Rom 7:15 I practice the very evil that I do not want to do

Poor Paul,  who as Peter tells us is at times hard to understand (2 Pet 3:16)

 One of the things Paul said that many people misunderstand are his words in Romans 7:15, 19, where he says,  “I am not doing what I would like to do, but….I practicethe very evil that I do not want to do, that I do?”  Roman 7:15, 19

Is this the same man that tells us over and over again that we "must stop sinning"? (1 Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:21; 2 Tim 2:19; Heb 10:26-29;  see also 1 John 2:4), that "we can no longer do the things we want to do"? (Gal 5:17).

So many people today turn to Paul’s words in Roman chapter 7 to justify they’re continuing in sin. But did Paul really mean for us to believe that he had no control over his actions? Was he actually saying that although he wanted to do the right thing he was unable to? Paul goes as far as to say that he was “practicing the very evil” that he did not want to do."  Is this the same man that said he offered himself as "a model" for us to follow (2 Thes 3:9), and that we should imitate him, even as he imitated the Messiah (1 Cor 11:1)?  No, it’s absolutely NOT the same man. I‘ll explain in a moment.

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I remembered some 30 years ago, after surrendering my life to the Savior,  I said something that I shouldn’t have said, something that was unbecoming of a follower of the Messiah. At that time, with my mis-understanding of Hebrew 10:26, “if we willfully sin after ….. receiving  knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins.“ KJV,  I felt as though I had just lost my salvation. Feeling terrible I called my cousin, who at the time I felt was a very 'religious' man and explained to him how I thought I had just committed the unforgivable sin. His response was "Oh don't feel bad we all continue to sin, we never stop. Even the apostle Paul continued to sin after he was saved, he continued doing the evil things that he didn’t want to do.“ 

I was shocked! I asked him why he said that and he directed me to Romans chapter 7, where we have the apostle Paul saying:

vs. 15.  “I am not doing what I would like to do, but I am practicing the very thing I hate doing.”

vs. 19, I practice the very evil that I do not want to do, that I do.”

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Just as my cousin did, so many people today misunderstand the context of what it is Paul said in Romans chapter 7. They incorrectly think Paul was speaking in the present tense, as though after his conversion he continued to practice sin. These same people completely ignore all the warnings that Paul gives us, in that “no sinner will inherit the Kingdom of God.“  Please consider carefully a few of the warnings that Paul gives to those individuals that continue in sin. And afterwards we’ll take a closer look at just what Paul meant when he said, “I do the very evil I do not want to do.” Rom 7:19.

In writing to the Corinthians Paul warns them, and us, not to be deceived into thinking we can continue in sin and still inherit the Kingdom of God.  

  • 1 Cor 6:9-10  Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither *fornicators, nor *idolaters, nor adulterers, nor *effeminate, nor *abusers of themselves with mankind, nor *thieves, nor *covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionist, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

After listing an array of sins, Paul warns the Galatians that those who practice such things, even one of these things, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. 

  • Gal 5:19-21  The deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, animosity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, and I’m warning you, just as I have warned you in the past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  • .the righteous judgment of Yahuweh who will render to each person according to his deeds; to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life. Rom 2:5-7

Can you imagine the apostle after so adamantly warning us to stop sinning, then telling us in Romans 7:15-19, that he, himself, was unable to stop?  And yet that is exactly what he said. Not only does he tell us that he was unable to stop sinning but that he was “practicing the very evil” that he did not want to do."  But how did Paul mean for us to understand his words in Rom 7:15-19? Was he actually telling us to do something that he was unable to do himself?  NO, absolutely not.

In Romans chapter 7 Paul is describing the “old man” that he once was, a man “sold into bondage to sin“ (vs. 14), wanting to do the right thing but was unable to do it. (vs.’s 15-19).

I’ve often said, and firmly believe, that if someone were to read Romans chapters 6,7 and 8 in context Paul’s words in chapter 7 would not be so misunderstood. So what we’ll do here is go through and point out the highlights of chapter 6, then go on to look at chapters 7 and 8. At which time I believe it will become apparent that in chapter 7 Paul was talking about the way he “once was” and not the “new man“ that he became when he “crucified the flesh with it’s passions and lusts (Gal 5:24). 

In chapter 6 the apostle Paul is not “suggesting” that we stop sinning, he’s “commanding” it.

Romans chapter 6

  • God forbid , that we continue in sin  (vs. 1-2)

  • our old self was crucified with Messiah, (vs. 6)

  • he who has died is freed from sin. (vs. 7)

  • consider yourselves to be dead to sin (vs. 11)

  • do not let sin reign in your mortal body  (vs. 12).

  • do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin  (vs. 13).

  • sin shall not be master over you (vs. 14)

  • shall we sin ….God forbid! (vs. 15)

  • you "were" slaves of sin… (vs. 17)

  • having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (vs. 18)

Does any of what we just read in chapter 6 sound like something a man would say that had no control over his actions, as Paul describes himself to be in chapter 7? A man who was “unable to do the good he wanted to do, and was practicing the very evil he didn’t want to do?“ Rom 7:15-19.  I can assure “it was not” the same man. 

Romans chapter 7

In Rom 7:7-12,  Paul is referring “back to a time” when he was alive apart from the Law (vs. 9,10). But when the Law, which Paul tells us is “holy, righteous, and good“ (vs.12) came alive Paul died.

Finding himself a slave to his flesh, “sold into bondage to sin” (vs. 14), doing the very things he did not want to do (vs. 15-19). 

In desperation Paul cried out, "oh, wretched man that I am! who will deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom 7:24). And as is the case with every person that surrenders their life to the Messiah, Yahuweh heard Paul’s prayer and delivered him from his body of death.

Rom 7:25 I thank Yahuweh, through Yahoshua our Messiah....so then with the mind I myself now serve the law of Yahuweh; but with the flesh the law of sin..

It was Paul’s mind, his heart and intellect, that now ruled his life, bringing his flesh under subjection. Paul was no longer that “old man” doing the very evil he didn’t want to do. He was now the “new man”  which is renewed in the knowledge of him that created him.

  • Col 3:9  … seeing that you have put off the “old man” with his deeds;

  • Col 3:10  And have put on the “new man“, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

  • Eph 4:22  … in reference to your former manner of life, you laid aside the “old man“, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit,

  • Eph 4:23  and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

  • Eph 4:24  and put on the “new man“, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

It was no longer Paul that lived but  Messiah that was now living in him, and he was “NO LONGER” doing the very evil he once did.

  • Gal 2:20  I am crucified with Messiah: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Messiah lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

  • Gal 5:17  For the flesh lusted against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that you would.  

Paul died to himself by “crucifying the flesh with its passions and lusts. 

  • Gal 5:24  Now those who belong to Messiah Yahoshua have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  

  • 1Co 10:13 "...God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, ...with the temptation Yahuweh will provide the us with way of escape..., so that you will be able to endure it.

In Roman chapter 8 Paul makes it clear that the man “he once was“ - the man he described in Roman 7 who was in bondage to sin (Rom 7:14), allowing the flesh to control his life (Rom 7:15-19), would not and could not have inherited the Kingdom of Yahuweh. With his mind, that is the spirit of Messiah in him, Paul now controlled his 'flesh', he was no longer a “slave to sin.“

Roman chapter 8

  • those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (vs. 5)

  • the mind set on the flesh is death …., (vs. 6)

  • the mind set on the flesh is an enemy of toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of Yahuweh, for it is not even able to do so, (vs.7)

  • and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (vs. 8)

  • ... if you are living according to the flesh, you must die (vs’s 2-13)

  • but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (vs.13)

  • For all who are being led by the Spirit of Yahuweh, these are sons of Yahuweh. (vs. 14)

Hopefully, it’s obvious to all that in Romans chapter 7 Paul is describing the “old man” that he once was, a man sold into bondage to sin (vs. 14), unable to do the things he wanted to do (vs‘s 15-19). For he was now a “new man” in Messiah (Eph 4:22-24).

A man who “crucified the flesh with it’s passions and lusts" (Gal 5:24). 

A man who now had the Messiah living in him and through him (Gal 2:20),

A man who could do all things through the Messiah who strengthened him (Phil 4:13)

That “old man” died and when Paul was buried with the Messiah at baptism (Rom 6:1-3). He was now the “new man“ that rose up to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4).

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The apostle Peter warns us that many people will be destroyed on Judgment Day due to their misunderstanding of some of the things Paul said (2 Pet 3:16) my prayer is that you’ll not among them. On Judgment Day many are going to find out when it’s to late just how wrong they were in thinking they could continue in sin, when they hear the words of the Savior, “I never knew you, depart from me you workers of Lawlessness“ Matt 7:21-23.

The Messiah made it clear that his disciples would "know the truth, and the truth would set them free from sin" - John 8:31-35.

The "truth" that sets us free is that those who lose their lives (Matt 10:38-39; Luke 9:23-24) taking upon themselves the "yoke" of the Messiah (Matt 11:28-30), and are "walking even as He walked" (1 John 2:6) will not continue in sin (Heb 10:26; 1 John 2:4-56; 1 John 3:5-9).

With all that we've read by the apostle Paul in Romans chapters 6 and 8, along with all he that he tells us in all his epistles about no longer allowing sin to reign in our bodies (Rom 6:12-18), for someone to continue to believe that Paul was still "in bondage to sin" (Rom 7:14), practicing the very evil he did not want to do "after his conversion" are denying the very words of the One who bought them (Tit 2:14).

Yahoshua stated very emphatically that "everyone who commits sin is the slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever" - John 8:34-35.

  • "...if the Son makes you free from sin, you will be free indeed" - John 8:36.

  • "...by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments" - 1 John 2:3.

  •    the firm foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, ....., "Everyone who names the name of Messiah is to abstain from sin." - 2 Tim 2:19

 Any questions or comments anyone might have in any thing I said above please let me know and I’ll address them. 

(I’ve added a longer version of Roman 7, in which I go through and explain chapters 6,7 and 8, for those that still might think Paul remained in “bondage to sin” (Rom 7:14) even after his conversion. If you’d be interested in reading it (click here for the Long Version of Roman 7.)

Shalom Reuven.  

* practicing sin - we all at times “stumble and sin” (James 3:2). But there are many warnings in the Bible concerning those that knowingly commit sin.

  • Heb 10:26  For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.

  •  John  5:14 …go and sin no more unless a worse thing happen to you

  •  1Jn 3:5  You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

  • 1Jn 3:6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.

  • 1Jn 3:7-8  Little children, make sure no one deceives you; ….the one who practices sin is of the devil; ….the Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

  • 1Jn 3:9  No one who is born of Yahuweh practices sin ….