For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. (KJV 2:11-13)
For Paul, it doesn't matter what group you're aligned with, sin runs rampant. Just being part of God's chosen people doesn't exempt you from sin or God's judgment. Bummer.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus[…] He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed. (NRSV 3:23-25)
All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus […] to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (KJV 3:23-25)
Okay, so we're all lousy sinners. Thanks, Paul. But luckily, Jesus came and brought us back around to God. God could have just let us fester and die in a pool of our own wickedness, but according to Paul, he does us a solid because he's just that cool.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (NRSV 5:6-8)
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (KJV 5:6-8)
This passage illustrates a key point about Jesus. Regular people don't die in order to help rotten people—but according to Christian tradition, Jesus did. We were all terrible and sinful, but he saw some potential in us and went to the cross believing we could do better.
Just as sin came into the world through one man [Adam], and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law[…] But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man's trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. (NRSV 5:12-15)
Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law[…] But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (KJV 5:12-15)
Jesus is the new Adam. While Adam's inability to follow God's very simple directions caused the whole downfall of humanity, Jesus's devotion to God redeemed us all. Sorry, Adam, but you're a bit of a dunce.
But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NRSV 5:20-21)
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV 5:20-21)
Here Paul is accusing Jewish law of not being able to do anything to stop sin. Hey, give the Torah a break. Stopping sin in its tracks is a tall order.
Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (NRSV 6:12-14)
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (KJV 6:12-14)
Paul thinks this is how Christians should be living in light of Christ's death and resurrection. Jesus gave us the power to kick sin to the curb and that's what we should be doing. We're not under the old regime anymore. Oh, sin is toast.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NRSV 6:23)
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV 6:23)
This may be the most famous verse from Romans. You'll often just see the first part quoted (which is a bit of downer), while people leave off the last bit (which is, arguably, the most important part).
What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. (NRSV 7:7-8)
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. (KJV 7:7-8)
So the law isn't exactly sinful, but it didn't really do anything to curb sin either. In fact, in Paul's view, the law made people sin all the more. Just like those speed limit signs make you want to go faster.
I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate […] For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. (NRSV 7:15, 18-20)
For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I […] 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. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (KJV 7:15, 18-20)
Whoa. This is deep. Is Paul hinting at original sin? The idea that no matter what we do, sin has got a hold on us? If Paul, who has dedicated his life to Jesus, can't fully overcome it, what hope do the rest of us have?
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. (NRSV 8:1-3)
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. (KJV 8:1-3)
Okay, there is some good news. According to Paul, God sent Jesus to overcome sin and now Christians don't have to face God's wrath and judgment. Well, that's nice.