A Macro View
The seventh chapter of Romans provides us with a macro view of inward struggle. It has been interpreted by some to refer to life without Christ. Specifically, it is taught that this was Paul's experience when he was "under the law," or outside of Christ. This is a false view, and tends to disarm the believer. It is not the manner of the Kingdom to elaborate on experiences that occurred while in a state of alienation from God.
In dealing with his personal struggle against evil, Paul consistently uses present tense words. Beginning at verse fourteen (14), there is not a single reference to the past. Note the following expressions. "I do" (v 15), "I would" (v 15,21), "I hate" (v 15), "I consent" (v 16), "I know" (v 18), "I find not" (v 18), "I do not" (v 19), "I find" (v 21), "I delight" (v 22), and "I see" (v 23). These words identify contemporary experience, and are not employed to analyze the past.
"I do not do the things I want, but the evil that I do not want is what I do" (v 18). At the time of this writing, Paul had been in Christ for twenty-five years. He was not merely reflecting on a struggle that existed over a quarter of a century ago, but on one in which he was currently involved. Suffice it to say, we are dealing with the reactions of one that is in Christ--a veteran in the good fight of faith.