In Romans 7:21-25 Paul is speaking as a born again believer in Jesus. Paul had been saved as indicated by these statements:
“In my inner being I delight in God’s law.”
“I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law.”
Paul indicates that in his “inner being” and in his “mind” he is saved and delivered from the power of sin. But, yet there is a third dimension that his struggle with sin continues. In fact, Paul refers to sin “waging war” against his mind and his inner man.
Sin is holding this saved man captive and will not release him. Though the saved man desires to be free from sin's influence, he is trapped and held prisoner in his physical body. A body, Paul describes, “that is subject to death.”
Paul has been saved spiritually through faith in Jesus, thus the “inner being” delights in God. Paul has renewed his mind with the word of God, thus the “mind” is a slave to God. The problem comes with the fact that there is no way that Paul, or any man, can redeem or save his body, a body that is still under bondage of sin. How do we know the body is and will continue to remain under the power of sin? Because, we know the body will die. And, as long as we believers live in the earth we, like Paul, groan:
“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
We have spiritual salvation through faith in Jesus. We have salvation for our mind, or souls, through being renewed with the word of God (Romans 12:2). But, how can we receive salvation in our bodies? Is there a prayer? Is there a level of faith? Is there something we can stop doing or stop eating? What do we do? How will we complete our salvation experience and be delivered, or saved, “from this body that is subject to death?”
The answer is at the resurrection. We have the glory of salvation in our spirit and available for our souls through the word of God, but we wait for the glory of our salvation to be manifest in our bodies at the resurrection of the body. This is the hope Paul wrote to the Philippians who were themselves already saved spiritually through faith in Jesus, but like Paul, were waiting for a Savior to save them from their “body that is subject to death”:
“We eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” – Philippians 3:20-21
So, with this hope, Paul answers the question, “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?”
“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
We also are waiting for a Savior from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will match the glorious salvation that he has already provided for our inner man and our souls. Our bodies will one day also be saved “so that they will be like his glorious body.” But, until then we continue knowing this truth:
So, the battle continues as we daily live in a body under the influence of sin. Our body continues to wage war against our saved souls, but we fight on waiting for our Savior to complete his work of full salvation in our lives: Spirit, Soul and Body.
“So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”