The Conflict of Serving Two Masters
14For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold into bondage to sin. 15For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate.
14For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
A Sermon on the Carnal Man from Romans 7:14-15
In this sermon on the carnal man from Romans chapter seven, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that Paul gives every verse primarily to show that the law cannot sanctify us. The man described in this section, he argues, cannot be an unregenerate man, because he would not realize that he is “sold under sin”. Neither, he argues, can he be a regenerate man, because that would contradict chapters five, six, and earlier verses in chapter seven. Romans 5:21 says “as sin hath reigned, ... even so ... grace reign[s].” Romans 6:14 says “sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Whereas Romans 7:6 says “now we are delivered from the law ... [so] that we should serve in newness of spirit.” With that being said, Romans 7:14 is the biggest obstacle to interpreting this passage as a description of the regenerate man, because the man says “I,” not merely a part, “I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14). In the next verse, Paul goes on to describe the life of the “I” of verse 14, not merely his sinful part, because his sinful part would not say, “I don’t do what I want, and I do what I hate.” This man’s life, on balance, says Dr. Lloyd-Jones is one of frustration, defeat, and failure, as Romans 7:24 says, “O wretched man that I am!”. Dr Lloyd-Jones concludes his analysis by saying that Romans 7:15 describes a man who has come to see the spiritual nature of the Law, but finds he cannot keep it, and no more than that.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.