Thank you for that excellent question. I would encourage you to read the whole chapter, for in this portion of Scripture we have the experience of a TRUE BELIEVER who is trying to please God by keeping the law, which would result in a life of holiness. We know this is speaking of one who is already saved, for in verse 22 Paul says, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” This is NOT the language of an unsaved man, for the unsaved has no love for the word of God. It is only those who have been born again that take delight in the word of God. The fact that Paul is writing after his being born again is indicated by the words “inward man,” for they refer to the “new nature” that was imparted to him when he believed the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Again, the subject before us is a believer who loves God and wants to please him. All believers know that we can’t be justified by the law, for Romans 3:20 declares: “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” But after one is saved he mistakenly believes that he now has the power, in himself, to keep the law and thus to bear fruit for God. In Romans 7:14-25 the apostle speaks of the painful experience he went through that taught him that he is just as powerless to deliver himself from the power of sin as he was to deliver himself from the penalty of sin. And it was the very law that he trying to obey that taught him this lesson. In short, he learned that the flesh in the believer is no better than the flesh in an unbeliever.

He introduces this lesson in verse 14 with these words, “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” He then gives us a detailed account of his failure to keep the law. Let’s read verses 15-16: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good” (NKJV). Paul was determined to do good, but he did just the opposite; in other words, he found himself succumbing to temptation and sin. He agrees with the law that it is good, and concludes that the problem is with himself. He no doubt wondered how he, a saved man, could keep falling into sin.

At some point in time he made a vital discovery and he outlines this in verses 17-20: “But now, it is no longer I who do it, but SIN THAT DWELLS IN ME. For I know that IN ME (that is, IN MY FLESH) NOTHING GOOD DWELLS; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not do, it is no longer I who do it, but SIN THAT DWELLS IN ME.” Paul learned what we all need to learn; we still have SIN IN US; that is, the “old nature” that we were born with. And as long as we are trying to improve “the flesh” by trying to keep the law, we will continue to meet with defeat. So, in answer to your second question, Paul was still “struggling with the flesh” because he was expecting something good from it. He needed to learn (and he did!) that the flesh is worthless and that it cannot and will not be subject to the law of God.

If we were to read on in Chapter 8 we would see that Paul made another vital discovery. He learned that there was a Power within him that would give him victory over sin and the ability to please God. That “Power” is the indwelling Holy Spirit! I would encourage you to read Romans 8:1-13 and to make that discovery for yourself. If you have already learned this, then read it to remind yourself of the wonderful blessing you have in the Person of the Holy Spirit living in you. (253.7) (DO)