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There's a War Happening
Thinking about Romans 7:21-23.
I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to 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. (Romans 7:21-23)
After describing how good has no permanent dwelling place in the person outside of Christ, Paul paints a vivid picture of the war happening within that person.
Delight in the Law of God.
Paul reiterates what he has written in Romans 7:15, 19.
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. (Romans 7:15)
For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (Romans 7:19)
He delighted in the law of God because the law of God is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). But - there’s a major problem.
A War Against My Delight in God’s Law.
There’s a war going on “in my members, warring against the law of my mind.”
The military term for “waging war” (antistrateuomai) conveys the idea of intensity and of a life-and-death struggle. Only found once in the New Testament, [it] conjures up a picture of the seriousness with which Paul viewed his losing battle with sin. - Pollard, Truth for Today Commentary, 250
If we view the two laws (Paul personifies them, of course) as warring over the person we get the picture. The “law of sin” wars against the “law of the mind” and brings Paul into captivity under the conqueror. - McGuiggan, Romans, 220
What he wanted to do in his mind - and what he took great delight in - was the law of God. But he fell short of doing what he delighted in.
The inner being WANTS to do what is right; but without strength from Christ, the capability of breaking the shackles of sin does not exist…While the Jew delighted in the law, he failed to realize that it was not capable of delivering him from sin. - Wacaster, Studies in Romans, 270
When he sinned, he became sin’s prisoner - even though he delighted in the law of God.
Becoming a Prisoner of War.
Such language as Paul here uses shows the complete helplessness of a person under the dominion of sin and without Christ. - Whiteside, Commentary on Romans, 162
Even though Paul described himself as delighting in the law - that didn’t change the fact that he had become the slave of sin and a “prisoner of war.”
I believe Paul is trying to get the attention of his Jewish fellow-countrymen about the importance of the gospel of Christ, and their need to be set free from sin by the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-7).
This unregenerate Jew, living under that old Mosaic Law, one who is outside of Christ, cannot withstand the forces of Satan. Eventually the will collapses and the soul is taken captive…Sin and corruption have NOT claimed a victory over the regenerated soul. Just the opposite; the regenerated child of God has won the victory over sin. - Wacaster, Studies in Romans, 270-271
As Paul will describe in a few verses, the Christian has a completely different outlook. They have been set free from the cruel taskmaster of sin (Romans 6:7).
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