Therefore, did what is good cause my death? Absolutely not! On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God’s law. But I see a different law in the parts of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this dying body? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh, to the law of sin.
I know that there is a debate within Christianity over dichotomy or trichotomy. These two terms speak about how many divisions a human can be divided, whether two (di) or three (tri). Paul seems to be talking about three different aspects of the human person in this passage which is sometimes referred to as the “do-do passage.”
((parenthesis)) There is also a debate over this entire passage of Romans chapter 7 whether Paul is here speaking of himself as a current Christian, or is reflecting back upon a state when he wasn’t a believer yet. I believe that he is referring to the current condition of his soul, which means he is currently (at the time of his writing) a Christian. Galatians 5:17 is a cross-reference which is speaking of the same war in the Christian.
Paul speaks about the “me” or the “I”. This is the first division. It seems to refer to the core person. A term for this would be the “soul” or “true me”. The second division Paul mentions is the “mind”. The third is the “body”.
The “me” is the place of desire. It maybe should be referred to as the “will”. The will is influenced by both the mind and the body. It is the ultimate deciding place inside of us. The will is influenced by the thoughts in the mind, and by the cravings of the body or flesh. It must render a decision as to what the whole person’s action is going to be.
The “mind” is the logical portion of our person. Before conversion it suppresses thoughts that are true. After conversion it agree’s with the truth of God’s Word.
The “body” is the place of craving and contradiction. It wages war against truth and seeks to influence the will to do actions that are against the truth. Thus the mind and the body are at war with one another. Both are seeking to persuade the will to actions of sin or righteousness. This is the state we find ourselves in. Paul tells us that it is a “principle” which he discovered. Why is this helpful information?
It is important to understand that there will always be an internal battle for truth inside of us. We will not be free from this condition until we are taken up in glory. It is the way of the world and we must embrace and accept our lot. Jesus died to redeem us from this sinful condition. We must put on the full armor of God so that we can stand during each day of battle.