“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24.
What is the body of death?
The body of death is first and foremost that body which will die a natural death, if Jesus does not come before then and transform our mortal body.
Paul saw another law in his members warring against the law of his mind and bringing him into captivity to the law of, which was in his members. This law of sin resided within his body of death. (Romans 7:23)
I am taken captive. You can only be taken captive by your. The Spirit strives against the , and the flesh strives against the Spirit. In this (in which I must always stand on the Spirit’s side), I am sometimes taken captive by the law of sin in my members. Though I serve the law of God with my mind, this other law in my members carries me along with it, and I do things that I never would have wanted to do: I do what I hate. (Romans 7:15,18)
How can I be set free from the law of sin?
Seeing that I am indeed taken captive by the law of sin which is in my members, how do I become free again? It was not me with my best intentions that did those things I did not want to do—it was the sin in me that became too strong for me and took me captive. This capture and the resulting deeds are called “.” (Romans 8:13) They are to be by the Spirit, and then we shall live. But if we live according to the flesh, that is to say, if we, live according to the flesh with our mind, we shall die. That is why we are not in debt to the flesh—we do not owe the flesh anything. (Romans 8:12)
Paul asks: “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” There is certainly none other than God who can liberate us from it, either throughwhen Christ returns or when we die in Christ.
“O wretched man that I am!” Doing what you do not want to do
If someone dares to say: “I do not serve the law of sin with my flesh!” I can only respond: “You are incredibly ignorant regarding this, and secondly, I would say you are giving in to things that you are unaware of.” No one can serve the law of God with his flesh, and where you still do not have life and light, you must necessarily serve the law of sin with your flesh. You do not want to do it, but your flesh, in which dwells no good thing, compels you to do things you do not want to do. And all this is despite you serving the law of God with your mind.
Here vigilance in the Spirit is a great help, so you can find your “deeds of the body” and judge them. Through this you are continually transformed through the renewing of your mind, so you can prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2) Or, as it is written in Ephesians 4:23-25: “… and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on thewhich was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor.’”
Deeds of the body even come from “good people”
Here, we have examples of the deeds of the body, which are to be put to death by the Spirit: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth … Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Ephesians 4:29-31.
You might say, “Can such things come from a child of God?” Yes, they occur daily, but people are asleep and they are blind, so they cannot see these things themselves. On the other hand, others can see these things clearly, and frequently talk about them behind their backs. Thus they in turn become backbiters. The Ephesians were sealed with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30) And yet such things were reigning in the church—if not among them all, at least in most of them. We have enough examples in the churches today as well.
What is the cause of this? It is sin in people’s members taking them captive to a greater or lesser degree. Paul himself was taken captive, so he had to cry out: “O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24.
Since this is how matters stood and could not be otherwise, he says: “I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:25. No one else can do any better than this, either. The flesh cannot be obedient to the law of God. So, if we serve the law of God with our mind, He demands nothing further of us. When we in addition to this—also with our mind—put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit, we are freed from what held us captive. Here we get a thorough knowledge of good and evil, of right and wrong.
This is the very reason why there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me (that is my mind) from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)
Walk in the light—set free from the law of sin in this “body of death”
I do not serve the law of sin with my mind, and if the sin is not permitted to mature within me, it cannot bring forth death, either. The law of the Spirit of life has freed me from these two laws. However, I am not freed from the other law in my members, that which takes me captive under the law of sin which is in my members. I will only be freed from this law, a little at a time, throughas He is in the light. Then the blood of Christ will cleanse me from all sin. Walking in the light means that I walk in judgment. Then we will put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:7-8)
Some might say: “That is a complicated teaching!” No, it is quite simple and straightforward—for those who meditate in the law of the Lord day and night. For those who serve the laws of God with their mind, it is uncomplicated and easy. God has called us to this ministry in these days of our sojourn on earth, while we bear about this “body of death.”
This article has been translated from Norwegian and is an adapted version of the article “The body of death,” first published in BCC’s periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in November 1934.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.