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There are two questions that must be answered about Paul in Romans chapter seven.

1. Was Paul speaking of sins of ignorance or willful sin?

2 . Was Paul talking about his experience before his conversion or after?

Rom 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

We really have to look no further than that statement by Paul.

If that verse and the following verses refer to Paul sinning wilfully after his conversion then it would mean that from the time of his conversion, through the missionary journeys and up to and including writing this epistle to the Romans - Paul was the slave of sin.

It would mean that Jesus sent a slave of sin to be an apostle to His churches. (I am carnal - sold under sin)

Sold under sin means: As a slave. The preposition ὑπό under, with the accusative, implies direction; so as to be under the power of. (Vincent's word studies)

In Romans 6 Paul states:

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

If Paul was speaking of willful sin after his conversion in Romans 7 and he was a slave to sin - it would mean that his old man was NOT crucified with Christ and that Paul was not freed from sin when he wrote Romans 7.

In Romans 6 Paul states:

Rom 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Again, if Paul was speaking of willful sin after conversion in Romans 7, it would mean that Paul was deliberately choosing to obey sin unto death.

In Romans 6 Paul states:

Rom 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

How could it be possible that the Roman Christians to whom he was writing were made free from sin but Paul himself had not been freed. Impossible!


1. Paul knew the commandments and said they were just, holy and good : (Therefore it could not be ignorance of the law)

Rom 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

Rom 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

2. He knew that what he was doing was sin: (Therefore it could not be unintentional sin)

Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

3. Paul wanted to stop but could not. (Therefore he was not ignorant of his actions)

4. He knew he was lost if he could not stop doing evil (The wages of sin is death) and yet he was helpless before the power of sin which dwelt in him. (Therefore he was not ignorant of the consequences of willful sin)

Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?


If we think of verses 7:14 through 7:24 where Paul changes from speaking in a past tense to a present tense (I am carnal - sold under sin) as a narrative describing himself as he was before his conversion it makes perfect sense. Imagine Paul looking at a motion picture of his life before he was born of God and describing what he was seeing to the readers in Rome -

"See how I am carnal?"
"See how I want to obey God but I cannot.
"See how I try but my flesh is under the power of sin even though my mind wants to do right."

"And then I cry out for the power to be delivered from this flesh that will consume me."

The next verse is the answer to His plea for help.

Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Then Paul explains that if he follows after his mind (spirit) he will serve the law of God but if he follows after his flesh he will serve the law (rule) of sin.

Rom 7:25 (contd.) So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Whichever side we choose to be "with" is the law which we choose to obey - either the law of God or the law of sin. Shall we choose to be with God or sin? (see 6:16 "You are the slave of whom you choose to obey )

And then the conclusion: There is no condemnation because "in Christ Jesus" we follow the Spirit - not the flesh. We are with Jesus and against sin!

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Harold Kupp

Creation date: Oct 30, 2011 6:30am     Last modified date: Jul 15, 2017 6:22pm   Last visit date: Jul 14, 2024 2:20am
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