Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Romans 7:20-25
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Romans 7:20
v20: By saying “…if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it...” Paul is drawing our attention to the fact that there is conflict going on within every Christian (Gal 5:17). Please note: he’s not talking about unbelievers in these verses (vs15-25), he’s describing the challenge believers face when trying to live according to God’s holy standards. Even after being born-again obedience is not easy. Though our spirit wills to do the right thing our flesh continues to rebel and is such a powerful influence that until we learn to draw on God’s power (Ro 8:4, 11) we perpetually fail.

Monday: Romans 7:20
v20 (continued): The obvious question that arises here is this: If the sin in my flesh can compel me to do things that my spirit (the real me) doesn’t want to do, then does God hold me morally responsible for my actions? In effect, can I say, “My flesh made me do it”? I think from God’s perspective the answer lies in the true condition of the heart. Do we genuinely want to obey? Are we genuinely helpless to stop (or start)? The person Paul describes in verses 15-25 can answer “yes” to both those questions. This person longs to obey and is helplessly compelled to disobey. In that case I think Paul is telling us that God views this person as a victim, and though their ongoing sin would still produce its “death” (Ro 2:12; 5:13, 14; 6:23), God evaluates that person’s failure differently than someone who deliberately defies His will (1Ti 1:13, 16).

Tuesday: Romans 7:20
v20 (continued): In the case of the person Paul describes in verses 15-25 his sin arises from weakness and continues because he is ignorant of the truths Paul will soon explain in chapter eight. They are not engaged in deliberate transgression “in the likeness of the offense of Adam” (Ro 5:14). Yes they are sinning and know what they are doing is wrong, but the sin continues only because they don’t know how to stop. And God understands their helpless condition so He does not withdraw His grace (Ro 8:1). He continues to forgive even while they fail.

Wednesday: Romans 7:20-22
v20 (continued): Furthermore, by describing a believer’s helplessness to resist the pressures of their flesh, Paul wants us to see that even after conversion we continue to be dependent on God in order to live victorious Christian lives. Just as unbelievers cannot save themselves but must receive God’s gift of righteousness, so too believers cannot live lives that please God without the constant help of the Holy Spirit. We need grace after conversion as much as we did in becoming converted. vs20-22: Paul describes two different forces (“laws”) within a believer: On the one hand the person’s spirit “desires to do good” and “delights (“glad”) in the law of God,” but on the other, “sin is dwelling in me” and “evil is present in me.”

Thursday: Romans 7:20-23
vs20-23: Paul uses several different terms within these few verses to describe the human spirit. Though they differ, all point to the same part of us: “I” (Ro 7:17-20); the “inner man” (Ro 7:22); “my mind” (Ro 7:23, 25; this word [nous] is used to translate the Hebrew word “heart” [leb] at times in the LXX). Elsewhere Paul employs the terms “spirit” (1Co 2:11; 1Thess 5:23) and “heart” (Ro 1:21; 2:5, 15). We need to remember that he considers humans to be composed of three distinct interdependent elements: 1) the physical body; 2) the soul (the biological life which animates our bodies); and 3) the human spirit (our immortal personality made “in God’s image,” Ge 1:26, 27, so that like God we are spirits having intellect, will and emotions).

Friday: Romans 7:23, 24
v23: He says, “I see a different law in my members (bodily organs, limbs) warring (fighting strategically as in a military campaign) against the law of my mind and taking me captive (like a prisoner held at spear point), and the power that holds me captive is the law of sin which is located in the members of my body” (my paraphrase). Using these vivid images of battle Paul is showing us that unless someone powerful enters into this struggle to rescue us, we will be overwhelmed by the sin residing in the physical flesh of our bodies. v24: What a terrible situation in which to be trapped­—longing to live a pure, holy life yet perpetually failing, virtually a prisoner in one’s own body. To express the profound frustration of someone in this condition Paul cries out, “Wretched (miserable) man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body which is filled with death?”

Saturday: Romans 7:25
v25: He immediately answers his own question with a burst of heartfelt thanks, “Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” He has not yet explained how Jesus rescued us from the control of our flesh, but he assures us with these words that God has accomplished a rescue “through” (by means of) Him. Then he closes this passage by providing one final restatement of the struggle between a Christian’s spirit and flesh: “On the one hand with the mind I serve the Law of God, on the other with the flesh a law of sin.” Now with the problem clearly identified he turns to the solution in chapter eight.

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