To say that Romans 7 describes a believer’s life or Paul’s life, puts Paul in a position of contradiction, because Paul said as a converted man he lived with a good and pure conscience that was void of offense (Acts 23:1; Acts 24:16; 2 Tim. 1:3). Paul (using first person), in Romans 7, is describing the life of a sinner who is disturbed by his conscience (Rom. 7:16). He is showing what happens when a sinner’s mind encounters the law of God and he is convicted by it.
Paul says immediately in Romans 8, “There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vs 1). However, the man in Romans 7 was under condemnation and therefore needed a Savior. (Rom. 7:24-25).
And Paul said that, “to be carnally minded is death” (Rom. 8:6). But the man in Romans 7 said, “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). Therefore, the man in Romans 7 did not have eternal life. If Christians want to use Romans 7 as their life support because there are sins they don’t want to stop, or give excuses for, then they need a Savior.
(Thanks to Sandra)
Or another way of saying it.
(CP Ro 6:1 23) The central truth of Romans 6 is that sin no longer has a hold on Christians God has delivered them from its power. But many Christians are failing in their endeavours to live out a victorious Christian life over sin that would glorify God because they either do not know or they do not understand this truth. Their present experience is the same as what Paul described as his experience under sin’s power in Romans 7. What is not clear to them though is that what Paul describes in Romans 7 is his preconversion experience of sin’s power under the law, not his post conversion experience under grace (CP Ro 7:4 25). Paul was demonstrating in these passages the insufficiency of the law to redeem man apart from grace, not the insufficiency of the gospel of grace. It is most important to be clear on this point because a great many Christians struggling with sin erroneously believe that what Paul was describing here was an on going experience for him over which he had no control even after he came to Christ, and they fear it will be the same for them too. Their argument is that if Paul could not overcome sin then how can they. But that is not what Paul is teaching at all. He is simply summing up in Romans 7 the central truth of Romans 6: that God through Christ has set Christians free from sin and death (CP Ro 8:1 2). This is the normal Christian life under the full provision of the gospel of grace which can be appropriated by every Christian. The key to a victorious holy life in Christ for Christians struggling with sin is to recognise as Romans 6 teaches, that sinning is a choice Christians make themselves. It is not something they have no control over. Christians can, and must, say no to sin (CP Mk 7:20 23).
(Sandra Hooper + Br Val Boyle)