Paul was right in his Epistle to the Romans. No one is good, not even when judged by their own preferred ethical and moral standards. He, then, proceeded to draw a whole host of suspect conclusions. Guilt, guilt, and more guilt, failures, regrets and bitter self-recriminations. All so profoundly, hauntingly and inescapably irredeemable that the only possible escape was world-historical, metaphysical nonsense and supernatural crudities. Washing away sin with the Blood of the Lamb? Since when has blood ever removed any stain and not made for even worse stains? Who comes up with stuff like that? It sounds like something out of Jeffrey Dahmer’s childhood.
The best and highest that we can achieve is to choose the ethical standard by which to fail. What we learn from our failures is a matter of character and conscience. Too much success in following one’s preferred moral code means one has made things too easy. Failure can sometimes be its own answer to the rebukes and condemnations of a predatory conscience. Love redeems all, they say. Even love of an unattainable ideal.
Paul was a coward and gave up too easily.