There is a portion of Scripture in Romans 7 that is sometimes confusing to read. I always have to reread it slowly a few times in order to fully grasp what Paul is saying about the law of sin and death.
“I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:15-25).
Who Will Deliver Me? (Despair)
The Romans were notorious for inventing all kinds of gruesome ways to punish the condemned. In Roman times a murderer that was found guilty was condemned to the “body of death.” The victim of the murder was strapped to the back of the condemned. As you can imagine, the dead body started to decompose as the condemned carried it around wherever he would go. He would then die a slow, painful, horribly pungent death himself all because of what he had done. There was no one to deliver him. He was sentenced to death.
Like all of us who are aware of our sinful nature as we are endeavoring to walk a life of freedom, Paul cries, “Wretched man that I am? Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Even after we are born-again Christians, sin is always nipping at our heels. We are fully aware of this tendency to sin and the need for someone to be deliver us. Before we accept Christ and the freedom His death, burial and resurrection purchased for us, we are condemned and sentenced to death. We carry around with us a body ravaged with the effects and the will to sin. Figuratively, we are condemned to carry around the body of death on our backs as punishment. In our spirits, we want to do the will of God, but in our flesh, we cannot (nor do we want to) do God’s will. Can you just feel that desperation?
Christ Will Deliver Me (Hope)
The Scripture passage does not end there, however. Paul goes on to say, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus Christ’s sinless and perfect life 2017 years ago delivers us from the penalty of sin. Today, the Holy Spirit delivers us from the power of sin. Our flesh will never be able to live the righteous life God requires, but Christ has delivered us from the body of death — the punishment for our sin. We have been delivered and are free to walk according to the Spirit.
Aren’t you so very thankful He came to deliver us?