Chapter 7 is just as heavy as chapter 6! Paul is going deep here, you gotta pay attention!
Where to begin….well, I’m just going to go for the heavy verses 7-25! I find I hold a different opinion than many others when it comes to these verses. This time through, I found a great commentary that explains the difference between the two main interpretations of this section of Paul’s letter.
It turns out, the reason there are two ways to look at this portion of scripture is because there are two different ways to interpret the word, “I”.
1.) “I” is the unregenerate person who is trying to keep the law.
2.) “I” is a believer who, despite being regenerated, find themselves still beset by sinful desires.
#2 is the widely held popular view. (Leave it to me to go with the less popular held view. Hahaha)
Having read these verses in context of chapters 5-8, it seems very clear to me that Paul is using the “I” as an unregenerate person.
First, in verse 1, Paul clarifies who his intended audience is that he is addressing,“-for I am speaking to those who know the law-“ (7:1) Remember this letter is addressed to both Jews and Gentile converts in Rome. Picture a Jewish hearer of this letter who is trying to figure out what role Jesus plays in his long held belief that the law is everything.
I remember reading Paul’s description of himself prior to his conversion, “a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.” (Phil 3:6) I bet he could relate to David who wrote in Psalm 119:97, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”
So, when Paul writes “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war…” (Romans 7:22), he is laying out how the unregenerate man, who may love the law, is incapable of keeping it ~ that makes him a wretched man! (vs. 24) However, a regenerated man has the Holy Spirit (he talks more of that in the next chapter). With the help of the Holy Spirit, man can have a new life, even in the “mortal body” (8:11). This chapter is filled with descriptions of a person held captive in their sin (unregenerated). Reading in context is key!!! Chapter 8 will be talking of the freedom the regenerated man receives. Yea!! Can’t wait to read that!!!! I love a happy ending!!