How Paul’s personal problem became Corner Stone of Christianity!
“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.” – Paul
God revealed Laws of the Old Testament (OT) so that its followers could live a successful life in every respect! Over centuries, OT prophets and their followers held high esteem about the benefits of the Laws.
However, later, after the ascension of Jesus (peace be upon him), Paul promulgated entirely different concepts about Law. It now had little or no positive providence but a lot of negative implications.
Nevertheless, Paul by purporting so breached a lot of divinely revealed verses of the OT. The sad part does not end here – the violations (of OT Laws and verses) became corner stone of Christianity!
Thus, it is our intent to bring to light the breaches and request sincere Christians to reconsider whom and what they are following.
Pauline Theology: Laws engender Sins
If one visits the various “epistles” which Paul has written, he will observe that Paul had little or no consideration for the benefits of the Laws:
“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)
In fact Paul unabashedly claims that sins are nourished because of the God-breathed-Laws so much so that without Laws sins are a dead thing (!):
“Death gets its power to hurt from sin, and sin gets its power from the Law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 15: 56-57)
“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)
“If the Law 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 law, sin is a dead thing.” (Romans 7:7-8)
Furthermore, Paul goes out of the way to ironically and absurdly claim that the only reason why God revealed Laws so that “sins would increase” (!):
“Law was introduced in order to increase wrongdoing; but where sin increased, God’s grace increased much more.” (Romans 5:20)
It is not hard to realize that Paul considered divine Laws to be the very cause of sins amongst humanity. In fact he attributes the functions of Satan upon God’s Laws by (i) claiming that sinful desires are incited by God’s divine Laws (ii) Humans are exposed to the knowledge and temptations of sins but because of Laws (otherwise humans would never have known sins). Consider the following Pauline verses:
“For when we lived according to our human nature, the sinful desires stirred up by the Law were at work in our bodies, and all we did ended in death.” (Romans 7:5)
“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.” (Romans 7:7)
Psalmist: OT Laws give success and salvation!
However, contrary to Paul’s utter low opinion and incrimination of the OT Laws; OT prophets reasoned that humans can keep away from sins only by following the Laws:
“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 you…I 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 rationales of the Psalmist. For him, human can keep their life sin-free only by obeying and practicing the Laws. This is in stark contradiction to the Pauline teaching wherein Paul taught that (A.) sinful desires are stirred up by Laws and (B.) humans knew sins but because of the God-Breathed-Laws!?
Furthermore, why would the Psalmist find “delight” in obeying the Laws if it were stirring up sins in him? Was he morally less or was Paul more God fearing (than the Psalmist)? Did not the Psalmist know that Laws stir up sinful desires and therefore, he should not find “delight” in obeying the Laws? Or, was Paul misunderstanding the attributes of Laws?
In fact the Psalmist wanted to save the Laws in his heart – the same place where sins were stirred in Paul:
“Your teachings are wonderful; I obey them with all my heart. The explanation of your teachings gives light and brings wisdom to the ignorant. In my desire for your commands I pant with open mouth…Save me from those who oppress me, so that I may obey your commands. Bless me with your presence and teach me your laws. My tears pour down like a river, because people do not obey your law.” (Psalms 119:129-136)
Notice the longing which the Psalmist has for the Laws. He is panting with open mouth and crying to follow the Laws. If Laws were revealed to “increase wrongdoing” then why was this Psalmist panting and crying to follow such Laws? Moreover, why does he want to obey them with all his heart? Who is compelling him to follow that which stir up “evil desires” and where revealed only to “increase wrong doings”?
The answer to all such queries are simple, either of the one – Psalmist or Paul misunderstood the purpose and qualities of the Laws. And in such a situation it is better to bank on the Psalmist who was God’s personally chosen messenger! Moreover, his views are multiply attested by other God’s prophets like Ezekiel, Nehemiah etc. Whereas, on the other hand, we have contemporaries of Paul contravening him!
In fact a closer look at Paul’s reasoning clarify that he had personal problems with the OT Laws and not that Laws were “sin inciting” per se as he claimed:
“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)
We saw the providential capacities of the Laws with OT prophets – it was life and salvation giving to them (c.f. Ezekiel 20:11, 33:14-15), however, in Paul’s personal case, “…in my case…” Laws were working backwards.
With the foregoing factual qualification, is it justified to reject and sneer at God’s divinely revealed Laws, multiply attested by numerous OT prophets; for the personal problems of an individual mortal (Paul)?
Before discarding the Laws as a whole, sincere Christians need to rethink:
There are God’s divine Laws which were all providential to sincere and purportedly strictest monotheists and they testified towards it so much so that they wanted to follow it with panting mouth and tears in their eyes.
And all of a sudden we have a mortal (Paul) who declares that Laws worked otherwise in his personal case while his contemporaries who were no less than him, expressed their fealty for the OT Laws and even disputed with Paul over the same!
Yet millions of Christians have no qualms in rejecting what was revealed by God to be followed. Sadly, it has become a corner stone of their theology.
- All biblical texts, unless otherwise mentioned, are taken from Holy Bible, Good News Edition, Today’s English Version.
- Emphasize wherever not matching with the original, is ours.