Monday, September 8, 2014

Romans 7:7–12

7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. 

Vs. 7-10 The Apostle having declared our co-death with Christ, to both sin and law, so that we might be liberated from them, now asks a question that might be in some believers hearts and minds as to the nature of the law. "Is the law sin?" To which he responds with a resounding no! For it is not the law that is sin. Rather it is through the law that the indwelling sin in each one of us is clearly revealed to us. As Paul says, I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” vs. 7
And so before the law came righteousness was purely subjective, we could basically live and do as we pleased, as long as we did not violate the social "norms" around us we felt pretty secure in our own consciences. However when the law came, we were suddenly exposed to the true nature of our own persons and conduct, so that sin ceased to be a subjective reality. Instead sin became living and real to us. But not as some sort of external force or entity, rather as something that is active and alive within us. And thus we came to realize (not only moral right and wrong in the sight of God), but there was something inside of us that desired what was wrong, and was moving our behavior towards that which is sin. Therefore as Paul states in verse eight, it was not the law which was at fault, rather it was sin taking opportunity through the commandment (literally sin seized the law as a base of operations from which it could now fuel all kinds of temptation towards itself) and thus through the law sin produced in us all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead (vs. 8). Not dead as to it's existence, but dead as an awakened force or impulse in our persons. And so as the Apostle Paul says, "I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death." vs. 9-10 

And so before the law came I was alive, that is alive in the sense of having little or no knowledge of sin, nor of the sinful state of my person. And so I felt quite secure and all right in of myself. Sin though present within me was not a controlling force or impulse, and though I sinned, as all men sin, conviction of it was relatively an unknown to me, as long as I stayed inside of the boundaries of "social norms." 
However when the law came, sin revived and I died. And so the law didn't bring life (consider Gal. 3:21). Instead the law became the means by which all manner of sinful desires were awakened within me, and so, as Paul says, I died. All manner of feeling alright in how I was living and what I was doing ceased to be. I suddenly became aware of a whole new sphere of my person, a sphere which I did not like, nor did I have control over, but rather it had control of me! And so when the law comes we are all faced with a dilemma, either acknowledge our own brokenness and helplessness to God, and thus receive redemption and life through the Lord Jesus Christ, who was brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim 2:10). Or try to bury the unlawful desires and carry on as "usual", resisting the now aroused sin nature in one's own strength, which usually leads to one yielding to it, or only seeking to justify one's own lawless deeds in the end. For the law is not neutral, through it you will either present yourself to God as a sinner in need of His redemption; and thus receive redemption from Him and new life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Or you will present yourself to sin, and end up serving and reaping the realities of it in your life. 

Vs. 11-12 That is why the Apostle Paul says that it is sin (not the law) that is the problemFor even in his own experience, Paul says it was sin, which ..."taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me." vs. 11
Here Paul is basically reiterating what he said in verse 8 by using the same word translated opportunity there, which is now rendered occasion here in verse 11. That it is sin which uses the law as a "starting point", or a "base of operations" to begin it's assault on our persons. And so it is sin which takes occasion by the commandment, and through it sin deceives us, and kill us (vs. 11). Now sin can deceive us in many ways, from temptations towards it, too outright denying it's devastating consequences in our persons and lives if we obey it. Sin is ultimately deceitful, and so we are all warned about the deceitfulness of sin, which not only destroys lives, but it also hardens those who give their hearts over to it from the truth of God (Heb. 3:13). And so those who do so, who carry on in their sins, and or forward temptations towards the same, will receive everlasting punishment on themselves (consider Mark 9:42-50; 2 Thess. 2:9-12). For through the law God has laid down the everlasting moral boundaries by which we now have an objective reality as to right and wrong. And so there is no ambiguity in the law as to right and wrong. These do not change, just as God does not change (Heb. 13:5). Therefore no matter how this world turns, or where it stands in regards to "social norms" or it's "evolving" values, God's law is the moral compass that always points true north. Therefore the law is rightfully called holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (vs. 12),

Scripture Quotation
The New King James Version. Nashville Thomas Nelson, 1982.

Word Studies 
Vs. 8 opportunity, Vincent, Marvin Richardson. Word Studies in the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887.
Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

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