Romans 7:13-25



Paul said the believer is dead to sin and should live above sin in Romans 6:2

Paul also said the believer is dead to the law and should live above the fleshes attempt to please God by obeying rules in Romans 7:4.


Romans 7:7-12 then clarify that sin and law are two different things:

a)      Sin is bad because man’s natural state is sinful.  So the unregenerate man is in slavery to sin and the saved man is still drawn to sin by his sin nature.

b)      Law is bad because men try to please God by producing good works from their sinful state (both saved and unsaved).

Paul asks the question in 7:7 “Is the law sin?” since in Christ we are dead to both sin and law? 
The answer is no because the thing that makes sin and law bad for believers is that they  both end in death.

This is not because both sin and law are bad but because both man responds to both from his sin nature.

Paul says in 7:12 that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”

The law is bad for us because we respond to it with our flesh or our sin nature and we can not produce anything ourselves that is “holy, righteous and good” compared to God or to his law.


So both sin and law are bad for Christians, but that does not mean sin and law are the same.  Sin is bad.  Law is good.

But, when we mix the sin nature with either bad sin or good law we get negative results.


            Sin is Bad

            Law is Good


Sin x Sin Nature = Death                     

            Law x Sin Nature = Death


Paul knows he has been justified from the penalty of sin but he also realizes that his sin   nature is still part of his life.

Paul cannot allow himself just to go on sinning but to strap himself to a law in order to control his sin nature is going also be unproductive.

After explaining that the law is useless to help deliver believers Paul paints a picture of    his own hopeless bondage to sin if his only two choices are to sin or to  follow a law.


In Romans 7:13-25 Paul describes his own personal situation of living with a sin nature being drawn to sin but not being able to count on the law for deliverance.


These verses describe Paul’s life after having been saved. 
This is not a description about Paul in his unregenerate state before he was saved.

The reason for believing this are the following:

1)      Paul writes in the present tense.

2)      If it was a pre-salvation struggle then the answer to Paul’s problem is to get saved.

3)      Paul is discussing information and conditions that are of interest and of help to believers.  Why would we be interested in knowing that an unbeliever is hopeless?  We want to know what to do about our situation.

4)      This is the reality in our lives as believers today


The following charts are from Dr. Thomas Constable’s web page commentary at:






1. This was the most popular view among

the early church fathers.


Other views held by the fathers have

since proved false.


2. The terminology "of flesh" or

"unspiritual," and "sold into bondage

to sin" or "sold as a slave to sin" (v.

14) fits an unbeliever better than a



These are appropriate terms to use in

describing the Christian's relationship

to his or her sinful human nature.


3. If 7:14-25 describes Christians, it

conflicts with how Paul described them

in 6:3.


Two different relationships of the

Christian are in view in these two

passages. In chapter 6 our relationship

to sin is in view, but in chapter 7 it is

our relationship to our human nature

4. 8:1 marks a change from dealing with

the unsaved to the saved condition.


8:1 marks a transition from the

domination of the sinful human nature

to deliverance through Jesus Christ.


5. The absence of references to the Holy

Spirit and Jesus Christ, except in v. 25,

shows that an unsaved person is in

view here.


Paul's argument did not require these

references since the conflict in view is

between the law and the flesh (human












1. Augustine and the Reformers held this



Older support by the church fathers

favors the other view.


2. The change from past tense in 7:7-13

to present tense in 7:14-25 indicates

that verses 14-25 describe Paul's postconversion



Paul used the present tense in verses

14-25 for vividness of expression.


3. If Paul described his pre-Christian life

here, he contradicted what he said of it

in Philippians 3:6.


In Philippians 3 Paul described his

standing before other people, but here

he described his relationship to God.


4. The argument of the epistle proceeds

from justification (chs. 3—5) to

sanctification (chs. 6—8).


In chapter 6 Paul also referred to

preconversion experience (vv. 6, 8).


5. The conflict is true to Christian



It is only apparently characteristic of

Christian experience since the

Christian is dead to sin.


6. The last part of verse 25 implies that

this conflict continues after one

acknowledges that deliverance comes

through Jesus Christ.


The end of verse 25 is only a final

summary statement.




In 7-13 Paul shows that the problem is not with the law but with sin
In 14-25 Paul describes himself as desiring to follow God, and the problem is not with   “I” but sin living in him.



“Spiritual” meaning it comes from God
”Unspiritual” is the word “fleshly”

“Sold as a slave to sin”



Sin has a numbing and dumbing affect on Paul so that he says, “I do not understand what I do.”  In the sinful state even Paul is confused and without understanding of these spiritual truths.

Paul’s problem: 

1)      He does what is against his will.

2)      He can not fulfill his own will



The problem is not with Paul’s attitude because his attitude is in agreement with the Law.

Paul is not ignoring the standards of God nor is he in direct rebellion to God.


So far:

1)      Paul’s desire is good.

2)      Paul’s attitude is good.



Paul is not trying to escape responsibility but he is unwilling to accept unwarranted blame.

Paul desires to figure out the problem so he can deal with it and correct it.


In other words, Paul is saying to the preacher:

1)      Its not my desire to sin so stop telling me to control my desire

2)      Its not my bad attitude or disrespect for the things of God so stop telling me to get a better attitude.

3)      Preacher, what is my problem?  Do you know?



“Nothing good lives in me” refers to his spiritual ability to be holy, righteous and good like the law (Paul said he was unspiritual, or fleshly)


Paul pins it down to this so far:

1)      He has a desire to be righteous and good

2)      He does not have the ability


We have experience this in areas such as:

1)      athletics, a desire to make the basket but not able; a desire to run fast, but unable;

2)      music, a desire to sing, but unable; a desire to play lead guitar, but unable.



What I End up Doing

1)      Not the good I desired

2)      The evil I do not desire

How can this be that Paul (we) are so out of control that we can not even do what we   want to do?  This is a huge problem!             

The Law can’t help since Paul is trying to fulfill the righteous law.  He can’t get saved.  He already is.


Paul’s conclusion:

            Something else lives in me besides my own desires.
            Sin itself lives in me Paul decides



“So I find this law at work” means “I find this principle at work”

Paul is not talking about The Law, but about a principle of life. (This is clear since in verse 7:22 Paul refers to “law” again but has to distinguish it by calling it “God’s Law”)

The two identities:

1)      I, Paul, who desires good

2)      Evil, sin, which lives with Paul





“Law of sin” is working in Paul’s entire person: will, intellect, emotion, body

“Law of my mind” speaks of Paul’s person who desires righteousness but is infected with sin.


Law of sin and death compared with law of gravity.

Law of life compared with the law of lift.



“What a wretched man I am” echoes the cry of Isaiah in Isaiah 6


Paul does not ask “what” will rescue me but instead “Who”?

Paul does not need a what:

1)      rules

2)      advice

3)      a religion

4)      a technique

Religion has proven to be useless at this level of helping a man


Paul needs a “Who”, a deliverer, a savior.  Some one to rescue him.



Paul’s conclusion points to the reason for this discussion:

            There is the sin nature that still abides in the Christian that we are enslaved to in the sense it will not stop bringing its evil desires to us.