Romans 7 has always been a problem...
each time i read it i have to rethink the whole thing again
on one hand there is the so-called 'Christian cop-out'
in the sense that chapter 7 describes the 'normal christian life'
i really want to live a great life for God - but I can't - oh well...
then there are the others who say this is Paul recounting his preconversion experience
that's all well and good up till verse 13
but then everything switches to present tense
and if that were the case
Romans 7:25 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
the bold part of the last verse would not be included
Now if I look through this again I think maybe it begins to make a bit of sense
So in Chapter 6 - Paul has said you must no longer serve sin, and if you do, you are a slave to sin - bringing about death
Similarly in Chapter 8 - if you walk according to the flesh = death
So then the Christian life cannot be a constant failing - and this would be inconsistent with anything Jesus has to say - i.e. 'you must be perfect' etc..
Chapter 6 shows us how the gospel deals with the flesh
Chapter 7 into 8 shows us how the gospel deals with the law
The Law can only convict of sin
So Paul once acknowledging the law - died
but then he had a connundrum - inside he was sorrowful and agreed with God, but in the flesh he could not do what God wanted
- this does not necessarily imply him being a Christian
- for example Judas would agree that what he did was wrong, and thus would agree with God of his sin - and even agree what a wretched man he is
- but conviction of sin is not = repentance - but merely worldy sorrow
then comes the goal of the law - it points to Christ
it then says - thanks be to God for Jesus, and Jesus fulfilled what the law demanded of me - but my flesh could not do
so what Chapter 7 is saying is - if i walk according to the flesh, the law will condemn me and show me that it is impossible - present tense
so what is the solution? I need to turn to Christ (present continuous) and walk according to the Spirit - the flesh needs to be constantly not trusted in and handed over to death
So then if I walk according to grace, or the Spirit, He working in and through me will overcome the flesh and allow my dead-flesh to accomplish great things for God - similarly to what Christ did on the cross
So the present life of a Christian is to never trust in the flesh and do things according to the flesh - otherwise the law will point out that I am failing God, and not pleasing Him
So what do I do? I walk according to the Spirit - which then will allow God to use my weak flesh for great purposes - in its weakness
Thus the most important thing is 'setting my mind' on the Spirit - and 'consider' my flesh dead and gone - not merely on despairing about sin - and then I will be born again - Rom 8 - the testimony of the Spirit - not merely sorrowful