Romans 7:23

23 But I see a different law in the parts of my body,[a] waging war against the law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the law of sin in the parts of my body.[b]

Romans 7:23 Meaning and Commentary

Romans 7:23

But I see another law in my members
That is, he saw, he perceived it by experience; he felt the force and power of inbred corruption working in him, and as a law demanding obedience to it; and which he might well call "another law", it being not only distinct from, but opposite to the law of God he delighted in; the one is good, the other evil; this other law is a transgression of the law of God, and which he observed to be "in [his] members", i.e. in the members of his body; not that it had its seat only, or chiefly in his body, and the parts of it, but because it exerted itself by them, it made use of them to fulfil its lusts: the same phrase is used in the Targum on ( Psalms 38:3 ) ; which renders the words there thus, there is no peace, (yrbab) , "in my members" because of my sin: now this law was, says he,

warring against the law of my mind;
by the "law of [his] mind" is meant, either the law of God written on his mind in conversion, and which he delighted in, and served with his mind, as renewed by the Spirit of God; or the new nature in him, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, called "the law" of it, because it was the governing principle there; which reigns, and will reign in every regenerate person through righteousness, unto eternal life, though the law of sin opposes all its force and power against it; that is not only contrary to it, lusts against it, but wars, and commits acts of hostility against it: the state of regenerate persons is a warfare, they have many enemies to combat with, as Satan and the world; but those of their own household, within themselves, in their own hearts, are the worst of all; there is a civil war in them, as it were a company of two armies, flesh and spirit, sin and grace, combating together; and so it will be as long as this life lasts; so true is that saying of the Jews F13, in which they agree with the apostle,

``as long as the righteous live, (Nruy Me Mymxln) , "they are at war with the corruption of their nature"; when they die they are at rest:''

hence we read of (erh Nuy tmxlm) , "the war of the evil imagination" {n}: but what is worst of all, this is sometimes

bringing [them] into captivity to the law of sin, which is in
[their] members;
that is, to itself; for the law in the members, and the law of sin in the members, must be the same: and it may be said to bring into captivity to itself, when it only endeavours to do it, though it does not effect it; for sometimes words which express an effect only design the endeavour to effect, but not that itself; see ( Ezekiel 24:13 ) ( Genesis 37:21 Genesis 37:22 ) ( Exodus 8:18 ) . But admitting that this phrase intends the real and actual effecting of it, it is to be understood of a captivity to sin, different from that an unregenerate man is in; who is a voluntary captive to sin and Satan, gives up himself to such slavery and bondage, and rather goes, than is brought or carried into it; whereas a regenerate man is, through the force of sin, and power of temptation, violently drawn and carried into captivity; in which he is held against his will, and to his great uneasiness: besides, this expression does not denote absolute dominion, which sin has not over a regenerate man; nor is it utterly inconsistent with his character as such; for as a subject of one nation may be taken a prisoner, and be carried captive into another nation, and yet remain a subject where he was, and does not become one of that country of which he is carried captive; so a regenerate man, being carried captive by sin, does not come under the absolute dominion of sin, or cease to be a subject of the kingdom of grace, or in other words, a regenerate person: moreover, the very phrase of "bringing into captivity" supposes that the person before was not a captive; whereas every unregenerate man one, was always so, and never otherwise: add to all this, that this captivity was very distressing and uneasy to the person, and makes him cry out, "O wretched man" whereas the captivity of an unregenerate person is very agreeable to him; he likes his prison, he loves his chains, and do not choose to be in any other state and condition; though, as the Jews F15 say, there is no captivity (hmvnh twlgk) , "like the captivity of the soul"; and nothing so grieving and afflictive to a good man as that is. The apostle uses much such language as his countrymen do, who frequently represent man as having two principles in him, the one good, the other bad; the one they call (erh ruy) , "the evil imagination", or corruption of nature; the other they call (bwjh) (ruy) , "the good imagination", or principle of grace and goodness; which they say F16, are at continual war with each other, and the one is sometimes (hbvn) , "carried captive" by the other. The good imagination, they say F17, is like to one that (Nyrwoax tybb vwbx) , "is bound in a prison"; as it is said, "out of prison he cometh to reign"; to which agrees what they say F18,

``how shall I serve my Creator whilst I am (yruy ryoa) , "a captive to my corruption", and a servant to my lust?''


F13 Bereshit Rabba, Parash. 9. fol. 7. 4.
F14 Tzeror Hammer, fol. 93. 3. & 113. 3. & 115. 2. & 144. 4. & 145. 1, 2.
F15 Caphtor, fol. 14. 2.
F16 Zohar in Gen. fol. 56. 3.
F17 Pirke Abot R. Nathan, c. 16. fol. 5. 2.
F18 Machzor Jud. Hispan. apud L. Capell. in Rom. vi. 16.

Romans 7:23 In-Context

21 So I discover this principle: when I want to do good, evil is with me.
22 For in my inner self I joyfully agree with God's law.
23 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.
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
25 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.

Footnotes 2

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