|Romans 7:17 |
17 But now no longer I did it, but the sin that remained in me.6
6 But now no longer I did it, but the sin that remained in me. This verse has been mistranslated in all Bibles to read: "It is no longer I who sin, but the sin that remains in me," leaving Paul a miserable sinner, doomed to be a sinner for the rest of his life. The tense in the original Greek is "historical present" tense, used to describe a past event in the present so to dramatize the event for the reader as though he were actually there. The "historical present" tense can be translated as either present tense or past tense. When translated into the present tense, there should have been a note explaining the conditions described by Paul had occurred in the past; instead the translators took license to paint Paul still sinning and like themselves, thus excusing the translator's own perpetual sin for the rest of their life.
Many Christians use this terrible mistranslation as their excuse for remaining in sin. But Paul is talking about the start. He then says: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" And so he was delivered from sin. Paul passed through this state, as everyone must pass through this state before they arrive at the liberty of the sons of God to enjoy Christian freedom. Paul's final state was: it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and he was translated into the Kingdom of Christ. In the next Chapter the first two verses, (Verses 1 and 2 of Chapter 8), Paul states: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who 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 has made me free from the law of sin and death." Rom 8:1-2. Paul was free from sin, no longer walking in restricted flesh; he was walking in the Spirit: obedience to the promptings of God with his words to speak and his deeds to be done.
George Fox wrote extensively on this exact subject:
"And again Satan's messengers and ministers say, Paul cried out and said, ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?’ And he was in a warfare, and therefore people must be in a warfare, and carry a body of death, and a body of sin about with them as long as they live, to the grave, and there is no overcoming nor no victory here. But in this, Satan's messengers and ministers wrong the apostle's words, and do not take them all; for though he cried out, who shall deliver him from that body of death and sin; yet he thanks God through Jesus Christ our Lord, and said, ‘The law of the spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death.’ Mark, he said Christ Jesus had made him free, as in Rom 7:24-25, 8:1-2. And said, there was ‘no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.’ And again, he said, ‘Thanks be to God, who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Cor 15:57. And again, he said, ‘Those who are in Christ are new creatures.’ And again, the apostle said, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.’ 2 Tim 4:7.
Then the apostle, if he had fought the good fight, he was not fighting; and having kept the faith, he kept the victory; for faith is the victory. And John said, ‘his is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.’ 1 John 5:4. And Jesus Christ is the author and finisher of our faith. Heb 12:2. So here you may see the apostle had fought and kept the faith of Christ which is the victory. So he was not always fighting and warring as Satan's messengers would have it, who was a liar from the beginning. For the apostle said, ‘I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, (mark, live), yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ Gal 2:20."
When Jesus is your true Lord and Master, actually guiding your thoughts, words, and deeds, then sin is impossible; when you are truly born again, you cannot sin and are protected from ever sinning again. If you are still sinning, you are a slave to sin, and he who sins is of the devil, not Christ.
Stephen Crisp also wrote extensively on Paul's passing through the state of being a sinner:
From the Word of the Lord within: "Until you witness receiving faith from Christ, you are under the law. Until you witness the law fulfilled in you, you are under the law. There are no laws when you are under complete control of the spirit; you walk in love in obedience as prompted — you don't walk in restricted flesh."
"..when he would do good, evil was present with him. "To will," said he, "is present, but how to perform I know not;" but he did not call this a happy state He did not say then, I am in a good condition, when I am led captive by the devil at his will. The good that I would do, I do not, and I am carnal, and sold under sin. He does not say, this is a good condition, I am satisfied with it; see what he calls that condition [carnal, and sold under sin]; he gives it a more right name than many do now days, that say, this is the state of God's children; that the best of all God's children have no power to live without sin, and overcome all their corruptions; that they sin in their best duties, and can do nothing but sin, and that sin mixes itself in all their holy duties and performances. Many of their ministers tell them, that if they think they can perform any duty without sin, they deceive themselves, and run the hazard of being accursed. But this is not a teaching of Christ, but rather comes from a different master. Paul gave this state another name, which I would you were as wise when you are in this state and condition: O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? I see a wretchedness in this condition; I see, if I am not delivered out of it, I must perish to all eternity. This is not a state to live in; who can live at ease in such a condition as this? Who can but cry out, “who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death?” Alas! We hear no such cry now among priests or people, and separate congregations [those who appointed their own preacher]. I fear this cry is almost lost among us, unless it is some few that hear the voice of God, and feel such a stroke of the divine power as Paul did, and answer to the heavenly voice. I confess that I myself have heard such a cry, and have been sensible of my woeful captivity and bondage, by reason of sin. And though I had a mind to do good, I could not do it; it was my desire that I might sin no more. I desired not to sin against the Lord, if I could avoid it; and when I would do good, I found that evil was present with me; but I was far from sitting down [giving up] there, and saying, “this is the state and condition of God's people; it is as well with me as it was with the apostle Paul, therefore I will sit down [give up trying to change] in this state.” The people of God cannot find satisfaction in such a state as this, though I confess, that God's peculiar people at first came to this state, for their conviction; and the opening of their minds, and enlightening their understandings, to see the evil of their ways; but they do not come to this state, as to their rest, and then persuade themselves that they are in the condition of the children of God. Rather they give their state an accurate name, and cry out, “wretched man that I am! What a miserable condition I have fallen into! I did not see it before. Now my eyes are opened, now my understanding is illuminated; now I see that the corruption of my nature prevails against the grace of God; and when I would join with the grace of God, and the motions of his Holy Spirit, the enemy is present to lead me away. I am not now in a happy state, but I am so far advanced that I am convinced of my miserable and wretched state and condition; if some way or other is not found for my deliverance, I shall never see the face of God with comfort.” Then arises that cry: “Who shall deliver me?” Thus the apostle Paul (Rom 7:24) sets forth the state of his convincement, and how miserable a condition he was in. Then he goes further, and tells you how it was with him. I thank God through Jesus Christ Our Lord. O! I have cause enough to thank God, I am not a wretched man now, I am not carnal, sold under sin; I am not led captive by the devil at his will now. Why, how so? The apostle said, "the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has set me free from the law of sin and death." Here is something to glory and to comfort the soul in. The law of the Spirit of life triumphed in his soul, and delivered him from the law of sin and death, and redeemed him from the power of sin, and made him serve God with freedom and liberty. I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. I would have all come to this, to thank God, not only in words, but in reality, in deed and truth. For one may teach a parrot to talk over these words; but it is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, that will make you free from the law of sin and death.
This is a hard lesson; therefore you must go home into your own consciences before you can make a right judgment of things and give a right answer to yourselves. The law of the spirit of life will set you free from the law of your passion, and of your pride and covetousness, and sensuality, and the law of your carnal inclinations. Are you set free from these?
Now when people come to examine themselves, they have nowhere to flee to, but they must take up a daily cross, and trust to the Lord Jesus for their deliverance, who has enlightened them, to see their wretched and woeful state; and illuminated their understandings, that they might come to him, in order to their being delivered from the dominion of sin."