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  • Chad Werkhoven

Romans 7:18-25 - The War Within

Know your enemy—it's closer than you think.


Romans 7:18-25 (ESV)

18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 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.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin

We believe

that by the disobedience of Adam

original sin has been spread

through the whole human race.

It is a corruption of all nature—

an inherited depravity which even infects small infants

in their mother’s womb,

and the root which produces in man

every sort of sin.

It is therefore so vile and enormous in God’s sight

that it is enough to condemn the human race,

and it is not abolished

or wholly uprooted

even by baptism,

seeing that sin constantly boils forth

as though from a contaminated spring.


it is not imputed to God’s children

for their condemnation

but is forgiven

by his grace and mercy—

not to put them to sleep (alternate translation: This does not mean that the believers may sleep peacefully in their sin)

but so that the awareness of this corruption

might often make believers groan

as they long to be set free

from the “body of this death.”

Therefore we reject the error of the Pelagians

who say that this sin is nothing else than a matter of imitation.



Romans 7 is both agonizing and encouraging. The agonizing aspect is clear enough, as Paul unloads this burden that continually weighs him down, writing, "I desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."

What Paul discovers here is that faith in Christ - even the strongest faith, like what Paul had - is not enough to fully eradicate the effects of original sin that we've been reading about the last couple of weeks. If you missed our earlier posts, or you just need a quick refresher, remember that original sin doesn't necessarily refer to the very first sin, but rather the sinful instinct we were all were born with.

Paul doesn't use the technical term original sin. Rather, he describes our propensity to sin in a much more intimate way that's embedded into our very being when he calls it our "sinful nature (v18 - NIV)." We read from the ESV above, which used the word "flesh." As we've read through the Bible together the last couple of years, we've often used the very same Greek word Paul used - Sarx - to refer to the deeply imbedded desire to rebel against God that we all have.

Dig Deeper

You need to understand the gravity of this situation. Sarx is not just a pesky fly that annoys you from time to time. Paul writes that Sarx is "waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me (v23)."

While this battle is brutal and unceasing, the encouraging aspects of Romans 7 give you peace for two reasons.

First, know that you're not the only Christian fighting this battle, and even being occasionally knocked down by it. Even Paul succumbed to Sarx on a daily basis, and so does every other Christian in the world. Don't use this as an excuse, that since even guys like Paul caved to their temptations, I can too. Realize that this is war, and you're called to fight back, which is why Paul tells you in Ephesians to put on the full armor of God!

Secondly, and most importantly, be reminded that even when you lose the daily battle, the war has already been won by your Savior, who is Jesus Christ our Lord (v25). It's through Christ that you are already declared righteous and some day will fully delivered from "this body of death."

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who delivers us from death through Jesus Christ our Lord;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for strength as you battle Sarx each day;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 26


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