In recent comments with a wordpress blogger, amongst all the to and fro, he made the definitive statement that the case for the person in R7 as being one under law, was unproven.
This is mindboggling to me, maybe my mind is the boggling type, but I think the evidence is overwhelming. What He is perhaps suggesting, is that because the tense used in the narrative changes from past to present, that Paul may have been talking of his past and then jumped into his future. SORRY, present.
The emphasis is placed, of course, on v14 to v25. But you have to also consider the context of the whole chapter. It seems inevitable that the context is law, and there is no definitive change after that, towards Spirit. However, lets look at the 14 to 25 thing.
(But although there is a tense change there is no change in the subject matter which is a man’s poor performance under law. [It would be a shocking revelation if it were to be man in the Spirit]. He is not getting halfway through his explanation of old covenant application to suddenly change to new covenant application??!!)
Paul who has just described his death by law (past) now moves into an examination of why he behaved the way he did. The tense changes but the subject does not. He examines himself. (13) through the commandment $ sin has become exceedingly sinful. (the subject is law exacerbating sin). 14. For we know the law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into (having been sold into) bondage to sin. [Christians have been freed from bondage to sin] [bondage to sin is through law.]. [Note that the law is spiritual but Paul is not] [Paul’s “I” is “of flesh” which has been, (or and he has been), “sold into bondage to sin” *
15. For that which I do (NOT “am doing”)(although not that important.) Out of Paul is coming evil. He is confused. So law has here exacerbated, facilitated sin, as you would have to expect from one who had been sold into bondage to sin. [And not released from it].
16. But if I do the very thing I do not wish, I agree with the law, confessing that it is good. Here Paul aligns his own motivation with the motivation of the law. More importantly, he is relating to LAW. [Christians are not supposed to be relating to law].
17. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, [Paul denies he is responsible since it was not his intention that sin should overpower his will] but sin which indwells me. So it was not him, but sin.
18. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; [He specifically places the absence of goodness as being in the realm of his flesh as distinct from his own nominated identity which wishes to do good]. for the wishing is present in me [his will] but the doing of the good is not. [something interrupts the flow of good intentions from his will and distorts it to something else].
19. For the good that I wish, I do not; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. [I would not like to be this person on judgement day]
20. But if I am doing [if I do] the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, [who does it] but sin which dwells in me. [Again he denies responsibility for the origin of sin from him, although he is not denying that it actually does come out of him].
21. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good.
22. For I joyfully concur with the law of God [again Christians do not relate to law, but Spirit] in the inner man [Paul’s core, his “I”, his conscious identity] [there is no “law of God” as separate from “the law of Moses” that occurs in context here]
23. But I see a different law in the members of my body, [in opposition to “the” law] waging war against the law of my mind [conflict, “wrath”], and making me a prisoner [Christians are not prisoners to sin, only to Christ] of the law of sin which is in my members. [here Paul describes the power of the flesh which is given to it by law].
24. “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?” [well Jesus will of course] [Back in verse 11, this is the body of death that has been killed by the commandment, the law] [the tense shift shows from what did occur, to the how and why it does occur. If Paul does indeed find the power of sin in his flesh, then He is describing the full power of it rather than if he were a Christian looking into himself as one under law. But the lines then get a bit blurry because the point is moot. Christians are not under the law, it being the law that empowers sin, which is the very thing this chapter 7 is describing.]
Amongst all this we can note that Paul describes sin in general rather than get into specifics. We know it is what goes against the law, and certainly what goes against righteousness. There may be a good case here to acknowledge that what he is talking about is the same thing as “works of the flesh” which are detailed elsewhere, and even “for from out of the heart come evil things etc…” This gives a case for the “unclean heart” being also remote from his nearest identity “I” which is his “theoretical” place from which he “wishfully thinks?” [immediate “fleeting” consciousness (perhaps.)].
25. [After asking the question “who will set me free?” which only a non Christian would do, he gives the answer, not because as a Christian he has known it throughout his discourse, although of course he has, but because it is necessary to bring this explanation to an end, and to show there IS an answer,and that is the reality of it]
25. Paul brings it all to a conclusion, which is [paraphrased] “So then, I have discovered a two handed situation in me. On the one hand, my mind wants to follow the law of God, but my flesh wants to follow the (a) law of sin. [This is a duality of nature, (but one in which the flesh is in control)]. INTO THIS SITUATION of duality can come either law or Grace. If law, the whole of this chapter 7 applies. If grace, then law is disempowered and Spirit applies, which is the case as soon as we move into chapter 8. There is therefore now no condemnation (as there was before under the law) because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death”. [the law]
Perhaps it could be said that an aspect of this could be that Paul even as a Christian, could be looking within his flesh (why would you do that?) to find the power of sin there and he is making the point that “no good dwells in me” But this would be incorrect if the Spirit dwelt in him, as would be the case if he was talking as a Christian. His flesh is him as a whole entity but is specifically the source of sin. The Spirit may live in the cleansed heart but this is getting a bit semantic. The degree of cleansing one can gain by faith, as to whether or how far it reaches into “the flesh” is perhaps debatable, but I tend to think it is definable as complete. This is definitely a case of the before Christian condition, IE one under law.
#”But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law”. WITHOUT ME [the Spirit] you can do nothing” (Jesus). What is being described in 7 is Paul’s powerless which amounts to nothing. ‘I can do no good thing’. The fact that 8 says “there is now no condemnation…for the law of the spirit… has set you free from the law of sin and death…which law is exemplified in 7, being the condition from which you are set free (slavery to sin through the law) and the condition that Paul is said to have been in.
Fundamentally it is a case of the basic creation growing up into the new. Natural man is the source of evil, which he becomes aware of under law. This becomes the conscience stricken “I” in this chapter who is released when forgiven and placed under grace. Paul on the Damascus road was also said by Jesus to find it “hard to kick against the pricks”. (Of conscience). Paul, unlike the run of the mill Pharisee, was aware of the difference between the letter of the law and real righteousness.
In reality, anyone not under grace is under law. #If you are not led by Spirit you are led by law.
*When did this “sale” take place? Jesus bought us with his blood. From sin. sale occurred with consciousness of guilt, from slavery, from when we first became conscious of sin?
#Being under law automatically excludes a person from the life of the Spirit. Being under law and being a Christian are mutually exclusive terms. This is why it becomes necessary for detractors to claim that Paul was not under law.
LESSON. WE ARE NOT TO BE “IN THE FLESH”, and definitely not UNDER THE LAW.
For further thought – Does the term “flesh” simply refer to the natural human person who “by nature were children of wrath” and that means that regeneration applies to the whole person rather than specific bits? Heart, flesh, mind integrally connected for this purpose. IE if one is “in Christ” then they are no longer “in the flesh” even though they still are in the physical sense, they are “out of the flesh” from a sin controlling point of view. Then begs the question, to what extent.
Detractors seem to be saying that Paul the Christian is making reference to law even though he is not under it? This is nonsensical. And he is performing badly. [almost as though he were a slave to sin? 🙂 ]. So aware of sin$ [To the pure, all things are pure.?]