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Romans 7:17

ESV So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
NIV As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
NASB But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
CSB So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me.
NLT So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
KJV Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
NKJV But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.

What does Romans 7:17 mean?

Some might attempt to read this verse as Paul saying he is not responsible for his own sinful actions. Clearly, though, the context of this passage makes it clear that is not what Paul means. He has written that even though he wants to do good, he ends up doing what he hates instead: he sins. His personal desire is to do the right thing, to obey God's law. Even in Paul's case, growing up as a devout Jewish person (Philippians 3:4–7), was not enough to keep him from disobeying God. The lure of sin won out over Paul's sincere interest in doing right.

In this way, Paul says the problem is not with his intentions. Rather, it is the sin in him that overcomes his intentions and leads him to do what is wrong anyway.

Bible scholars disagree about whether Paul is describing himself in this section of verses as he was before becoming a Christian or after. Examining the Greek language used here makes it all but certain that Paul is speaking in a here-and-now, first-person sense. Compared to other parts of Romans, Paul's choice of words and tenses makes this appear to be a very literal and personal account.

Those who believe Paul has constructed a framework to describe himself without Christ see this section as the definition of what it means to be a slave to sin, even as a Jewish person who lives under the law. They may sincerely want to obey God, but their slavery to sin overwhelms their good intentions. They just can't resist sin's power.

However, Bible scholars who believe Paul is describing the experience of one who is in Christ understand him to be talking about sin's powerful influence over even those who have been freed from sin's ultimate power and authority. The sin that remains in us is not our master, but it remains powerful and persuasive.
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