The Super Pious “Apostle”

The Super Pious “Apostle”

Paul’s idiosyncratic excuse for his degeneration and incrimination of God’s Laws

 

Question Mark

 

Introduction

 

While promulgating his doctrines, Paul has put forth so called divinely inspired “verses” wherein he has provided bizarre, if not profaning, excuses for his decadency into sins. In the mean time, he even had good enough reasons to hold God and His divine Laws responsible for his retrogression. In fact, we would be highly interested to observe how Paul considered himself to be innocent and pure to know sins!

Thus, in this paper we would bring forth strange Pauline assertions and establish that Paul’s divinely inspired “verses” are merely his personal opinions, emotions and experiences with Laws because, as contrary to Paul, Laws were quite providential.

Actually, this paper is actually a part of another paper which would be out soon. However, we felt that the subject topic needs separate attention therefore we planned to press it separately.

Paul holds God’s Sacred Laws Responsible for Sins

 

In his ongoing attempts to depreciate Old Testament (OT) Laws, Paul claims that the very purpose God revealed His sacred Lawswere to increase “wrongdoing”:

law was introduced in order to increase wrongdoing; but where sin increased, God’s grace increased much more.” (Romans 5:20)

 

From the foregoing it is evident that let alone believing that God’s sacred Laws were revealed for good, Paul held that Laws were revealed by God to increase satanic activities, that is, “wrongdoing”!

In fact contravening whole of Old Testament, Paul claims that God never revealed a Law righteous enough to provide salvation:

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a LAW given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the LAW. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Gal 3:21-22, King James Version, e-Sword)

 

This was not the end as Paul eventually claimed that once he was away from the sins, however, with the knowledge of Laws (as Christians explain) lust was “stirred” in him and consequently, he morally died:

“Shall we say, then, that the Law itself is sinful? Of course not! But it was the Law that made me know what sin is. If the Law had not said, “Do not desire what belongs to someone else,” I would not have known such a desire. But by means of that commandment sin found its chance to stir up all kinds of selfish desires in me. Apart from the law, sin is a dead thing.

“Imyself was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life, and I died.  And the commandment which was meant to bring life, in my case brought death.”(Romans 7: 9-10)

 

Paul categorically holds God’s sacred Laws responsible for his moral decadency! In fact he has gone so far as to claim that he would not have known lust, in other words, lust would not have influenced him if God would not have revealed His Law against it. The extremely modest, pious and upright “apostle” considered himself to be lust-free until Laws were revealed!

Grotesque and absurd, if not, profaning and desecrating, Christian Scholars have come out with a standard and strange explanation for Paul’s maledictions and low opinion about the Laws. Consider the thoughts of respected Bible commentator, Matthew Henry:

The great advantage that he had found by the law. 1. It was discovering: I had not known sin but by the law, Rom 7:7. As that which is straight discovers that which is crooked, as the looking-glass shows us our natural face with all its spots and deformities, so there is no way of coming to that knowledge of sin which is necessary to repentance, and consequently to peace and pardon, but by comparing our hearts and lives with the law. Particularly he came to the knowledge of the sinfulness of lust by the law of the tenth commandment. By lust he means sin dwelling in us, sin in its first motions and workings, the corrupt principle. This he came to know when the law said, Thou shalt not covet. The law spoke in other language than the scribes and Pharisees made it to speak in; it spoke in the spiritual sense and meaning of it. BY THIS he knew that lust was sin and a very sinful sin, that those motions and desires of the heart towards sin which never came into act were sinful, exceedingly sinful. Paul had a very quick and piercing judgment, all the advantages and improvements of education, and yet never attained the right knowledge of indwelling sin till the Spirit by the law made it known to him. There is nothing about which the natural man is more blind than about original corruption, concerning which the understanding is altogether in the dark till the Spirit by the law reveal it, and make it known. Thus the law is a schoolmaster, to bring us to Christ, opens and searches the wound, and so prepares it for healing. Thus sin by the commandment does appear sin (Rom 7:13); it appears in its own colours, appears to be what it is, and you cannot call it by a worse name than its own. Thus by the commandment it becomes exceedingly sinful; that is, it appears to be so. We never see the desperate venom or malignity there is in sin, till we come to compare it with the law, and the spiritual nature of the law, and then we see it to be an evil and a bitter thing. 2. It was humbling (Rom 7:9): I was alive. He thought himself in a very good condition; he was alive in his own opinion and apprehension, very secure and confident of the goodness of his state. Thus he was once, potein times past, when he was a Pharisee; for it was the common temper of that generation of men that they had a very good conceit of themselves; and Paul was then like the rest of them, and the reason was he was then without the law. Though brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, though himself a great student in the law, a strict observer of it, and a zealous stickler for it, yet without the law. He had the letter of the law, but he had not the spiritual meaning of it – the shell, but not the kernel. He had the law in his hand and in his head, but he had it not in his heart; the notion of it, but not the power of it…” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Romans 7:7-14)

 

Without wasting any time, let us now seek the problems with Pauline verses and the standard Christian exposition thereof.

Notice how based on Paul’s teachings, Matthew Henry claims that Paul knew about his “spots and deformities” when he saw his face in the “looking-glass” of Laws. That is, Paul only knew about his sins when he knew Laws. In fact, commentators emphatically claim that there is no other way to know sins except by OT Laws. On the foregoing, Matthew Henry asserted that Paul knew about the sinfulness of lust by the tenth commandment. In other words (and as commentators explicitly claim) – Paul knew that lust is a sin only after reading, “Thou shalt not covet”. (May be before that, Paul had other opinions about lust!)

Here are some of the glaring problem with the verse and its standard exegesis:

(I) It is absurd to say the least, to claim that sin can be realized as evil only when one knows Laws and looks through it. As Bible claims that humans are created in the image of God so it would not be difficult to recognize sin as evil in one’s natural and innate being.

Furthermore, there are atheist communities who have no so called Law-glasses yet they have their moral standards and they easily recognize lust (and other sins) as evil. Thus, to claim that there is no other way to know sin as evil but by Law is not at all a reconciliation of Paul’s negative imputations of the Laws.

 

(II) Notice how blindly Matthew Henry – one of the most prestigious Trinitarian Commentator, supports Paul’s claim that he never knew that lust is a sin until Law informed it to him, in fact, “stirred” it in him:

 

“Particularly he came to the knowledge of the sinfulness of lust by the law of the tenth commandment… This he came to know WHEN the law said, Thou shalt not covet.

 

 The problem is, emotions and feelings like hunger, lust, envy etc are inbuilt and men do not neither need any so called Laws to make them know that lust, envy etc are sins nor to incite them in – therefore, to claim that Paul knew not that lust is sinful until Law elicited it in him or was never incited in lust, is to either consider (i) Paul was as innocent as a new babe or (ii) Paul was angelic in his demeanor or (iii) Paul was outright lying when he claimed he knew not that lust is a sin until he read: “Thou shalt not covet.”

 

Think about it – Prophet Lot (peace be upon him) knew that lust is sinful and that his community has perverted into it yet no so called “Law” stating “Thy community shalt not covet” was revealed to him to let him know that lust is a sin. Therefore to claim that men can know sinfulness of certain acts only through Laws or they can be “stirred” by lust etc only by the knowledge of Laws – is false and a misrepresentation of the purpose of Laws – as we would soon prove.

Finally, who informs the agnostic and the atheists: “thou shalt not covet”, no one; yet we do find moral ethos in them in which they consider lust as sinful!

(III) On the foregoing, Paul even goes as far to claim that if there would have been no Laws, there would have been no sins:

 

“For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.” (Rom 4:14-15. King James Version, e-Sword)

 

Notice that firstly Paul claimed that he would have not known lust if Laws would not have taught: “thou shalt not covet”, and now he claims that where there is no Law there is no sin. This is perfectly in harmony with his argument that he would have not sinned if Laws would have not “stirred” him up; after all, there is no question of crossing boundaries if there are none! – Wow! (divinely revealed arguments!).

Hardly, did Paul realized, that humanity would have gone berserk into rampant sinning had God not provided restraints on their immorality. In fact, humanity started to delve into degeneration and to save them God had to reveal His Laws, not to “increase wrongdoing” as Paul unabashedly claims.

Paul’s fallacy is he assumes before Laws on lust were revealed there was no lust and without the particular tenth commandment, world would have been lust free – as he was, however, we know both are false as Lot’s (peace be upon him) community did know what lust is – in fact they were degenerated into it!

Furthermore, there is serious negative implication in Paul’s “verse”. Let us assume that God never gave His Tenth Commandment, namely, “thou shalt not covet” so “there is no Law”, however, how can Paul’s next statement be verified that “there will be no transgression”. We know people were into lust even before the tenth commandment was revealed!

Or, Paul does not want to consider Lust as sin (as we would soon observe) and therefore, expects God to get rid of His command against it!

(IV) In the light of the foregoing thoughts, we find Matthew Henry go overboard to claim that Paul never ever knew that lust is sinful and that he was never ever influenced by lust until the Tenth Commandment of God “stirred” him up:

 

BY THIS [i.e., the Laws] he knew that lust was sin and a very sinful sin, that those motions and desires of the heart towards sin which never came into act were sinful, exceedingly sinful.”

 

 After reading the above assertions from one of the greatest duo of Christian Commentators we think that if Paul was human then he was super pious and/or angelic!

(V) When noted Christian Commentators make comments like, “We NEVER see the desperate venom or malignity there is in sin, till we come to compare it with the law, and the spiritual nature of the law, and then we see it to be an evil and a bitter thing.” They conveniently assume that Lot (peace be upon him) and people righteous with him never “saw the desperate venom and malignity there is in sin, till we come to compare it with the law…bitter thing.”

 

Purpose of the Old Testament Laws

 

With regards to the purpose of the OT Laws, celebrated Christian Commentators echo with Paul that it was revealed:

(i) To merely act as spiritual mirrors; to show men their hidden sins:

 

This is one of the key passages which reveal the concept of the Mosaic Law functioning as a mirror to reveal personal sin (cf. 3:20; 4:65; 5:20; Gal.3:14-29, especially v. 24). (Bob Utley, The Gospel According to Paul: Romans; Study Guide Commentary Series; New Testament, Vol.5)

But when the commandment came, came in the power of it (not to his eyes only, but to his heart), sin revived, as the dust in a room rises (that is, appears) when the sun-shine is let into it. Paul THEN saw that in sin WHICH HE HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE; he then saw sin in its causes, the bitter root, the corrupt bias, the bent to backslide, – sin in its colours, deforming, defiling, breaking a righteous law, affronting an awful Majesty, profaning a sovereign crown by casting it to the ground, – sin in its consequences, sin with death at the heels of it, sin and the curse entailed upon it. “Thus sin revived, and then I died; I lost that good opinion which I had had of myself, and came to be of another mind. Sin revived, and I died; that is, the Spirit, but the commandment, convinced me that I was in a state of sin, and in a state of death because of sin.” Of this excellent use is the law; it is a lamp and a light; (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Romans 7:7-14)

 

Although Christian scholars make such comments however, traditionally and scripturally the benefits and usages of OT Laws are not just restricted to act as “mirror”.

For brevity of this paper we would quote just a few verses from Old Testament (OT) wherein Laws were considered much more than mere “mirrors” and X-Rays instruments!

(A) Observing Laws provide salvation:

“And so I led them out of Egypt into the desert. I gave them my commands and taught them my laws, which brings life to anyone who obeys them.” (Ezekiel 20:11)

 

“I may warn an evil man that he is going to die, but if he stops sinning and does what is right and good – for example, if he returns the security he took for a loan or gives back what he stole – if he stops sinning and follows the laws that give life, he will not die, but live.” (Ezekiel 33:14-15)

 

(B)  Let alone restricting OT Laws to function merely as “mirrors” and X-Rays machines, biblical prophet Nehemiah states that Laws are full fledged way of life:

“But your (God’s) people rebelled and disobeyed you; they turned their backs on your Law…In your great mercy you sent them leaders who rescued them from their foes. When peace returned, they sinned again, and again you let their enemies conquer them. Yet when they repented and asked to save them, in heaven you heard, and time after time you rescued them in your great mercy. You warned them to obey your teachings, but in pride they rejected your laws, although keeping your Law is the way of life. Obstinate and stubborn, they refused to obey.” (Nehemiah 9:26-29)

 

(C) Contrary to Paul’s claim that Laws were revealed to increase wrongdoing, Psalmist states that a person who follows the Laws can never do wrong:

Happy are those whose lives are faultless, who live according to the laws of the LORD. Happy are those who follow his commands, who obey him with all their heart. They never do wrong; they walk in the LORD’S ways. LORD, you have given us your laws and told us to obey them faithfully. How I hope that I shall be faithful in keeping your instructions! If I pay attention to all your command then I will not be put to shame. As I learn your righteous judgments, I will praise you with a pure heart. I will obey your laws; never abandon me!” (Psalms 119:1-8)

 

(D) Not merely Old Testament but even Paul’s contemporary James also echoes similar tones with Old Testament Prophets. From the following passage it would be established that James never held that Old Testament Laws were revealed to “increase wrongdoing”:

“Do not deceive yourselves by just listening to his word; instead, put in into practice. Whoever listens to the word but does not put it into practice is like a man who looks in a mirror and sees himself as he is. He takes a good look at himself and then goes away and at once forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks closely into perfect law that sets people free, who keeps on paying attention to it, but puts it into practicethat person will be blessed by God in what he does. (James 1: 22-25)

 

Observe carefully that James is using the same analogy of “mirror” that Matthew Henry used. However, James uses it with a difference. Where Matthew Henry inspired in Pauline verses, uses “mirror” analogy to state that Laws merely serve the purpose to let sin be known; on the contrary, James explains that Laws are to be used to know evils inside men, nevertheless, its work does not end there for after knowing evil inside, men are to observe the same Laws to get rid of their sins.

Another interesting observation is: the Laws never “stirred” lust in James (and the Psalmist 119:9-16) in fact James (and Psalmist) are seen advocating for the Laws to keep themselves pure and upright. This alludes that Paul’s incitement was his personal experience with the Laws and it should not be generalized and passed on as divinely inspired “verses” to all Christians, let alone be made a corner stone of Christianity.

(ii) They serve to “stir” or nourish lustful sins in men:

 

Consider the following standard Christian usage of Sacred OT Laws:

One illustration of what Paul had in mind here is the story of the temptation and Fall in Genesis 3. Whenever someone establishes a law prohibiting something, the natural tendency of people is to resist it. If you tell a small child, “Don’t do such-and-such,” you may create a desire within him or her to do it, a desire that was not there before. “Suppose a man determined to drive his automobile to the very limit of its speed. If . . . signs along the road would say, No Speed Limit, the man’s only thought would be to press his machine forward. But now suddenly he encounters a road with frequent signs limiting speed to thirty miles an hour. The man’s will rebels, and his rebellion is aroused still further by threats: Speed Limit Strictly Enforced. Now the man drives on fiercely, conscious both of his desire to ‘speed,’ and his rebellion against restraint. The speed limit signs did not create the wild desire to rush forward: that was there before. But the notices brought the man into conscious conflict with authority.” (Notes on Romans 2012 Edition, Dr. Thomas L. Constable)

 

Another Bible scholar concurs with Paul that Laws merely stir sin and rebellion:

Not came to life, but lived again. See Luk 15:24, Luk 15:32. The power of sin is originally and in its nature living; but before the coming of the commandment its life is not expressed. When the commandment comes, it becomes alive again. It lies dormant, like the beast at the door (Gen 4:7), until the law stirs it up. (Vincent’s Word Studies, Romans 7:9)

 

Widely read Matthew Henry also presses the same purpose of Laws i.e. Laws merely function to “stir” sins:

The corrupt nature would not have swelled and raged so much if it had not been for the restraints of the law; as the peccant humours in the body are raised, and more inflamed, by a purge that is not strong enough to carry them off. It is incident to corrupt nature, in vetitum niti – to lean towards what is forbidden. Ever since Adam ate forbidden fruit, we have all been fond of forbidden paths; the diseased appetite is carried out most strongly towards that which is hurtful and prohibited. Without the law sin was dead, as a snake in winter, which the sunbeams of the law quicken and irritate. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Romans 7:7-14)

 

However, the aforementioned comments inspired by Pauline verse, is not consistent with traditional knowledge, usage and providences of Old Testament Laws. Consider one such passage from Psalms:

How can a young man keep his life pure? By obeying your commands. With all my heart I try to serve you; keep me from disobeying your commandments. I keep your law in my heart, so that I will not sin against youI will repeat aloud all the Laws you have given. I delight in following your commands more than in having great wealth. I study your instructions; I examine your teachings. I take pleasure in your Laws; your commands I will not forget.” (Psalms 119:9-16)

 

Notice the stark and ironical differences. Both Paul and Psalmist are talking about the same sin – the sin of Lust. However, where Paul claims that (i) he knew not that lust is a sin (ii) In fact Paul held that it was because of God’s Laws that he knew lust otherwise he would not have known it. (iii)and that when he knew God’s Sacred Laws, lust was “stirred” in him so much so that he degenerated in it.

On the other hand Psalmist does not make any bombastic claims that (i) he never knew lust is a sin (ii) he never overbearingly claimed that he would have not known lust in himself unless God told him “thou shalt not covet” (iii) In fact, he honestly accepts that abiding by God’s Law(s) is the only way to keep oneself “pure” from lust. Unlike Paul, he does not impute God’s Law responsible for either “stirring” lust in him or that “Laws were revealed to increase wrongdoings” such as lust etc. 

Thus, the same Law, namely, the Tenth Commandment given to Moses (peace be upon him) – is having two different effects on two different persons. One hold Law responsible for stimulating libidinous desires in him while other states that one can live a pure life only by following the Law(s) strictly; indeed and ironically, Matthew Henry’s comments fits snugly to this situation:

Many a precious soul splits upon the rock of salvation; and the same word which to some is an occasion of life unto life is to others an occasion of death unto death. The same sun that makes the garden of flowers more fragrant makes the dunghill more noisome; the same heat that softens wax hardens clay; and the same child was set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel. The way to prevent this mischief is to bow our souls to the commanding authority of the word and LAW of God, not striving against, but submitting to it. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Romans 7:7-14)

 

Observe that in the concluding remarks Matthew Henry makes a very important comment. They are exhorting Christians to follow “the commanding authority of the word and law of God, not striving against, but submitting to it.” Thus, Christians should immediately desist from idiosyncratic assumptions that “Laws were revealed to increase wrongdoing” or they incite sins. In fact, it was Paul’s personal experience with God’s Sacred Laws, as he says:

I myself was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life, and I died.  And the commandment which was meant to bring life, in my case brought death”. (Romans 7:9-10)

 

Thus, the same sun that was to make the garden of flowers more fragrant made the dunghill more noisome in Paul’s personal case; the same heat that was to soften wax hardened the clay in Paul’s personal case.

 

Thus, rather than making Paul’s personal problematic experience with the Laws a corner stone of Christianity, Christians should follow Psalmist (or at least James) who was able to keep his life “pure” from lusts but by observing the Laws with all his heart.

Common Christian Reply

 

It is not hard to discern from Paul’s “verses” i.e., Romans 7:7-9 that he considered himself to be innocent and pure until God’s sacred Laws disturbed him so much so he was degenerated into lust etc.

Paul has unequivocally claimed that he would not have known lust if God’s law would not have “stirred” it in him. Acknowledging the hyperbolic nature of the statement, Christian Scholars came out with a standard explanation that although Paul was dead in the trespasses and sin but until the mysterious realization of Laws in his conscience, he never knew that he was dead; in other words, he was under the delusion that he was “alive”:

“…the apostle is speaking of himself, and that not as in his state of infancy before he could discern between good and evil, but when grown up, and whilst a Pharisee; who, though he was born under the law, was brought up and more perfectly instructed in it than the common people were, and was a strict observer of it, yet was without the knowledge of the spirituality of it; he, as the rest of the Pharisees, thought it only regarded the outward actions, and did not reach to the spirits or souls of men, the inward thoughts and affections of the mind; the law was as it were at a distance from him, it had not as yet entered into his heart and conscience; and whilst this was his case he was “alive”, he did not know that he “was dead in trespasses and sins”, Eph 2:1, a truth he afterwards was acquainted with; nor that he was so much as disordered by sin; he thought himself healthful, sound, and whole, when he was diseased and full of wounds, bruises, and sores, from head to foot; he lived in the utmost peace and tranquillity, without the least ruffle and uneasiness, free from any terror or despondency, and in perfect security, being in sure and certain hope of eternal life; and concluded if ever any man went to heaven he certainly should, since, as he imagined, he lived a holy and righteous life, free of all blame, and even to perfection;” (John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible, Romans 7:9)

 

Here are the problems with such an extreme reconciliation:

Firstly, it is too far-fetched and a wild assumption to hold that Paul did not know, until the realization of the Laws that “…he was diseased and full of wounds, bruises, and sores, from head to foot;” – Here is a religious Jew who knows that he has been made in the so called image of God and yet even in his innate self he was not able to discern his OWN moral decadency! Even atheists know and perceive well their moral degeneration, if any!

How is it fair to assume that Paul did not know his moral decadency until Laws had to open his eyes to them – after all, how difficult is it to discern the  “wounds, bruises and sore” of lust, murder and envy in one’s own self. It was even more-simple for a religious Jew like Paul! However in Christian paradigm, surprisingly, it is impossible to know that one is decaying in sin until God has to specially reveal His Laws to serve as scanner machines only to find out hidden tumors:

We NEVER see the desperate venom or malignity there is in sin, till we come to compare it with the law, and the spiritual nature of the law, and then we see it to be an evil and a bitter thing. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Romans 7:7-14)

 

Secondly, notice that Paul is not claiming that he did not knew that he was dead in trespasses etc; it is a desperate Christian stretch to reconcile. In fact by the construction of the Pauline “verse” it seems like he in fact never knew lust (and other evils) as evil until Laws broached and “stirred” them in him. Let us first have the “verse” then we would closely look into its construction:

“Shall we say, then, that the Law itself is sinful? Of course not! BUT it was the Law that made me know what sin is. If the Law had not said, “Do not desire what belongs to someone else,” I would not have known such a desire. But by means of that commandment sin found its chance to stir up all kinds of selfish desires in me. Apart from the law, sin is a dead thing.” (Romans 7:7-8, Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version)

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? By no means. On the contrary, I would not have known sin, but by the law: for I would not have known about coveting unless the law had said, You shall not covet.But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For without the law sin is dead (Romans 7:7-8, Revised King James New Testament)

What will we say then? The law is sin? May it not happen! YET I did not know sin except through law. For likewise I would not have known lust, if the law did not say, Thou shall not covet. 8 But sin, having taken opportunity through the commandment, wrought in me every evil desire, for apart from law sin is dead. (Romans 7:7-8, A Conservative Version)

 

 Pay assiduous attention to key words/phrases like “…but…”, “…on the contrary…”, “…yet…” These words/phrases specifically serve to change the charge of the part of statements present before and after it. For example, if we say John is a good boy but/yet… it means that whatever is going to follow about John is certainly not good. With the foregoing, let us turn to Paul’s “verse”. Initially, he claimed that Laws are not sinful – so far so good, however, he continued on to say that Laws are not sinful but/yet implying, that whatever is going to follow about the Laws, is not-so-good! Then Paul imputed God’s Sacred Laws (!?) that it was Laws which taught him lust for the first time – first time, because he claimed he would have not known lust; implying he was good and innocent enough not to know them but it was the not-so-good nature of the Laws which made them known to his upright self.

What is further interesting is three Pauline assertions: (i) Without God’s commandments sin is dead (ii) Sin used God’s commandments to bring about sinful desires in him (iii) once he was away from God’s commandment and alive. Thus, based on these assertions, we will have to conclude that Paul actually believed himself to be sin-free and it was God’s Sacred Laws which undid Paul and his uprightness.

Thus, it is just too weak to try to reconcile that Paul was actually dead in sins while he was under delusion that he was upright. Paul never considered himself to be dead in sins.

Recapitulation

 

There were two major aspects of this paper. Firstly, we gave just a hint (not detailed) of Paul’s low opinion of the Old Testament Sacred Laws. We saw how Paul assumed that God never gave a Law good enough to give eternal life, God’s Law were revealed to “increase wrongdoing” so on and so forth. However, contrary to these Pauline assertions, we found Old Testament prophets testifying that Laws not only can keep men “pure” and sin-free but they can also provide eternal life because according to OT prophets, OT Laws were no less than a “way of life”. In fact Paul’s contemporary James once again contravened Paul to advocate obedience and practice of Laws!

Secondly, and more importantly, as the main theme of this paper, we saw that either Paul would have been pure and without the influences of sin (lust) (or Paul, in his innocent self, would have never known that lust is a sin!) if God would not have revealed His Laws against lust (and other sins)! No wonder Paul claimed that, “…apart from the law, sin is a dead thing.”(Romans 7:7-8) and “…where no law is, there is no transgression”.

What was even more ironical, if not incredible, that even eminent Christian Scholars like Matthew Henry (and others) have believed that Paul would have been lust-free and innocent if God would not have revealed His Tenth Commandment against lust and concupiscence! They (Matthew Henry) unwarrantedly wrote:

  • Particularly he came to the knowledge of the sinfulness of lust by the law of the tenth commandment
  • THIS [lust is evil] he came to know when the law said, Thou shalt not covet.
  • BY THIS [Laws] he knew that lust was sin and a very sinful sin, that those motions and desires of the heart towards sin which never came into act were sinful, exceedingly sinful.
  • By this [Laws] he knew that lust was sin and a very sinful sin, that those motions and desires of the heart towards sin which never came into act were sinful, exceedingly sinful.
  • Thus sin by the commandment does appear sin (Rom 7:13); [otherwise…???]

All of the above standard Christian exegesis proves that Paul never knew that lust is sinful – it is incredible to even assume it.

Christian Scholars even claimed that Paul would have NEVER known the “desperate venom or malignity” of lust until he compared it with Laws thus, wildly alluding, that Paul would never have known the wretchedness of lust as evil if God had not revealed Law(s) as gauge-meters:

  • We NEVER see the desperate venom or malignity there is in sin, till we come to compare it with the law, and the spiritual nature of the law, and then we see it to be an evil and a bitter thing.

On the foregoing there are two very important implications which would come objectionable to any critical student of Bible:

(I) Paul elevated himself to such a pious and morally pure podium from where he even sneered at God’s Sacred Laws. Because of his innocent and pure station he had no scruples in incriminating God’s very own Laws responsible for misdeeds in him.

(II) What is even more distraught – Christian Scholars have accepted Paul’s claims of innocence and purity at the cost of God’s Sacred Laws! They have incredibly accepted that he would certainly have not known lust and that concupiscence is sinful prior to Laws. 

 

Amidst sorry state of affairs, we request sincere truth seekers to give a thought to the following Qur’anic truth:

They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; Yet they were commanded to worship but one Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to him: (far is He) from having the parents they associate (with him). (Qur’an 9:31, Yusuf Ali’s Translation, Al-Alim CD-ROM Version)

 

It is not that (all) Christians worship their saints with God – Almighty however, by weighing the words of their elders above God’s, they belittle God Himself. 

If Qur’an is not good enough for Christians then they should at least ponder that Psalmist had no lustful incitements in him via tenth commandment of God; on the contrary, he was using the same to get rid of concupiscence! He was panting with open mouth and crying to follow the Laws of Old Testament (c.f. Psalms 119:129-136).

Furthermore, James had no negative experience with Laws as did Paul. Contrariwise, James was advocating that Christians have to obey and execute Laws of the Old Testament.

The truth of the matter is, in order to raise himself above sins, in order to portray himself as pure and innocent, Paul had to disparage Laws in a way of contrast or else Paul was incredibly a super pious “apostle”!

Related Topics:

 

End Notes:

  • Emphasize wherever not matching with the original, is ours.
  • Unless otherwise mentioned, all biblical texts are taken from Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version.
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Comments

  • DAWAH REFUTED  On March 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    (1 out of 3)
    Your initial premise has been in error in the first place. Paul didn’t despise God’s Law , it would have been blasphemous if any saints of true God had ever despised God’s Law. In Romans 7 Paul himself said, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12).

    Regarding to your point (i) Know sins via Old Testament (OT) Laws
    You’ve been in error by your assumption that God’s Law was ONLY revealed in Torah when the fact is Paul has also stated that God’s Law has been implied in the conscience of man (Romans 2:14-15)”Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them”

    So God’s Law that Paul describes is not exclusively OT but also includes conscience, yet OT is the completion of that law in man’s conscience. Ten Commandment in this case is not the first initiator of God’s Law but instead the completion of natural moral law that God has firstly implied in every man’s conscience, by that in knowing “thou shall not lust” in OT is practically affirming “thou shall not lust” in man’s conscience.

    Following Paul’s theology , people of Sodom surely have God’s Law implied in their conscience, so by assuming without OT then Sodom and Gomorah could be considered SIN-LESS is definitely a perverted idea of QM himself which came from his “Islamic mindset” and not Apostle Paul’s idea.

    —-From this error you’ve just plunged yourself deeper in more error by objecting the function of God’s Law in perfecting man’s knowledge of sin, especially OT & NT’s function as perfect completion of God’s law in man’s conscience

    Like I’ve said before knowing “thou shall not lust” is only affirming what has been already implied inside our conscience , yet even more “thou shall not look at woman and lust her with your heart” is confirming it further. Many people assume fornication is a sin that happens physically and not mentally, practically this is a self delusion upon one’s conscience because if men really take time to ponder then they will agree what NT said about not looking at women is in line with their conscience. So again OT & NT practically just give perfect illumination on what God has implied in one’s heart.

    • qmarkmark  On March 19, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Thanks for your notes brother “Dawah Refuted”

      You said, “Your initial premise has been in error in the first place. Paul didn’t despise God’s Law , it would have been blasphemous if any saints of true God had ever despised God’s Law. In Romans 7 Paul himself said, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good” (Romans 7:12).”

      Really??? If Paul did not eschewed God’s sacred Laws then why did he state that LAWS WERE REVEALED TO INCREASE WRONGDOING!!! He would not have sinned if Laws would have not been revealed?? so on and so forth.

      You wrote the following passages only to misrepresent our argument, “Regarding to your point (i) Know sins via Old Testament (OT) Laws
      You’ve been in error by your assumption that God’s Law was ONLY revealed in Torah when the fact is Paul has also stated that God’s Law has been implied in the conscience of man (Romans 2:14-15)”Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them”

      So God’s Law that Paul describes is not exclusively OT but also includes conscience, yet OT is the completion of that law in man’s conscience. Ten Commandment in this case is not the first initiator of God’s Law but instead the completion of natural moral law that God has firstly implied in every man’s conscience, by that in knowing “thou shall not lust” in OT is practically affirming “thou shall not lust” in man’s conscience.”

      We were not arguing whether or not Laws are inspired in man’s conscience or not rather we said the only purpose of OT Law, according to Paul, was to convinct men, to show them their sin and nothing else. In other words, OT Laws, for Paul, had no other positive function!!!

      We do not know what you were trying to say when you wrote, “Following Paul’s theology , people of Sodom surely have God’s Law implied in their conscience, so by assuming without OT then Sodom and Gomorah could be considered SIN-LESS is definitely a perverted idea of QM himself which came from his “Islamic mindset” and not Apostle Paul’s idea.”

      With reference to Sodom and Gomorrah we were trying to state that how did Sodomites knew about the sin in Lust when they had no OT law with them condemning it because Paul states that he know that Lust is a sin ONLY WHEN OT Laws spoke against it 🙂 – amazing.

      You said, “Like I’ve said before knowing “thou shall not lust” is only affirming what has been already implied inside our conscience , yet even more “thou shall not look at woman and lust her with your heart” is confirming it further.”

      If you read the subject Paul’s verse, you will notice that Paul was not talking about any sort of “confirming knowledge of further” rather he emphatically asserts that he did not knew that lust and its evil before Laws!! – so innocent, thus, again you have not understood our reasoning.

      sincerely,
      Ibn Salim Khan

      • DAWAH REFUTED  On March 19, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        You said
        ==========================================
        With reference to Sodom and Gomorrah we were trying to state that how did Sodomites knew about the sin in Lust when they had no OT law with them condemning it because Paul states that he know that Lust is a sin ONLY WHEN OT Laws spoke against it 🙂 – amazing.
        ==============================================
        REPLY : Where does it written that the LAW here is only applied to OT Law ? why you negate the earliest assertion ? [Romans Chapter 2:14-15 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them]. You even can’t show me any SINGLE VERSE to show what Paul speaking in this particular verse is ONLY APPLIED TO TORAH .

        You said, .
        ====================================
        If you read the subject Paul’s verse, you will notice that Paul was not talking about any sort of “confirming knowledge of further” rather he emphatically asserts that he did not knew that lust and its evil before Laws!! – so innocent, thus, again you have not understood our reasoning.
        ======================================
        REPLY: Again you have not given any single verse that the LAW Paul is describing here is ONLY applied to Torah, do you really believe before OT was given man didn’t know what lust was? Hammurabi code had existed far way before OT, above of all Paul’s early assertion(Romans 2:14-15) has given us foundational perspective to acknowledge that the law which Paul speaking of was not exclusively only Torah.

        I also want to know what your interpretation of “law being added “, since you’ve rejected my interpretation in defining it as “further additional knowledge of law that has been implied by God firstly in our conscience”

        You Said
        ===================================
        Really??? If Paul did not eschewed God’s sacred Laws then why did he state that LAWS WERE REVEALED TO INCREASE WRONGDOING!!! He would not have sinned if Laws would have not been revealed?? so on and so forth.
        ============================================
        REPLY :Indeed the Law was revealed to increased wrong doing, and you have indirectly provide me the material to answered your question

        QUOTE
        =====================
        And we do not accept that sin means rejecting God’s grace. Sin means trangressing the boundaries set by God, not following what He wants us to follow, not doing His will so on and so forth – simple
        =====================
        REPLY : When man like yourself is being exposed by God’s Law usually you will response either rejecting it or try to accomplish it with your own effort , unfortunately both are SINFUL. Because you don’t believe in the Absolute role of God’s grace in your life the more you’re being exposed by God’s Law the more you will commit sin either by rejecting God’s Law nor by trying to accomplish it through your own strength.

        There’s another “hole” in your question, If Paul had admitted that God’s Law is so perfect how can he suggested the idea of ESCHEWING the law especially when Paul had said that NO ONE CAN ESCAPE FROM THE LAW? Sorry but you are clearly in fatal error with your statement. Through your reverse mindset you have wrongly assumed Paul had degraded God’s Law when in fact he had uplifted its original status as Standard of Holiness along with its function as Exposure of sin. In fact it’s you who degraded God’s Law by proudly assume you are able to fulfill God’s Law independent from God’s Grace.

        You can’t really know the darkness of your soul until you are exposed by the true light, as the Light gets brighter the more aware you are of your sinfulness

        you Said
        ===================
        Law according to Paul, was to convinct men, to show them their sin and nothing else. In other words, OT Laws, for Paul, had no other positive function!!!
        ===================
        I want to ask you personally if your “HIDDEN IMMORALITY” is exposed is it a POSITIVE or NEGATIVE THING for you? If I was the one who’s being asked it would be positive thing. How about you then?

  • DAWAH REFUTED  On March 10, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    (2 out of 3)
    —–Another Wrong perception is your misunderstanding of God’s Law for its function in exposing SIN.
    Sin basically doesn’t just only mean fault but literally means “missing the mark”, and the one point that should not be missed by every created entity is Glorifying God, so sin is simply transgressing God’s Glory. Attributes of God carry His Glory , His Grace and Mercy are His Attributes (Exodus 34:6) and surely undermining His Attributes is an opposition toward His Glory.

    Law exposes man’s independent attitude in rejecting God’s Grace that’s why when man being exposed to such commandment as “do not covet”, man usually will react in two ways either rebel against it or try to keep it in order to be justified, however in eyes of God BOTH ARE SINFUL, because both ways are undermining His Grace. The right attitude should be asking for God’s Grace & Mercy in fulfilling that Law. The blame should not be upon the function of the Law but should be on man’s attitude toward the exposure of sin.

    —–It’s not rational to negate the premise of “more rules produce more violations. ”
    For example: before muttah was forbidden(in Sunnis view) most of muslims had considered mutta as not sin, however after Allah revealed that muttah was sin then consequently muslim’s knowledge about sin was increased and not only that it also would add another potential sin to be violated (since before mutta being forbidden, the possibility to commit it was not regarded as a potentiality for sin but after it was forbidden then the possibility to do it had now became the potentiality for sin).

    Another simple example if Allah hadn’t told muslim to perform 30 days fasting on Ramadhan then there would’ve been no sin in not fasting at Ramadhan. Sin will occur if there is a legislation about it.

    From example above, it’s logical even from Islamic point of view to believe God’s written Law as the perfect completion toward law in man’s conscience and also to believe that consequently Law makes man having additional knowledge of sin plus additional transgression if it’s broken. Wrapped it up in more simple way : IT’S LOGICAL THAT THE MORE RULES YOU HAVE THE MORE POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS YOU WILL ALSO BE HAVING.

    ———Please notice the primary meaning of sin is missing God’s grace, so the more rules being revealed will expose more and more in how desperately man is in lack while also in need of God’s Grace

    • qmarkmark  On March 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Thanks for your notes brother “Dawah Refuted”

      You said, “Law exposes man’s independent attitude in rejecting God’s Grace that’s why when man being exposed to such commandment as “do not covet”, man usually will react in two ways either rebel against it or try to keep it in order to be justified, however in eyes of God BOTH ARE SINFUL, because both ways are undermining His Grace.”

      Okay, so you follow what God wants you to follow and yet you become a sinner!!!

      Next up you brought up the topic of “Muttah” – I do not know how Muttah is related to Paul and the subject in hand. Giving to the initial condition and Muslims: their depleting society, the wars they were put in to, their family they were bereaved off – Muttah was initially allowed. But as society developed, it was forbidden. Now how is this related to Paul being innocent enough NOT to know (i) what lust is and (ii) that lust is evil!!!

      Next was the topic of “Ramadhaan”. Is fasting in the sacred month of Ramdhaan the same as innately knowing the concupiscence is a sin!!! We dont think so, so what are you talking about.

      And we do not accept that sin means rejecting God’s grace. Sin means trangressing the boundaries set by God, not following what He wants us to follow, not doing His will so on and so forth – simple.

      sincerely,
      Ibn Salim Khan

      • DAWAH REFUTED  On March 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm

        “Law exposes man’s independent attitude in rejecting God’s Grace that’s why when man being exposed to such commandment as “do not covet”, man usually will react in two ways either rebel against it or try to keep it in order to be justified, however in eyes of God BOTH ARE SINFUL, because both ways are undermining His Grace.”

        AND YOUR RESPONSE
        ============================
        Okay, so you follow what God wants you to follow and yet you become a sinner!!!
        =========================
        Typical answer from man who’s undermining the Grace of God ! why don’t you ask God for His Mercy and Grace rather than try to do that command by yourself ? where’s your real faith then, upon yourself or upon God ?

        You said
        =============================
        Next up you brought up the topic of “Muttah” – I do not know how Muttah is related to Paul and the subject in hand.
        Next was the topic of “Ramadhaan”. Is fasting in the sacred month of Ramdhaan the same as innately knowing the concupiscence is a sin!!! We dont think so, so what are you talking about.
        =======================

        I guess those muttah and ramadhan things are too complicated for your muslim mind , let me put it in more simple way:

        Still pardon me for creating any misunderstanding here, but despite of it please notice I didn’t specifically relate the mutta&ramadhan with Paul knowledge of sin but rather relate it with concept of Adding the Law (Romans 5:20)as way to explain the process of how Law such Torah had been added in order to complete the law within our conscience.
        Often our conscience isn’t enough to determine what is sinful & what’s not because norm of society has declared some sinful things as not sinful , but when God’s Law is revealed then what is truly sinful and what’s not eventually noticeable and the knowledge of sin is increased. The same case with Mutta once Muslim regarded it as common although in that time Muslim had some knowledge of what fornication was but apparently first Muslim didn’t regard Mutta as sin however after allah declared it as sinful then you stopped (Sunni at least) in performing it further.

        About Ramadhan, before muslim were obligated to perform 30 days fasting , it wouldn’t be a sin to reject this ritual ,but because it had already been declared as God’s Law then it would be a sin to reject it based on no proper reason.

        Nevertheless does forbidding mutta stop Sunni muslims from “paid relationship” ? Sadly not! in many tourist spot in the world Arabs are famous for their immorality . Concerning Ramadhan fasting ,many people have failed to perfectly observe it not only that many have been even rejecting it completely.

        IF Mutta (prostitution) hadn’t been declared as sinful or there had been no obligation to perform 30 days fasting (Ramadhan) then any act of Mutta nor not fasting on Ramadhan would’ve not been considered sinful and “the sum” of sin would’ve been reduced.

        So in short it means:
        The MORE RULES YOU HAVE THE MORE POTENTIAL VIOLATIONS YOU WILL ALSO BE HAVING

        You said
        =====================
        And we do not accept that sin means rejecting God’s grace. Sin means trangressing the boundaries set by God, not following what He wants us to follow, not doing His will so on and so forth – simple.
        ===================
        Receiving His grace is all that He asks from you bro, isn’t it the same with your definition of sin if you refuse His intention for you ?

        Why depend on yourself in order to be justified by God? what a poor man…

  • DAWAH REFUTED  On March 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    (3 out of 3)

    —–You should change your article’s title into Error upon error my friend! this time your error is on interpreting the psalm as if it contradicted Apostle Paul’s teaching. David’s psalm is statement of a man whose condition was under Grace of God that’s why David loved God’s Law, Paul was also no different in his attitude toward God’s Law. Paul’s main objection wasn’t toward the law but toward the wrong attitude of man for misusing God’s Law as tool of self righteousness and self independent which undermining God’s Grace&Mercy.

    —–You have also misinterpret Apostle James theology as if James believed he could be justified by Law, when in reality James himself said on James 2:20
    “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it”.

    Logically speaking no one would able to live by this standard! that’s why Apostle James emphasizes on grace as being described on James 4:6 ; But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”

    It is a PURE PRIDE before All Mighty God when you as a mortal human being consider yourself able to fulfill God’s Law without God’s Grace and Mercy.

  • Civitate_dei  On January 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    paul is not saying that the law causes sin but that it made him conscious of sin. Paul’s point is that no external system like the law can address sin as no matter how perfectly you try to follow the law you will fail. Instead paul is saying through the indwelling holy spirit there is a new law written on the hearts of believers which causes internal change something the law failed to do. Paul does not have a low opinion of the law. In galatians paul calls the law a pedagouge until we came to full knowledge in christ. Pease read James Dunn’s commentary on romans and galatian.

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