“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24) How many times have you heard this scripture in sermons that justify the sinful nature of a person? Typically it goes like this: “Well even Paul called himself a wretched man, that he’s a sinner. And if Paul was like this, then what can we say about ourselves?” But what is Paul really writing about here? Is this the condition (the condition of a wretched man) of a person who is born again, born from above? Paul is writing about the condition of war, a condition where you are in constant battle between the law (which is good) and sin (which is bad). This is the condition of a person who is under the law. Christ came to free us from the law and from the wretched state, from sin!
What is Romans Chapter 7 about?
I ask this question, because today, many christian denominations believe, that Apostle Paul is writing about and is describing himself. And although what Paul is speaking about isn’t complex to understand, yet this chapter remains a mystery for a simple reason: it is very suitable for a carnal person, living under the law of the letter.
As such, people who do not live by the law of freedom (in Christ Jesus), readily identify themselves with the “Apostle Paul” in Romans chapter 7, using him as an example and comforting themselves with this. A great misconception!
Paul is clearly not talking about himself here.
“For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived.” (Romans 7:9)
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews: as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6)
“And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” (Romans 7:10-11)
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” (Romans 7:14)
“But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22)
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)
And yet, most christians today reason that Apostle Paul was simultaneously of Christ and sold to sin. It sounds ironic, but this is how their reasoning turns out to be.
And here is another moment: It turns out that Apostle Paul often did that which he did not want to do?
“For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” (Romans 7:15)
“Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” (Colossians 1:29)
We see here that the power of Christ was powerful in Apostle Paul, then how could evil act in him!?
It is written about the children of God as such:
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13)
“For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Romans 7:19-21)
“For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed.” (Romans 15:8)
And so, what then is Apostle Paul writing about in Romans Chapter 7?
He is writing about the old man, who does not know Christ and who stands under the law.
All people, all humanity were in Adam. When Adam was created, and when Adam sinned, then every one of us sinned together with him, because if we would be in the place of Adam in the Garden of Eden, we would have done the same thing. Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 7 explains the beginning of the action of the law of sin and death. He explains how sin entered into man, into the person. When he writes that the “commandment came” – he is writing about the commandment “to not eat of” in Genesis 2:16-18.
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, though shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Man, created with a free will and choice, chose the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: disobeyed, didn’t believe God, and the commandment which was given to life was violated.
And this is what Paul is writing about here: “but when the commandment came (God said, do not eat of), then sin revived (the man/Adam believed a lie), and I (in Adam) died (for God); and the commandment, which was ordained (by God) to life, I found to be unto death (Genesis 2:17).
“Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (in Adam).” – In Romans chapter 7, Paul is talking about the man into whom death passed.
Paul here is writing about the first man, that all people were in Adam and today any person can say this about himself, that when Adam stood in the Garden of Eden, there I stood, and death was passed unto me through the sin of Adam. And Apostle Paul also sinned in Adam, and that is why he writes “I.”
Under the word “I” (when he writes “I was alive without the law once”), he means Adam in the Garden of Eden:
“For I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7)
“But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.” (Romans 7:8-11)
Adam was given a commandment for life, but sin took the pretext from this commandment, deceived him, and killed him. Adam died for God, and in him all of humanity.
Further, in this chapter, Paul describes the state of a person in whom lives the “law of sin and death.” And at the end of this chapter he writes:
“O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)
“So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His…for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:8-14)
The spiritual man is no longer led by sin, he is no longer a sinner, how it is written about the carnal man in chapter 7, but led by the Spirit of God.
For this, one must be born again – to die for the old man and be born new, where there is no longer the “law of sin and death.” If someone doesn’t understand this correctly, then such faith is dead, because it doesn’t reveal the significance of the coming of Christ. And that is why He appeared in the world:
“But now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10)
If anyone finds himself in Romans chapter 7, then this means the death was not abolished in him and the life did not appear.
This is a question of LIFE and DEATH!