Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Romans 7 Continued
After having told us that sin shall not have dominion over us because we are not under law but under grace, and after having said that we are not under the law's jurisdiction because of our death with Christ on the cross, he now goes on to examine whether there is something wrong with the law. In Romans 7:7 he asks the question, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin?” The answer is “Absolutely Not!” Paul says he would not have known about covetousness if the law had not told him not to covet.
The problem is that sin takes the opportunity that comes about because of the law. Paul personifies sin in this passage and shows that when we hear a commandment, sin uses that as an opportunity to rise up and oppose the law. In opposing the law it is opposing the nature and character of God. The moral law is a revelation of the character of God. So sin, taking the opportunity provided by the law rises up and as Paul wrote, “produced in me all manner of evil desire” (Romans 7:8).
He goes on to explain that apart from the law, sin is dead. He says that he was doing just fine before the law came, but when it arrived, sin came to life and he died. Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee. He had had the law since he was a small child. In Philippians 3:5-6 Paul writes concerning himself, “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.”
So what does he mean in Romans 7 when he says that when the law came, sin revived and he died? I think it means that at some point the spiritual nature of the real law sank in. He realized that the law not only prohibited murder, it meant hatred, anger and bitterness were the seeds from which murder comes and therefore are violations of the character of God every bit as much as actual murder is. He realized that not only was the deed of sexual immorality wrong, but thinking about it and lusting after a woman was also wrong. When that realization hits us, wrongful thoughts and emotions seem to spring up in a constant stream and realize we are doomed. For as Paul says in Galatians 3:10, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.'”
The commandment was meant to bring life. Leviticus 18:5 tells us, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” But sin that has taken up residence in us uses the opportunity of the law and kills us. Paul concludes this section by telling us that the law is holy, just and good. There is nothing wrong with the law in that sense, but there is definitely something wrong with us. God has removed us from the jurisdiction of the law, not because of the law, but because of its affect on sin. We'll find that law was never meant to be the solution of our problem, but was meant to show us our problem so that we could be rescued by faith in Christ.