Paul A Sinner? How Could This Be?

Q. In Romans 7:14, what sin(s) do you think Paul is referring to? I know there was only one man who lived a sinless life. Yet it is apparent Paul was the most powerful and obedient Christian of all (after his conversion). How was he constantly overcome with sin? Yes he was born with a sin nature like all of us, but as a powerful vessel of Christ, I don’t see him as someone constantly struggling with sin the more he tried not to sin. Your thoughts on this?

A. I believe Paul was being especially candid about himself in Romans 7:14-25 in explaining the impossibility of living up to the standards God requires. Your opinion that “powerful vessels of Christ” don’t fight the same battles with sin as the rest of us is a popular one, but untrue. In fact the opposite is the case. Satan doesn’t bother with most people because their behavior doesn’t influence very many others. But if he can bring down some famous Christian, especially one who is a teacher, then he can create much havoc in the body. I imagine Satan was probing Paul’s human weaknesses constantly with all manner of temptations.

Also, the more we learn about the righteousness of God and the sinfulness of man, the more we realize how wide the gap is. I’m sure Paul was not the kind of open sinner we frequently see in the Church today, but his incredible knowledge of God made Him that much more critical of his own condition.

This kind of introspection led Paul to the inescapable conclusion that God has to see the sins believers commit as being part of our soon to be gone sin nature (Romans 7:20), and not to the “new creation” He already sees us as being (2 Cor. 5:17). Otherwise He couldn’t possibly save us.

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