Romans 7:21-23. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
There’s a battle raging in you. Did you know that? Of course you did. If you’ve been a Christian for more than 10 minutes, then you know the Romans 7 struggle. Here, in verses 21-23, we get to the source of the struggle: the 3 laws.
Paul describes 3 laws battling it out in your life: the law of God, the law of sin, and the law of your mind.
The law of God – This is God’s good commands. Notice Paul says he delights in the law of God (btw- this is one reason why I believe Romans 7 is describing the life of Christian not the life of a non-Christian).
The law of sin – This is the indwelling sin that Paul has already described. It is the desire to disobey the law of God.
The law of the mind – This is Paul’s inner desire to love, serve, and obey God.
Notice how Paul describes his reality: the law of sin is battling with the law of Paul’s mind and the war is raging in Paul’s members, his bodily choices and actions. One of the better depictions of this is Darren Aronofsky’s 2014 movie version of Noah. Yes, it is far from the biblical story. But if you can get past that, it gives us a view into the internal struggle that these 3 laws cause. Noah loves God’s law, and yet he is plagued by the guilt of his own sinfulness. What results is not only a struggle with the natural flood and the depraved human race, but also his own internal struggle with his unworthiness. Aronofsky himself said the movie is about the question, “what makes a man savable?”
What does this internal battle mean for us? William Newell offers these 2 responses to Romans 7:21-23: awareness and defeat.
First, awareness. We must recognize our complete inability to keep the law of God. For many of us this is revealed in our complete rejection of God’s law, especially his law of love. We have become gossips, and back biters, and passive aggressive jerks who just aren’t even giving love a thought. We complain and whine. We escape and numb. We idolize and glamorize the world. Others of us are trapped in the sinfulness of believing that we can keep the law. And we are oh so close every day. Our righteousness is glaring. We have no outward sins that are visible to others. We are trying hard every day to live a good life. But this scenario may be even more dangerous than the first because it totally minimizes the holiness and perfection of the law of God. The person who thinks they are close to keeping the law of God does not understand the law of God.
Are you aware of the law of sin in your life? Are you aware of the law of the mind? Are you aware of the war in your members? Remember, that the war might be immorality or moralism?
Second, defeat. We must be ready to admit our defeat. There is no overcoming the condemning power of the law of God. There is no overcoming the destroying power of the law of sin. And there is not overcoming the battle of the mind apart from your union with the work of Christ on the cross. There must be a declaration of full and complete defeat before we can move on. If you are trying to fight with the law…you’ve lost.
Romans 7:24. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Are you ready to come to grips with the war raging inside of you? Are you ready to admit defeat today? If not, you will never appropriate the victory of Christ.
This week we will be featuring some of the best songs from Audrey Assad. This one describes the battle for truth within.