In this chapter the apostle does two things: First , he shows what is not and what is the Law's relation to the believer—judicially, the believer is emancipated from the curse or penalty of the Law (7:1-6); morally, the believer is under bonds to obey the Law (vv. 22, 25). Secondly , he guards against a false inference being drawn from what he had taught in chapter 6. In 6:1-11 he sets forth the believer's identification with Christ as “dead to sin.” (vv. 2, 7, etc.) Then, from v. 11 onwards, he shows the effect this truth should have upon the believer's walk. In chapter 7 he follows the same order of thought. In 7:1-6 he treats of the believer's identification with Christ as “dead to the law” (see vv. 4, 6). Then, from v. 7 onwards he describes the experiences of the Christian. Thus the first half of Rom. 6 and the first half of Rom. 7 deal with the believer's standing , whereas the second half of each chapter treats of the believer's state ; but with this difference: the second half of Rom. 6 reveals what our state ought to be , whereas the second half of Rom. 7 (vv. 13-25) shows what our state actually is .
The controversy which has raged over Rom. 7 is largely the fruitage of the Perfectionism of Wesley and his followers. That brethren, whom we have cause to respect, should have adopted this error in a modified form, only shows how widespread today is the spirit of Laodiceanism. To talk of “getting out of Rom. 7 into Rom. 8” is excuseless folly. Rom. 7 and both apply with undiminished force and pertinence to every believer on earth today. The second half of Rom. 7 describes the conflict of the two natures in the child of God: it simply sets forth in detail what is summarized in Gal. 5:17. Rom. 7:14, 15, 18, 19, 21 are now true of every believer on earth. Every Christian falls far, far short of the standard set before him—we mean God's standard, not that of the so-called “victorious life” teachers. If any Christian reader is ready to say that Rom. 7:19 does not describe his life, we say in all kindness, that he is sadly deceived. We do not mean by this that every Christian breaks the laws of men, or that he is an overt transgressor of the laws of God. But we do mean that his life is far, far below the level of the life our Savior lived here on earth. We do mean that there is much of “the flesh” still evident in every Christian—not the least in those who make such loud boastings of their spiritual attainments. We do mean that every Christian has urgent need to daily pray for the forgiveness of his daily sins (Luke 11:4), for “in many things we all stumble” (James 3:2, R. V.).
In what follows we shall confine ourselves to the last two verses of Rom. 7, in which we read, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with flesh the law of sin.” (vv.24, 25)
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