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The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship.

Romans 7:21 - The Law versus Evil Bookmark

The conclusion: as the law of God exhorts to goodness, so does the law of sin (that is, the corruption in which we are born) force us to wickedness: but the spirit, that is, our mind, in that it is regenerated, coexists with the law of God: but the flesh, that is, the whole natural man, is bondslave to the law of sin. Therefore, in short, wickedness and death are not of the law, but of sin, which reigns in those that are not regenerated: for they neither wish to do good, neither do they do good, but they wish and do evil: but in those that are regenerated, it strives against the spirit or law of the mind, so that they cannot live at all as well as they want to, or be as free of sin as they want to. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

There can be no doubt that he refers here to his carnal and corrupt nature; to the evil propensities and dispositions which were leading him astray. His representing this as a law is in accordance with all that he says of it, that it is servitude, that he is in bondage to it, and that it impedes his efforts to be holy and pure. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (NASB)

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (KJV)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (NLT)

So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. (NET)

Galatians 5:17  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)

It is probably a good thing at this point to recall a couple of important things from earlier in the chapter.  We often get focused in the near (like a microscope) and forget at what it is we are looking.

So then, dear friends, the point is this:  The law no longer holds you in it's power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ.  And now you are united with the one who was raised with the dead.  As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. (Romans 7:4 NLT96)

I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded.  But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. (Romans 7:9 NLT96)

THE POINT IS THIS:  we are empowered by our union with Christ Jesus our Lord!  But we can be deceived by our own sinfulness into thinking that we are fine!  If we look around the cosmos today we see a universe that is expanding whose end we cannot see (astronomy), whose enormity we cannot comprehend (even with the Hubble Telescope) yet our country is the largest consumer of illegal drugs, we find newborn babies in trash cans, the economy is in shambles, the ship of state has run aground, divorce is just as prevalent inside the church as outside, marriage is no longer a respected institution of the Almighty, and same gender marriages are commonplace.  But "I felt fine!"  We live in a world where armed guards now walk the halls of the churches, background checks are required for ministry workers, and famous church leaders fall like ducks in a shooting gallery.  But "I felt fine."  We must recognize that we are not able to see our own sin and our own deception apart from the Holy Spirit working in our hearts.  Our bellwether becomes our obedience.  "And how can we be sure that we belong to him?  By obeying his commandments." (1 John 2:3 NLT96)  If we are rebellious, the answer is obvious.  If we "feel fine" perhaps not so obvious.  If we are struggling, we should rejoice in our struggle and allow for the victory that is in Christ Jesus as we enter into His Sabbath rest.

God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.  So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness.  We are not living in the truth….If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth….If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts (1 John 1:5b, 6, 8, 10 NLT96)

Rom 7:21 
I find then a law - I am in such a condition and state of soul, under the power of such habits and sinful propensities, that when I would do good - when my will and reason are strongly bent on obedience to the law of God and opposition to the principle of sin, evil is present with me, κακον παρακειται, evil is at hand, it lies constantly before me. That, as the will to do good is constantly at hand, Romans 7:18, so the principle of rebellion exciting me to sin is equally present; but, as the one is only will, wish, and desire, without power to do what is willed, to obtain what is wished, or to perform what is desired, sin continually prevails.

The word νομος, law, in this verse, must be taken as implying any strong or confirmed habit, συνηθεια, as Hesychius renders it, under the influence of which the man generally acts; and in this sense the apostle most evidently uses it in  Romans 7:23. (Dr. Adam Clarke)

The conclusion: as the law of God exhorts to goodness, so does the law of sin (that is, the corruption in which we are born) force us to wickedness: but the spirit, that is, our mind, in that it is regenerated, coexists with the law of God: but the flesh, that is, the whole natural man, is bondslave to the law of sin. Therefore, in short, wickedness and death are not of the law, but of sin, which reigns in those that are not regenerated: for they neither wish to do good, neither do they do good, but they wish and do evil: but in those that are regenerated, it strives against the spirit or law of the mind, so that they cannot live at all as well as they want to, or be as free of sin as they want to. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes)

There can be no doubt that he refers here to his carnal and corrupt nature; to the evil propensities and dispositions which were leading him astray. His representing this as a law is in accordance with all that he says of it, that it is servitude, that he is in bondage to it, and that it impedes his efforts to be holy and pure. (Dr. Albert Barnes)

I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (NASB)

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (KJV)

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. (NLT)

So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. (NET)

Galatians 5:17  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT)

It is probably a good thing at this point to recall a couple of important things from earlier in the chapter.  We often get focused in the near (like a microscope) and forget at what it is we are looking.

So then, dear friends, the point is this:  The law no longer holds you in it's power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ.  And now you are united with the one who was raised with the dead.  As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. (Romans 7:4 NLT96)

I felt fine when I did not understand what the law demanded.  But when I learned the truth, I realized I had broken the law and was a sinner, doomed to die. (Romans 7:9 NLT96)

THE POINT IS THIS:  we are empowered by our union with Christ Jesus our Lord!  But we can be deceived by our own sinfulness into thinking that we are fine!  If we look around the cosmos today we see a universe that is expanding whose end we cannot see (astronomy), whose enormity we cannot comprehend (even with the Hubble Telescope) yet our country is the largest consumer of illegal drugs, we find newborn babies in trash cans, the economy is in shambles, the ship of state has run aground, divorce is just as prevalent inside the church as outside, marriage is no longer a respected institution of the Almighty, and same gender marriages are commonplace.  But "I felt fine!"  We live in a world where armed guards now walk the halls of the churches, background checks are required for ministry workers, and famous church leaders fall like ducks in a shooting gallery.  But "I felt fine."  We must recognize that we are not able to see our own sin and our own deception apart from the Holy Spirit working in our hearts.  Our bellwether becomes our obedience.  "And how can we be sure that we belong to him?  By obeying his commandments." (1 John 2:3 NLT96)  If we are rebellious, the answer is obvious.  If we "feel fine" perhaps not so obvious.  If we are struggling, we should rejoice in our struggle and allow for the victory that is in Christ Jesus as we enter into His Sabbath rest.

God is light and there is no darkness in him at all.  So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness.  We are not living in the truth….If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth….If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts (1 John 1:5b, 6, 8, 10 NLT96)

Rom 7:21 
I find then a law - I am in such a condition and state of soul, under the power of such habits and sinful propensities, that when I would do good - when my will and reason are strongly bent on obedience to the law of God and opposition to the principle of sin, evil is present with me, κακον παρακειται, evil is at hand, it lies constantly before me. That, as the will to do good is constantly at hand, Romans 7:18, so the principle of rebellion exciting me to sin is equally present; but, as the one is only will, wish, and desire, without power to do what is willed, to obtain what is wished, or to perform what is desired, sin continually prevails.

The word νομος, law, in this verse, must be taken as implying any strong or confirmed habit, συνηθεια, as Hesychius renders it, under the influence of which the man generally acts; and in this sense the apostle most evidently uses it in  Romans 7:23. (Dr. Adam Clarke)



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