Romans 7 has been virtually universally misunderstood as being Paul’s current state in Christ.
It is not our current state in Christ, as this post will show.
But, for the dominant many, who incorrectly hold this view, it does not contain occasional failure (Piper)- it contains total defeat (Schreiner), since Paul stated his desire to do good all the time and eschewed evil.
“For I do not do the good that I want to do [I want to do good.]. Instead, I do the evil which I do not want to do. [I do not want to do evil.]” Romans 7:19
In this view, how often did Paul fall into sin? Every time he wanted to do good, which was all the time. He was a miserable wretch (Rom 7:24). Being a wretch is evidence of great defeat, not of occasional error.
Our misunderstanding has, in a twisted sense, made us feel good and off-the-hook. We personalize it this way: “If Paul the super-apostle could not live the Christian life, then of course I cannot, and God doesn’t expect me to live it!”
So ironically, placing faith in failure and sin is established and justified!
Doesn’t sound much like victory in Jesus, does it?
Doesn’t sound much like more than conquerors, does it?
Doesn’t sound much like to him who overcomes, does it?
However, neither Romans 7’s context between chapters 6 and 8, nor its very words have been discerned.
So, here is Romans 7 as Paul wrote it in context and words.
Chapter 7 is bounded by two chapters which are based on Christ and His cross. Chapters 6 and 8 are based on grace.
But chapter 7 is not so based. What is the alternative to grace?
Count the number of times the word law is used in Romans 7.
Add other references to commandment, letter, ordinance, the good that I would do, and implicit it pronoun references to the law, and you will find that law words total 40.
Law, the previous covenant before Christ?
Secondly, two verses after Romans 7, we have another staggering clue as to what Paul was communicating.
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2
How many laws are in this verse?
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Which is our current state in Christ?
Again, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Which law is defeated?
The law of sin and death.
Which of these two laws describes Romans 7 [and is specifically mentioned in verses 23 and 25]?
The law of sin and death.
Romans 7 lists 45 sin and death words.
What is Paul’s take-away from Romans 7?
Man living by law can only experience sin and death or, if you like a formula: man + law = sin & death.
So, if your continual Christian experience is Romans 7’s sin and death, then you are walking by law, not by Christ Himself (grace).
Grace is embodied by Christ, He is the Person of grace.
If you do not know how to live by Him, your only default option is to live by law and experience sin and death, misery and shame.
Our old knee-jerk, unthinking view never served us well.
In fact, it has kept us under Satan’s foot as miserable slaves to sin!
In fact, it does a disservice to God Who delivered us totally in Christ Jesus.
You are no longer under Satan’s foot.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.” Romans 8:37
[Related Links: Romans 7, Sinful Nature, Spirit and Nature ]