This is the seventh part of a series of posts adapted from a paper presented at a New Covenant Theology think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.
In the previous installment in this series, we saw that theologian Douglas Moo describes three different ways in which the man Paul describes in Romans 7 can be identified:
1. Paul describes his experience as an unconverted Jew under the law.
2. Paul describes his experience, perhaps shortly after his conversion, as he sought sanctification through the law.
3. Paul describes his experience as a mature Christian.
Moo advocates for the first position:
As Paul has taught at some length in Romans 6, every believer, united with Christ in death and resurrection, has been “set free from sin” (see 6:6, 14, 18, 22). And Romans 8:2 makes it clear that the Spirit sets every believer free from the law of sin and death. For me, then, the decisive point is simply put: the assertions made in verses 14–25 cannot be true of a believer, and thus cannot be referring to Paul. That is why I think that Paul is describing what it was like to live as an unregenerate Jew under the law.
Systematic theologian Robert L. Reymond concurs with Moo:
It is both this last point – the “utter sinfulness” of his sinful nature – and the impotency of the law in the struggle against sin – that Paul develops in 7:14–25, arguing that even when as the convicted Pharisee he wanted to do the good and obey God, his sinful nature would not let him and the law did not help him; to the contrary, the sinful nature “waged war against the law of his mind [the desire to do good] and made him a prisoner of the law of sin at work within his members.” His conclusion: his unregenerate state had been a “wretched” existence, so wretched, in fact, that he cried for deliverance from it! Not knowing where to turn (for he still did not believe Jesus was the Messiah or that Jesus could help him), however, he continued in his impotency to struggle against sin’s potency until his Damascus road conversion finally brought him deliverance from his slavery to sin (8:1–4)!
Next time, we’ll look at arguments for the second and third views: that Paul is describing the experience of either a mature or a newly-converted Christian.
Next: Completed by the Spirit Part 8: Paul, Redeemed but Struggling
 Douglas J. Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002). Moo provides further depth in his Romans commentary.
 Ibid., 126.
 Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Second Edition) (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc., 1998), 1132.