Unraveling Romans 7: The Struggle and Triumph of the Believer

Romans 7 stands as one of the most introspective chapters in the Bible, echoing the internal struggle between the old and new nature that believers experience. In this reflective and intricate passage, the Apostle Paul gives a raw and honest account of the internal battle against sin, providing a poignant look into the paradox of our existence as redeemed sinners. This commentary will delve deep into Romans 7, shedding light on Paul’s powerful message and its implications for our Christian walk today.

The struggle presented in Romans 7 is not a foreign concept to any believer. It represents a paradox that continues to mystify and perplex Christians: the ongoing battle against sin, despite being justified and sanctified in Christ. This struggle is not a sign of spiritual failure, but a testament to the ongoing process of sanctification in the believer’s life. It is in this struggle that we find God’s grace sufficient and His power perfected in our weakness.

Key Takeaways from This Article:

  1. A deeper understanding of the spiritual struggle outlined in Romans 7.
  2. Insights into the nature of the law, sin, and grace.
  3. The role of sanctification in the believer’s life.
  4. Practical applications for dealing with internal spiritual struggles.

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Unraveling Romans 7: The Struggle and Triumph of the Believer

The Function of the Law

Romans 7 opens with a discourse on the function and purpose of the law. “Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?” (Romans 7:1, NKJV). Here, Paul establishes a crucial point: the law has authority over individuals only in their earthly lives.

The law, as given through Moses, was never intended to save, but to illuminate our need for a Savior. It is a mirror, reflecting our sinful nature and thus driving us towards the grace of God found in Jesus Christ. It holds up the standard of God’s righteousness, exposing our utter inability to meet that standard through our efforts.

In the face of such a high standard, we, like Paul, can acknowledge that the law is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12, NKJV). It underscores our desperate need for God’s grace and propels us toward Christ. However, without a proper understanding, the law could be misinterpreted, leading to a futile pursuit of righteousness through works rather than faith.

The Law and Sin

In the subsequent verses, Paul grapples with the paradoxical relationship between the law and sin. “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (Romans 7:7, NKJV). Through the law, Paul gained an awareness of sin.

Yet, the law also aroused sinful passions within him. This paradox is at the heart of Romans 7, highlighting the inherent weakness of the law – while it exposes sin, it lacks the power to save us from it. As Paul laments, the very commandment that was meant to bring life, he found to bring death because of sin’s misuse of it.

Understanding this connection between the law and sin is essential. While the law provides a moral compass, it also underscores our inability to attain righteousness on our own. This realization is not a cause for despair but a call to rely on Christ, the only one capable of fulfilling the law’s righteous requirements.

The Inner Struggle

Romans 7:15-20 portrays a vivid picture of the believer’s inner struggle. “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15, NKJV). This internal conflict is a universal Christian experience, reflecting the struggle between our redeemed spirit and our fleshly nature.

Paul’s candid account of his spiritual struggle is not an admission of defeat but an honest reflection of his journey. Despite his spiritual stature, he battled with the same internal conflict that we often experience – the pull of the sinful nature even as the spirit yearns for righteousness.

However, the struggle is not without purpose. It highlights the ongoing process of sanctification in the believer’s life, where we daily surrender to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us of our continual dependence on God’s grace, driving us to Christ’s finished work on the cross for our victory.

The Law of Sin and Death

Paul goes on to identify the cause of this struggle – the law of sin at work within our members. “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” (Romans 7:23, NKJV). This ‘law of sin’ represents the residue of our old sinful nature, which continually opposes the work of the Spirit within us.

The ‘law of sin and death’ can seem overwhelming and discouraging. It can lead us to despair, echoing Paul’s desperate cry, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24, NKJV). Yet, it is within this struggle that we encounter the power of God’s grace, providing not only forgiveness for sin but also victory over its power.

Understanding the reality of the ‘law of sin and death’ within us is vital. It prevents us from a superficial Christianity that denies the struggle with sin. Instead, it drives us to the cross, where Christ defeated sin and death, offering us victory through His resurrection.

The Deliverance through Jesus Christ

Even in the midst of the struggle, Paul identifies the solution, “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25, NKJV). Paul acknowledges that the deliverance from this body of death does not come from self-effort or human willpower but through Jesus Christ. It is in Him that we find both the forgiveness for our sins and the power to overcome our sinful nature.

The deliverance through Christ is not merely a one-time event but an ongoing process in the believer’s life. As we yield ourselves to Christ and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, we progressively experience victory over sin. This dynamic power does not just deliver us from the penalty of sin (justification) but also from the power of sin (sanctification).

In our walk with God, understanding this deliverance is crucial. It liberates us from the bondage of sin, enabling us to live victoriously. It propels us towards spiritual maturity, conforming us to the image of Christ.

The Two Natures: Flesh and Spirit

At the heart of Romans 7 is the conflict between two natures – the flesh and the Spirit. “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:25, NKJV). Here, Paul summarizes the believer’s ongoing struggle: serving the law of God with the mind (renewed nature), yet battling with the law of sin in the flesh (old nature).

This dual existence can be confusing and frustrating. However, it underscores a vital aspect of the Christian life – the continual need for reliance on the Spirit. While our old nature (flesh) is prone to sin, our new nature (Spirit) aligns with God’s law. The journey of the Christian life involves growing in the Spirit, leading to the progressive weakening of the flesh.

Recognizing this conflict between the two natures is vital for our Christian walk. It reminds us of our continuous need for the Spirit’s empowerment to overcome the pulls of the flesh, leading us to a life that glorifies God.

The Promise of Victory in Christ

Romans 7 might seem to end on a somber note with the realization of the ongoing struggle. However, it sets the stage for the glorious declaration in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” This promise of victory in Christ is the climax of Paul’s argument.

Through Jesus Christ, we have been set free from the law of sin and death. Despite the ongoing struggle, we live in the assurance of victory, knowing that the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work within us. This victory does not imply a life without struggles. Instead, it means that in every struggle, we can count on Christ’s victory.

Living in the light of this victory transforms our Christian walk. It empowers us to rise above our struggles, not in our strength but in Christ’s. It encourages us to press on, even when the battle seems fierce, knowing that we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.


Romans 7 provides an honest reflection of the Christian’s struggle with sin. However, it does not leave us in despair but points us to the hope and victory we have in Christ. It reminds us of our ongoing dependence on God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit in our sanctification process.

The struggles we face, like Paul, are not signs of spiritual failure. Instead, they attest to the reality of the spiritual battle we are in and the continual need for God’s grace. As we navigate our Christian journey, we must remember that the victory belongs to Christ, and it is in Him that we find our triumph.

The insights from Romans 7 serve as a guide for our Christian journey. They remind us that the Christian life is not one without struggles but one where every struggle is enveloped in God’s sufficient grace. As we continue to grapple with the truths presented in this powerful chapter, may we find comfort, strength, and victory in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ.

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