It seems the simplest way of projecting a true understanding of Romans 7 is to simply rewrite it in a way which is understandable. Few would deny that this chapter has its difficulties, although it depends a lot on your spiritual insight it would seem. Then there is the whole issue of scholarship and traditional understanding and intellectual abilities available. There are many famous theologians over the years who have proposed various viewpoints and ‘angles’ on this chapter.
This will possibly be a draft for another attempt to follow, (probably not). I will have to see how it goes.
EXPLANATORY PREFACE. Chapter 7 has a minor beginning at the existing 7-1, but which beginning should probably have been left until 7-7. From 7-1 to 7-6 he has entered his new subject of the examination of the law, which law they have now left behind them in their change of covenants.
7-5 explains the old state (covenant) they have left, and 7-6 reaffirms the new state (covenant) they have entered.
PAUL EXPLAINS THE OLD COVENENT.
It now remains for Paul to explain just why this change was necessary, and so he begins his chain of mental thought processes which will enable us to see what is going on (or not). He works out that the law killed him. WAS THE LAW SIN? He explains that no it was not the law that was the problem, but sin.
Then he enters into the matter of where this sin came from, that it is in us. So then he examines the nature, his nature, our nature, that this law came to, which resulted in his and our death because of this indwelling sin.
Not having come down from heaven as the law had, but being simply one of humanity, one of Adam’s nature, then he had no defense for this nature when it was challenged by the nature of the law, and no defense as to it’s actions as it was provoked into sin by this law.
Recognising right from wrong, and being desirous of being ‘right’, righteous; But having this right and wrong magnified perfectly by the law, made his position even less tenable than before the law confirmed his sinful nature.
This leads to him being a “wretched man”. The answer to his problem is Jesus, as seen in Romans 8.
REWRITING CHAPTER 7.
7-4. Therefore, my brothers, you also were divorced from the law, made to die to it through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit (thoughts and actions) for God.
7-5. For while we were, as long as we were, in our Adamic humanity, while we were not yet in the Spirit, but living under the law, alive to the law, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in the various parts of our body, resulting in fruit (thoughts and actions) for death.
7-6 BUT NOW we have been released from the law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the SPIRIT and not in oldness of the letter, the written law of God.
AND SO HE SUMS UP THE NEW COVENENT POSITION AS HAVING LEFT THE OLD COVENENT ADAMIC NATURE AND HAVING ENTERED INTO THE SPIRIT NATURE.
7-7. WHAT SHOULD WE SAY ABOUT THE LAW THEN?
What shall we say then, is the law sin? Well if not for the law, my inferior position, and that of the old covenant, would not have been fully exposed. For example, I would not even have known what coveting was if the law had not said “do not covet”.
7-8 But sin, provoked and enabled by the commandment, deceived me and created opportunities by which to create in me all manner of covetousness, for APART from law, sin is dead. [So sin is only alive in the presence of law, it has no life in the presence of Spirit.]
7-9 Law came to me when I was ignorantly alive apart from it, happily indulging my “flesh”, my natural human nature, but because the law of right and wrong came in fullness, I died. My conscience became loaded up with the knowledge of sin and its consequences, with guilt and trepidation.
7-10 And this commandment, which if followed through in all its details, would have enabled the path of life to become visible to me, did the very opposite, it caused my death.
7-11. Because sin, exploring every avenue available to it within my natural capacity for human thought, deceived me, deviated me from truth and detoured me from the right path into an outcome of death.
7-12. SO THEN. (conclusion). The law is holy and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
7-13. THEREFORE (because of the foregoing) did that which is good cause my death, even though without it, it would not have had the power to do so? NO! It was sin effecting my death through what was good, so that which is good might become the means of exposing that which is bad.
PAUL NOW FINISHES THE FIRST PART OF HIS DEDUCTIVE REASONING AS TO THE NATURE OF LAW AND SIN, AND NOW TURNS THE ATTENTION UPON HIMSELF TO EXPOSE THE NATURE OF SIN IN HIM AND ALL MANKIND.
7-14. So we know the law IS spiritual, but I am of Adam’s race which is of a self serving nature, and definitely NOT spiritual. This nature is tied to sin, glued to it, and lives in it, and is enslaved by it.
7-15. For from experience, that which I have found myself to do from out of this Adamic nature, I have never understood, for I don’t do what I would like to do, what I try to do, but I do the very thing I hate.
7-16. But if I do what I don’t wish to do, in contradiction of that good as in accordance with law that I would like to do, then I have to agree with the law and say that it is good.
7-17. So this shows that it is not my will in charge of me, but sin’s will that is in charge of me, controlling me, and resulting in an outcome that is AGAINST my will. It is sin that indwells me that does it.
7-18. For I know, I have experiential knowledge of, the fact that nothing good dwells in me, or to be more specific, in my flesh, my Adamic nature. Because the wishing to do good is in me but the doing of it is not. It is proven.
7-19. Because the good that I WISH, that I initiate from MY will to do, doesn’t happen – the outcome is the evil that I do not wish or will to do.
7-20. But if I do that which I do not wish to do, it’s no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me. (Has its own life because of law).
7-21. I CONCLUDE then that the PRINCIPLE [law or rule] of evil is in me, the one who wishes to do good.
7-22. For I happily agree with the law of God in my innermost self, in my rational mind of good intentions.
7-23. But I see a DIFFERENT law, a different principle in my bodily makeup, my thoughts deeds and actions, which opposes the ‘law’ of my mind and its good intentions, and instead, makes me, under law is constantly making me, a prisoner of the law of sin which resides in my bodily functions, my natural earthly makeup.
7-24. Wretched person that I am! Who could possibly rescue me from this situation, from this body of death? [see 1 Cor. 15-56. “For the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ”.]
7-25. Thanks be to God that Jesus has removed us from this environment of law! So then, to conclude this matter of being under law, I find that I who of myself, (by myself) with my mind am always ready to [potentially] serve “a” lawfulness of God, am in agreeance with His goodness; but equally so, with my Adamic deficient human nature, am always ready to (potentially) serve the law of sin.
This “conclusion” is stating how that as natural human beings, although we agree with what is right, when put to the test we cannot do it. That if we are prodded by law, we will bite back with sin. Paul is saying that these are the two latent aspects (‘laws’) of our humanity which when shifted into the dynamics of an actual situation are always in conflict and always results in sin nature taking control over ‘our better self’.
AND THIS IS HOW IT IS UNDER LAW. But then Romans 8 introduces to this situation, not law, but GRACE, and the whole thing changes from defeat to victory, because we are removed from law and placed under grace, now enjoying the emergent superiority of Spirit over the demise of the law. So “flesh” loses its power in accordance with “..the power of sin is THE LAW, BUT thanks be to God [who gives us the victory through Christ..”]. There is now NO condemnation for those in Jesus, because of what He has done. Rom 8-1,2.
From verse 14 onwards, it may very well be that Paul is not even specifically talking about being under ‘the’ law, but only about his natural nature, which he then compares with the [Mosaic] law to discover his lack of spiritual power to do anything good. The law then only both confirms and worsens his findings.
It is worth mentioning that those who take a different view of this chapter, who say it is about Paul “sinning”, should note that “without law sin is dead” and that sin in accordance with what they would say, is very much alive in potential power here, proving that the context is completely and only relevant to the situation of being “under law”, the old covenant and not the new covenant.
[Paul first explains that under law we are all dead, then explains the outworking of that death][the “works of the flesh”]