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Sermon #3127

Carnal Man: 3) The Battle Within

A Sermon on Romans 7:21-23


Romans 7:21-23 ESV KJV
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 …

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Sermon Description

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones is fixated on helping his listeners understand the difficult teaching of the apostle Paul’s in Romans 7:15-25. The spiritual identity of the man presented by Paul in Romans 7 is a most perplexing passage. In previous sermons, Dr. Lloyd-Jones has been methodically building his case on the man’s spiritual identity. He is one who knows that the law is good. This man agrees with the law that he is a sinner. Now the man states that he delights in the law. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones argues, these things cannot be said of the unregenerate man. But does this mean that Romans 7 refers to the regenerate man as the Reformed tradition holds? Humbly, the Doctor demurs from men he holds in high estimation. Instead, being bound to the text of Scripture, Dr. Lloyd-Jones points out that while this man does indeed affirm the spiritual nature of the law, he also says there is a battle raging within. Moreover, the man in Romans 7 says he is brought into captivity. What do these elements mean for the spiritual identity of the man in Romans 7? Listen as Martyn Lloyd-Jones untangles and explains this most intriguing passage of Scripture.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle Paul is continuing his argument about the law from Romans 7:7. He is explaining the law point by point so that no one misunderstands.
  2. In verse 21, Paul sums up what he has been saying. He finds that when he wants to do good, evil is present with him. This is his experience and the "law" or rule of his life.
  3. In verses 22-23, Paul explains verse 21. Although he delights in God's law in his inner being, he sees another law in his body warring against the law of his mind and making him a prisoner of the law of sin in his body.
  4. The "inward man" refers to the mind, illuminated by the Spirit. The "members" refer to the body and its appetites. There is a law in the mind, but also in the body.
  5. The law in the body wars against the law in the mind. It uses strategy and military campaign to oppose the mind's desire to do good.
  6. This law in the body takes Paul captive and makes him a prisoner. He is conquered and helpless, like a prisoner at the point of a spear.
  7. Paul is referring to himself, not just part of himself. He is not saying only part of him is captive to sin. His whole self is captive.
  8. Paul is not saying he never has victories or that the captivity is invariable. But he is describing the general tendency and habit of his life at present. Overall, he fails more than he succeeds.
  9. If Paul meant that he was generally victorious, verse 24 ("O wretched man that I am!") would make no sense. His cry shows he feels defeated and hopeless.
  10. "Wretched" means exhausted from hard labor. Paul has struggled in vain and now cries out in despair.
  11. "Who will deliver me?" shows Paul does not yet know Christ and the Spirit can deliver him. He only knows he can't deliver himself.
  12. The "body of death" is the same as the law of sin in the members. Paul wants deliverance from the part of himself opposed to his mind and God's law.

The Book of Romans

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.