We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
We have two natures living in us – our old sin nature, and our new godly nature. These two natures fight inside us. The old refuses to die, even when we want it to. And so there is a seemingly endless battle going on. Sometimes I obey the old nature. Sometimes I obey the new nature; but even then the old nature is not dead, just waiting for an opportunity to take over again.
So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
The old nature doesn’t die when the new nature comes. In fact, it quite often seems to rise up in rebellion against God. It resonates with the world and with Satan, it is our own selfish desire, and it is death. How can I conquer myself? I can’t. I need rescuing, and as a Believer I have been rescued! And that is the victory. The reality of Paul’s, and my, own wretchedness overcome by the rescue of Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen!
As Paul often does in the writing of theology, he can’t help but break into the praise of doxology. I love it when he does that! That is the end result of right theology. I know the study of theology has a reputation for being dry and boring, but it isn’t. It is studying God, and how can you study God and His relation to man without sitting in awe and praise? How can you do that without tears in your eyes and a song in your heart? Paul can’t, and I don’t want to.
And so Paul wraps up this section very simply and concisely – I am a slave to God’s law, but I am also still a slave to sin’s law.