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Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Does the law of sin in your own body take you captive, like it did to Paul? Do you want to be free? Read this!
What is the body of death? Romans 7:24

“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 sin, 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 enemiesMost often when a Christian refers to his or her “enemies” they are speaking about the sin in their flesh and the temptations and lusts that arise from there. These are enemies because they tempt us to act contrary to the will of God. These can also be spiritual powers such as the spirit of the times which oppose the... More. The Spirit strives against the fleshThe “flesh” is all of the sinful desires/temptations/lusts, etc. that dwell in human nature. It is the source of temptation, and nothing good dwells there. (Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 7:18; Galatians 5:24; Romans 8:5) Other phrases meaning the same as the flesh include: the body of sin, sinful human nature, fallen human nature, sinful nature, fallen nature The term “flesh” can... More, and the flesh strives against the Spirit. In this battleAlmost all talk of battles and wars when concerning a Christian life refers to the inner battle that arises when a sinful thought tempts you. God’s Spirit and the flesh are at odds. When you have decided to only do God’s will and are being led by the Spirit, a conflict between the flesh and the Spirit arises: there is... More (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 “deeds of the bodyDeeds of the body are things we realize are wrong only after we have done them, because the Holy Spirit points them out to us; our eyes are opened to the fact that they were wrong. Therefore, anything wrong that we do unconsciously—without our mind or our enlightened self agreeing to it—is a deed of the body. There is no... More.” (Romans 8:13) They are to be put to deathIs to overcome the temptations to sin that arise when our lusts and desires draw us to react in ways we know to be evil (i.e. pride, hatred, evil-speaking, envy etc.) It is the act of denying those thoughts and refusing to agree with them. The lust to sin is not only suppressed, but it actually dies. (Romans 8:13; Colossians... More 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 through transformationThis is the process of sanctification, in which we our sinful human nature is gradually exchanged for divine nature when we in obedience to God’s will deny and put to death the sinful lusts in our flesh. (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Peter 1:3-4)... More when 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 the new manYour “old man” is your mindset before conversion. It is a state of allowing your lusts and desires to rule in your life; you have not made a conscious decision to resist committing sin. The new man is your mindset after conversion. It is a decision to overcome sin and live in righteousness and holiness. It is the mind to... More which 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)

How can I put to death the deeds of the body?

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, through walking in the lightWalking in the light is the state of being obedient to do all that God reveals to you through the Holy Spirit. For example, when He shows you that you need to overcome laziness, or lying, or any other lust. This means both that you put to death all of the sin you are shown (get light over) and obey... More as 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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