Romans 7-8:17 • The Two Natures


My Bible labels the closing verses of chapter 7 as “The Conflict of the Two Natures.” Actually, that’s wrong. There cannot be a conflict between the two natures because one of those natures no longer exists. According to chapter 6, the old nature is dead. So then, why do we still sin?

Read 7:1-6

Q: In verse 6 we read, “…we have been released from the Law.” Does that mean that we have been released from all law? (I.e., lawless, without law)

A: No, it does not mean that we are without law or that we may practice lawlessness. The definite article (“the”) in front of “law” points specifically to the OT Law; e.g., the Ten Commandments. Meaning, we are no longer bound to the OT law.

Q: Follow the logic of verses 1-4. In the example of the husband and wife, who are the two parties? Obviously, the husband and wife. Who are the “two parties” in the life of a believer?

A: The “husband” represents “the old man” (sinful nature) which has died. The new nature (“wife”) continues to live and is joined to the new husband, Christ. Because the old nature died, the law has no more effect. [Regarding death of the old nature (sinful nature), see Romans 6:6]

Q: What is the significance of 7:6?

A: We are no longer bound by the OT law. Therefore, we can serve in the new self through the Spirit and not to the old self through the Law.

Read 7:7-12

Q: Because we were bound by the Law, was the Law bad? What was the purpose of the Law?

A: No, the Law was good and important. It was the Law that made us aware of our sin and, therefore, our need for Christ.

Q: What is the meaning of the phrases, “…apart from the Law sin is dead” and “I was once alive apart from the Law”?

A: It has to do with the knowledge of sin. If I don’t know that I’m sinning, I live without guilt and shame. But once I’m aware that my actions are sinful, I am immediately imparted guilt, and cannot escape it. I am also under judgment because now I’m aware of sin. And the terrible thing about it is that I will continue to sin, even with the Law present! Verse 9 is saying, “Now I’m dead and I know it!”

Q: Meaning of verse 10?

A: Instead of the commandment making me feel good about myself because now I know what to do to live rightly, I soon discover that I cannot keep from doing it (coveting). Therefore, instead of bringing life it brings death and judgment.

Q: Why do you suppose Paul chose the tenth commandment (coveting)?

A: Because it’s something we all do and cannot help but do it!

Read 7:13

Q: Did the Law therefore bring death? (v. 13).

A: No, it wasn’t the Law that brought death; it was sin. The Law simply notified me that sin was present in me.

Read 7:14-25

Note: The point of these verses is that Paul is illustrating the point he made in verse 13.

Q: In verse 14, why does sin have such a hold on me?

A: Because of the flesh. It isn’t the Law that’s the culprit, it’s the flesh. Therefore, verses 15-25 present the dilemma of living in the flesh, NOT THE SIN NATURE!

Q: In verses 17-18, where does the sin dwell?

A: In my flesh. [NOTE: THE NIV TRANSLATES "FLESH" AS "SINFUL NATURE". THIS IS WRONG! The word in the Greek is "sarx", meaning "flesh".]

Q: In verse 21, what is the difference between “evil is present in me” and “I am evil.”

A: There’s a world of difference. If I have a splinter in my finger, I do not become a splinter. Just because I have sin and evil dwelling in my flesh does not make me evil.

Q: What’s the struggle in verses 21-23?

A: Even with the old nature (old man, sinful nature) dead, the fact that it was once present has tainted the flesh. So the new nature (the mind here) wants to do good but still commits sin. In other words, it is impossible to be free from all sin, no matter how hard we try. If that were the final outcome, we’d be miserable.

Read 8:1-4

Q: What is the hope for the believer?

A: That even though we still sin, WE ARE NOT CONDEMNED! Therefore, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Q: Why are we no longer condemned?

A: Because we’re under a new law, the law of the Spirit of life and no longer under the letter of the Law which only condemned us (sin and death).

Q: Why was the Law “weak”? (v. 3)

A: Because of the flesh. Because we dwell in the flesh, we cannot keep the Law perfectly. And to fail in one part of the Law is to fail in all parts

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”

— James 2:10

Q: So what did God do to help us out of this dilemma?

A: Verses 3 & 4. He sent His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, to pay our penalty. Note: “that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us.” If the requirement of the Law has been fulfilled in us, then all the requirements have been met. Therefore, we are free from the Law.

Q: According to the last part of verse 4, what does this fulfilling of the Law allow us to do?

A: To walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the Law.

Read 8:5-13

Q: Summarize verses 5-13.

A: If you still have a sinful nature, you do not have a choice–you will walk according to the flesh because that is all you know how to do. However, with the sinful nature gone, we have a choice. We are no longer under “an obligation” to sin. We can either walk according to the flesh (continue in our same old ways) or according to the Spirit. Before, we never had that choice. Now we do. One brings about death, the other, life and peace.

Read 8:14-17

Q: By being “in Christ Jesus” and “of the Spirit,” how has our identity changed? That is, how has our core person changed from God’s perspective?

A: We are “children of God.” As a child of God, we are a co-heir with Christ.

Overall Application