Romans 7:15-25 (by C.R. Stam)

What student of the Word can read Romans 7:15-25 without being reminded of Galatians 2:20? I am crucified with Christ —  nevertheless I live —  yet not I …

Indeed, in Romans 7:15-25, more than in Galatians 2:20 or any part of Paul’s epistles, the question keeps arising: Of whom does the Apostle speak here, of the “old man,” the “new man,” or the whole man? Here we must ask God for special insight to grasp the sense of His Word. In some cases, however, the meaning is quite clear.

In verse 18 the words “in me” obviously refer to the “old man,” for he immediatly explains, that is, in my flesh.” But in verse 15 the words “I allow not” and “I hate” clearly refer to the “new man.”

In verse 17 the “sin that dwelleth in me” must, of course, be associated with the “old man,” but the “me” in which the sin dwells is the whole man, or the man as a whole, while the word “I” in “it is no more I that do it” clearly refers to the “new man.”

In verse 21 the phrase “evil is present with me” might at first seem to mean that evil is at hand to tempt, but the preceding verse (verse 20), followed by the words “I find then a law,” indicates that in verse 21 he speaks of sin in him. Why then does he use the term “present with“? The explanation is found in the identity of the person referred to. Here the “I” that “would do good” is obviously the “new man,” and the “old man,” who does the evil, is “present with” him, both the old and the new residing in the whole man.

These are but examples of the problem and its basic solution. The child of God who sincerely desires to please Him and recognizes the fact that the old nature and the new dwell side-by-side within will not find it too difficult to understand “Who’s Who” in this passage.

The phrase “it is no more I that do it,” found twice in this passage (verses 17, 20), might seem to the careless reader to indicate that Paul is shedding the blame for the sins he commits. This is by no means the case. It is rather a note of rejoicing that the new man in him has no connection with sin. It does not and cannot sin, for it is Christ in him. The new man is the resurrected man, living the resurrection life of Christ. Also, the Apostle does what he urges us to do in Romans 6:11; he reckons himself to be “dead indeed” unto sin, for while the old nature is still active in us experientially, and will be until “the redemption of the body,” it has died so far as God is concerned, for He sees us now int he person of His crucified, buried, risen Son. Thus the sam man who cried, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me ..?” could also exclaim, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” and “There is therefor now no [more] condemnation“! — C.R. Stam, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, pg. 176-177.

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