Tag Archive | romans

”For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law”, Rom 2:12

works of the lawPeople can perform righteousness without having heard about the Bible content

The common question about the inhabitants in the jungle ”What about those who live in the jungle and who have never heard about the gospel?”

People are certainly not doomed due to the unfortunate circumstances of having been born in the jungle with no chance to hear about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 2 tells us:

Rom. 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;

1 Tim. 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a PURE HEART, and of a GOOD CONSCIENCE, and of faith unfeigned: 

Apparently people are able to naturally do the things contained in the law even though they do not have it written down for them. In this case it does not mean all the 613 Jewish laws containing many ceremonial aspects, but it does mean the law of love, or the law of God that has existed ever since the days of Adam and Eve. It has always been against nature to murder, steal, lie and commit adultery. On the question (from a young man) what one must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus did not say ”Just believe in me”, but he said:

Mark. 10:19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

Other versions of the same story:

Matt. 19:17 — if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

Luke 10:26 — What is written in the law? how readest thou?27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

If you love God with all your heart, soul and strength and your neighbor as yourself, then you automatically also follow the other detailed commandments, to not murder, steal, lie, commit adultery and dishonor your parents. Adam and Eve were not only expected to not eat of the tree of knowledge, but both prior to their sin and afterwards they were expected to stand with their Creator and by doing so obey the basic commandments. The promise for us today is ”Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). If we truly walk with God, we automatically obey his commandments. If we truly love God, we naturally obey him.

Also the people in the jungle know that there is a Creator (his divine attributes can clearly be seen in nature) and that it is wrong to treat others in a way that we would not like to be treated ourselves. To take another person’s life, or to steal, lie and cause someone to be jealous and sad, are things that our conscience will tell us are wrong. It is true that we can learn to make our conscience more flexible with time, but this does not change the fact that we are deviating from the law of love. Our upbringing, traditions and culture can affect our understanding and reasoning, but in the end we have all been given a conscience and God will judge us based on our thoughts and actions.

Rom. 1:18-32 makes it very clear that we have no excuse if we do not seek our Creator and do good:

Rom. 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  —28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Romans 2 and sinning without the lawfree will 2

It says in Rom. 2:1-3 that God will pay attention to how we judge others, and he will judge us accordingly – and most of all righteously. God can see the whole truth about our hearts. v. 5-8 continues to explain how God will judge us. If we want to escape his wrath on the day judgment (or the day of wrath), we must obey the truth and patiently do good. If we harden our hearts and do not obey the truth, we will be in big trouble unless we repent. This is about a spiritual life or death:

Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, ETERNAL LIFE:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and WRATH

Paul continues to explain that it is actually the doers of the law who will be justified. Also gentiles can ”do” the law (without having the law) and this includes also people in the jungle:

Rom. 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

The NKJV renders v. 15: ”who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)”. 

Paul made a clear distinction between the Jewish law and the law of love (which has always been in force):

1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, BUT KEEPING OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD.

Rom. 2 ends with Paul explaining to the Jews (who are the ones in focus in his letter since they are confused about the law) that gentiles can indeed fulfill the law – people who might not be circumcised but who do what the law says. It is the heart that counts (the inside) and not an outwardly circumcision.

Rom. 2:25 For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.26 Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law?28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Jesus said (of course without suggesting that circumcision is a sin):

Matt. 23:25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

So do we not need Jesus since we could be saved without him? Yes of course we do. There is no forgiveness without the blood, and Jesus shed his blood for us as a final sacrifice once and for all (more in Hebrews). We have no authority to forgive ourselves for our own sins. The gospel about Jesus Christ urges people to repent from their sin and live in the light. People need to hear about Jesus and what he did for humanity. They need to understand the love that God has for us. Jesus is the living bread!

John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

Naturally we cannot believe in Jesus Christ if we have not heard about him:

Rom. 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me.21 But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.

The law was the Jews’ schoolmaster to bring them to Christ, and when Christ came this detailed schoolmaster was no longer needed. Now our guide is rather the holy Spirit.

Gal. 3:19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.—23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Rom. 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

Ja. 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well

1 mos. 3Being saved prior to Jesus, in the Old Testament

People who lived prior to Jesus Christ made an entrance to earth as God in flesh could of course be saved without having heard about him. Naturally the people of Israel had heard about God their Creator, but Paul’s explanation in Romans 1-2 applies both for them and for the gentiles. Moreover, people who lived prior to Moses could of course be saved as well without having heard about the son of God. They too had laws to obey, despite the absence of commandments written on stone tablets. God said early about sin:

Gen. 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, SIN lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and THOU SHALT RULE OVER HIM.

In Ezekiel we can find a good explanation how we can be saved. By believing in God and do good (just like in the New Testament):

Ez. 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: THE SOUL THAT SINNETH, IT SHALL DIE.5 But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, 8 He that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man,9 Hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, HE SHALL SURELY LIVE, saith the Lord God.13 Hath given forth upon usury, and hath taken increase: shall he then live? he shall not live: he hath done all these abominations; he shall surely die; his blood shall be upon him.17 That hath taken off his hand from the poor, that hath not received usury nor increase, hath executed my judgments, hath walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his father, he shall surely live.18 As for his father, because he cruelly oppressed, spoiled his brother by violence, and did that which is not good among his people, lo, even he shall die in his iniquity.19 Yet say ye, Why? doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? When the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live.20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?32 For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.

You can see the same story in Ez. 33.

The IMPUTED righteousness of CHRIST – is not Biblical

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it [believing God] was IMPUTED UNTO HIM FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: and he was called the Friend of God. James. 2:23 

hypocriteThe word ”imputed” comes from the Greek word ”logizomai” (Strong’s 3049) which could be translated as ”reckon, count, charge with; reason, decide, conclude; think or suppose”. Notice that it doesn’t mean ”transfer”, but rather ”reckoned” or ”counted as”.

The word is found 41 times in the New Testament, and 4 of those times the word is translated as ”impute” in the KJV.  Rom 4:6-11 and  22-24 have the same Greek word (logizomai) as in James 2:23, and it doesn’t mean ”transfer” there either. These verses use the same word even if they are translated differently:

For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it [believing God] was counted unto him for righteousness. Rom. 4:3

Even as Abraham believed God, and it [believing God] was accounted to him for righteousness. Gal. 3:6

And therefore it [faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. Rom. 4:22

CountedRom 2:26, Rom 4:3, Rom 4:5, Rom 9:8, Reckoned = Luk 22:37, Rom 4:4, Rom 4:9-10 and Rom 6:11, Rom 8:18, Accounted = Rom 8:36, Gal 3:6

We are asked to be righteous just like Jesus is righteous  

This doesn’t mean that the only means to get saved is to have lived a life free of sins just like Jesus did, but neither is the promise”If you only believe in Jesus, he will confirm you as righteous even if you’re not”. First we must be cleansed in the blood of Jesus – upon repentance – and then the idea is to be led by the Spirit and not by the flesh, which no one else will do for us. We are not able to go piggybacking on Jesus.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.7 Little children, let no man deceive you: HE THAT DOETH RIGHTEOUSNESS IS RIGHTEOUS, EVEN AS HE IS RIGHTEOUS.8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

God’s wrath is still upon us if we sin, and if we are under God’s wrath we are not saved.

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (NASB)

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

Romans 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

Jesus righteousness cannot be transferred/injected into us and we are not righteous unless we LIVE righteously

Our righteousness does not depend on being injected another person’s righteousness, but our righteousness depends on how we live our lives.  

Jesus lived a perfect life (always being obedient to God the Father) and died on the cross for us, and in THAT WAY he is our righteousness. Had Jesus not lived an obedient life for us, he could not have been our righteousness, because the atonement wouldn’t have been perfect. He is NOT our righteousness because he has transferred his righteousness into us (and neither did he literally take our sins on himself as in some kind of an exchange) to make us righteous in position despite that we still live in sin. It’s important to understand that Jesus did NOT obey our moral obligations for us and instead of us!  The Bible talks about imputed righteousness but NEVER the imputed righteousness ”of Christ.  We can read about the righteousness of GOD throughout the Bible (and that Jesus is righteous), but the idea that God looks upon us and sees the righteousness of Christ in us (or the blood of Jesus) instead of our sin, will result in a license to sin. When God looked at the churches in Revelation, he DID notice their sins and asked them to repent.

We are not justified by the works of the law but by God’s grace, so to say that we need perfect obedience to the Torah to be credited to our account in order to be justified is justification by works instead of justification by grace/mercy. God cannot declare the guilty to be innocent – like in a forensic justification – as that would be a lie, but God can PARDON the guilty and he does so if the guilty person repents from his sins.

Abraham is given as an example when it comes to being righteous/justified through faith, because he was counted as righteous BEFORE the law of Moses started to apply. Not all who have Abraham as a forefather are the children of Abraham and saved, but only those who are spiritually circumcised (in their hearts) and BELIEVE the way he did – and he showed his faith with some amazing deeds (work). Those who WALK as he did and obey God as he did (which is something we DO) are circumcised in heart and the true children of Abraham. We do not deserve salvation by anything we do (or believe) but faith without deeds is dead.  We can read ”blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin”, which shows that all people apparently don’t have sin – namely those whom the Lord do not impute sin. Who are they? They are the ones who have confessed their sins, repented and who walk with Jesus. So when we read ”God imputeth righteousness without works”, it means the works of the law (the Torah and the 613 laws in it), and naturally God wouldn’t impute righteousness to Abraham if he only sat under a tree and ”believed” without showing his faith by OBEDIENCE. Not obedience to the law of Moses (which didn’t exist at the time) but obedience to GOD.

When it comes to Rom. 4:6, it doesn’t say that a person is especially appreciated and blessed if he doesn’t have any works to show up at all and that he only has ”faith alone”. If that were true, it would mean that the less works we have, the more blessed we are and the better it is. No, Paul’s point is to get the jews to understand that they are not saved due to being born Jews and/or for obeying the Torah (613 laws), but a person is blessed/saved if he repents from his sins, believes in Jesus and through this procedure becomes cleansed from his sins. Those are blessed whose trespasses are FORGIVEN, because then God will not impute sin to them. Does this wonderful promise only apply to the Jews? No, Paul wants them to understand that also the uncircumcised (the gentiles) have his promise which is by faith and not by law. Notice how many times we can read about ”circumcision”, so this is what is in focus (the ceremonial law) because the Jews were so concerned about it.

Rom. 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.9 Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.—20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

James doesn’t contradict what Paul is saying. James says that Abraham was justified BY WORKS, and not faith alone. Are we perhaps teaching salvation by works if we choose to quote James?

James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. 

Paul is not disappointed with the Galatians for their suggestion that it’s still necessary to obey the ten commandments faith alone 3

In the letter to the Galatians, the reason for Paul’s objection to Galatians’s attitude is NOT because they wanted to return to silly old laws such as the ten commandments – just like ”Do not kill, steal, lie or commit adultery”. Why would he be disappointed or upset about that? Those commandments have been in use ever since the days of Adam, and they never cease to apply. No, Paul was disappointed with their teaching that circumcision – which is a ceremonial law in the Torah – was still necessary for salvation. The ceremonial laws are not necessary for salvation, but the law of love certainly is (and the ten commandments provide details of how the law of love works). Paul makes a different between the works of the law (Torah), and the obedience of the holy Spirit.  The Torah was our  schoolmaster to keep us in order  until the arrival of Jesus – after Jesus death the holy Spirit took over as our guide – and we’re supposed to have the law of love in our hearts. We will never be ”free” from the requirement to love God and our neighbor as ourselves, and as long we are slaves to sin (obey sin) we are definitely not free.

Acts. 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Gal. 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.— 19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.—22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Paul makes it clear that sinning = spiritual death (also for christians).

Gal. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

The significance of having our faith ”imputed” as righteousness, is that God forgives us our transgressions and treats us as though we have never sinned. This means that our sins disappears (without taking a detour in the body of Jesus) and God doesn’t have to LIE to declare us not guilty.  We are 100% cleansed when we are forgiven and free from our sins, but it doesn’t say ”once cleansed always cleansed”. If we become dirty once again, we’re back at square one.

2 Cor. 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.filthy pig

2 Pet. 2: 18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Paul was not the chief of sinners and holy, righteous and BLAMELESS at the same time

Paul said: 

Romans 7:14 But I am carnal, sold under sin

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is DEATH 

Hmm, was Paul BOTH carnal and not carnal at the same time, or is he saying the he is carnal and therefore spiritually dead OR is he saying that he was FORMERLY carnal and sold under sin? I’d say the latter.  Paul also said:

 I Cor. 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and SIN NOT 

Romans 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?

Paul is saying that if you obey sin it leads to DEATH (and naturally spiritual death since all people will die physically whether they sin or not). If Paul was the chief of sinners while writing Romans, it must mean he obeyed SIN and served two masters! The Bible is clear about that  sinning and serving two masters will send a person to hell. So Paul wasn’t saved while writing Romans? How can a person be the chief of sinners and BLAMELESS (which Paul says he is) at the same time? To me that is a Bible contradiction. Paul identified himself as a sinner but the context reveals he was talking about his life BEFORE he came to salvation.

1 Tim. 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. (1 Tim. 1:12-16).

When Paul wrote ”I was before a blasphemer and a persecutor” it shows he is writing about the time when he was unsaved in his past. He also said ”I acted ignorantly in unbelief”. Paul is not speaking of the normal Christian life and when comparing with context it’s apparent that Paul didn’t keep on doing those sinful things, as he frequently taught against.

Just a few verses later Paul warned Timoty to have a GOOD CONSCIENCE. He said 18This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck”. If Paul was the chief of sinners also as a born again christian, then how could he possibly have a good conscience, and how could he possibly expect Timothy to have a good conscience if he fails himself? Can someone be a chief of sinners with a good conscience before God?

Acts 23:1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Acts. 24:16 And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

Rom. 9:1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost

2 Cor. 1:12 For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

2 Tim. 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day

Hebr. 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly

Would Paul exhort others to stop sinning when he himself was carnal and sold under sin? Paul says sin dwells in him (Romans 7:17, 20) and he says he is a wretched man (Romans 7:24). Can a person have sin dwelling in him at the same time as he is free of sin? Wouldn’t this be a clear contradiction? Did the chief of sinners write the major part of the NT and ask his readers to stop sinning and to not be hypocrites at the same time as HE was the biggest hypocrite? Paul’s desire is to find someone who can free him from his sins which lead to death (Rom 7:24), and he makes it clear in Rom. 8:2 that the fight he had in the flesh belonged to his former life.  Right after he describes his bondage to sin and the law before he was saved, he says, ”There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” He also said ”IF YE LIVE AFTER THE FLESH YE SHALL DIE”. Based on Paul’s own words a person who sins is SPIRITUALLY DEAD, so clearly Paul could not have been the chief of sinners when saying this.

He is speaking in the present tense, but at which present time? Paul is using a mechanism of literature called, Past Perfect with Present Perfect tense. It is when you speak of past events as if it were present tense. There is a transition by first speaking of the past, transferring in present perfect tense, then shifting it back to the actual present.

Rom 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?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 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.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?17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

Rom 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.—:That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.—12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Paul says that we are either slaves to sin OR slaves to righteousness.  If Paul was a slave to sin (chief of sinners) then he would be spiritually DEAD by his own admission. We can’t serve two masters. So again, Paul was not describing himself from a christian perspective in Romans. 7. Paul’s behavior agreed with what he taught all the churches:

Eph. 5:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.Be not ye therefore partakers with them.For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

Col. 3: 5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds

1 Thess. 4:For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication:That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.

1 Cor. 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

Phil. 4:9Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, DO: and the God of peace shall be with you.

1 Thess. 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory

1 Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

2 Cor 10:5Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Hebr.12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us–Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

So in conclusion, either Paul was exactly so holy, blameless, righteous and pure as he claimed to be or he was the biggest hypocrite in the Bible, and maybe in history. Make your choice but you can’t have it both ways.

Paul was also not chosen to believe, and no one is forced to believe and obey God. Paul however did believe and obey God:

So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven (Acts 26:19)

Neither can we take Phil. 3:12-13 as support for that Paul couldn’t stop sinning. Also v. 10 must be taken into account.

Phil. 3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before—20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Clearly the above concerns another type of perfection than the moral perfection since it talks about the resurrection when we will get new bodies and become perfect individuals in a physical sense. As long as we live on earth we will have to cope with our fragile bodies which sometimes give us pain. That’s another matter than being able to live obedient to God. Naturally Paul believed it was achievable to reach a moral perfection while on earth, before we die physically. He even speaks about ”as many as are perfect” just a couple of verses later:

15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

Not even Jesus was ”perfected” before his resurrection:

Luk 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected

PHARAOH is told to have hardened his own heart – Bible verses

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth (Rom 9:17) 

God’s had not YET destroyed Pharaoh in order to further demonstrate His power. God spared Pharaoh for a while, instead of destroying Egypt more quickly. Rom. 9:17-18 is a reference to this verse:

Exodus:9:15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. 16And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.17AS YET EXALTEST THOU THYSELF AGAINST MY PEOPLE; THAT THOU WILT NOT LET THEM GO? (KJV)

Notice in this reference, that Pharaoh is suggested to have exalted himself against God’s people by refusing to let his people go. This was an idea coming from Pharaoh himself and not from God. Another translation is:

Exodus 9:15-16 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up [or have spared you, NIV mg.] for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.  

The word hardened consists of three different Hebrew words used to describe Pharaoh’s heart condition. Kabed which has the idea of to be heavy, insensible, or dull, qasah which conveys the sense of being hard, severe, or fierce, hazaq, meaning to be or grow firm, strong. The plagues are called ”judgments” (7.4), because God judged Egypt in its treatment of Israel. We can read in the Bible that people ”perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess 2:10) and that would have been an option also for Pharaoh. Instead he ended up much like the rebellious people spoken about in Romans 1, who God gave up to a depraved mind because of their wickedness.

There were to be ten wonders in all, each time a sign judgment would be delivered for the purpose of freeing Israel. These become more severe as the months go by (approximately 6 months). The magicians finally acknowledged; ”This is the finger of God” (8:19) so the judgements were apparently effective. Pharaoh admitted this off and on through the ordeal (9.27; 10.17), the officials did likewise (9.20; 10.17), the Israelites (14.31) and many Egyptians (12.38) went with the Israelites (and were saved during the Passover judgment/plague–12.48-49), and the Philistines in Canaan honored Israel’s God and knew all about Pharaoh’s folly (I Sam 4.8; 6.5-6).

Pharaoh hardened his own heart numerous times before God did. If Pharaoh started out to harden his heart first (even though the Bible says the opposite) wouldn’t this mean that Pharaoh’s heart was NOT hard/hardened BEFORE this occurred? This is usually not what reformed believers believe could be the case with ”non-elect”, but rather that wicked people have hardened hearts all the time. When is a person’s heart in risk to be hardened?

Hebr. 3:7 Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 HARDEN NOT YOUR HEARTS, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness

This means that it’s our responsibility to not harden our hearts, and we can see that we get hardened hearts when hearing the voice of God and refusing to hearken to him. This could explain why we can read that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart at the same time as we read that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Before the first contact with Moses and his God, Pharaoh’s heart was not hard/hardened because he had never faced any options about adhering to God’s requests or not. (I’m not saying Pharaoh was necessarily ”saved” during that time, because he could still have lived in sin and against his own conscience.) Some might experience hardening of their own hearts and lives if they know that God is calling them to come to him – maybe through another person who evangelizes for them – but due to fear, peer pressure, or similar, they decide to reject the calling even though they believe it’s divine. They have then hardened their hearts, or we could say it’s the evangelist who hardened their hearts since he is the one who ”caused” the hardening to happen by evangelizing to them. Had he not done so, they would remain in their ignorance. So both alternatives are valid depending on how we look at it. The same evangelist might approach the same people yet again, and once again ”harden” them when he reminds them of that God wants them to repent for their sins and accept him as their Savior. If they once again reject the calling, they have once again hardened their hearts (or the evangelist did). I believe street preachers constantly ”harden people’s hearts” when they preach to them about repentance and that God is calling them to come to him to get life. Even though some of them realize that they do live in sin and really should turn their lives around, they still choose to reject the offer.

Pharaoh is said to have hardened his heart in the below verses

Ex 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said.

Ex 8:32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

Ex 9:34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. (Here we can read that Pharao SINNED by hardening his heart, so if we want to believe God is the one hardening it, then GOD is the one who forced Pharao to sin.)

1 Sam 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? (Here the pagan kings understood the root cause of Pharaoh’s problem was HIS OWN hardening.)

Verses in Exodus with no source of agent mentioned

7:13 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard (and the heart of Pharaoh is strong, and he hath not hearkened unto them, as Jehovah hath spoken” / Young’s Literal)
7:14 ”Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding
7:22 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard
8:19 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard”
9:7 ”Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding”
9:35 ”Pharaoh’s heart was hard”

God is said to have done the hardening in the below verses in Exodus:

4:21 ”I will harden his heart” (future – a prophesy)
7:3 ”I will harden Pharaoh’s heart” (future – prophesy)
9:12 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
10:1 ”I have hardened his heart”
10:20 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
10:27 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
11:10 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
14:4 ”I will harden Pharaoh’s heart”
14:8 ”God hardened Pharaoh’s heart”
14:17 ”I will harden the Egyptians’ hearts”  

This means, that the first mention of someone hardening Pharaoh’s heart is in Ex. 8:15, where Pharaoh is said to have done it. Not that it matters, considering what I’ve written above. This is what might have happened to Pharaoh:

Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:—28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God GAVE THEM OVER TO A REPROBATE MIND, to do those things which are not convenient;—31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Examples of hardening of a heart

2 Chron 36:11 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.13 And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel.

Ps 95:7For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

Pro 28:13He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.14 Happy is the man that feareth always: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief.

Pro_21:29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way. 

Isaiah 63: 17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.18 The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary. (Notice that one could be aware of this condition and ask God to change it. Pharaoh could have done the same thing.)

Dan 5:18 O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, and honour: 19And for the majesty that he gave him, all people, nations, and languages, trembled and feared before him: whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive; and whom he would he set up; and whom he would he put down. 20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him (Note the means of self-hardening was pride. In this case, God punished the ruler with deposition rather than additional and prolonging hardening)

Deut 15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.

Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward

Jer. 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Deut 30:1 And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,2 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; 3That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee. 4If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (Notice that God will circumcise their hearts AFTER they return to Him which is a condition.)

Ps 119: 17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word. 18Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law (Notice that the writer can see well enough to know he needs ‘more visibility)

1 King. 8:58 That he may incline our hearts unto him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.59 And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication before the LORD, be nigh unto the LORD our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require:60That all the people of the earth may know that the LORD is God, and that there is none else.61 Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day. (Notice that one can ask God to turn our hearts)

2 Chron. 12:14 And he did evil, because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord.

1 Chron. 29:18 O LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, our fathers, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and prepare their heart unto thee: 19 And give unto Solomon my son a perfect heart, to keep thy commandments, thy testimonies, and thy statutes, and to do all these things, and to build the palace, for the which I have made provision. (Notice that these things can be prayed for)

Mark 9:23Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. 24And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (This person expressed faith and asked to be given more faith. We know when we need ”unhardening” or renewal)

Being carnally minded is DEATH but we can attain moral perfection NOW

Romans 7 is often used as support for that we can have our sins and our salvation too, but we must consider ALL of Romans 7 and particularly Romans 6 and 8.  Paul ends chapter 7 by telling us about the SOLUTION to his problem:

Rom. 7:224O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

He also says:

Rom. 6:18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.19I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.20For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 21What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is DEATH. 22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life

Rom. 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who WALK not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

1 Cor. 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

We can all see a distinction between these two claims coming from the same man – PAUL:

Rom. 7:14 but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Rom. 8:For to be carnally minded is death; (but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.)

Clearly Paul couldn’t be both carnal and NOT carnal at the same time. If we are sold under sin we are NOT spiritually alive but spiritually dead. Paul said that as a converted man he lived with a good  conscience void of offense

Acts 23:1And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.

Acts 24: 16And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

2 Tim. 1:3I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;

The description in Romans 7 is not of the converted life of  Paul, but a narration describing what happens when an unconverted sinner’s mind encounters the law of God and is convicted by it.

What does Paul mean with ”perfection?

Php. 3:12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

Paul was talking about being free from physical corruption and attaining physical perfection, so not the same as MORAL perfection.The verses right before make it clear that he is talking about the resurrection and our new glorified bodies which will not be corrupted:

Php. 3: 10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Paul was certainly not saying that moral perfection is unattainable in this life since he continues to say that many have already attained perfection:

Phil. 3:14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.). 

Read also:

Rom. 8:12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh13For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

1 Cor. 9:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Not even Jesus was ”perfected” until he was resurrected:

Luke 13:32 And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.