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©John Yerkes

Chapter 7:14-25 (ESV)

Posted on December 26, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 7:14-25 (ESV) - For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Question to consider: Why do we continue to battle with sin even after coming to Christ?

Paul was concerned that people might question the goodness of God’s Law since it wrecks any hope we have of life, for none of us have been able to keep it. It is not that we lack the desire to be holy, but because of Adam, there is sin dwelling in our flesh. This sin is so strong that even the Gentiles, who hadn’t received the Law of God, broke their own moral code— violating their very own definition of right and wrong.

In today’s passage, Paul describes this inner war between the holiness we want to do and the sin that dwells in our flesh. I think it is good to point out that Paul described this battle in the present tense. At this point, Paul had been a Christian for almost twenty-five years. He had been miraculously blinded by Christ on the road to Damascus, had his sight restored, was baptized into Christ Jesus, and returned to Damascus for three years where Christ revealed the Gospel to him (see Galatians 1:11-17).

This was the man who described himself as having the desire to do what is right but not the ability to carry it out. Rather than doing the good he wanted to do, he kept doing the evil he did not want to do. He doesn’t say specifically what evil he kept doing, but I think that was intentional. For all of us have some kind of besetting sin that causes us to say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”

On the one hand, Paul affirms that we have two natures: flesh and spirit, and that we can be holy in spirit even while sin dwells in our flesh. This part the Nicolaitans and Platonists got right. The part where they went wrong was in denying Christ coming in the flesh and saying that we should actively feed the sin in our flesh so that more grace can be granted to our spirit. It is only because Christ came in the flesh, fulfilled the demands of the Law, and imputed that righteousness to us while taking our sin upon Himself on the cross that we can be delivered from this body of death.

Paul never gave up the fight. He waged war against the desires of the flesh until his head was removed from his body by Caesar Nero a couple of years before the fall of Jerusalem. I know it can be really difficult and wearisome to continue to wage war with our flesh, and it may even cause us to ask why the Lord allows us to continue in this struggle when He has paid for our sin. I think Paul’s exclamation says it all, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” This war is one of the things that forces us to abide in Christ. There is never a point in which we can survive this battle on our own. So I encourage you to do the things that help you abide in Christ. Spend time in the word of God and prayer. Spend time in fellowship with other Christians. Repent and confess your sins regularly and receive the forgiveness only Christ can provide. Receive from Christ Himself at His table of grace.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for delivering us from sin and death through Christ. Please nourish and sustain us in the battle against sin and keep us from giving up. Please help us to bless one another and encourage each other in this battle and rejoice in our victories until the day our faith is made perfect in Your kingdom. Amen.