Many argue for a pre-regenerate reading of Paul in Rom 7. This is, of course, in contrast to the historical Reformed way it has been read – that Paul is describing Christian sentiments. First of all, 7 comes before 8 in most Bibles. Thus, the supposed war of 7 should always be read in view of the victory through the Spirit in 8. However, there are some lovely constructions in the Greek that show that the way this text has normally been read is appropriate.
Paul’s line of argument, his grammar, and his use of conjunctions throughout Rom 7 prove that Rom 7.14-20 is a singular thought. This first chart shows that Paul uses almost the exact syntactical structure in vs.14-16 as he does in vs.18-20. This highlights 7.17. Why is this important?
The pre-regenerate readings of Rom 7 say that the present tense verbs are “historical” presents and that Paul's use of "I" is not a personal testimony, but a rhetorical device. These are viable options. But look at 7.17. If this structure sandwich confirms that the meat here is 7.17, then how we understand it could help us on how this passage should be read.
Several points must be made about 7.17. The first two words are a phrase that is used for emphatic time indication [also in 3.21, 6.22, 7.6, 15.23, and 15.25]. This fact alone should be enough to warrant veracity to the historic interpretation. However, there is further evidence. The third word is a negative adverb of time. Then, if stacking three present time words together wasn’t enough, Paul uses two present tense verbs beside one another as if to say, “I myself alone am [not] doing….”
The second chart is not as swaying, but is still icing on the credible cake [I need better word pictures]. It is also a grammatical structure that centers in on the present tense regenerate Paul and his struggles. If you don’t like all this, Doug Moo has better support for both positions in his NICNT Romans commentary on pages 442-452.