The Contrast between the Spiritual Conflict in Romans 7 and Galatians 5 -- By: Stanley D. Toussaint

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 123:492 (Oct 1966)
Article: The Contrast between the Spiritual Conflict in Romans 7 and Galatians 5
Author: Stanley D. Toussaint


The Contrast between the Spiritual Conflict
in Romans 7 and Galatians 5

Stanley D. Toussaint

[Stanley D. Toussaint, Assistant Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

A certain amount of confusion exists in the minds of many Christians concerning conflict in the spiritual life because they have equated Romans 7:13–24 with Galatians 5:16–23. Both of these passages obviously describe a conflict; however, it is important to see that the battles described are not the same. A failure to recognize this only leads to confusion and may even result in despairing frustration. It is the purpose of this article to mark out some of the distinctions between these two conflicts and then come to a few practical implications.

The Contrasts

The opponents of the sin nature. Too often believers conclude that the Holy Spirit and the regenerated ego (more familiarly known as the new nature) are one and the same. A careful examination of the Scriptures shows they are not. A case in point is Colossians 3:10, “And [you] have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.” This passage clearly distinguishes the new man from the Holy Spirit, the new man’s Creator. Every Christian is born again and possesses the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9), but this does not mean that the new nature and the Holy Spirit are one.

Here is a key to the understanding of Romans 7 and Galatians 5. In Romans 71 the new nature is emphasized as the opponent of the old nature, and in Galatians 5 the stress falls on the Holy Spirit. Bible teachers accurately make a large point of the fact there is no reference to the Holy Spirit in Romans 7. That the new nature is doing battle with the old is plainly evident from Romans 7:22–23: “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind….” In a word, the conflict in Romans 7 is between the sin nature and the reborn ego. This is not the case in Galatians 5 where the old nature and the Holy SpiritYou must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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