The Experience of Romans 7

Romans 7:14‑24  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
A. First; there is no proper Christian conflict in scripture but that of Ephesians 6:1212For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12); this is fighting God’s battles against Satan’s power. Romans 7 is not conflict but experience; not the experience of a person at the time of his feeling its bitterness, but that of a delivered man, who narrates what he felt when learning his powerlessness against the sinful nature he had discovered, and the sad evil of the flesh in which dwelt no good thing. As a man who had floundered in a morass, and found every plunge putting him deeper, drops his hands and cries out for a deliverer, who comes and pulls him out and sets him free. The delivered one turns round to thank his deliverer and tell him, now at peace, what he felt when there. He had much to think of when there, now he relates it on solid ground. So it is experience before deliverance, told by a delivered man. Galatians 5 states the fact of the two antagonistic principles — flesh and Spirit — in their contrariety one to the other. Not necessarily conflict. Because walking in the Spirit we are above the influences of flesh, and do not fulfill its lusts.
In Romans 7 the soul looks back to the struggle before deliverance. In Galatians 5 it is the two principles which remain in the delivered man.
When you are referring your acceptance with God to your own state in anywise, you are still under law. By which I mean your responsibility as a child of Adam; not necessarily the law of Sinai: and your experience is then that of Romans 7. You have not yet bowed to the injunction, “Reckon yourself dead”; and you are consequently not free from the power of the evil nature which harasses you. You reply, how can I reckon myself dead, when I feel I am alive? I reply, you never will “feel” yourself dead! but you must “reckon” it so, and accept God’s word as more true than your experience and thoughts. Then you will be able to say, “Yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me.”
Souls go through this painful process (Rom. 7) in order to discover the hopeless evil of the flesh — “That in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing.” It is bitter to discover right desires and strivings after God and good, and after all to be led captive to an evil “I,” so that you hate what you do, and the evil nature is your master, and you do what you hate. These experiences do not set you free, but bring you to the discovery of how evil the flesh is, and that even the possession of a new nature gives you no power! Then you are forced. to say, “Who will deliver?” “Who,” brings in another, and your eye is turned off yourself to Him and you are free! In Christ, God has condemned sin in the flesh when He was a sacrifice for it (Rom. 8:33For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (Romans 8:3)).
The “flesh” in the delivered one is unchanged; he learns growingly the total depravity of his nature. But there is a new “I”; Christ is his life (Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)), and the Spirit of God dwells in his body (1 Cor. 6:1919What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)); and there is power in Christ to subdue the evil, by engaging his heart with Christ. The very evil he finds in himself becomes an occasion of communion with Him who has borne its judgment, that He may be delivered from its workings. He does not seek to subdue it himself — that were to labor into sorrow and failure, and recognize himself again. He keeps His eye on Christ, and lives by another, and the evil which would spring up if his eye were averted is subdued, and the power of Christ rests upon his weakness, and he can glory in it because of the power of Christ. He never receives intrinsic strength, that would be to take away the joy of living by Christ, and thus an unbroken engagement is needed for victory, and the subjugation of self He walks in the Spirit and does not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.