By Femi Aribisala
IN Romans, Paul says God imputes righteousness by faith alone based on David’s assertion in Psalm 32: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” (Romans 4:7-8). But this is a gross mis-representation of David. David does not say God imputes right-eousness without wo-rks. He says God for-gives sinners who re-pent: “I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’- and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” (Psalm 32:5).
However, confession of sin and repentance are glaringly missing from Paul’s personal life.
Paul never repents of his sin of killing innocent Christians. He persecuted Christians and, even after converting to Christianity, Paul still boasts he was blameless under the law. He says: “Concerning zeal, persecuting the Church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” (Philippians 3:6). How in heavens name can a killer of the innocent be blameless?
Paul’s self-justification does not wash. God says in the Law of Moses: “Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.” (Exodus 23:7).
When Paul recalls his past sin of genocide, he always has a ready excuse. He says: “I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (I Timothy 1:13). However, nobody obtains mercy for killing people “ignorantly.”
God says the exact opposite of Paul’s lame excuse. He says in Isaiah: “It is a people of no understanding; therefore He who made them will not have mercy on them, and He who form-ed them will show them no favor.” (Isaiah 27: 11). He also says in Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me.” (Hosea 4:6).
Paul even goes as far as to ascribe a special distinction to himself because of his sins. He says: “I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (I Timothy 1:16). This is pre-posterous. There are many others who received forgiveness in Jesus’ ministry before Paul and in far more exemplary fashion.
For example, before healing a paralytic, Jesus said publicly to him: “Son, your sins are forgiven you.” (Mark 2:5).
Then he said to the scribes sitting there: “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” He then said to the paralytic: “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” (Mark 2:9-11).
Paul says the law is to blame for making him a sinner. His rationalisation is a classic in self-deception. He says: “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” (Romans 7:7). He then gives “sin” a separate and distinct per-sonality. Sin is an evil person fighting against Paul’s will.
Listen again to his bogus double-think: “Sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death.” (Romans 7:8-10).
Members of the jury, says Paul, sin is the culprit: “Sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.” (Romans 7:11). We are back here to a new edition of Adam’s excuse in the Garden of Eden. Paul admits no personal culp-ability.
The guilty party is this sin-person who is at war with Paul. He says: “In order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:13). Are Christians really going to buy this balderdash?
Paul then declares himself not guilty by pleading: “I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do.” (Romans 7:14-15). Since he does not understand his actions, he cannot be held res-ponsible for them. Now we come to his masterpiece in self-exonera-tion.
Paul says disingenuously: “What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.” (Romans 7:15-17).
Now we can see why Paul never repented of his sins: he was innocent of them. When he sinned, he was not the sinner but the victim.
The sinner was this sin-person of his creative imagination that inhabited his flesh and imprisoned his mind; making it impossible for him to control his act-ions.
James quickly refutes this nonsense and warns us not to be deceived by such sophistry: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved bre-thren.” (James 1:14-16).
Paul’s pathetic excuse for his sins is an unacceptable alternative to genuine remorse and repentance, and it has no place in the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Jesus says categorically to sinners: “Repent or perish.” (Luke 13:1-5).
A bogus salvation
However, Paul says: “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11: 29). This means the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. This is not true. The birthright of Esau was revoked, as was the calling of the House of Eli, the high priest. Judas was call-ed, but his apostleship was also subsequently revoked. (Acts 1:15-22).
Jesus says: “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22: 14). If not all the called are chosen, then the calling is surely revocable.
Since Paul maintains the calling of God is without repentance, he and Silas led their Philippian jailer to Christ without asking him to repent. The man asked: “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your house-hold.’” (Acts 16:30-31).
According to this bo-gus prescription, his faith would save him without the need for repentance. But compare Paul’s fallacy to the truth of the genuine apostles: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’
Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will re-ceive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:37-38).