Romans 7:21-25

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

Listening guide

When this happened _______________________, I was heartbroken. I ____________________

When this happened, ________________________, my heart was healthy, well, and full. I _____________.

“Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in thee.” (Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1)

God invites you today to have a whole, healthy, well heart.

What’s in your ___________ matters most.

There is a ____________ in our _______.

Jesus does _____________ on the cross.

Let Jesus fight the war and live with your whole heart. 


Discussion questions

Which way do you think we move as Christians? On the chart below, draw what you think is the direction of the Christian life.  




  1. In these verses Paul says there are two different laws or principles that could govern his life: God’s law (V22), the law of sin (V23). V21 offers a different law or principle. According to that verse, what law/principle did Paul feel at work in his life?  

  2. V22 Paul says he finds “delight in God’s law”. What does that tell you about God’s law? Is that how you feel and think about God’s law?  

  3. V23 The “law of sin” is the other principle at work in Paul’s life. Describe what that principle does. What does it feel like? Consider the phrase Paul uses in V25 “slave to the law of sin.  

  4. V24-25 What is our only delivery from this battle? Is it more delight in or obedience to God’s law? Is it succumbing to the “law of sin”? For another way to answer this question, look at Galatians 3:6.  

  5. Martin Luther summarized who we are then saying, “The saints in being righteous are at the same time sinners; they are righteous because they believe in Christ whose righteousness covers them and is imputed to them, but they are sinners because they do not fulfill the law and are not without sinful desires. They are like sick people in the care of a physician: they are really sick, but healthy only in the hope and insofar as they begin to be better, healed, i.e., they will become healthy. Nothing can harm them so much as the presumption that they are in fact healthy, for it will cause a bad relapse.” (Luther, Romans Commentary) Most people term what Martin Luther is describing as “simultaneously sinner and saint” (simul iustus et peccator) or just “sinner-saint”. In your own words, describe what he means?  

  6. Lutherans have always said that human beings operate according to the “opinion of the law”. This means that we assume that we can do what is right to satisfy God and others by being a good person. Other teachers might explain this as religion – the assumption that God will accept me if I do good. Do you agree that this is the default mode or assumption of the human heart? Have there been times or circumstances where this is how you lived?  

  7. One of our WELS professors, Richard Gurgel, said this: “Instead of doubting your own faith or the faith of others, recognize the reality of the spiritual struggles we all face to defy our heavenly Father by the arrogance either of careless sinning or self-satisfied morality.” What is he saying about the tension we live in as sinner-saints in this life? While he certainly issues a good warning about doubt, at what point do we cross the line from the struggling sinner-saint into unbelief?    

  8. Do you feel this tension in your life right now? If so, describe it. Or describe a time when you felt it. 

  9. If you don’t feel this tension, which way are you leaning? What will you do to move toward the tension?  

  10. Who in your life needs the message of the gospel – that Jesus did battle on the cross for us – so that they can have a whole heart?