Was the Apostle Paul a Schizophrenic? – Romans 7:14-25

Healthmind Body  » Mental Health »  Was the Apostle Paul a Schizophrenic? – Romans 7:14-25

Sound outrageous? You probably think so, but there is a very good reason for me asking this question. The reason is, there are people out there in cyber space who have actually asked this question in order to accuse those, who have said what I am about to say, of blasphemy. So what am I about to say? Well I am certainly not going to say that Paul was a schizophrenic, if that’s what you were thinking, but what I am going to explain and describe is the dual natured beings we become once we are Born of God (Born Again). Now this dual nature and those who have correctly tried to teach this Truth, are the very people who are accused of labelling Paul a schizophrenic, which is plainly not true and they, in the process, have been falsely accused by these schizophrenia labelling, judgmental people.

For those of you who do not know what schizophrenia is, I will briefly explain. The word ‘schizophrenia’ means a split or dual mind, but not split personalities. From the Encarta Dictionary: a severe psychiatric disorder with symptoms of emotional instability, detachment from reality, and withdrawal into the self. Now, can we apply any of these character disorders to the apostle Paul? No, never, so what are these people on about when they accuse us of saying that Paul was a schizophrenic. Well, they do this to discredit the truthful teaching that when we are Born of God (Born Again) as new people, new creations and/or new men and women we remain in our dying bodies of sin, so, in effect, we are two people, but, I can assure you, without any of the above mentioned negative mental disorders.

OK, so if there are people out there accusing us of preaching a schizoid Pauline message, upon what misunderstandings are they basing their claims? Where do they get their evidence from, or is it a case that there is no evidence, because they do not fully understand what schizophrenia is, and/or, most likely, they do not understand the Holy Scriptures in Romans 7:14-25. These are Holy Scriptures that teach the dual nature of Born of God (Born Again) sons and daughters of God. The thing is, when we analyse our new Spiritual condition in depth, it’s not a full dual nature anyway, for half of our dual nature is already dead, it died in the watery grave of Baptism. This means that our bodies of sin no longer hold any real power over us unless we erroneously continue to think that our dead bodies of sin have more power than The Holy Spirit.

So without any further ado I will now write out The Holy Scriptures concerned and explain what Paul was saying in these verses of Scripture. Please bear in mind, too, that these verses are very likely the most controversial and argued over Holy Scriptures in the whole of the Holy Bible, and, as always, be prepared for a few surprises:

Romans 7:14 (KJV) For we know that The Law is Spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

From the Greek transliteral:

Romans 7:14 We have perceived (we are aware) for that The Law Spiritual is I yet fleshic (fleshy) am having been disposed of under the missing (sin).

OK, Paul states clearly here that the Law is Spiritual and yet he says he is carnal or, at least, that’s how the KJV words it, but notice the Greek is more precise by saying Paul is yet fleshic or fleshy having been disposed of under sin. ‘Disposed of’ here means ‘inclined to’, so he is stating quite clearly that our carnal fleshy natures have a natural inclination to sin – surprise, surprise, well bowl me over with a feather!!

Now moving on, he then says:

Romans 7:15 (KJV) For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

And again from the Greek transliteral:

Romans 7:15 Which for I am down acting (I am effecting) not, I am knowing not for which I am willing this I am practising, but which I am hating this I am doing

Now here in the above two renditions, the KJV and the Greek MSS, we are not really getting a layman’s understanding of what is being said here, by Paul, so let’s use a more modern translation or two for a better understanding:

From the Amplified Bible:

Romans 7:15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe.

From the Living Bible:

Romans 7:15 I don’t understand myself at all, for I really want to do what is right, but I can’t. I do what I don’t want to – I do what I hate.

Here we can plainly see the battle that is going on in Paul’s mind, and let’s be sure about this, for these are the words of a Born of God (Born Again) son of God and don’t let anyone lead you astray regarding these verses. Don’t let them deceive you by allowing them to confuse you over past tense issues here. Paul is definitely speaking about his current Spiritual condition, not about how he had behaved in the past. How do we know this? Easy, He is telling us that the things he wants or desires to do i.e. the right things, are the very things he seems unable to do and also that they are the very things he hates to do. So what is Paul telling us? He telling us that his attitude to sin is right. He is telling us that he doesn’t want to sin and yet still finds himself sinning – this is the mind of a man who has repented and has the right mindset, the Born of God (Born Again) mindset, and yet admits that he still lives in a body of sin that sins. If Paul were not Born of God (Born Again) he would have no desire to do what is right and would not declare that the things he does are the things he loathes. Only a Spirit Born son of God would have this desire; only a Spirit Born son of God would admit to the fact that he is doing things that he hates doing. A degenerate fallen mind or unsaved and lost mind would not think this way at all. The fallen mindset is one that always looks for excuses for its evil deeds; admission of guilt is never in the equation. As an example, we only have to look at Adam and Eve’s behaviour after they had been found out, for all the proof we need regarding this fallen, carnal man, frame of mind.

OK, the next two verses:

Romans 7:16-17 (KJV) If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto The Law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

Again I will use a modern translation in order to help us get a better understanding of these two verses for we need to be sure about what Yashua Anointed, through Paul, is saying here.

From the Amplified Bible once more:

Romans 7:16-17 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that The Law is good, and that I take sides with it? 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin which is at home in me and has possession of me. (Emphasis mine)

Notice the crucial use of the word ‘desire’ here to reveal to us the things Paul is desirous of doing. They are the very things that he doesn’t do but, rather, the things he hates doing, via the sin which is at home in his dead body, and also has possession of his dead body. Make careful note, though, of what Paul has said here: “It is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin within my body.” What is Paul saying here? Easy, he is telling us that he no longer sins, his dead body of sin, sins. We must be clear in our minds about this new reality that Paul is describing here regarding his Born of God (Born Again) Spiritual and carnal man condition – two natures.

The Living Bible:

Romans 7:16-17 I know perfectly well that what I am doing is wrong, and my bad conscience proves that I agree with these laws I am breaking. 17 But I can’t help myself, because I am no longer doing it. It is sin inside me that is stronger than I am that makes me do these evil things.

Here, The Living Bible then confirms what the Amplified Bible has said, so by now we should be getting the picture of Paul’s conundrum. He then continues in verses 18-19:

Romans 7:18-19 (KJV) 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. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Here Paul categorically states that in his flesh there is no good thing and he also states that the sin inside him is stronger than his manly or mental will to overcome it. Regarding the former, this is not surprising for nothing in the flesh is pleasing to God anyway:

Romans 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

I will return to this verse later in another article, but what does Paul say next? “For to will is present with me” which means the desire to do right, is there all the time, but the wherewithal to achieve it he cannot find in himself. In verse 19 he goes on to say that the good deeds he desires to do are the things he doesn’t do, but at the same time the evil deeds he doesn’t want to do are very things he ends up doing! He then repeats it, just in case we missed the point he was making:

Romans 7:20 (KJV) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

From the Amplified Bible:

Romans 7:20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me [fixed and operating in my soul].

Notice again, that it’s no longer Paul that sins, and he says: “It is no longer I.” OK, if it’s no longer Paul, who or what is it that is doing it? Why, as previously stated, it’s his sinful dead body. Here, though, is the rub, and we must realise at this juncture that something surreal is going on here. Paul is most definitely drawing a line between Paul the ‘I’ as in, it is no longer ‘I’ and Paul the ‘dead physical body of sin’ which, from the Father’s point of view, is no longer Paul. We are, without any doubt, dealing with two entities here, not one. Notice too what the Amplified is saying, it’s that favourite word of mine again, ‘desire’. The things that Paul does, are the very things he ‘desires’ not to do and at the same time realises it is not actually him doing it, not his Born of God (Born Again) new man, but rather his old dead man wherein sin dwells “fixed and operational”, as the Amplified accurately describes it.

OK, moving on, let’s look at the next verses:

Romans 7:21-23 (KJV) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in The Law of God after the inward man: 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.

So what is Paul saying here? Quite simply, that whenever Paul wants to do and does do well, evil is ever present with him and he is subjected to its insistent demands – it never lets up, nor does it ever leave him alone. He goes on to say that he delights in The Law of God after the inner man, which means the new man, the Born of God (Born Again) man, loves to do those things that are pleasing to God and yet at the same time he sees another ‘law in his members’. What does this mean? Again, quite simply, it means that Paul discerns the fleshly desires and sensuous appetites and/or wills of his flesh, and the KJV uses the quaint expression ‘law in my members’ to describe these carnal man desires. These carnal man desires, in turn, are at war with his new inner man via his mind and make him a prisoner to the law of sin. Yet again, what is Paul admitting to us? Easy, he is telling us that something else, deep in his lower carnal nature, wins the battle and brings him into captivity, the captivity or enslavement of sin, deep within his dead body of sin.

In the Living Bible it puts it more graphically:

Romans 7:23 So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin.

So there we have it: the battle that rages within a true Born of God (Born Again) son or daughter of God over sin and if we are to believe Paul, sin wins the battle, until…
Romans 7:24-25 (KJV) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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.

So will Yashua Anointed (the Lord Jesus Christ) deliver Paul from his body of death? Of course, and He does (twice), and yet at the same time leaves him battling with his dead body of sin that sins. The thing is, though, is it the old man Paul that is battling or the new man Paul empowered by the Holy Spirit that is battling with his dead body of sin? Well we know don’t we, it’s the new man, for this whole passage of Holy Scripture is about that very subject. In the last verse it describes our newness of being Born of God (Born Again), a condition that involves our new born minds and hearts, the inner man, desirous of keeping God’s Commandments, but at the same time living with our dead bodies of sin, serving the law of sin. To confirm all this I will copy the Living Bible once more:

Romans 7:24-25 Oh what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.

Notice, that I said Yashua Anointed (the Lord Jesus Christ) delivers us twice from our dead bodies of sin and I have covered how He does it the first time, but what about the second time? Well that takes place at the time of our resurrection when we are raised from our graves as Spirit Born beings never to do battle with dead physical bodies of sin again. We are raised incorruptible and only Spirit is incorruptible, flesh always decays (is corruptible) and is always desirous of things appertaining to the flesh – it can do nothing else!

OK, now all this is all very fine I may hear you say, but there is still that big nagging question. What big nagging question? Why, that big nagging question that all the 21st century Pharisees, Judaising legalists and boot strap ‘salvation by works’ Christians (wretched Commandment keepers) will be waiting to pounce on me with; so here it is: Is Paul, through this letter, just giving us excuses to carry on sinning as we have always done, in our old lives, before our calling and baptism? No, a thousand times no, but what he is telling us is that our dead bodies of sin will, at times, sin, and, for all the reasons he states above. If, though, we are led by The Holy Spirit as described in Romans 8, we can then be sure we are on the right path no matter how many times we sin. Always remember folks, it’s our attitude towards sin and our attitude towards the committing of sins that matters, not the sin itself. In turn, this means we are to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves and do not enter into lifestyles of delusional denial and/or of kidding ourselves that lives of sin are acceptable to Yashua Anointed (The Lord) or that He will just turn a blind eye to our continued wicked activities whilst still professing to be His friends, brothers and sisters.

Paul says elsewhere “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? No, God forbid” and make no mistake God will forbid even to the taking of our lives if we blindly and/or stubbornly refuse to return the fold. So, to return to the title of this article once more and ask again if Paul was schizoid, we can plainly see that he wasn’t, because he only had one desire, but at the same time did, like all Born of God (Born Again) sons of God, have two natures – the new born Spiritual regenerated man and the dead fleshly, sinful, carnal old man.

For a continuation of this article/study please read my articles: “The 2,000 Year Old Good News or 21st Century Modern News – Which Do You Believe?” and “Romans 8:13 – What Did Paul Mean by Mortifying the Flesh and How Do We Accomplish It?” Always feel free e-mail me if you wish to learn more.