Chapter # 7 Paragraph # 3 Study # 4
December 4, 2016
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
1901 ASV Translation:
18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me, but to do that which is good [is] not.
19 For the good which I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I practise.
20 But if what I would not, that I do, it is no more I that do it, but sin which dwelleth in me.
21 I find then the law, that, to me who would do good, evil is present.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 but I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I of myself with the mind, indeed, serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
- I. The Explanation of The Explanation.
- A. Paul explained what it meant to be "sold under The Sin" by pointing to the internal conflicts between his values and actions.
- 1. At the very minimum, being "sold under The Sin" means that "The Sin" is the dominating element so that the "I" who has been "sold" is not the determining element in what is said and done.
- 2. This, at the very minimum, means that "I" will never be able to determine my attitudes and actions so long as "I" remain "sold under The Sin".
- B. Now he goes further...
- 1. He claims to "know" (oida) that "good does not dwell in my flesh".
- a. The negative is very strong (ouk).
- b. The definition of "me" is very particular: "that is, in my flesh".
- 1) There is a question of his meaning of "flesh"; does he mean "my body", or does he use the term "flesh" as in other texts to refer to "all that I derived from Adam"?
- 2) The answer to this meaning question is given in his further explanation.
- a) The issue of "dwelling in" is found throughout this context. The "container" must be the body. But, there also must be a reason that Paul referred to it as "my flesh" rather than "my body".
- b) Thus "my flesh" means something more than "my physical body"; it involves the entire spectrum of mechanisms involved in wishing, hating, and actually pursuing some goal. These mechanisms are NOT available to him in his "flesh" in respect to "good" (again the strong negative).
- 3) There is, on the face of it, a possible problem: the ability to "desire" what is "good", he says, "is present". Is this not a proof of the presence of "good" "in my flesh"? There may well be a parallel here to the declaration of Romans 2:15 where the Law is written upon the heart of those outside of the scope of The Law of Moses. This is the most likely source of a desire to do good. But, this ability to desire to do "good" is not, itself, a "good". He is not contradicting himself. The "desire" to be able to do "good" is not, of itself, a good thing because that desire, itself, can be motivated by a base motive: the desire to be seen as a "good" person because of the doing of "good". In other words, "I wish I could do good so that I might be elevated in the eyes of others as a good person". This is simply the evil status-lust that permeates those who seek the glory of men.
- c. The root of the "no good in my flesh" thesis is this: I do not have the ability to diligently pursue what is "good" to its actual accomplishment.
- 1) The bare fact, he says, is this: "the good I wish, I am NOT doing". The "doing" is the weakest of his "performance" words (pointed out in our previous notes regarding 7:15). This means that he does not ever "do" the wished-for good. There is not even a single act of "good" that I "do".
- 2) The extended fact, he says, is this: "BUT the evil that I am not wishing, this I am doing over and over".
- 2. The "I, Me, Mine" Complex.
- a. There is a composite "I" which does, does over and over, and pursues evil to its conclusion.
- b. There is a distinction between a different concept of "I" that is "me" that has "indwelling Sin". For The Sin to be dwelling "in me", the "me" has to be the body.
- c. And there is yet another distinction between an "I" that possesses a "flesh" (mine).
- d. It is necessary to identify the various aspects of the "I/Me/Mine" complex in order to be able to see how everything fits the picture legitimately.
- e. The danger before this complex is that the whole is involved in the consequences without regard for the particular aspect of the "I" that is actually the agent of the doings. When the Gospel is believed a different Complex is set up with this "I" no longer associated with some of its former associates. This is the essential truth of the "baptism" of chapter six and the opening paragraph of chapter seven: we are now "wedded" to Jesus and are now involved in a different identity complex so that "I" now is "I and Jesus".
- 3. His repetition of the "it is no longer I, but The Indwelling Sin...".
- a. He is arguing that, at the various levels of "I", conflicted behavior is rooted in the "I" that is tied to The Indwelling Sin", and the ultimate responsible party is that Sin. There is an altogether different "I" that is tied to The Indwelling Spirit of God that is not the responsible party.
- b. This repetition of denial does not mean that the composite "I" will be exempt from the judgment of God if it is the "I that is united with The Indwelling Sin", but the "I" that is the "I that is united with The Indwelling Spirit of God" is completely exempted from the retribution of vengeance that exists in the Justice of God. God simply refuses to confuse the realities and assign "sin" to the new creation.
- c. Technically, nothing proceeds out the body that is not "energized" by some "spirit" and there are only two options: there is that "spirit that works in the sons of the disbelief" (Ephesians 2:2 and 5:6); and there is that "Spirit from God that works in the sons of the faith".