I'm having a hard time figuring out Romans 7. I believe Paul was discussing a Jew's hopelessness in trying to be saved through the Law, but I can see how he may have been referring to a Christian's struggle with sin. I've read, read, and read on this chapter from various authors and still can't get a complete grasp on it. Any help would be appreciated.
One of my greatest challenges is verse 25. What two laws is he referring to and how could a person serve the two?
SANCTIFICATION OF LIFE BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. 6:1- 8:39
In Romans 1 - 5 Paul has taught the doctrine of justification by faith, not by works of law. In the next three chapters he shows how this also involves sanctification or holiness of life. Here he says that the person who is justified by faith is "in Jesus" (Gal.3:27) and the disciple is now under covenant obligation to be "like Jesus." Paul shows how such a life is possible through the Holy Spirit.
I. Paul answers objections to the doctrine of justification by faith, 6:1-7:25. The objections are to the effect that if we are not under law but under grace, then we are under no obligation to obey God. Wrong, says Paul. We are obligated to live a holy life, strive to be "like Jesus" (Col.2:6).
A. The first objection, 6:1-14
1. It would seem that the nature of grace encourages us to sin, 6:1. (See 5:20, 21.)
2. The answer: whoever says this doesn't know what it means to be united with Christ. Union with Christ, initiated in immersion, means union with his death and resurrection. As Christ died to sin and rose to a new life, so do we when we are immersed into him, the new covenant. 6:2-11.
3. Therefore to continue in sin is a moral contradition which we must strive to avoid, 6:12-14.
B. The second objection, 6:15 - 7:6
1. If we are not under law, then we may sin as we please, 6:15.
2. The answer: whoever says this doesn't understand what it means to be free from the law. Freedom from law is not freedom from obedience. We are still servants, but we have a new Master whom we must serve with even greater devotion, 6:16-23.
3. Being released from the law, we obey our new Master from an inward (heart felt) compulsion (i.e., loving gratitude) and not from the outward necessity of the letter of the law, 7:1-6.
C. The third objection, 7:7-25.
1. The law must be sinful, then, 7:7a.
2. On the contrary, the law is good, and I am sinful. The law simply reveals my sinfulness, 7:7b-13.
3. The Christian life is a continual struggle between the still-present sinful desires of the flesh and the inward desire to obey God's holy law. This inner conflict will persist until the day of our final deliverance from this present body, 7:14-25.
II. Life in the Spirit, 8:1-30. We are under obligation to live a holy life, but it may seem to be a losing battle. How can we overcome ourselves and conform to God's will? We do so, progressively, through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. Despite the inner contradictions in this life, if the Spirit dwells in us now, we still have confident hope of eternal life.
A. The indwelling Spirit transforms us from death to life, 8:1-13.
1. The Spirit re-orients us away from ourselves toward God, effecting both the resurrection of our dead souls (v. 10) and the resurrection of our dead bodies (v.11), 8:1-11.
2. We must therefore yield to the purifying and life giving power of the Spirit, 8:12-13.
B. The Spirit confirms our adoption as children of God, 8:14-30.
1. Those led by God's Spirit are sons and heirs of God, 8:14-17.
2. Amid present suffering, and in possession of the "first instailment" of our inheritance (v.23; see Ephesians 1: 13-14), we wait patiently and confidently for our full salvation, 8:18-25.
3. Meanwhile the Spirit helps us in times of distress, 8:26-27.
4. Knowledge of God's eternal and unchangeable purpose to gather together a Christ-like family gives us confidence in any situation, 8:28-30.
III. The triumphant conclusion to the doctrine of justification by faith: what God has done for us in Christ because of his love gives His disciples joyful assurance of salvation, 8:31 39. (See 5:11)