Are You Saying That We Never Sin After We are Saved?

(Including commentary on 1 John 1, 1 John 3, and Romans 6 and 7)


----- Original Message -----
From: Name Withheld
To: Paul Stringini
Sent: Monday, January 06, 2014 1:25 PM
Subject: Matthew study questions
Dear brother Paul,
Personal Portion of Email Removed
I want to thank you for your free Bible studies. I have read the first two chapters of your study on Matthew, and I am enjoying your teaching. I find it thought provoking, but I have a few questions if that's okay.
You made some statements on sin that perplexed me. Surely you are not saying that because we have been saved, we do not sin. Does not the book of first John say that he that says he does not sin is a lire? Also, how does that match up with Paul's teaching about the twin natures of man, the law of sin, and the perfect law of liberty? I must admit that by reading your introduction on your web cite, I got a clearer picture of what you meant, but I think one must take care when making claims to perfection. Clearly we will not be perfect until He comes to claim his own. I do however, agree with your statement that we can grow in spiritual strength, but if a bad thought is a sin, then I guess we are all guilty and in need of repentance. I know that he that commits sin is the servant of sin, but I know the war that rages in my own body. Just like Paul, I find my self sometimes doing or saying things for which I need to repent later. I don't think that I can safely say that I do not sin, even though I have faith that I am on the right path. I do believe that if I confess my sins to him, he will forgive me of them, but I must learn from my mistakes so that I do not repeat them. As a pastor, I take this very seriously. Please give me your thoughts on this.
Thank you again for your work, and may the peace, grace and love of Jesus abide continually with you...

Yours in Christ,
Name Withheld

My First Response:

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Stringini
To: Name Withheld
Sent: Monday, January 06, 2014 11:08 PM
Subject: Re: Matthew study questions
Hi Name Withheld,
I certainly consider it my obligation to answer any questions which arise from something I taught.  I have written you a lengthy reply and I hope you will find the time to read it.
You had said "You made some statements on sin that perplexed me. Surely you are not saying that because we have been saved, we do not sin."
That is not what I'm saying.  The scriptures say, "he that is born of God does not commit sin." (1 John 3) Now,  I'm supposed to be born again, so if I do commit sin, there is a conflict there that I had better understand.  I do not ignore the scripture.  I don't know how much you know about me, but I have received deliverance from many sins.  And while I believe that the lord has delivered me from all my sins by his sacrifice on the cross, it still remains that there are some sins that I never commit anymore, and there are others that still trouble me, and I suppose there are some I am not as aware of as I ought to be, or that I might excuse, this is unacceptable to me.  God has promised me something better than that.
So I do not accept this state of affairs in myself, I look for more from God. We should not grow complacent and regard sin in our lives as acceptable.  I continue to seek deliverance from all my sins.  That is what salvation and the grace of God do for me.  In the New Testament there are dozens of passages which admonish us that we ought not sin anymore or lead us to believe that we should be sufficiently changed so that sin is extremely rare in our lives.  
But It is not merely that "we should not sin"  The important thing is that God has given us promises whereby we might partake of His divine nature and overcome sin in the flesh.  The full work can take our lifetime to see full fruit.  But I need to see progress in myself, that is what encourages me and strengthens my faith. 
Honestly, when you say this: "I think one must take care when making claims to perfection."  I could not agree more!

The problem is that most Christians already think they are perfect!  How?  Well, perfection essentially means completeness.  And when one does not believe that they are seeking to do righteousness,  but rather believe that they have already arrived, so to speak, at the full measure of righteousness, then they are already perfect.  As Christ said, the whole need not a physician, and I see many Christians have fallen into that state.  They think they have arrived at completion in Christ,  even though they do not exemplify the righteousness which Christ exemplified.  They do not seek anything further from Christ, (except to satisfy their carnal covetousness).  They (for all practical purposes) already consider themselves perfected, perfected while yet in their sins.  It is a perfection of imperfection.

I agree whole-heartedly, one must take GREAT CARE when claiming perfection.  Of course we deny that we think we are perfect, but act as if we are complete in Christ while we commit sin and also claim that we are "complet in him" as the scriptures say we are. 

Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

So we are complete in him.  Yet incompletely like him...And what I say is that we should not be content in that state.

Philippians 3:12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

In verse 12 Paul says he is not yet perfect.

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

In verse 15 he speaks to those who already are perfect.  So there is a conflict between the perfection promised in the gospel and the imperfection manifested in our lives.
Sin can take many forms, you think of how Christ said to his disciples, "he that denies me before men will I deny before my father"  and yet Peter denied him, three times with curses and oaths.  And he was forgiven, but it yet remains that some who deny Him will not be forgiven.  So also, we may commit sins,  but these are matters which need to be rectified and not accepted.  After all, sin is what is going to cause the wicked to be destroyed. If we start thinking we are just fine in our sins are we might end up like the guy who buried his talent.  And according to the teachings of Christ, that fate shall befall many.
Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
That is how we are supposed to live.  The grace of God that brings us to salvation is supposed to teach us that.  But then men come and teach us otherwise and our hearts are with men, because it is our flesh wants to live to sin.  The grace of God teaches us how to live righteously and godly...soberly.  We know how we ought to live.  I think one of the problems is that so many corrupt men have crept into places of religious power and influence that they want to make us think that we are supposed to walk around sinning over and over (like them) with no help from God.  God has not helped them, so they do not wish us to believe that he will help us.  Spiritually void men are sitting in the seat of Moses, and everyone is listening to them.
I'm going to take the following verses slightly out of context, but I think the principle holds true.
James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Ok, now I'm going to reword that passage slightly. 
If we are sinful, and wretched, and unable to save ourselves from the bondage of sin.
And God says to us, be ye holy for I am holy, Go and sin no more,  notwithstanding he does not give us any of the spiritual gifts which are needful for overcoming the bondage of sin,  what does it profit?
God has said what he wants from us.  if we are really these wretched creatures, then he needs to provide us with the necessary things that we might be filed with the promised righteousness.
Acts 3:26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
Christ came to bless us and turn us from sin. I believe in taking an aggressive and hopeful stance against all sin.  Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.  We aim for perfection, that is what the bible instructs us to aim for.  I see no reason for caution.  I seek the righteousness of God.  There is nothing wrong with that, but sometimes I am surprised at people who seem to view the pursuit of righteousness as some sort of wickedness. 

"If you were actually righteous then you would have pride," one guy told me.  I understand, but that would be just another sin to deal with.  Pursuing righteousness is not some sort of devilish activity.   I suppose people think that I am in danger of becoming some sort of hypocrite, but that danger exists anywhere.  Like among those who by denying perfection actually assert their own perfection, because they believe they think have obtained everything they need to obtain from God.
II Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
It is clear and simple. This is a  high calling, this is what we are supposed to pursue.  I do not do this as some sort of obligation.  As though I was trying to earn that which God freely gives.  No. I covet the righteousness which is in Christ by faith.  I want to be like him.  Sin is what will damn the whole world,  I do not want to be 80 and be no better at 80 than I was at 20, 30, 40, or 79 and a half.  I look for perfection, I have not obtained it, but salvation makes it possible for me to dare to reach for it.  And in the resurrection I will absolutely obtain it so why not start the perfecting now?  That is what the apostles told us to do.
You had also asked, "Does not the book of first John say that he that says he does not sin is a liar?"
Well, John says a lot in 1 John about sin, but that seems to be the verse most people like to hold onto...  Interesting, psychology, isn't it?  But I think you may be slightly paraphrasing that verse incorrectly.
1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
Walking in sin is treading close to the darkness, Proverbs 2:13 Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
Jesus Christ cleanses us from sin, if we say we have no sin then we deceive ourselves.  I am a man of sin.  I have sinned many, many times.  Now, most of that was in the past.  Let's pretend it is ALL in the past.  Let's say I never sin anymore.  But could I truly say, "I have no sin?"  No, I could never say that because the blood of Christ is what cleansed me from my former sins.  I think that is the spirit in which that verse was written, he was not saying,  "we just keep sinning all the time, to the very last moment of our lives we are going to sin, sin, sin." 

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
We have sinned.  Ok, we know that, and we may even sin now, and if we confess our sins Christ forgives us and cleanses us. Awesome.  But what does the very next verse say?
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
The whole point of writing that was to encourage us not to sin. Is John laying something on us that is impossible for us to obtain through faith in Christ?  Is he asking us to do something hazardous to our soul?  No.  But, the sad fact is that people actually use 1 John to justify their continuing in sin or at least to dismiss the idea that one might hopefully pursue doing righteousness.   God forgives me.  That is true.  But the faith is supposed to lead us, from faith to faith, we are supposed to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance etc (2 Peter 1) If I use verses like in 1 John 1 to assure myself that I can just go on sinning without any fear for the consequences... well I might just find myself on the wrong side of a few parables.
Of all the things John wrote in 1 John, the things written in 1 John 3 are the most rejected by Christians.  And it is funny because 1 John 3 is a continuation fo the same themes laid out in 1 John 1 and 1 John 2.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
We want to be like Christ when he appears, as Paul wrote, "I labor and travail until Christ be formed in you."  When he appears we are going to be like him, this does not mean that before he appears we might not become more like him than we were when he first called us.
1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
We are in the business of purification.  I'm not pure. But that is where I am headed, and that is where I strongly advocate and encourage all believers to go: towards purification.  This is part of our calling in Christ.  This is for all believers.  This should be what we want and actively seek from God.

1 John 3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
The Law of Moses and the Law of Christ: both Identify sin.  I know what sin is from the law: either by commandment or by conscience.
1 John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.
One of my favorite passages is John 8:34-36 "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. "
Today, Christians do not believe that Christ makes them "free indeed"  they believe that they are theoretically free.  That is the doctrine of the imputation.  Which I do not deny.  We need the imputation. It is by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ that we have good standing with God to seek of him the things he promised to those who place their faith in him.  But my faith goes beyond imputation.  I seek that we might truly be made free from sin which simply means not committing sin anymore.  I ask for this and pursue it.

1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
That is an extremely stark verse, very plain.  So long as I still sin,  I can't truly say I know Christ, certainly not like I ought to know him. This is where we truly stand. When we tell people we know Christ, we are liars, in the truest sense of the word "know."

I can play around with the verbs.  That is what people usually do.  They will say "sinneth"  means to "sin habitually."  And I say, EXACTY!  I do not want to keep repeating the same sins over and over again.   The weird thing is that most sins people commit are totally habitual.  There are very few "lone wolf" sins.  I think of the moment Peter Denied Christ, or the time he refused to eat with Gentiles when certain Jews from Jerusalem were present.  Once rebuked, those were not repeated.  But most of the sins people commit are being committed over and over and over.  So it is a bit of a cop out to try to relieve people by saying "oh! it means to habitually sin!"  It's a cop-out, for 99% of sins that people are involved in.

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
John is very gentle, "little children" so these words should be taken with childish simplicity.   If we don't DO righteousness, then we simply are not righteous.  Don't let anyone deceive you, it could not be more plain.  But then some dude  in a suit and tie from a seminary full of unrepentant sodomites comes in talking about sinner-saints and such abominations, and we give them our ears.  

1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Kids, when we serve sin, we serve Satan. Very simple. Obviously, that sinning, that service has to stop, we cannot serve two masters, we cannot serve righteousness and unrighteousness.   If we simply yield ourselves to sin, and think there is nothing that needs to change, we may find ourselves like the man with one talent, "from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have."  We only seemed to be Christians.  But I am persuaded of better things concerning you...
The bible certainly tells us that just because we sin does not mean we are automatically damned, I immediately think of Galatians 6:1 "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." (Overtaken literally means "apprehended" as in "caught".) But we also have to remember that we "got saved" to become the Sons of God,  and we should begin moving towards that if we are really serious about what we say we believe.  I really do not like the lingo "get saved" and all that.  It has been corrupted.  It goes back to what I was saying about perfection.  If you say, "I'm saved"  you are already laying claim to a sort of perfection.  Not that we are not already saved, but salvation is more than just laying claim to a promise.

1 Peter 1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Salvation is the end of our faith, not the beginning.
2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
When did I escape the corruption that is in the world through lust? At the cross.  But it has not appeared to me.  When was I saved?  before the foundation of the world.  Yet the salvation has not been manifested.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
Faith plus nothing equals death.  Faith alone is a corrupt idea.  Faith is never alone.  That is ridiculous.  Whatever is alone is simply NOT FAITH.

2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
We are called to ADD to our faith. 

2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
We were purged. But we should not forget it, lest we come short of that promise to which we lay claim by faith.

2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
God is absolutely sure about my salvation. I put my trust in him and in his word and promises.  But if I want to be sure about it I need to SEE these things abounding in me.  Too often ministers try to assure people of their salvation, but not based on what the Apostles said they should assure themselves.  No, they say they should assure themselves based on their works, i.e. "did you place your faith in Christ?" Yes I did, but I assure myself of my calling and election, not based on what I did, but based on what God did. 

I know I am saved because God put his power in me and delivered me from sins and unrighteousness,  he taught me knowledge patience. godliness love and wisdom by his spirit and patience.  I know that everything that he promised will come to me, because I have seen him do so much of what he said he would do.  That is what assures me of my salvation.  That is how I know that my election stands sure.  Not with empty words of man's wisdom but by the power and blessing of God.

2 Peter 1:11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I want in.  And that is what I need to see to feel sure that that is where I am going.  That's what Peter taught.  And I suppose he ought to know.
1 John 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
I do not say that we do not sin.  John says it.  If you claim that you are born again.  Then according to John, that means that you must also claim that you do not sin, in fact, it means you CANNOT sin.  How could you?  You have been BORN OF GOD.  I take this to mean that there is a sense in which I must have not been fully born again, I sinned recently.  Now, are we the sons of God, but it does not appear what we shall be but we know we will be like him....  and I think Paul agrees with that assessment:  Galatians 4:19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Christ needs to be "formed in us"  that is what it truly means to be born again.  Christ does not sin.  We have to grow up into him.  So if you sin it means that Christ has not been fully formed in you.  That is where we are, we are not fully formed, we are not yet "perfect" as you aptly put it.  But 1 John 3:9 is the most unbelieved verse in the bible.  We all think we have been born again. We are all saved, we assure each other because we did the works they told us we needed to do. "Repeat after me...  blah, blah... the sinners prayer, bang! you are saved."
I use the analogy of the race that Paul used.  You have to run the race lawfully.  You cannot sit down at the starting line and declare victory, and that is what they have taught us to do.  It is corruption.  We must run the race which is set before us.  In patience and in faith, having full confidence of victory, because we place our faith in Christ.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
Simple qualifications.  Simple words, but we are easily turned away from the simplicity of them because they are too wonderful for us to believe.
God forgives us, but let us not be wicked servants.  We take sin seriously.  I mean that Especially in ourselves.  I do not want to oppress anyone, I have labored in bondage for decades.   God is longsuffering with us, so we ought to remember that when a brother is found to be in sin.  That does not mean we get all depressed about sin either.  No, we are ever hopeful because God sent his Son to turn us from our iniquities.   I do not see it as something I have to do of myself.  I do not overcome sin by learning from my experiences.  I do learn from them, but I do not overcome sin by my own power or intellect.   I overcome sin by the power of God.  Maybe God thinks I've learned my lesson, so he looses the bonds that hold me and I overcome some sin that has plagued me.  I seek what he has promised, I want to partake of the divine nature, that is absolutely available to me, but I need to seek it.  I know from my experience that this calling is much higher than I ever realized, or yet realize.  We can go a long way towards perfection without obtaining it, so we best pursue it with vigor.
You had also asked, "Also, how does that match up with Paul's teaching about the twin natures of man, the law of sin, and the perfect law of liberty?" and mentioned "I know the war that rages in my own body. Just like Paul, I find my self sometimes doing or saying things for which I need to repent later."
I know just what you are talking about. Paul's teaching in Romans 7 is one of the most misunderstood in the bible.  One problem people have with Romans 7 is that they do not properly perceive the context of it.  They say "Paul sinned all the time" quote, "O wretched man that I am!"   and  "I do that which I would not."  But what they fail to recognize is that those remarks have a very clear context, please allow me to demonstrate:
Romans 7 needs to be read in context with Romans 6 and 8 because all three continue a line of thinking regarding salvation. (and 5 is really part of it too but this will suffice)
Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
This verse is very important because it comes into play in verse one of chapter 7.  I don't know how to answer this properly without commenting on the whole passage.  It matters a great deal to me.  We are supposed to be dead to sin, that is part of what it means to be a Christian.
Death is a very strong force.  When things die, it is a very stark contrast to life.  I think sometimes we cope with death too much by denying what death really means, we actually deny death.  Death is the opposite of life, not merely a different sort of life. 
Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Romans 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
Christ's death and resurrection is a model for our salvation.  The old man dies but is raised to life everlasting.  The ultimate expression of this is the resurrection of the dead, but there is a sense in which even now we are supposed to be walking as men who have died and returned to life.
Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
The body of sin is supposed to be destroyed.  That a is very specific analogy.  If the "body" which sinned is "destroyed" then it is not merely talking about God looking at us "as if" we no longer sinned.  But rather it is speaking of a change in us which will stop us from committing sin.  Whosoever commiteth sin is the servant of sin, that is what Jesus taught.
Romans 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Dead men commit no sins.  Not because they are in heaven or whatever.  But because corpses are incapable of sinning, they are unfeeling, unthinking, they are dead.
Romans 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Being an unthinking unfeeling corpse is a very undesirable sort of existence, but we have the hope of resurrection.  Not only the resurrection at the last day, but the spiritual resurrection by which we are reborn into the kingdom of God in the spirit.

Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Romans 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
The idea is that the freedom death grants us from sin is irrevocable, when we return to life we live to God and not to sin.  So sin become impossible because death has no more dominion over us, and death ruled by sin.

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
We should look at ourselves in the same way.  We are not called to be unbelieving pessimists.  We need to think of ourselves as dead to sin, that is how we want to be.  It does not mean we should excuse ourselves or deny the truth if we sin.

Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Easier said than done, for man.  But from God's perspective it is purely natural.  Dead men do not sin, you have died with Christ, you cannot sin. 
Romans 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
As I reiterate over and over, this is what is expected of us.  Actually, this is what I expect of GOD.  Notice we overcome sin by DEATH.  Not by some great effort on our part.  This is described as an almost natural process.  As we once yielded to the desires of sin (which took absolutely no effort, but rather arose from PASSIONS)  we are to yield ourselves now unto God similarly. 

Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
This is a key verse, extremely so, because chapter seven is all about the law,  Romans seven has nothing to do with salvation in Christ but death under the law.  I will bring this verse up again.

Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
God forbid he says.  But I feel like in these days the answer is "Of course we shall sin!"
Romans 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
This is very similar to what Christ said in John 8, basically that we are defined by what we do with ourselves.  What we yield ourselves to do defines who we serve.  This is a very arbitrary and stark standard but it is the consistent message of the scripture.
Romans 6:17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
What is that "form of doctrine?"  Doctrine is very important because it basically defines what we believe and what we believe is our faith and we are saved by grace through faith.  Doctrine is the conduit through which our salvation flows, and in that is every good and perfect gift of God, gifts of prophecy, teaching, and also the fruits of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance .  That is a lot of stuff and I have never met anyone who got it all dumped on them the moment they believed.  It is a promise which we have faith in.  I am patient for the promises of God by the sacrifice of Christ, but that does not mean that I should wait forever to receive the contents of the promises.  The spirit of God in us is supposed to be "earnest money" on a greater inheritance.  Earnest money is supposed to be something tangible, if it is not then it is no more earnest than a promise.

Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
I want to be free from sin.  And I believe that Christ achieved the victory by which I might obtain that freedom through faith.  Here I am, I want to serve Christ, yet even though the Apostles talk like this, over and over again, I do not see myself fully accomplishing what I am supposed to be doing in Christ. 
Romans 6:19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Ah!  This verse.  He says "I speak after the manner of men."  In verse 18 he was looking at it from the perspective of God who sees the end from the beginning.  Now he says it from a man's perspective.   Because of the infirmity of our flesh we do not instantaneously turn from sinners to saints but rather we change from becoming worse and worse to getting better and better.  I have seen this in my own life and in the life of others. We used to add sin to sin, but now we add righteousness to holiness.  Through the power of God we are becoming conformed to that kingdom which we have laid claim to by the promises of God in Christ.
Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
One of the clear teachings of the bible is that a little leaven leavens the whole, a little unrighteousness makes the whole unrighteous,  either make the tree good and his fruit good or make the tree evil and its fruit evil.  Can bitter and sweet water come out of the same source?  The bible says no. 
Romans 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Whoever we yield ourselves to obey is who we serve.  The idea that we are truly the servants of God is one of hope which depends on the patience and longsuffering of God.  Because God is bearing with us in spite of our sins, but we should not be mistaken about what God wants us to become. I don't want the day of the resurrection to be the first day I ever thought about living 100% righteously.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Sin earns us death but there is this gift of God which is life through Christ.  Ok now chapter seven.
Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Now here is a serious shift.  Paul is talking about the law.  That is important because he just said that eternal life is the gift of God, while death is something earned.  The thing that measures what we have earned is the law.  Remember this verse?  Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
Paul is expanding on his "you are dead" motif.  He is going to talk about how the law works into his analogy.

Romans 7:2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
A dead husband is no husband.  The law cannot bind the woman to a corpse.

Romans 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
No comment necessary.
Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
So the death we experience in Christ frees us from the law.  Not merely because of a loophole.  But because the law convicts men of sin.  Dead men cannot sin, so the law has nothing to say to the sinless.

Romans 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
Notice how Paul says, "When we were in the flesh"  and uses the past tense like that?  Later in chapter 8 Paul explains that we are not in the flesh anymore if we are in Christ but in the spirit.
Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
The mechanic that Paul mentioned in verse 5 of Romans 7 is no longer operating in us.
Romans 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
Letter of the law righteousness is inferior to righteousness which flows by the spirit.  True righteousness is not obtained by reading rules and regulations but by having the spirit of God active in us dictating our actions according to righteousness.
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
The law itself is not sin.  It merely tells what sin is.  But it cannot make men righteous.
Romans 7:8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Not merely the law of Moses, but even the law of our consciences makes our sinful deeds even more sinful because we know that we are doing wrong. 

Romans 7:9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Before you realize that it is wrong to do something, your conscience cannot convict you.  But once you know you do wrong. Sin comes alive and slays us. 
Romans 7:10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
Romans 7:11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
Again I would reiterate that all this is spoke towards one who is living their life in the flesh on the basis of LAW.  That is not what we are under as Christians.

Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
God loves justice, even if it slays us.  The law is a force for good to eradicate evil, that is an overall good, but not so good from me because I'm a sinner and sin uses the law to slay me.

Romans 7:13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
Two thoughts there.  Sin is death.  And the law reveals sin for what it is.  It will destroy us. 

Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
Again, this is all clearly talking about life under the law, this is what Christ came to free us from, this is definitely not how we should be thinking of ourselves in Christ!  I am not carnal sold under sin!  I was bought with a price, by the precious blood of Christ.  I am not carnal, I am spiritual.  Well, that is how we ought to think of ourselves.  I reckon myself dead to sin, that is what Paul told me to do.  He never said I should reckon myself carnal and sold to sin!  How awful!  Is that how we ought to think of ourselves?

Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
This is the carnal man, living under the law.  Paul is speaking from that man's perspective.  This is what it is like to live under the law.  I know I should do right, but I keep doing wrong. here is the rub, yes we all feel like that from time to time.  We are passing from death to life, but we should not think of this as a static position which we should continually occupy.  I think that could prove deadly. 

Romans 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
He is consenting to the law because this passage is speaking to what it is like to be under the law.  But we are supposed to be living this verse Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

Romans 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Sin takes over and we are out of control.  We do not want to have sin "dwelling in us"  How can that be?  Like I said, even though we may be living contradictions, we also ought to consider whether there is ANY contradiction at all.  That is,  if we continue in sin,  maybe we have not died to it.  Maybe we are still lingering, alive to sin.  We have not died with Christ.  I tell you I feel it in myself.  What man wants to die?  Yet men gladly "receive Jesus" not knowing that it means that they must die to their life in the flesh, I feel myself clinging to life sometimes, I desperately want to die so that I may live fully to God yet I feel within myself the part that wants to cling to the good things of this life.  But I am committed to dying, in spite of myself, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  If sin still has a role in our lives, then it is manifest that we have not died as we should, but are rather clinging to life with sin.  I trust that God who began a good work in me will see that it is finished, but until I obtain, I don't count myself to have obtained, I do not think it is spiritually healthy.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Romans 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Romans 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Romans 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
This is a law.  But again, we are not supposed to be under the law and under sin, so this is not supposed to be us, this is how man lives under the law.

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Romans 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Laws of God, :Laws of the mind. Laws, Laws, Laws, I want to live by the spirit of life in Christ Jesus and be free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Romans 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
This interjection, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord"  That means that through Jesus Christ we are supposed to be delivered from this wretched state.  To say that this state is how Christians are SUPPOSED to live is absolutely wrong.  Perpetually wretched, what a wonderful salvation!  Then all Jesus does is make empty promises while he leaves us as wretched as anyone. But that is not what we have experienced with him.  We do overcome sin. Not all of it, not yet, but I have seen enough progress to feel confident where the end up shall be.  We do shall not be wretched men, but sons of God. 
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
The law of sin and death is all that stuff that he was just talking about in Chapter 7, Christ is supposed to make us free from that.  problem is that throughout history the men who handle the word are more interested in making the word of God conform to their experience than in patiently seeking that God would deliver on the promises written in the word.  "If I can't be righteous, no one can!"  "If God does not talk to me, then he does not talk to anyone!"  They serve themselves and interpret the bible to conform to their image.
It arises from systematized religion in which they ordain men after obtaining degrees rather than after having obtained gifts from God.  I sought the holy spirit and deliverance for about 13 years before God gave me the holy spirit.  They don't wait for God.
I do have a study on Romans, it is one of the oldest studies on my website, I would like to redo it.  Early on when I started recording bible studies I was still part of a church and I did not want to be seen as "soft on sin"  I certainly do not want to make any room for sin.  There is no amount of sin which we are permitted to commit.  And that is generally how I talk, so that is why people get the impression that I might be saying that we never sin "after we get saved."  I don't say anything like that.  Nevertheless I do recommend my study in Romans.
You mentioned "and the perfect law of liberty?"
I really don't know what you meant by that in the context in which you mentioned that.  That is from James
James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
James 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
Now, the liberty we have in Christ has nothing to do with a liberty to commit sin.  The liberty we have in Christ means that we are not bound by the old law.  That is why I do not wear phylacteries and feel no problem eating pork.  Neither do I honor any day above another, but consider every day to be equal.  Under the old testament law, I would be a sinner, that is, if I was  Jew, but if I was not a Jew, I would be even worse than a sinner.  

But the liberty we have in Christ makes us subject to his law rather than the law of Moses since Christ fulfilled everything in the law.  The old law is passed away and I live under the law of Christ in the spirit. Under the law of Christ and the liberty we have in it we are not free to kill or hate, commit adultery or to lust,  there is no liberty in sin, or to sin.
You had said this "but I must learn from my mistakes so that I do not repeat them." and I wanted to comment further
I know the feeling, and I have banged my head against the wall on that one.  But I believe that deliverance comes when God gives it, not when I figure out how to beat sin on my own.  We may perceive it as "having learned our lesson"  and I'm not saying we don't need to learn.  But the ultimate kind of knowledge requires no thought, no practice.  Righteousness that springs organically from the God acting in us.  I used to have a big drug and alcohol problem.  I hated it for years and I fought it and it beat me again and again.  When I was finally delivered, I never had to worry about it again. 

Some people brought wine over for Christmas, and though I still know that wine is very enjoyable, I just didn't feel like having any, and it  is still sitting in the kitchen and it will probably sit there till kingdom come.  I didn't really learn anything about drunkenness that I didn't already know, but God wrote sobriety across my very soul.  I love being sober, and I really don't feel anything compelling me to drink, I just yield to the new nature God gave me. 

That is not to say that men cannot overcome sin by pure effort, but that is inferior to the gift of God.  The new covenant is supposed to be "written in our hearts"  not like memorization of a bunch a laws and regulations, that is how the old covenant worked, learn and live.  The new covenant is better, stronger, more glorious.  I wanted to mention that because righteousness is not something I expect to obtain by my own power, I expect God to give it to me as he promised it to me.
You had also said,  "While I agree with you that prophesy is not necessarily for skeptics, I have witnessed the word of God turn a skeptical person around. Ministering to bikers, I find my self witnessing to skeptics all the time, and I believe that if I win one, I've done well."
Well, you are right.  I have a mind that thinks like a skeptic, because, though I was raised in the faith, I have always fought an inward battle against unbelief and agnosticism.  Faith has not come easy to me.  When I read "a virgin shall conceive"  I hear the voice of skepticism and the writings of the skeptics which I have read.  And my retort is "do not think that this was given merely to convince you!  Prophesy was not given to convince the likes of you!"  Prophesy might be given to convince a particular skeptic or skeptics, but never skeptics as a whole, if you understand what I mean. There are always doubters.  They are not a class that will be eliminated while this world abides unchanged. 
Thank you for sharing you music with me, I wish I had more time for music and ministry, the Lord bless you and keep you.
If you have any further questions of concerns, I am at your service.

Paul Stringini

Emailer's First Reply:

----- Original Message -----
From: Name Withheld
To: Paul Stringini
Sent: Tuesday, January 07, 2014 12:06 AM
Subject: Re: Matthew study questions
Dear brother Paul, thank you for taking so much time with my questions. I truly appreciate your teaching. You've given me a lot to chew on here. I'll have to read it a couple of times to let it sink in, but this is really good! Would it be okay if I posted this on our churches facebook page? Also, I'd like to use some of this in one of our Bible studies if that's okay with you. I will make sure to credit you as the source from which I derived the lesson.
I hope that I didn't give you the wrong impression with my questions. I didn't ask them because I thought you were being in any way hypocritical, far from it. I respect anyone who is teaching truth. Especially when they take time to make disciples. Also, I asked because I truly want to learn how to grow spiritually. I know I'm not the same man I was when God delivered me from drugs, and I hope I'm not the same man in 10 years that I am now. I did mix up my scriptures when I mentioned the law of liberty with Paul's teaching on sin, please forgive me for that.  As a man of God I have found myself wondering if I handled certain situations properly, and I've had to ask God to forgive me where I feel that I failed. You've really made me think about the way Christians deal with sin and what the Bible really says about it. If I'm not a bother to you, I may have other questions as I go through your studies. I intend to do every one that I can get. Please let me know when you post more so I can get them. I want you to know that as a pastor, I do not tell my congregation that it is okay to sin in any way. In fact, I constantly remind them that the wages of sin is death, but life in Christ is eternal peace and joy...Thank you so very much, Yours in Christ Name withheld

My Second Response:

----- Original Message -----
From: Paul Stringini
To: Name Withheld
Sent: Tuesday, January 07, 2014 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: Matthew study questions
Hi again,
"Would it be okay if I posted this on our church's facebook page? Also, I'd like to use some of this in one of our Bible studies if that's okay with you."
That's all fine, post share, etc. I got it from the Holy Ghost, freely received, freely given. 
You had said, "I hope that I didn't give you the wrong impression with my questions. I didn't ask them because I thought you were being in any way hipocritical, far from it."
No, I did not think that. But hypocrisy is a very real danger.  When God first delivered me from drugs and alcohol (not to mention other iniquities)  I began fellowship with a group of believers who heavily emphasized perfection and being without sin.  I wanted to believe I was without sin, and what happened is that I soon began making excuses for things that were sinful and trying to justify things which were not justifiable.  At first, is was stuff like anger and pride which are easy for us do deceive ourselves in, but then I sinned in such a way that could not be mistaken for anything other than sin.  And I realized I was not without sin and I saw what I had been doing.  I had not gone back to drugs or alcohol, but there was still sin going on in me.  This disturbed and perplexed me, it also scared me because I though maybe I had "blown it." When people start to think that they are without sin, there is the risk that they may start making excuses, and if anyone tries to tell them otherwise the get angry with them and accuse them of "pride" or whatever.  I lost a good friend this way. He would not hear me and I ended up leaving that fellowship (he was the Pastor).  I want to uncover all my sins, if that means I don't measure up,  I am not gonna alter the teaching of scripture to excuse myself.  I need to walk right. Period.
"I did mix up my scriptures when I mentioned the law of liberty with Paul's teaching on sin, please forgive me for that.  "
I mix up my scriptures all the time!  It's fun to know enough scripture to get mixed up.
"As a man of God I have found myself wondering if I handled certain situations properly, and I've had to ask God to forgive me where I feel that I failed."
I have done lots of failing myself.  What comforts me is the story of Peter denying Christ three times.  It is no light thing.  And you think of how passionately Peter had wanted to follow the Lord, even to death.  Yet he denied him with "curses"  That's not just our everyday potty talk.  That is calling down a curse on oneself if what one says is not true.  "If I know that man, may God strike me down!"  That is a curse.  That's heavy stuff.  But the Love of God is powerful.  He knows our frame.  It doesn't mean we take it lightly, after all, the same sins that we commit shall damn the rest of the world.  But we place our trust in him, and that means we believe in his forgiveness and in his salvation.  God has saved us, we trust in that salvation.
"You've really made me think about the way Christians deal with sin and what the Bible really says about it. If I'm not a bother to you, I may have other questions as I go through your studies. I intend to do every one that I can get. "
Amen, yes, I am at your service. Ask away.  It helps me.  If God intends to damn people over sin, we should not use our salvation as a cover for a lax attitude towards sin.  That is the peril of the times we are living in.
"Please let me know when you post more so I can get them."
I will do that. I don't know if you were aware but on my study page I have over 150 hours of bible study. Also whenever I post a new study it goes up on my facebook page.
"I want you to know that as a pastor, I do not tell my congregation that it is okay to sin in any way. In fact, I constantly remind them that the wages of sin is death, but life in Christ is eternal peace and joy..."
I understand.  The righteousness of God is part of our inheritance. I see it is a matter or encouragement to righteousness.  We love Christ and that means that the people you are pastoring want to live right.  We exhort and admonish them to provoke them to seek the living God.  I'm very passionate about that and I want to infect others with that passion.
Paul Stringini