24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. – Romans 7:24-25
In the cry “O wretched man” (KJV) Paul sums up the dreadful state of his condition. It is only when we come to the end of our self and realise we can not rely on our ourselves that we truly can submit to God. Paul uses the term “flesh” to describe our sinful human nature but the concept captured in the term “flesh” is more than that. We understand the word “flesh” to mean the meat on the bones of a human or animal. Sometimes it is understood to mean the physical needs and desires of the body as opposed to the soul and spirit, often seen as sexual desire, temptation or sin (the lusts of the flesh). One of the best passages the describes Paul’s concept of the flesh is:
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,
21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:16-21
So the “flesh” represents the aspect of the heart of man that is at war with God, that opposes God, that rebelles against God. The earthly nature prone to sin and separated from God. There is no single English word that renders Paul’s complex idea. Jesus mentioned the idea when He said:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. – John 3:6
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. – John 6:63
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Mark 14:38
The cry of Paul “who will deliver me” is his way of leading into the answer – Jesus Christ. He is our deliverer. Jesus is with us in the struggle and wants us to rely on Him in times of temptation, struggle and failure. The battle will not be over until we go to be with the Lord. But in every skirmish we have the winning commander with us and we are with Him. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, there is victory in Jesus. The law can not save us but Jesus has.