A Study of Romans (30)
Paul has acknowledged the sinfulness of his carnal (fleshly) nature, and the conflict caused thereby which in turn testifies to the goodness and spirituality of the law of God. Now he treats more closely that carnality, showing specifically the real root of the difficulty and the distinction between that “flesh” and the real self.
Paul simply means that when evil results are accomplished against his good intentions, it becomes clear that the real Paul is not responsible.
Paul proceeds to show now that there is a very real distinction to be made between the real Paul and his desires and intentions, and the fleshly nature that offers antagonism to those inner intentions (and indeed sometimes defeats them).
Thus Paul has said twice that the real Paul is not responsible, and twice that the sin that dwells in him (that is, in his flesh, verse 18) is responsible. This distinction Paul makes is one of the strongest reasons for taking this passage to describe a Christian’s conflict.
A sinner has no such excuse. But who of us has not experienced that helpless feeling that often results when we have seen our own good intentions frustrated by a failure and inability to produce the kind of results really desired. At such a time the believer’s soul cries out: “That is not the real me!”