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Devotional - week of January 4, 2004


O WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM!

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Romans 7:25

In order to understand this cry, look at the two previous verses.

For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  Romans 7:23-24

Interpreted by the broader context, Paul is admitting that his love for the law and attempts to keep it have the negative effect of bringing his sin nature into power.

Paul’s use of “body of death” is a confession that when his sin nature is in power, sinful passions stir in his body. He is not saying his body is sinful. The word “death” is used here to describe a state of spiritual defeat, and guilt. Romans 7:5 is a parallel statement:

For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

New Testament words indicating the stirring of sinful passions in our bodies are adultery, fornication, murder, drunkenness, revelries, lying, and stealing. Even considering committing such things can leave one in a state of “death.” Few, if any, are tempted to commit all of these sins. One is drawn to certain sins while another is drawn to others. Our sin patterns are unique to us.

Paul answers his own question about who will deliver him from his “body of death” with:

 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Romans 7:25

The broader passage makes it plain that Paul means his freedom from the body of death comes through living the new-creation life.

By experiencing our crucifixion, we are delivered from legalism. Our bodies are released from the power of our sin nature and from being instruments of the death of spiritual defeat and guilt. Our bodies are freed to be the instruments of God.