Romans 7, did Paul continue to sin after conversion?


#1

In my Roman Catholic bible (NABRE), on verses 7:7-25 the commentary says

In other words, the RC interpretation is that when Paul wrote “For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15), Paul wasn’t actually confessing any weakness on his part. Luther thought Paul was speaking personally. Do you think Paul was speaking personally or hypothetically?


#2

In other words, the RC interpretation is that when Paul wrote “For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15), Paul wasn’t actually confessing any weakness on his part. Luther thought Paul was speaking personally. Do you think Paul was speaking personally or hypothetically?

Paul throughout Rom 7 speaks in the present tense and it sounds real to me with no actual basis to conclude he spoke hypothetically plus he ends it with thanking Christ for the solution.


#3

Good point Steve. Right before Paul thanks Jesus he calls himself a wretched man. IMO it would be strange for Paul to say that if he were only speaking hypothetically.


#4

What does everyone else think?


#5

I do not think Paul is testifying to his personal weakness. I think he is using taking the position of a person who is trying in his own strength to do God’s will without the enabling grace that is made available through Christ.

Paul ends this description of the unregenerate man with these words, “So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” By mere self-effort all he can do is WISH to serve the law of God, but in reality, he serves the law of sin that drags him down.

But his argument continues into chapter 8:

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So the “us” in whom the righteous requirement of the law was fulfilled by being in Christ, included Paul. So in chapter 7, he could not have been writing about his personal inability to serve God, but the inability of a person who has not yet been regenerated, and become enabled by the grace of God (See Titus 2)

Here are some thoughts on the matter from a number of early Christians.

Verse 14 of Romans 7

Verse 14 of Romans 7

Verse 15 of Romans 7

Verse 16 of Romans 7

Verse 19 of Romans 7

Verse 25 of Romans 7


#6

Thanks for clearing it up, paidion.


#7

Thanks, Qaz. You might also find the following analogy interesting (I wrote it about 10 years ago). Just as a person is unable to live righteously before appropriating the enabling grace of God, so I was unable to write legibly until I was enabled by the word processor in my computer. I have provided “verse numbers” which correspond to the verses of Romans 7, and the beginning of Romans 8

Chapter 7
12.Handwriting is important, and instruction in it is good.
13. So did that which is good cause my illegible handwriting? No way. It was the natural lack within me (perhaps my left-handedness and my lack of artistic talent) which made the scrawl come out, through the good instruction, in order that my poor handwriting truly be shown to be a scrawl, and through the handwriting instruction given to me, shown to be what it really is—absolutely illegible.
14. I know that handwriting instruction is good. But I am a scrawler.
15. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not write the way I want, but I write the very way that I hate.
16. Now even though I do not write the way I want, I agree that the handwriting instruction I received was good.
17. So then it is not that I do it deliberately, but that weakness that dwells within me is the cause.
18. For I know that no ability for handwriting dwells within me. I can will to write beautifully, but I cannot do it.
19. For I do not write the way I want, but the illegible scrawl that I do not want, is what I do.
20. Now if I scrawl in a way I don’t want, it is not I doing it deliberately, but the lack of skill within me.
21. So I find it to be a law of my nature, that when I want to write beautifully, an ugly scrawl comes out.
22. For in my inmost self, I delight in the thought of writing beautifully and legibly,
23. But I see in my nature another law at war with the law of my mental desire, making me captive to my weakness and my illegible handwriting.
24. Wretched man that I am! What can deliver me from this inability to write legibly?
25. Thank God for my computer! So then, I of myself (without my computer), write beautifully and legibly with my mind, but with my hand, I write an illegible scrawl.

Chapter 8
1.There is now no criticism for those who write documents using a word processor and printer.
2. For the power of the word processor in my computer has set me free from the law of my incapable hand.
3. For the computer has done what handwriting instruction weakened by my inability could not do; by means of a word processor and printer, it did away with my illegible scrawl,
4. in order that the requirements for writing documents may be fulfilled in us who write not with our incapable hands, but with a word processor and printer.


#8

If Rom 7 were the only place Paul lamented about the flesh vs the Spirit maybe a case could be made that it’s not Paul talking about himself in the present tense, but it’s not the only time.

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Gal 5.17 This is a summary of Rom 7 IMHO, plus we have in 1st Tim 1.15 Paul called himself the “chief sinner.”