The above is the title of a piece by J.P. Shelly, “Chapter 15, sin and the misinterpretation of Romans 7”, in “TRUTH ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE” which I reproduce here in part.
“When considering the topic of sin, the passage most often used to defend its pervasiveness in the Church is that of Romans 7:14-25. It is one of the most controversial and debated passages in Scripture. Is Paul speaking of a believer, an unbeliever, or something else entirely? The massive amount of material written on the subject is evidence of the extent of its significance in influencing one’s view of the Christian life. Emotions run high when debating this issue and the rigidity on both sides are dramatic, A.W. Pink states:
(View 1) “This moan, ‘O wretched man that I am,’ expresses the normal experience of the Christian, and any Christian who does not so moan is in an abnormal and unhealthy state spiritually. The man who does not utter this cry daily is either so out of communion with Christ, or so ignorant of the teachings of scripture, or so deceived about his actual condition, that he knows not the corruptions of his own heart and the abject failure of his own life. The one who is truly in communion with Christ, will…emit this groan…daily and hourly.”
On the other side of the issue Adam Clarke says:
(View 2) “It is difficult to conceive how the opinion could have crept into the church, or prevailed there, that the apostle speaks here of his regenerate state; and that what was, in such a state, true of himself, must be true of all others in the same state. This opinion has, most pitifully and most shamefully, not only lowered the standard of Christianity, but destroyed its influence and disgraced its character…. That all that is said in this chapter of the carnal man, sold under sin, did apply to Saul of Tarsus, no man can doubt: that what is here said can ever be with propriety applied to Paul the Apostle, who can believe? Of the former, all is natural; of the latter, all here said would be monstrous and absurd, if not blasphemous.”
MY COMMENT ON THIS IS. These two views given of Romans 7 surely demonstrate the extreme degree of error involved in either the one or the other.
These two views seem to embrace fully and completely, the idea and therefore reality of, EITHER the absolute ACCEPTANCE of sin in the Christian life, or the absolute REJECTION of sin in the Christian life.
AS SUCH, they must represent the two views of EITHER the “mind of the flesh” OR, “the mind of the Spirit”.
WHICH IS WHICH?
The ‘mind of the flesh’ must surely seek to retain its “life”, its IDENTITY, by the continuation of its presence. The ‘mind of the Spirit’ must surely seek to destroy or severely disable any presence or identity of sin, just as Jesus did.
The question then is, “What is intended to be achieved by FAITH? The last part of the second view allocates BLASPHEMY to the first view, this being how serious this matter is.
BY FAITH, this sinful identity, this SELF, this “sin in the flesh” is intended to be put to death. Its power and identity has been killed on the cross, and by faith we ACQUIRE this same death. “Those who are his have crucified the flesh…”. They acquire Christ.
So the FIRST view is surely an expression of how this has failed to happen, and is continuing to fail to happen. It is an expression of defeat, allowing for continuation of both SIN and LAW, the one obtaining power from the other.
BY FAITH we leave the identity of “sinner” to join with Christ in His identity of Victor, Overcomer, sinless. This expression is found in John, “…he cannot sin, because he has been born of God”.
So here we surely have revealed to us how the mind of the flesh is determined at any cost to hang onto its sinful identity by refusing to submit or to be submitted to, the identity of CHRIST. Blasphemy indeed.
The FIRST view then, is a refusal and a reluctance to be in submission to Christ, and expresses the continuing dominance of the flesh over the identity of the person involved. Those of this first view then, are willingly in denial of the cross of Christ.
Christ in His life, separated the two natures, the spiritual from the natural, so that His identity was “IN” the Spiritual. We now do the same thing; only now we live in Him, in His identity, having rejected our natural identity in order to assume to ourselves HIS SPIRIT, now passed through the fire so we might gain, by faith, HIS VICTORY ALSO.
When we consider the fall of creation, the “opening of Pandora’s box”, the release of evil, the creation of the “Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” situation, and the horrific consequences that resulted in the monstrous fallen identity of mankind: Then the term BLASPHEMY in relation to the promulgation of view number one is surely not strong enough.
[We are reconciled by His physical body through death]
See also Bible Life Ministries https://biblelife.org/romans7.htm
FURTHER TO THE ISSUE OF THE “I”. Just a quick note to say that there is no mystery about Paul’s “I” at all. In amongst his historical dealings with the law, he comments that he of himself, I myself, “that is” and “in my flesh”, IN THE OLD NATURE dwells no good thing; “flesh” being his old nature which is what he is talking about in relation to the law. EVERYBODY is “of flesh”, even Jesus was, and the flesh in relation to the law, which is the whole context of Romans 7, will produce no good thing. So his “flesh” in relation to the LAW is a dead thing or situation, relationship (needing divorce from). Because he is “of” the flesh in this ongoing explanation about how sin through law kills us, he is reciting the experience as of one who is “in” the flesh, NOT of one who is “in” the Spirit, as he actually is. Paul’s story is about one who is “alive” to law, not “dead” to it. His “I” is where he sees or places his I-d-entity at the time.