Romans 7:7-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, June 1, 2015 0 comments
by Katie Erickson

“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.” (Romans 7:7-13)

Paul continues his discussion here of the law and what it is. To review a bit from previous posts, the law (the rules that we’re given by God) traditionally has 3 uses: a mirror, a curb, and a guide. The law is a mirror because it shows us our sin. When we see what is right and wrong, we see that we are sinful. The law is a curb because it keeps our sin in check through fear of punishment, just as a curb on a road keeps cars on the road. The law is a guide for believers because guides us on how to live. We know what we’re supposed to do to stay on God’s path, even if it is difficult for us to always follow that.

Based on the arguments Paul has made before this, his readers are likely thinking that the law itself is a bad thing. He makes sure to explain here that the law itself is not sinful, but it just shows us what our sin is. We can’t know we’re breaking the rules unless we know what the rules are, right? Just like my reflection in a mirror is not really me and simply shows me what I look like, the law is not really sin and it just shows us what sin is.

The law is important because it gives guidelines to all of humanity. It’s what’s considered objective moral truth - it’s universal and there’s no questioning it. The opposite of that would be subjective moral truth, which is where every person decides what truth is for themselves.

In verse 8, we read that, “But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.” This is Paul explaining part of our human nature, that when we’re told not to do something, we want to do it all the more. If you go to a friend’s house and they tell you not to go in a particular room, doesn’t that make you wonder all the more what’s in there? Or if a big red button has a sign on it that says “Do Not Touch,” doesn’t it make you want to hit that button and see what happens? It’s in our nature to be curious, and especially curious and desirous about things we are told we can’t have! When we know what we’re not supposed to do, it unfortunately makes us want to do that all the more.

When God gave the original law to the people of Israel in Exodus 20, they learned what was right and wrong. While it was an act of God’s love to give them (and us) the law, it actually brought them death instead of life. They knew that the consequence for disobeying God was death, and now they knew exactly what it looked like to disobey. No one (aside from Jesus Christ) has ever or will ever be able to fully keep God’s laws. We all deserve death, because we all disobey God.

The phrase “ignorance is bliss” came to my mind when I was thinking about this idea. If you don’t know what sin is, you don’t know you’re committing it, right? But unfortunately, whether we realize it or not, we’re all guilty. Instead of ignorance being bliss, the true bliss is found through God’s grace and forgiveness when we do mess up! Have you received that grace and forgiveness in your life?

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