Romans 7:23
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.
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(23) Another law.—A different law. “In my members,” i.e., that has its chief seat of activity in my members. This is the law of sin, which is ready to take advantage of every fleshly impulse.

Romans 7:23-24. But I see another law — Another commanding, constraining power of evil inclinations and fleshly appetites, whose influence is so strong and constant, that it may be fitly called another law; in my members — In my animal part; (of the members, see note on Romans 6:13;) warring against the law of my mind — Against the dictates of my judgment and conscience, which conflict is spoken of Galatians 5:17; The flesh lusteth against the spirit, &c.; and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin: As if he had said, The issue of which conflict is not dubious, for passion continually prevails over reason, the flesh over the spirit, and I am led captive in spite of all my efforts to resist. O wretched man — Namely, in this respect, as to this particular; who shall deliver me — Miserable captive as I am; from the body of this death? — Some prefer translating the clause, from this body of death; joining τουτου, this, with σωματος, body, as is done in the Vulgate version. But it seems more proper to consider it as an emphatical Hebraism, signifying the body, that is, the passions and appetites, or the lusts of the body, which cause this death, the death threatened in the curse of the law. Or, as Mr. Smith, in the discourse above mentioned, observes, The body of death may signify death in all its vigour, even that death which is the penalty of a broken law, just as the body of sin signifies the strength of sin. The greatness and insupportable weight of death is its body; and the man here described is represented as exposed to that death, which is the wages of sin. This is the object which chiefly alarms the guilty. Though the remonstrances of conscience are not heard, perhaps, against sin at first, yet after it is committed, conscience raises her voice in more awful accents, and proclaims God’s wrath through the whole soul, which produces a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation from God, which is precisely the state of mind expressed in this passage, namely, the state of a man labouring under the spirit of bondage to fear, or the state described Romans 7:5; when being in the flesh, that is, unregenerate and under the law, sinful passions, manifested and condemned, but not removed by that dispensation, wrought in his members to bring forth fruit unto death.7:23-25 This passage does not represent the apostle as one that walked after the flesh, but as one that had it greatly at heart, not to walk so. And if there are those who abuse this passage, as they also do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction, yet serious Christians find cause to bless God for having thus provided for their support and comfort. We are not, because of the abuse of such as are blinded by their own lusts, to find fault with the scripture, or any just and well warranted interpretation of it. And no man who is not engaged in this conflict, can clearly understand the meaning of these words, or rightly judge concerning this painful conflict, which led the apostle to bemoan himself as a wretched man, constrained to what he abhorred. He could not deliver himself; and this made him the more fervently thank God for the way of salvation revealed through Jesus Christ, which promised him, in the end, deliverance from this enemy. So then, says he, I myself, with my mind, my prevailing judgement, affections, and purposes, as a regenerate man, by Divine grace, serve and obey the law of God; but with the flesh, the carnal nature, the remains of depravity, I serve the law of sin, which wars against the law of my mind. Not serving it so as to live in it, or to allow it, but as unable to free himself from it, even in his very best state, and needing to look for help and deliverance out of himself. It is evident that he thanks God for Christ, as our deliverer, as our atonement and righteousness in himself, and not because of any holiness wrought in us. He knew of no such salvation, and disowned any such title to it. He was willing to act in all points agreeable to the law, in his mind and conscience, but was hindered by indwelling sin, and never attained the perfection the law requires. What can be deliverance for a man always sinful, but the free grace of God, as offered in Christ Jesus? The power of Divine grace, and of the Holy Spirit, could root out sin from our hearts even in this life, if Divine wisdom had not otherwise thought fit. But it is suffered, that Christians might constantly feel, and understand thoroughly, the wretched state from which Divine grace saves them; might be kept from trusting in themselves; and might ever hold all their consolation and hope, from the rich and free grace of God in Christ.But I see another law - Note, Romans 7:21.

In my members - In my body; in my flesh; in my corrupt and sinful propensities; Note, Romans 6:13; compare 1 Corinthians 6:15; Colossians 3:5. The body is composed of many members; and as the flesh is regarded as the source of sin Romans 7:18, the law of sin is said to be in the members, that is, in the body itself.

Warring against - Fighting against; or resisting.

The law of my mind - This stands opposed to the prevailing inclinations of a corrupt nature. It means the same as was expressed by the phrase "the inward man," and denotes the desires and purposes of a renewed heart.

And bringing me into captivity - Making me a prisoner, or a captive. This is the completion of the figure respecting the warfare. A captive taken in war was at the disposal of the victor. So the apostle represents himself as engaged in a warfare; and as being overcome, and made an unwilling captive to the evil inclinations of the heart. The expression is strong; and denotes strong corrupt propensities. But though strong, it is believed it is language which all sincere Christians can adopt of themselves, as expressive of that painful and often disastrous conflict in their bosoms when they contend against the native propensities of their hearts.

23. But I see another—it should be "a different"

law in my members—(See on [2217]Ro 7:5).

warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members—In this important verse, observe, first, that the word "law" means an inward principle of action, good or evil, operating with the fixedness and regularity of a law. The apostle found two such laws within him; the one "the law of sin in his members," called (in Ga 5:17, 24) "the flesh which lusteth against the spirit," "the flesh with the affections and lusts," that is, the sinful principle in the regenerate; the other, "the law of the mind," or the holy principle of the renewed nature. Second, when the apostle says he "sees" the one of these principles "warring against" the other, and "bringing him into captivity" to itself, he is not referring to any actual rebellion going on within him while he was writing, or to any captivity to his own lusts then existing. He is simply describing the two conflicting principles, and pointing out what it was the inherent property of each to aim at bringing about. Third, when the apostle describes himself as "brought into captivity" by the triumph of the sinful principle of his nature, he clearly speaks in the person of a renewed man. Men do not feel themselves to be in captivity in the territories of their own sovereign and associated with their own friends, breathing a congenial atmosphere, and acting quite spontaneously. But here the apostle describes himself, when drawn under the power of his sinful nature, as forcibly seized and reluctantly dragged to his enemy's camp, from which he would gladly make his escape. This ought to settle the question, whether he is here speaking as a regenerate man or the reverse.

Another law in my members; i.e. a law quite different from the law of God, mentioned in the foregoing verse. By the law in the members understand natural corruption, which, like a law, commandeth and inclineth by sensual rewards and punishments; and by the law in the mind understand a principle of grace, which, as a law, as well as the other, commandeth and inelineth to that which is good. The law in the members and the law in the mind, are the same that are called flesh and Spirit, Galatians 5:17. These two laws and principles are in all regenerate persons, and are directly contrary to one another; hence there is continual warring and combating betwixt them; as is expressed in both these places, as also in Jam 4:1 1 Peter 2:11.

Bringing me into captivity to the law of sin; i.e. drawing and hurrying me to the commission of sin, against my will and consent. He pursues the metaphor; the flesh doth not only war in the regenerate, but many times it overcomes and hath success: see Romans 7:15.

To the law of sin which is in my members; i.e. to itself. The antecedent is put in the room of the relative: see Genesis 9:16, and elsewhere. The law in the members and the law of sin in the members are the same. But I see another law in my members,.... That is, he saw, he perceived it by experience; he felt the force and power of inbred corruption working in him, and as a law demanding obedience to it; and which he might well call "another law", it being not only distinct from, but opposite to the law of God he delighted in; the one is good, the other evil; this other law is a transgression of the law of God, and which he observed to be "in his members", i.e. in the members of his body; not that it had its seat only, or chiefly in his body, and the parts of it, but because it exerted itself by them, it made use of them to fulfil its lusts: the same phrase is used in the Targum on Psalm 38:3; which renders the words there thus, there is no peace, "in my members" because of my sin: now this law was, says he,

warring against the law of my mind; by the "law of his mind" is meant, either the law of God written on his mind in conversion, and which he delighted in, and served with his mind, as renewed by the Spirit of God; or the new nature in him, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, called "the law" of it, because it was the governing principle there; which reigns, and will reign in every regenerate person through righteousness, unto eternal life, though the law of sin opposes all its force and power against it; that is not only contrary to it, lusts against it, but wars, and commits acts of hostility against it: the state of regenerate persons is a warfare, they have many enemies to combat with, as Satan and the world; but those of their own household, within themselves, in their own hearts, are the worst of all; there is a civil war in them, as it were a company of two armies, flesh and spirit, sin and grace, combating together; and so it will be as long as this life lasts; so true is that saying of the Jews (m), in which they agree with the apostle,

"as long as the righteous live, , "they are at war with the corruption of their nature"; when they die they are at rest:''

hence we read of , "the war of the evil imagination" (n): but what is worst of all, this is sometimes

bringing them into captivity to the law of sin, which is in their members; that is, to itself; for the law in the members, and the law of sin in the members, must be the same: and it may be said to bring into captivity to itself, when it only endeavours to do it, though it does not effect it; for sometimes words which express an effect only design the endeavour to effect, but not that itself; see Ezekiel 24:13. But admitting that this phrase intends the real and actual effecting of it, it is to be understood of a captivity to sin, different from that an unregenerate man is in; who is a voluntary captive to sin and Satan, gives up himself to such slavery and bondage, and rather goes, than is brought or carried into it; whereas a regenerate man is, through the force of sin, and power of temptation, violently drawn and carried into captivity; in which he is held against his will, and to his great uneasiness: besides, this expression does not denote absolute dominion, which sin has not over a regenerate man; nor is it utterly inconsistent with his character as such; for as a subject of one nation may be taken a prisoner, and be carried captive into another nation, and yet remain a subject where he was, and does not become one of that country of which he is carried captive; so a regenerate man, being carried captive by sin, does not come under the absolute dominion of sin, or cease to be a subject of the kingdom of grace, or in other words, a regenerate person: moreover, the very phrase of "bringing into captivity" supposes that the person before was not a captive; whereas every unregenerate man one, was always so, and never otherwise: add to all this, that this captivity was very distressing and uneasy to the person, and makes him cry out, "O wretched man", &c. whereas the captivity of an unregenerate person is very agreeable to him; he likes his prison, he loves his chains, and do not choose to be in any other state and condition; though, as the Jews (o) say, there is no captivity , "like the captivity of the soul"; and nothing so grieving and afflictive to a good man as that is. The apostle uses much such language as his countrymen do, who frequently represent man as having two principles in him, the one good, the other bad; the one they call , "the evil imagination", or corruption of nature; the other they call , "the good imagination", or principle of grace and goodness; which they say (p), are at continual war with each other, and the one is sometimes "carried captive" by the other. The good imagination, they say (q), is like to one that , "is bound in a prison"; as it is said, "out of prison he cometh to reign"; to which agrees what they say (r),

"how shall I serve my Creator whilst I am , "a captive to my corruption", and a servant to my lust?''

(m) Bereshit Rabba, Parash. 9. fol. 7. 4. (n) Tzeror Hammer, fol. 93. 3. & 113. 3. & 115. 2. & 144. 4. & 145. 1, 2.((o) Caphtor, fol. 14. 2.((p) Zohar in Gen. fol. 56. 3.((q) Pirke Abot R. Nathan, c. 16. fol. 5. 2.((r) Machzor Jud. Hispan. apud L. Capell. in Rom. vi. 16.

But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my {c} mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

(c) The law of the mind in this place is not to be understood as referring to the mind as it is naturally, and as our mind is from our birth, but of the mind which is renewed by the Spirit of God.

23. I see] The true Self contemplates, as it were, the perverting element, the Alter Ego, the flesh. Such conscious contemplation surely befits the idea of the regenerate state rather than that of the state of nature.

another law] See on Romans 3:27. The word “law” is used here with the elasticity of reference pointed out there. It means here a force making itself felt consistently, and so resulting in a rule of (evil) procedure so far as it acts.—It is called more explicitly “the law of sin,” just below.

in my members] See on Romans 6:13.

warring against] The Gr. word implies not only a battle but a campaign. The conflict is a lasting one in this life. See it described from the other side, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

the law of my mind] i.e., practically, the law of God, “with which my mind delights,” (Romans 7:22,) and which in that respect it makes its own. The “mind” is here the “inner man” of Romans 7:22 : so too in Romans 7:25.—The word “mind” sometimes denotes specially the reason, as distinguished e.g. from spiritual intuition (1 Corinthians 14:14-15). Sometimes (Colossians 2:18), apparently, it denotes the rational powers in general as in the unregenerate state; and again, those powers as regenerate (Romans 12:2). In Ephesians 4:23 it seems to denote the whole inner man, and thus includes the “spirit.” So here.

bringing me into captivity] The word indicates captivity in war.—The Gr. is a present participle, and thus need not imply a successful effort; it cannot imply a completed one. The aim of the “campaign” is described. And no doubt St Paul means to admit a partial success; he feels, in the slightest sin, however it may be (in the world’s estimate) involuntary or inadvertent, a victory of sin and a “capture” of the better self. See note on Romans 7:14 (“sold under sin”).—See 2 Corinthians 10:5 for the same metaphor on the other side of the contest.Romans 7:23. Βλέπω) I see, from the higher department of the soul, as from a watch-tower, [the department, or region of the soul] which is called νοῦς, the mind, and is itself the repository of conscience.—ἕτερον, another [law] and one alien [to the law of my mind].—μέλεσι, in the members) The soul is, as it were, the king; the members are as the citizens; sin is, as an enemy, admitted through the fault of the king, who is doomed to be punished by the oppression of the citizens.—τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου) the dictate [law] of my mind, which delights in the Divine law.—αἰχμαλωτίζοντά με, bringing me into captivity) by any actual victory which it pleases.[78] The apostle again uses rather a harsh term, arising from holy impatience:[79] the allegory is taken from war, comp. the similar term, warring.

[78] i.e. leading me at will to do whatever it pleases.—ED.

[79] To express his holy impatience to be rid of the tyrant.—ED.I see (βλέπω)

See on John 1:29. Paul is a spectator of his own personality.

Another (ἕτερον)

See on Matthew 6:24.

Warring against (ἀντιστρατευόμενον)

Only here in the New Testament. Taking the field against.

The law of my mind (τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ νοός μου)

Νοῦς mind, is a term distinctively characteristic of Paul, though not confined to him. See Luke 24:45; Revelation 13:18; Revelation 17:9.

Paul's usage of this term is not based, like that of spirit and flesh, on the Septuagint, though the word occurs six times as the rendering of lebh heart, and once of ruach spirit.

He uses it to throw into sharper relief the function of reflective intelligence and moral judgment which is expressed generally by καρδία heart.

The key to its Pauline usage is furnished by the contrast in 1 Corinthians 14:14-19, between speaking with a tongue and with the understanding (τῷ νοΐ́), and between the spirit and the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:14). There it is the faculty of reflective intelligence which receives and is wrought upon by the Spirit. It is associated with γνωμή opinion, resulting from its exercise, in 1 Corinthians 1:10; and with κρίνει judgeth in Romans 14:5.

Paul uses it mainly with an ethical reference - moral judgment as related to action. See Romans 12:2, where the renewing of the νοῦς mind is urged as a necessary preliminary to a right moral judgment ("that ye may prove," etc.,). The νοῦς which does not exercise this judgment is ἀδόκιμος not approved, reprobate. See note on reprobate, Romans 1:28, and compare note on 2 Timothy 3:8; note on Titus 1:15, where the νοῦς is associated with the conscience. See also on Ephesians 4:23.

It stands related to πνεῦμα spirit, as the faculty to the efficient power. It is "the faculty of moral judgment which perceives and approves what is good, but has not the power of practically controlling the life in conformity with its theoretical requirements." In the portrayal of the struggle in this chapter there is no reference to the πνεῦμα spirit, which, on the other hand, distinctively characterizes the christian state in ch. 8. In this chapter Paul employs only terms pertaining to the natural faculties of the human mind, and of these νοῦς mind is in the foreground.

Bringing into captivity (αἰχμαλωτίζοντα)


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