Romans 7:21-25 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 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 the flesh the law of sin.
‘Law’ – this is the law of the mind, which consents to the law of God (7:16, 21, 23).
‘Law of God’ – this is the law of Moses of Romans 7:1-16. ‘Inward man’ refers to the spirit of man which knows (1Cor. 2:11; 2Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16) and which is immortal (1Pet. 3:4). It also takes in the soul, that is, the seat of the feelings, emotions, and desires, for Paul not only knew and willed to do the will of God, but he delighted in it (cp. Ps. 1:2).
‘Another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members’ the law of sin (7:23, 25; 8:2). That law is stronger than the law of the mind, for it captures man regardless of the protest of the law of the mind (7:23, 25). This victory is not occasional, but complete (7:24).
‘O wretched man that I am!’ this is not a picture of a redeemed soul, but of a captive of sin. Every statement in this chapter proves that this was Paul’s experience while bound by sin under the law and before he was freed from the law of sin and death, as in Romans 8:1-4. His testimony indicates deliverance was after the three days of blindness at Damascus (Acts 9:17-18). The experience must have been during these three days for he had lived in all good conscience before this (Acts 23:1; Gal. 1:13-14; Php. 3:6). In the new enlightened state of these three days, he saw that he had not really kept the law, saw that he was a helpless slave to sin and could not obey it as it should be kept. Hence, his conclusion of wretchedness.
‘The body of this death’ – there is an allusion here to the ancient custom of tyrants who bound a dead body to a living man, requiring him to carry it about until he died of contagion from the putrid mass.
‘I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord’ This is the answer to Romans 7:24. Jesus Christ is the only deliverer from sin (1:16; 10:9-10; Matt. 1:21; 1Jn. 1:9).
‘So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin’ – this is a misplaced conclusion which has caused many false doctrines to be taught. It should follow Romans 7:23 as the conclusion of the whole argument. It is not only the logical conclusion, but it starts out with the Greek: ara and oun, therefore. It means, “to conclude, the sum of what I have said,” etc. Many have used these words to prove Paul himself was not saved from sin. This would contradict all the arguments of Romans up to this point and what follows. He proves both before and after this that there is complete victory over the law of sin (1:16-18; 2:8-11; 3:5-8, 24-31; 4:1-24; 5:1-11; 6:1-23; 8:1-13).