Hi Seth. I'm thinking and reading a bit on the topic. I basically very much agree with your premises about the law and grace, etc., and I certainly understand the difference between switching tenses. I'm just not sure that's exactly what Paul was doing and/or when and where. And it seems to me that to emphatically state so would be either a) complicated and best done with extreme care and clear proofs, or b) (though done with good intent) conjecture. You may have personally done 'a' very well, I just may need some time to examine and mull it.
Again, the basic premises you have about the Law of Moses showing our sin, and the Law of the Grace of Yesu being sufficient and the ultimate antidote for that sin, I strongly "Amen!". Carry on, I'm looking at it.
Good points. While I believe that Paul is switching tenses like we often do, and does it so suddenly and without transition, that it doesn't change the meaning of the first half of the chapter, even if we take Paul to be saying these things about himself at present day, it only shows an experience under the law.
If Paul is talking about himself at the time of writing, he had placed himself under the law, and was trapped by sin again. The Law of Moses doesn't just reveal or show us our sin by itself. It does it by SIN using the law to grow exeedingly sinful within us. That is the mechanics of sin being revealed by Moses.
It isn't simply that the Law shows us what is good so that we compare it to ourselves (I think that is what people generalize Romans 7 to mean). It's that the law is actually USED by sin for that sin can grow within us
and we become BOUND as slaves to sin. It is through that SLAVERY to sin caused by the law without grace, that sin that reveals sin to be sin. Then we are delivered to Christ for salvation, and delivered from the law as a result. That is why, if Paul is talking about himself, not only would he have to have abandoned Grace to teach him Godliness, he would be back under bondage to sin by the Law.
That simply would not make sense, and would make Paul a hypocrite because he would have told the Galatians to not seek righteousness through the law, then he turns around to attempt to follow a Mosaic commandment unto failure himself. Yikes.
Most Christians see Romans 7 as a general struggle with sin, which we all identify with, but they don't consider the very important particulars of the chapter, and that is why they misinterpret it, and not even notice the lack of grace
being emphasized in the chapter concerning the law.