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In Romans 7, is Paul talking hypothetically about himself before his conversion, or is he talking about himself at the time he was writing?

"14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

23 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.

24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin."

Thanks, 

Jenny

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You will find that there are large numbers who are in one or the other camp. Since Paul does not specifically say we have to look at the context and see if we can discern the answer, and of course that is what both camps attempt to do. I personally see it as Paul after conversion speaking of the battle between the regenerated Spirit and the sinful, yet to be changed, flesh. The greatest war we face is the battle that takes place in the mind.

Verse 25 leads me to believe as I do. He speaks of the battle and recognizes the involvement of Jesus in that battle ... which, for Jesus to be involved would refer to after He was transformed on the road to Damascus.

I will reemphasize that this is an opinion, but feel fairly strongly about it.

Lord Bless,

LT

Thanks LT, I hope this is the proper way to interpret this passage. It gives me hope that even Paul struggled with the flesh and the way he describes it is so much how I feel. 

I've heard some say that the whole thing talks about Paul pre-conversion and then vs. 24 is his recognition of his need of a saviour and vs. 25 is his conversion. But we know from the account about him in Acts that before Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, he was quite comfortable persecuting the Christians and didn't seem to have this sort of struggle with the flesh. Plus, if vs. 25 is his conversion, he still says after that point, "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" which brings the battle past the point of conversion anyway. 

I'm finding that trusting in the blood of Jesus is simple, and yet the process of sanctification is painful "to the point of wishing death" at times. So if this is an account of Paul's real struggle between the flesh and spirit, it could be a precious passage for those very difficult battles we face in the flesh. 

Jenny,

I find it to be great news and one with hope if it is understood as his post transformation battle between the spirit and flesh. We are called to holiness. That cannot be denied, but we also recognize that we still live in the fallen flesh that one day will be done away with, but that is not today. We struggle with the flesh as it wars against us. Yet, as we mature this battle is not minimized, but rather we grow stronger and because of Christ in us we are able to subdue the flesh easier. What I mean by this is that the flesh never grows weaker, but it too never grows stronger. Its ability is locked in at its current level. This is good news, but before I expand on that I want to acknowledge that I do not have a verse or passage that directly states what I just said. Yet, we do not have any passages that talk about the flesh growing stronger. Thus the static nature of the flesh I present as my opinion. The good news we do see in Scripture is that we, as we mature spiritually, grow stronger. As we grow stronger we begin to recognize a growing gap between the flesh's strength and our spiritual strength.

I will also note that in my years of ministry I have met many, too many to count, people who love Jesus and desire to live for Him, yet battle the flesh ... going from battle to battle. Some grow and overcome and other stay stagnate and appear to be overcome. In the end we know that it is God in us that makes the difference (Col. 1:27 and 1 John5:4). Two things come to mind. 1) The flesh will never give up. 2) We must grow in the grace of God, which includes being empowered by the Spirit of God. A great book to read that is it is out of print is called, yet available on Amazon entitled "Sanctification: An Alliance Distinctive" by Samuel Stoesz.

I hope that helps some.

Lord Bless,

LT

"I have met many, too many to count, people who love Jesus and desire to live for Him, yet battle the flesh ... going from battle to battle. Some grow and overcome and other stay stagnate and appear to be overcome. In the end we know that it is God in us that makes the difference (Col. 1:27 and 1 John5:4)."

Thanks for your msg. Regarding what you said above, are you saying that both those who grow and those who appear to be stagnate and overcome are saved? I read those verses that you put in brackets. You said that, "In the end we know that it is God in us that makes the difference". If the one who is stagnant and appears to be overcome has God in them, then they wouldn't stagnate and appear overcome, right? 

I've had a very difficult week. All day yesterday I was on edge and bubbling inside so that if I even opened my mouth to speak, my words were angry and I was yelling at my family. I kept asking God for help because I felt I was drowning in rage. I didn't know what was going on, only that I was loosing the battle terribly. It was shameful, and I don't want to do that ever again. I was like the foolish woman tearing down her house with her own hands.

If the one who is stagnant and appears to be overcome has God in them, then they wouldn't stagnate and appear overcome, right? 

Not necessarily. Without trying to evaluate everyone's personal salvation we can make some general assessments. It is true that those who are His are His to finish, but how that plays out in this life is another story.

Some who claim to be Christian are not. They received religion instead of Jesus. Their hope and faith rest on their religious experience. They never met Jesus and never experienced the transformation of being born again, which includes being indwelt by Holy Spirit.

Then there are those who receive Jesus, but for whatever reason stay in the forms of babes. They live their whole life on milk, which tends to lead to a life of frustration. They know there is supposed to be something more, but never take the next step in the process of growth moving from milk to meat. To be clear this is not simply engaging in deeper learning, for knowledge alone does not equate to a changed and victorious life. Again, to be fair, not everyone believes there is a difference between being indwelt by Holy Spirit and being empowered (filled) by Holy Spirit. Many IMO experience a John 20:22 but never experience an Acts 2 empowerment.

In trying to live the Deeper Spirit Filled Life most make the mistake of trying harder, working harder, etc ... only to be frustrated again. The Deeper Spirit Filled Life is possible not by greater effort, but by coming to the end of self and surrendering all to Him. As long as we think we can handle it God will let us try, but when we recognize the futility of that and give all over to Him asking Holy Spirit to fill us He promises to empower us to live for Him. This does not mean life will be easy, but that we have one living in us who will walk with us through every step, instead of us trying to do it on our own, He will strengthen us when we need strength; encourage us when we need encouragement; Give us wisdom when we need it, etc. The key is surrender and nothing short. Most want the good stuff from God (not saying you), but are unwilling to yield all to Him. Most people want control of their lives and seek God to enhance their lives ... while yielding little to nothing to Him (again, not saying you). Thus, I am expressing my belief in the filling of the Holy Spirit that is usually post salvation that brings empowerment to live for Him and me expressing my observations through the years that most don't really want that because they see the cost too high ...total surrender. I will add that this filling has a starting point and then is a life long journey of seeking to live daily surrendered to Him. The book  referred to earlier helps to break this down more than what I have shared in this limited space.

Thanks for your response. 

"In trying to live the Deeper Spirit Filled Life most make the mistake of trying harder, working harder, etc ... only to be frustrated again. The Deeper Spirit Filled Life is possible not by greater effort, but by coming to the end of self and surrendering all to Him."

I've been trying to surrender for a few years now. I guess "trying" to surrender is self-refuting. 

I've asked Him to make me surrender. 

Maybe He's using this time to teach me important things in our relationship. 

I've been trying to surrender for a few years now. I guess "trying" to surrender is self-refuting. 

While everyone's experience is unique, especially to them, there are some characteristics that tend to surface in most cases from my experience with others. Surrender is usually preceded by brokenness. Most fight back and try to climb out of the pit on their own wanting God to lend a hand ... key point ... lend a hand ... as if, "God I have this, I just need a little hand here and then I will be OK again." As long as we believe we can do this or control this or get back on solid ground ourselves in anyway we are not broken and we are not ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Again, there are those out there that will utterly disagree with what I am saying ... I understand that, but this is what I believe Scripture teaches and what I have seen in application for others and myself).  Brokenness that leads to surrender is literally letting go of self-effort and then resting in God. It is not a cessation of life activity, but a true transfer of ownership from self to God that I can live by "not my will, but Your will be done."

I've asked Him to make me surrender. 

God will not make us surrender (as I know you are aware). He can bring things into our lives to lead us to that point, but He still gives us the liberty to choose. As stated above I believe this choosing is preceded by brokenness.

Maybe He's using this time to teach me important things in our relationship. 

I am absolutely confident that He is at work in your life. May I add something that I believe is important. One of my favorite teachings. When in a trial we need to ask 4 questions in order. 1) Am I going through this trial because of my sin or bad choices? If, not, I encourage people to ask question 2. 2) What is God trying to teach me through this trial? Sometimes we can see what god is trying to teach us and at other times we haven't a clue. When we cannot see anything He is trying to teach us (me) I encourage people to ask question 3. 3) What is God trying to teach others through my trial, since life isn't all about me. Same as #2 if I don't see it I ask #4. 4) Will I trust god anyway even though it makes no sense to me?

Lord Bless,

LT

Yes, God will instruct us through discipline, but the goal it to get out of the sin .. not stay in it. Discipline is never the preferred, but the results of sin or bad choices. The goal is always to align with God and in order to do so one cannot remain in sin.

Lord Bless,

LT

There are many sins that this trial could be caused by. I will mention the one that stands out the most and hopefully it's not too far off topic. 

I was brought up for my teenaged years in a staunch feminist household. In college I was taught a feminist view of history and everything else. Before becoming a Christian, I was proud to call myself a feminist. 

Now I want to have a "meek and quiet spirit" that is beautiful in the sight of the Lord. I've seen it in some women, and it's clear that God's design for womanhood is best and most Christ-like. 

But another part of me (the flesh I guess) is at war against biblical womanhood. It seems unfair that women have to submit to their husbands and I sometimes think men are smug about their position of power. 

I feel unable to just snap out of feminist thinking.

Maybe really it's not inability but stubbornness on my part. If this is so, I'm so stubborn that I need God to intervene and make me not so stubborn. 

I can't break out of it. 

So in this case it seems like all I can do is ask God to make me surrender.  

So I'm waiting for God to intervene and make me surrender. 

I will be praying for you in regards to this.

Lord Bless,

LT

Regarding the sin I described it became clear yesterday that the form of the sin can be any number of things, but the root in my heart is basically not wanting to obey God. Essentially wanting to be my own god when it comes to daily choices. 

Basically it's saying in my heart, "God, you can be God in my life over the big things like salvation and the sweeping direction of my life, but I want to be god over the little things in my life."

And then comes to mind what Jesus said,

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." Matthew 16:25

Has anyone been here? Am I alone in wanting desperately to keep my self because it's so familiar and comfortable and seems like "just who I am", yet at the same time wanting to surrender it?

Let me know if this is too off topic and should be a new discussion topic. 

Basically it's saying in my heart, "God, you can be God in my life over the big things like salvation and the sweeping direction of my life, but I want to be god over the little things in my life."

Has anyone been here?

Yes, except I wanted to be in control of my whole life and only wanted God to make it better and step in when "I" need Him too. I went through many trials and disappointments, though to those around me life appeared pretty good, that led me to a crossroads in March 1992. Without detailing the event I will state that I came to a point where I cried out to God that I could no longer do this. I need Him to take control of my life. For me this was not a passing phase, but where I had reached bottom. I could no longer fight the battle on my own and didn't want too any longer. This is known as the "crisis" moment or experience. I then took steps to align with Him. If you have questions I will gladly respond, but I did not want to simply put out all the details, unless pertinent and of interest to others.

Lord Bless,

LT

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