Did Paul Teach That Believers Still Sin?

Peter Ditzel

Painting of Paul sitting and writing at a desk. Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20). Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne  (1591–1632). Did Paul teach that believers still sin?
One view of Paul’s teaching holds that Paul taught Christians can still sin, must struggle against it, confess it to be forgiven, and must not use grace as a cloak for sin. Another view says Paul taught that believers, who are not under law but under grace, cannot sin. Which is right?
Saint Paul Writing His Epistles (c. 1618-20). Attributed to Valentin de Boulogne (1591–1632)

When was the last time you referred to yourself as a sinner, thought of something you did as a sin, or confessed a sin? Chances are, it wasn’t too long ago. That’s because it’s commonplace for believers to think of themselves as both saints and sinners. But is this biblical? Are believers sinners? It’s a question that relates to the heart of the very Gospel itself. Let’s try to answer the question from the letters of Paul. Did Paul teach that believers still sin?


Q. What is wrong with the reading of the Ten Commandments each Sunday in church or with Christians wanting them posted in public places?

A. The question stems from a statement I made in another article. I began by quoting a nineteenth-century Baptist preacher:

Notice what the Baptist preacher, Gilbert Beebe, wrote in 1869: “There are but few lessons in the gospel, which the saints have been more slow to learn and fully comprehend, than that of our release from the law, and marriage to Christ” (“Loosed From the Law“).

Beebe’s claim that this is a lesson that the saints are slow to learn can be seen in the battle Christian conservatives have fought to allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public places. I understand the issues of religious freedoms and free speech involved, but why the Ten Commandments? Why not the Sermon on the Mount? Or the Golden Rule, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). Another example can be heard in many churches every Sunday morning. If you attend one of these churches, you will likely see the pastor stand at the pulpit and read the Ten Commandments every Sunday morning. But this is an error.
Dead to the Law