Paul's Account of Himself in Romans 7

Critics may say that in Romans 7, Paul seems to be confused about his sin. He claims elsewhere to have a new nature, but Romans 7 doesn't seem to reflect that when he speaks about himself as still committing sin as part of his nature.

The problem is that this criticism is reading Romans 7:14ff as though Paul were describing his own present experience. What Paul is actually doing here is engaging in a typical Greco-Roman rhetorical practice (also found in Jewish literature, including the Qumran Psalms) in which the personal "I" and the present tense is used as a literary convention.

Where the personal "I" is combined with the present tense, the author is utilizing a practice called "speech in character" to represent a universal experience. Here, Paul is bringing out the universal experience of those who do not know Christ (and that did include him, at one time) and their struggle with moral law and sin. He is not giving a biographical account of his present experience as our objection argues.