The Pursuit of God

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Salvation According to Paul: If You Sin, You’re Damned (Romans 7-8)

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As we start Romans 7, we are continuing in our study of Paul’s theology of sin and salvation.  Back in Romans 5, Paul laid out some absurd theories on where sin came from.  In Romans 6, Paul said that once we Christians get baptized, we are magically changed so that our basic nature is no longer depraved, and this makes it possible for us to now live sinless lives.  Not only is it possible for us to be perfect, but perfection is what Yahweh demands of us. 

Now being the God bashing fool that he is, Paul is constantly inventing fictitious gods who he exalts as being more powerful than Yahweh.  And of course, Yahweh is the only God Paul recognizes, because Paul believes Christ is just a human.  In Romans 6, the fictional forces of Sin and Death were promoted as triumphing over us humans and keeping us enslaved until Christ came along and died to free us from their grip.  According to Paul, even Christ was once ruled over by Death, but not any longer because somehow Christ got free from Death’s grip once Yahweh resurrected Him.  Of course, that logic makes no sense when Paul describes Death as being so powerful that it can triumph over Yahweh and take over Yahweh’s kingdom.  What’s to stop Death from taking over everything again?  Well, back in Romans 6, Paul said:

“…we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, will not die again.” (Rom. 6:9)

But wait—Lazarus was raised from the dead, and he died again.  So did a bunch of other humans who we read about being resurrected in the Bible.  And since Christ was just a human, what makes His resurrection more special than anyone else’s?  Don’t expect Paul’s logic to make sense, because it doesn’t.  The man’s living in a fantasy world and inventing new rules as he goes along. The point he wants to hammer into our brains is that we Christians have no excuse to go on sinning.  Now that we’ve been baptized into Christ, we’re “dead to sin” and that means not sinning should be a breeze.  In Romans 6, when Paul says that “the wages of sin is death,” he’s talking about spiritual damnation.  In other words, if we keep sinning after salvation, we’re going to Hell.  And after beating us down into hopeless despair in Chapter 6, Paul now continues his lecture on how inexcusable it is for Christians to sin as we begin Chapter 7.

ROMANS 7

Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the Law—that the Law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? (Rom. 7:1)

At the start of our study on Chapter 6, we said that Paul often becomes very exclusive with his language—referring to concepts which only those with a background in Judaism would understand.  As he starts Chapter 7, notice how he says “for I am speaking to those who know the Law.”  By “the Law” he means Yahweh’s Old Covenant Law.  Here’s where all the Gentiles with no background in Judaism are going to draw a blank, but Paul doesn’t care, because Paul loves his own ethnic group more than anyone else.

So why bring up the Old Covenant Law?  Well, Yahweh’s Laws were a long list of dos and don’ts.  His Laws were also impossible to perfectly obey—a point which Jesus really hammered during His famous Sermon on the Mount.  But wait—why would Yahweh burden His people with a bunch of impossible commands?  To drive them away from legalism and get them focused on soul attitudes.  You see, once God says, “All followers of Mine must be perfectly sinless,” souls who sincerely want to please God will end up saying, “Oh, God, I want so much to please You, but perfection just isn’t in me.”  God will then respond by saying, “I know it isn’t, but that’s alright, because what I really care about is that you want to please Me.  It’s your soul’s response to Me that matters, not your ability to follow through with perfect behavior.  Because I know that pleasing Me really is important to you, I am very pleased with you.”  This is how easy Yahweh has always been to succeed with.  But this isn’t the way Paul will describe things in Romans 7.  Instead of acknowledging that Yahweh never expected His followers to perfectly obey His Laws, Paul will say that Yahweh did demand such perfection, thus we were all hopelessly doomed until Christ came along and saved us from nasty old Yahweh and His impossible demands.

Do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the Law—that the Law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, a married woman is legally bound to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she is released from the Law regarding the husband. So then, if she gives herself to another man while her husband is living, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that Law. Then, if she gives herself to another man, she is not an adulteress.

So, my brothers, this is the point: You died to the power of the Law when you died with Christ. And now you are united with the One who was raised from the dead. As a result, we can produce a harvest of good deeds for Yahweh. When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the Law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. But now we have been released from the Law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve Yahweh, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the Law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. (Rom. 7:1-6)

Paul is way off base here.  First of all, Yahweh never expected His people to serve Him by obeying the letter of the Law. Yes, He did give them many Laws, but He then went on to say over and over again that it was soul attitude which He really cared about.  When Jesus came to New Testament Israel, He continued to emphasize how wrong the focus on obeying the letter of the Law was.  But you see, Paul was a Pharisee, and the Pharisees were huge fans of legalism.  They taught that you could have terrible soul attitudes and still get saved, because salvation was entirely a matter of external works, not internal soul choices (see Jesus vs. the NT Jews: What it Means to Please God).  Here in Romans 7, Paul is saying, “Hey, before Christ, the only way to salvation was through striving to be morally perfect, and boy, that was tough.  But now that Christ has come—hooray!—everything is easier. Because before Christ came, let’s admit it: we all wanted to sin all the time. But now that we’ve been baptized into Christ, our desire to sin is totally gone, so now it’s a cinch to live perfect lives.  Isn’t Christ great?”

Here’s the sneaky thing about Paul: he pretends to be shifting you out of legalism into grace, and yet he’s really just keeping you in legalism.  In fact, he actually makes things even worse by saying that Christ has magically released you from the desire to sin.  Notice how he says that now that we’re in Christ, we’re “no longer captive” to the power of the Law.  First he says it was the Law that made us want to sin, but then he says that Christ freed us from the Law.  Conclusion: if we’re true believers, than we can’t really desire to sin.  This is what the apostle John teaches as well: that no true Christian could even have a desire to sin.  And now that you feel ten times worse, Paul is going to wax on and on about your freedom in Christ.  What freedom?  Paul is a like a man who wraps you up in chains so that you can’t even move, sets some huge boulder on your chest, then stands back and says, “Don’t you feel free now that you’re in Christ?”  And when you actually feel a hundred times worse, you’re forced to conclude that something went horribly wrong in your attempts to get saved and that your Gods are rejecting you.  What other explanation is there if you believe that a true Christian doesn’t even desire to sin?

To not get trashed by Paul, you have to see how the very first conclusion he throws at you is a fat lie.  Paul says that before Christ, salvation was impossible to obtain, because the Law made us sin, and sin caused us to be eternally damned by Yahweh.  Watch the logic flow in Verses 5-6:

When we were controlled by our old nature…

In other words, before we were Christians…

…sinful desires were at work within us, and the Law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death.

…the Old Covenant Laws made us want to sin, so we sinned, and that resulted in Yahweh condemning us. Conclusion: the Law made it impossible for anyone to get saved before Christ. That’s just how merciless mean old Yahweh is: He set people up to fail.

But now we have been released from the Law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power.

But now that we’re Christians, Christ has set us free from that Law that made us want to sin.  Conclusion: it’s a breeze to live sinless lives as Christians, and it is our sinless living that gets us saved, not our soul’s response to our Makers.

See how it works?  Old Pharisee Paul is teaching the same lies that he’s always taught: salvation can only be acquired by impressing Yahweh with your perfect behavior.  Before he knew Christ, Paul claimed to be succeeding at sinless living.  Now that he’s pretending to be a Christian, he’s being a flaming hypocrite by claiming that he used to feel hopeless about being sinless until he met Christ.  No, he certainly didn’t feel hopeless.  He actually strutted around Israel like an arrogant fathead and looked down his nose at other Jews who he condemned for not being as perfect as he was.  Well, now that he’s joined the Jesus movement, his old condemnation games need to be adjusted to allow Christ to fit in somewhere.  So Paul simply changes from saying, “I was perfect all on my own,” to saying, “Christ has now enabled me to be perfect all on my own.”  The bottom line is still the same: in the day to day, you must strive to pull moral perfection out of yourself.  There’s no excuse for being carnal, because Christ has taken away your desire to sin.  What’s that—you still want to sin?  Well, repent and get right with God, you child of Satan!  That’s what the apostle John would say.  Are you feeling inspired yet?

So here in Romans 7, Paul has made it clear that he’s addressing fellow Jews who are familiar with Yahweh’s Old Covenant Laws.  And now that Paul has just made Yahweh’s Laws out to be some evil force that made us want to sin, he’s imagining his Jewish readers having a hostile reaction, so he now rushes to try and tone down his blasphemous sounding language.  But wait—as a Pharisee, Paul loved Yahweh’s Laws, because they gave him great material to boast of his own righteousness and condemn the sinning lowlifes around him.  So why is Paul now taking the same Law which he used to take so much pride in and turning it into some terrible influence that caused him to sin?  Well, he has to create some kind of antagonist for Christ to overcome, otherwise he can’t fit Christ into his theology.  So the Law becomes the enemy which Christ can save us from.  But you can’t go demonizing Yahweh’s Laws without ticking off Old Covenant believers, so now Paul scrambles to whitewash himself.

What should we say then? Is the Law sin? Absolutely not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin if it were not for the Law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the Law had not said, “Do not covet.” And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. (Rom. 7:7-8)

Here we go again with that powerful force named Sin.  In Chapter 6, Paul had Sin enslaving us all while Yahweh was apparently handcuffed to a chair somewhere and unable to help us.  Now here in Chapter 7, we are shocked to discover that Yahweh’s own Law was the thing that caused evil Sin to spring to life and kill us.

For apart from the Law sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. (Rom. 7:8-11)

Wow, really?  Who knew Yahweh was such a dumbbell?  For a God who claims to know the end from the beginning, Yahweh sure fouled up by creating His Old Covenant Law.  Didn’t He realize that the creation of that Law would cause Sin to come “springing to life” and spiritually kill all of His potential followers?  We’d expect a human to make a mistake like this, but it’s more than a little disappointing to realize that the God who we thought was all-powerful and all-wise didn’t know better than to hold off on making a Law that would cause Sin to “spring to life.”  You gotta love that “spring to life” bit—Paul talks like the creation of Sin was some spontaneous surprise that totally caught Yahweh off guard.  And then he really makes Yahweh out to be a dunderhead by saying “The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me.”  So according to Paul, Yahweh was trying to do something good by creating His Law, but instead everyone got killed.  So apparently we should view Yahweh like some foolish gardener who grabs the wrong bottle out of his garden shed and starts hosing down his crops with poison when he meant to use fertilizer.  And it’s only after all of the plants have keeled over that the gardener checks some labels and says, “Oh, dear, what have I done?  I meant to help my plants grow stronger, but I’ve killed them instead!”  This is the extremely derogatory picture Paul is painting of Yahweh here in Romans 7.  Then we’re supposed to conclude that Yahweh came up with Christ as an emergency solution to try and fix the epic crisis He’d accidentally created by causing Sin to spring to life.  Wow.  And to think we’re naming churches and schools after “St. Paul.”

Paul’s epistles are permeated with Yahweh bashing comments, and this is why we say that Paul was never a true follower of Judaism before he faked his conversion to Christianity.  Yahweh simply won’t accept someone who views Him like some incompetent halfwit who is nowhere close to being omnipotent, omniscient or sovereign.  When we examine the way Paul speaks of Yahweh in his letters, it is quite clear that Paul utterly rejects who Yahweh claims to be in the Old Testament, and the Old Testament was what Paul claimed to have extensive training in as a Pharisee.  So though Paul has been exposed to truth, he has adamantly rejected it.  In other words, we’ve spent centuries exalting a hardcore spiritual rebel as a great role model for us all and promoting his blasphemous teachings in our seminaries, churches, and Sunday School classes.  How embarrassing.

Now while we take note of how anti-Yahweh Paul is, let’s also pay attention to how much he’s contradicting himself.  Here in Romans 7, he says that Sin sprang to life only when Yahweh gave His Old Covenant Law.  Well, the Law was given to Moses, and there were thousands of years of human history before Moses was even born. So according to the logic here in Romans 7, Sin didn’t exist until the Law was given.  Oh, but back in Romans 5, Paul said that Sin actually entered the world through Adam.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned. In fact, sin was in the world before the Law, but sin is not charged to a person’s account when there is no Law. Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who did not sin in the likeness of Adam’s transgression. (Rom. 5:12-14)

Here Paul says that Sin actually entered the world through Adam, but then apparently it lay dormant, waiting to pounce, until Yahweh gave His Old Covenant Law.  Well, this makes Yahweh seem even stupider, because how did He not see Sin permeating His Creation?

But notice how in this passage Paul says that Sin brought Death into the world, and Death started nailing people right away.  You see, Sin and Death are buddies, and where one goes, the other follows.  So once bad ole Sin snuck into Yahweh’s Creation, it sent bad ole Death a text message with the secret password for how to break through Yahweh’s special shield.  And once Death got through, it started slaughtering humans right and left while Yahweh just stood there in a state of confounded distress.  Then, with characteristic bungling, Yahweh came up with His Old Covenant Law.  But then suddenly Sin came springing to life, and now Yahweh had two epic foes reigning over His Creation.  Bad move, Yahweh.  Back in Chapter 5, Paul says:

The Law came along to multiply sin. But where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 5:20-21)

Notice how Paul keeps promoting Christ as the first and only solution to this terrible bind we were all in thanks to Yahweh letting Sin and Death take over the place. The obvious implication is that there was no solution before Christ.  In other words, it took oatmeal brained Yahweh thousands of years to figure out a way to wrestle His humans back from Sin and Death.  How do you think our Gods feel about Paul making Yahweh out to be this daft?

Now in Chapter 7, Paul says that “apart from the Law, sin is dead.”  But in Romans 5:21, he said that “sin reigned in death,” and he also said that death reigned from Adam to Moses.  Well, if Death was reigning, and Sin reigns in Death, how can Sin be dead until the Law came?  This makes no sense, but given what a spiritual idiot Paul is, this is all we have to work with.

Now let’s get back to Chapter 7, in which Paul is now trying to calm down his Jewish audience who he assumes are going to be steamed by him suggesting that Yahweh’s Law was a bad thing.  Paul has clearly said the Law was bad by saying that the Law caused Sin to spring to life and kill us.  But you can’t bash on the Law to Old Covenant Jews, so now it’s time for more doubletalk.

So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.  Therefore, did what is good cause my death? Absolutely not! (Rom. 7:12-13)

Oh, baloney.  Paul clearly said that the Law caused Sin to gain power and kill him, so yes the Law obviously did cause his death.  Suppose you have some virus in your body which can only become active and kill you if you drink lemon tea.  Well, one day you drink the tea, the tea activates the virus, and the virus kills you.  Can we really say that the tea played no role in causing your death?  Of course not.  Pulling the trigger on a gun doesn’t kill people, but it certainly releases the bullet that does.  So the trigger and bullet both play a vital role in killing, and now that Paul has made the Law the thing that activated the Sin which spiritually killed him, he can hardly say that the Law has nothing to do with his spiritual death.

On the contrary, sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure. (Rom. 7:13)

Really?  Sin produced death so that it could be recognized as Sin?  Was Sin concerned that it might go unnoticed if it didn’t produce death? Was Sin afraid that maybe it would just become overlooked amid the pantheon of false deities which Paul is creating and not get its due attention?

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. (Rom. 7:14)

Really?  Who sold him?  Selling implies that some kind of currency changed hands.  So who sold Paul to Sin to make a buck?  Was it Yahweh?  Was it Death?  Was it some other false god that Paul hasn’t mentioned yet? One minute Paul talks like Death and Sin just took the place by force, now he implies that there was some shady dealing going on behind the scenes.  The man needs to pick one delusion and follow it through to the end, but instead he’s jumping all over the place and making no sense at all.

For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. (Rom. 7:15)

Paul now makes himself out to be some helpless slave who has been sold into the clutches of an evil master named Sin. And even though he says that Sin killed him, unfortunately Sin didn’t do a thorough job, because Paul’s still alive enough to yammer on about having some kind of moral conflict even though he’s supposed to be spiritually dead.

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the Law that it is good. So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. (Rom. 7:16-17)

Now there’s a slick way to whitewash yourself of all moral accountability: just say that it’s your nasty master Sin who is forcing you to do things that you don’t want to do.  Paul is just an innocent victim—a poor little soul who desperately wants to do good, but he just can’t.  Well, what is Yahweh doing all of this time?  Doesn’t He see little Paul trapped in the clutches of cruel Sin?  He must because He’s God.  But then again, Paul’s been making the true Gods out to be pretty pathetic Beings.

Now remember, Paul says that Sin took everyone over once the Law was given, and that was way back in Moses’ day.  So you can’t just focus on how Christ saved Paul, you have to ask what happened to all of those millions of Old Covenant believers who lived and died between Moses and Christ.  If Christ is our only hope of being saved from Sin—which is what Paul teaches—then what hope did those without Christ have?  None, obviously.  This is what’s so wrong with Paul’s theology.  He exalts Christ by slamming Yahweh.  That’s certainly not what Christ did.  Christ didn’t teach that life was hopeless until He showed up because Yahweh was such an incompetent Creator.  Christ didn’t go around talking as if He and all of His fellow Jews were powerless slaves who Sin and Death were triumphing over.  What Christ did do is give a refresher on how merciful Yahweh has always been, and how salvation has always been a matter of right soul attitudes, not perfect behavior.  Christ railed against Pharisees like Paul for totally ignoring the vital issue of soul attitude.  And now, here in Romans 7, Paul is doing the same thing.  He’s not talking about soul attitudes, he’s talking about behavior and making it out like Yahweh doesn’t give a flip that little slave Paul so desperately wants to do what is right.  In other words, Yahweh is discounting Paul’s soul attitude and judging him solely by his behavior.  Watch the language here:

For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. (Rom. 7:18)

Paul says that the crisis here is the inability to behaviorally follow through on his good desires.  In other words, soul attitudes are meaningless if you can’t follow through with perfect behavior.  God doesn’t care about your intentions—He’s only looking at your actions.  This is a total reversal of what Yahweh and Jesus taught, for They have always said that soul attitudes are the important things.

Once again, we need to note that Paul is not the only New Testament writer pushing a reversal of God’s value system.  The apostle John demands perfect behavior as well, and James is famous for saying several times in his letter that “faith without works is dead.”

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (Jam. 2:24)

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (Jam. 2:26)

What is faith?  A soul attitude. What are works?  Earthsuit behaviors.  James says that your soul attitudes are garbage if your earthsuit behaviors aren’t right.  Like Paul and John, James demands earthsuit perfection and he elevates it as more important than soul attitudes by saying that it’s only your external works which make your faith worth anything.

For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: When I want to do what is good, evil is with me. For in my inner self I joyfully agree with Yahweh’s Law. But I see a different Law in the parts of my body, waging war against the Law of my mind and taking me prisoner to the Law of sin in the parts of my body. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? I thank Yahweh through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am a slave to the Law of Yahweh, but with my flesh, to the Law of sin. (Rom. 7:19-25)

When you pull this passage out of context, it’s easy to feel like Paul is empathizing with the human struggle of soul versus earthsuit.  But that’s not really what he’s doing.  He’s not saying, “Hey, it’s okay.  God has sympathy for your struggle—He knows how impossible your depraved earthsuit can be to restrain.”  No, what Paul is really doing is setting you up for epic condemnation, by first describing the ongoing battle between soul and earthsuit, and then by telling you that you no longer have any excuse to struggle, now that Christ has freed you up from all of that.  To properly interpret this passage, we have to continue into Chapter 8 and see what conclusions Paul is about to draw.

ROMANS 8

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For because you belong to Christ, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So Yahweh did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body Yahweh declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Yahweh did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Rom. 8:1-4)

Sure, Paul is saying that there is no condemnation for those in Christ—but only if you meet certain requirements. Because according to Paul, Christ has freed us from the power of Sin—you know, that same Sin that was causing us to sin so much before we knew Christ.  You see, Paul’s famous “I do what I don’t want to do” speech only applies to non-Christians.  What he’s saying here in Romans 8 is that as soon as you get saved, that struggle ends.  Through Christ, Yahweh “declared an end to sin’s control over us.”  In other words, you now have no valid excuse to ever sin again as a Christian.  The only folks who have no condemnation are those “who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.”  Is that who you are?  Not at all, because you are sinning every day.  You’re not following the Spirit, you’re following your sinful nature.  And because you are choosing to sin, Paul is actually going to heap boatloads of condemnation down onto your head because you are clearly “dominated by the sinful nature” and that is going to lead to spiritual death.

Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to Yahweh. It never did obey Yahweh’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please Yahweh. (Rom. 8:5-8)

That last line is the one that really nails you.  You see, according to Paul, no true Christian sins.  Only spiritual rebels who are choosing to be hostile towards Yahweh sin.  So since you sin every day, it’s obvious that you’re letting your sinful nature control your mind, and that means that you’re not only going to be eternally damned, but that you can never please God.

Paul isn’t trying to help you, he’s trying to trash you.  In classic Pharisee style, he’s trying to totally stomp out any hope you have of ever pleasing God by putting the bar so high above your head that you will never be able to reach it.  The man says you must be sinless to please God.  Like James, he says that just wanting to please God is totally worthless.  You have to follow through.  You have to be behaviorally perfect or God will eternally cut you off.  Once you understand that famous “There is no condemnation in Christ” comment in its original context, it takes all of the joy out of it, because what Paul is really saying is that there’s nothing but condemnation for all those who claim to be in Christ because we all sin. 

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of Yahweh living in you. And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all. (Rom. 8:9)

So are you a Christian?  Not according to Paul, because true Christians are not controlled by their sinful nature.  True Christians don’t sin.  You sin, and Paul just said that sinning is evidence that you do not have Christ, nor do you belong to Yahweh.  And as we discussed in our study of Chapter 6, the apostle John says that the fact that you keep on sinning every day just proves that you never really knew Christ at all—you’re just a wicked little poser, a child of the devil.  Feeling despaired yet?

Now if Christ is in you, then even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with Yahweh. The Spirit of Yahweh, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as Yahweh raised Christ Jesus from the dead, Yahweh will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Rom. 8:10-11)

Oh sure, you have all of these great things to look forward to IF Christ is in you.  But since He’s so obviously not, none of these promises apply to you, so can throw away all those Bible promise books.  Yahweh hates you and Christ has nothing to do with you because you sin.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. (Rom. 8:12-13)

Are you living by the dictates of your sinful nature?  Of course you are.  You sin every day.  Well, then you’re going to die.  It’s simple: if you sin, you’re out.  You might as well make your reservation in Hell now, because that’s clearly where you’re going since you can’t get your earthsuit to act morally perfect.  No matter how much reverential submission is going on in your soul, it’s all garbage because all God cares about is what your earthsuit is doing.  Don’t you know?  Faith without works is dead.  Soul attitudes mean nothing.  You either act perfect, or you’re gone.

But IF through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. (Rom. 8:13)

But if you don’t put to death all the deeds of your sinful nature, then guess what happens?  You will die. Paul’s not preaching hope, he’s preaching utter despair and inescapable damnation.  He’s a Pharisee—it’s what he does.

For all who are led by the Spirit of Yahweh are children of Yahweh. (Rom. 8:14)

But of course you’re not a child of Yahweh, because you sin, and that means you’re not being led by the Spirit of Yahweh.

So you have not received a Spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received Yahweh’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15)

Once you understand context, this famous line that Christians cling to for comfort becomes the total opposite of comforting.  We haven’t been made into fearful slaves?  Not much we haven’t.  Paul has utterly terrified us with this doomsday speech. He’s made us feel hopelessly enslaved by a flesh which we cannot master, and now fear is all we can possibly know as we wait on pins for a furious God to hurl us into Hell. Since Paul says that Yahweh won’t accept us until we master our flesh, we have no hope at all.

The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are Yahweh’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of Yahweh and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Rom. 8:16-17)

Gee, it must be nice to be someone who actually qualifies as morally perfect in the eyes of God.  Like pompous John, Paul shamelessly includes himself among the ranks of sinless icons.  No wonder he tells the folks in Corinth, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).  Paul is claiming to be totally perfect, for he claims to be a Christian, and according to him, a true Christian does not sin.  A true Christian has total mastery over his earthsuit at all times.  A true Christian is behaviorally perfect.  Wow, what a shining star Paul is.  And notice how Paul so neatly elevates Christians as Christ’s equals by saying that we will be coheirs with Christ in eternity.  So we inherit from Yahweh, but we share the spoils with Christ, because Christ is like our Sibling, not our Master.  Yahweh is the only God that Paul recognizes, and as such, Yahweh totally outranks Christ.  Also realize that the Holy Spirit is merely another title for Yahweh in Paul’s mind, so when he talks about the Spirit doing this or that, realize that he’s not recognizing the Holy Spirit who we know today.

So since Paul has effectively damned us all to Hell in this passage, there’s no point in talking about Heaven.  But suppose that we could somehow manage to be among that fictitious group of sinless superstars which Paul has invented?  What reason does Paul give us to press on through hard times on earth? So we can get to Heaven and make Christ share His goodies with us.  After all, Christ has no right to hog all of the power, glory, and honor that Yahweh gave to Him, because we’re coheirs with Christ, and that means we get to take our cut.  So it’s really just a carnal lust for power, glory, and honor that’s supposed to be motivating us to serve Yahweh well on earth.  This is the advice we’re given by a man who claims to have total mastery over his sinful flesh. Sounds rather suspicious, doesn’t it?

Well, what is there to say after slogging through this mess?  Paul is so full of lies that there’s really nothing good that we can salvage from the passage we’ve covered.  He’s reduced Yahweh to an impotent dingdong who is utterly impossible to please.  He makes Christ out to be a Guy who died on a cross just to make it ultra-clear how utterly impossible salvation is to acquire, since we can only get it by being sinless. So we’ve got an oaf of a Creator who lost control of His Creation, and a Savior who makes salvation impossible.  Then we’ve got an apostle who claims to be sinless while he flaunts his lust for power and glory.  Paul’s teaching perfectly lines up with what Christ said about the Pharisees:

“Woe to you, teachers of religious law and you Pharisees—hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter, either!” (Matt. 23:13)

By not reverentially submitting to Yahweh and Christ as the Supreme Authorities that They are, Paul refuses to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven himself.  Then, by teaching everyone else that salvation will only be granted to those who are behaviorally perfect, he tries to block them from entering as well.  Happily, we have the option of bypassing Paul altogether and going directly to our Gods for help with understanding Their salvation requirements.  The Pharisees certainly did their best to discourage souls from finding peace with God, but their best was never good enough, for throughout the ages, our Gods have always made sure that the truth is found by all who sincerely seek it.

FURTHER READING:
Hellfire Legalism & Prosperity Theology: Two Different Applications of the Same Lie
Yearning for More Spiritual Fruits: Wrong Focus, Wrong Priorities
Understanding Salvation: Who God Accepts
Salvation: How do you know when you’ve met God’s requirements?
Assessing God’s Pleasure with You: Three Useless Tests
The Parable of the Lost Sheep

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