In Romans chapter 7, Paul describes what it’s like to live the defeated Christian life. He knows about it because he’s spent some time in it. He knows that when a Christian lives “according to the flesh” he will never experience victory in his battle against sin. When we try to fight spiritual battles with fleshly weapons, we are destined to failure. The battle is a spiritual one and it requires spiritual weapons to win the war. When we try to depend on our own strength we end living a defeated life. Paul describes that defeated life for us in Romans Chapter 7, beginning at verse 15. The first thing that happens is that we experience profound confusion. That verse says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

Although delivered from the law through our faith in Christ, believers are constantly doing battle with the inclinations to focus their attention on the dos and the don’ts of the law. Christians argue about whether Paul is addressing his pre-Christian experience or a post-Christian experience in this passage regarding his struggle with sin. I’d argue he’s addressing both. His point is that the law is totally inadequate as a means of attaining righteousness before God, either as unbelievers or as believers. Salvation for an unbeliever is by grace through faith. Sanctification, winning the victory over present sinful tendencies in our lives for the believer is also by grace through faith. The righteous do not live by works of the law, but by faith. The just shall live by faith. Our attempts to acquire righteousness on our own always results in the confusion that Paul describes. We know what’s right and wrong, yet we can’t win the battle against our flesh nature which continually confronts us with our moral failures. Lopez says, “This results in spiritual schizophrenia (since he possesses two opposing dispositions/inclinations) like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” Law and Grace are two diametrically opposed systems. They cannot coexist and when they do they are like a two headed turtle. According to scientists, two-headedness can occur in all animals but the survival rate is short. The reason is that each head tends to work independently of the other, controlling its own side of the body, creating disunity, confusion, and frustration.

The chapter ends (24-25), “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The answer to our sin problem is not a 12 step program. It’s not a prescription. It’s not a procedure, a pamphlet or a principle. It’s a person! The war has been fought and has been won on our behalf. Chapter 8 begins with the exciting news of our victory. The first two verses read, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”