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Sermon #3128

The Wretched Man Identity (1)

A Sermon on Romans 7:25


Romans 7:25 ESV KJV
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (ESV)

Sermon Description

Is the apostle Paul’s exclamation of wretchedness in Romans 7:24-25 a description of the regenerate man at his very best in this life? Who exactly is speaking? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explores the exact meaning of this well-known and difficult passage in this sermon on Romans 7:25 titled “The Wretched Man Identity.” As the first sermon in a two-part sermon series, Dr. Lloyd-Jones walks us through seeming parallel passages of Scripture to shed light on the question of the identity of this man — is this a regenerate or unregenerate man? Or perhaps an immature Christian? At first glance, these passages seem to describe the same groaning and state of misery as the man in Romans 7:24-25. But after examining 1 Corinthians 9:27, Ephesians 6, and Galatians 5 closely, Dr. Lloyd-Jones shows that the these passages, while appearing similar on the surface, are different, indeed opposite, of the man we find in Romans 7. These texts are referring to a certainty of triumph and victory because of the role of the Holy Spirit. It is the success of a regenerate man who is sanctifying himself by the Spirit and is thereby able to crucify sin. By laying the hermeneutical foundation of examining other passages, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones prepares his listeners for the second part to this series by teaching that Romans 7:24-25, in spite of every resolution of the man, is a declaration of captivity. The law of sin in his members is too strong and he is sold under sin. Listen as Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones carefully exegetes this passage, contrasts it with other New Testament passages, and lays the groundwork to discuss in-depth the identity of this man.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The sermon begins by revisiting Romans 7:25 and examining the verse in two sections. The first section "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord" is described as an ejaculation or outburst of praise.
  2. The second section "So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin" sums up what Paul has been arguing from verse 14 onwards regarding the duality within man.
  3. Paul is describing a man who is conscious of a duality within himself, delights in God's law but cannot keep it due to the law of sin in his members. This law of sin brings him into captivity.
  4. This cannot describe an unregenerate man due to the man's delight in God's law. The unregenerate man does not have this spiritual insight.
  5. The question is then asked whether this describes a regenerate man. To answer this, we look at other similar passages.
  6. Galatians 5:17 seems similar but differs in that it prescribes walking in the Spirit as the solution, mentions the Spirit and says Christians have crucified the flesh. It shows the possibility of victory, unlike Romans 7.
  7. 1 Corinthians 9:27 also seems similar but differs in that Paul says he keeps his body under subjection, unlike the man in Romans 7. It shows the possibility of victory.
  8. Ephesians 6:12 is about wrestling against spiritual forces, not indwelling sin. It also shows the possibility of victory.
  9. Other passages speak of groaning and mourning in the Christian life but refer to suffering in the world, not indwelling sin (e.g. Romans 8:23, 2 Corinthians 5:2-5). Even Jesus groaned for this reason.
  10. If Romans 7 described a regenerate man, it would contradict Paul's other teachings on the regenerate man's victory over sin.
  11. The question remains as to whether this describes an immature Christian. This will be addressed in the next sermon.

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.