Friday, October 04, 2002

Body of Death

14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.
16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good.
17 So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.
20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
In this passage, Paul discusses the conflict raging between regenerated man’s two natures: the flesh and the spirit. In verse 19 he famously tells us that what he wants to do he doesn't, and what he does do he hates. In verse 20 he tells us that it is not the (incomplete) new man who sins, but the old body still struggling within. In verse 23, he again emphasizes the struggle of the spirit, which desires to obey the law, with carnal sinful nature still holding great power over our bodies.

But the most gruesome imagery is found in verse 24, where Paul asks Who will set me free from the body of this death? This is a reference to the ancient practice of chaining the body of a murder victim to the murderer. The criminal was physically linked to the decaying corpse. The mind reels at such a punishment. Paul tells us that our old sinful nature is like a putrefying corpse that we have to drag around.

But at least we do know the answer to his question.
and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; (Col. 2:11)

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