
Paul’s description of the struggle between the old and new natures is not confined to the flesh/Spirit contrast of Galatians 5:16–17. Paul can, as Romans 7:14–25 illustrates, use somewhat different terminology to describe the same conflict. Though there is considerable debate about this section of Romans, there would appear to be more than sufficient reasons for understanding this passage as describing Paul as a regenerate person. Some of the more important ones would include: (1) The shift from the past tenses of verses 7–13 to the present tenses beginning in verse 14 is inexplicable unless Paul has now shifted to his present regenerate status. (2) In verse 22 Paul says: “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,” and in verse 25b: “I myself with my mind am serving the law of God.” Murray argues that “this is service which means subjection of heart and will, something impossible for the unregenerate man.”1 (3) In answer to the longing of verse 24, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Paul gives a triumphant answer in the first part of verse 25, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” This is the confession of Paul, the regenerate man, which is immediately followed by a concluding summary concerning his continuing struggle with sin as a believer: “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” This is the same struggle which has been recounted beginning in verse 14. Read more about Does the Believer Have One Nature or Two? (Part 5)