The apostle Paul’s talk on the struggles of sin in Romans 7 is one of the most controversial passages of the entire Bible, a pastor has said.
Jordan Standridge, pastor of evangelism at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, wrote in The Cripplegate earlier this week that Christian believers face a dichotomy in what Paul is saying in the passage.
"We are to kill sin in our lives, but no matter what we do, sin will always be present until our very last breath," he wrote.
"Romans 7 is one of the most controversial passages in Scripture as far as debates are concerned. The big question people ask is, is Paul referring to a believer as he talks through Romans 7:14-25?" Standridge positioned.
“Even among those who agree that he is speaking about a believer, there is much debate as to whether the person described is a mature or an immature Christian.”
The above-mentioned verses read:
“We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”
The passage continues: “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”
Standridge offered his interpretation of Romans 7:14-25, and said that it describes the type of Christian that believers should all strive to be.
In his reasoning, the pastor pointed out that Paul makes it clear in earlier letters that he hates sin; that he is humble; is happiest when he is holy; and places his hope in Heaven.
"True believers long for Heaven for many different reasons, but the greatest of which is that they will be with Jesus and worship Him without any sin holding us back," he concluded.
Dan Delzell, pastor of Wellspring Church in Papillion, Nebraska, wrote in an op-ed for The Christian Post in 2016 that Romans 7 continues to be a source of disagreement for Christians.
"Some believers have concluded that Paul was referring here to his previous life before he became a Christian," he observed. "Many others are convinced verses 14-25 can only be describing Paul's life as a Christian."
Like Standridge, Delzell said that he holds the latter view.
"I believe this passage describes not only the apostle's Christian experience, but also the experience of every believer," he wrote at the time.
"Don't be surprised if you experience at least 60 seconds of temptation today. Believe it or not, some Christians actually experience hours of temptation in a given day. Perhaps you can relate to that experience,” Delzell added.
"After all, you are still in your mortal body. You still possess a basement room within your soul. And you won't be able to get rid of it until you enter Heaven. But you can certainly learn to say ‘no’ to anything that does not please God. And that's exactly how the apostle Paul was seeking to live his life.”