In Romans 7:7-25, Paul contrasts the pre-Christian condition of the sinner. Many use this as “proof” to excuse Christians who continue to habitually sin. A careful reading shows this is not about the struggles of a born again believer at the time of this writing. There are several reasons why this is not Paul’s present condition or the condition of any born again believer.
1. Paul wrote five letters before the book of Romans. One of those five letters was to the Saints in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians) in which he says, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:10). Does this sound like the person in Romans 7:7-25? It can’t be because this person received the New Birth (Acts 9:17-18), and became a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
2. It contradicts everything he taught up to that chapter (Romans 1:1-7; 6).
3. It goes against the teaching of the very verse before it (Romans 7:6).
4. In Romans 7:14 he says that he is “carnal” and “sold under sin.” Is this the lot of Paul and every born again believer? This is NOT the lot of Paul or of any born-again believer (John 8:30-36; Romans 6:1-23; 8:1-13). Sin is not a substance that is transferred from one person to the next. Sin is a moral issue. Sin “dwells” in sinners because choices are made within us. Please keep in mind the Biblical definition of sin as a voluntary commitment to and pursuit of self-gratification (Romans 8:5-7). That commitment “dwells” in us because it is the stubborn set of the soul (the “will”). For example, if greed “dwells” in us, it is because we put it there; we choose the evil passion and hold on to it in our souls.
5. Twice he says that sin dwells in him (Romans 7:17, 20). Do you have sin dwelling in you or God dwelling in you? (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 6:17; Col. 1:27)
6. Paul says he is a wretched man (Romans 7:24). Is this the description of the man who said he was “made free from sin” (Romans 6:18)?
Paul’s deep desire and what he wants to know is who shall deliver him from the body of this death (Romans 7:24). How does this fit Paul who is a new creature in Christ, who has already received the Saviour way before Romans 7?
Paul makes it clear in the next chapter that the testimony of his struggle was before his salvation for he testifies that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus had made him free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).
It is evident that Paul was not talking about his present condition in Romans 7, but was describing his bondage to sin while under the law, and not his life as a believer who was delivered from the law (Romans 7:6). This is abundantly clear by the fact that 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.”
Not to mention that our “nature” is not sinful in itself. No one is born with a sinful nature. This is Augustine teaching, not the Bible.