Romans 7:7 – 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.”
In verse 4 of chapter 7, Paul tells the believers in the Roman church that they died to the Law through the crucified body of Christ, so that they might belong to Him and bear fruit for God. In dying to the Law, Paul was not criticizing it or saying it had no value, he was just reminding them that in Christ Jesus, life would be much different and the legalism in the Law would no longer rule over them. In verse 5, Paul tells them that when we were living in the flesh, (not our physical bodies, but our spiritually dead state), we were trapped in sinful passions, a fact that the Law made known to us. And because we were in that state, we were separated from God and our sinful ways led to our being spiritually dead.
When we read verse 6, Paul reminds the Roman believers that we have been released from the Law and the penalty of the Law, to which we had been held captive, so that we could now serve God in the newness of the Spirit. (But this is only as a result of being born again). Paul is warming up to his subject. He is getting ready to make a point, and in doing so, he is laying the ground work. Since he is probably talking to Jewish converts, (because he mentioned that they knew the Law) he is using that which they already understood, to help them to understand something that was important. Their freedom in Christ Jesus!
Looking at our key text, Paul asks the question, “Is the Law sin?” Then, he answers it by stating, “Certainly not!” The Bible has much to say about the laws given to the children of Israel. There are dietary laws, worship laws, laws for holy days, laws for sacrifices, laws about our relationships, and laws for offerings, to name a few. Within these many types of laws, or laws that tell us what is pleasing to God and what is not pleasing to God. However, as the children of Israel moved farther and farther away from the Lawgiver, the Law became, for them, a burden to bear.
Paul goes on to tell the Roman believers that without the Law we wouldn’t know what sin is. In the Law we learned coveting was sin, because the Law told us not to covet that which belongs to another. In the law we learned that we are not to lie, not to steal, nor commit murder because it is sin; and therefore, when we do these things we sin. The Law taught us this! However, Paul states, that sin found an opportunity to make itself known by stirring up every sinful desire that the Law spoke against. Before the Law was given, we didn’t even know or recognize it as sin because it was dead to us; but once we understood the law, we died to it because it became alive in us.
This should not be so hard for any of us to understand. As our parents raised us, and gave us the “rules of the house”, it was easy to get an attitude about the “rules” we didn’t want to follow. Those rules we rebelled against, became a yoke to us, causing even the most reasonable of rules to be difficult for us to follow. It wasn’t always the rule that was wrong, but our attitude in having to follow the rules. Not only that, those were the rules we became intent on breaking!
I remember when I was in college, I saw a sign that read, “No PDA” in large, bold letters. Underneath those letters were smaller words describing what PDA included. At the time, I had not heard of the acronym, PDA, so I walked over to read it. PDA stood for public display of affection, and underneath that explanation was words like: hugging, kissing, snuggling, etc. Immediately, I thought, who are they to tell us that we can’t hug or kiss someone in public? Now understand me clearly when I say, I had no one to hug, kiss, or snuggle up with! But it made me want to find someone and show them that I could if I wanted to! Before this sign, I had no wish to publicly display my affections with anyone, and wasn’t sure that I would ever want to, but something (my flesh) felt like it was the very thing that it wanted to do! I get what Paul is saying here!
I even see it in our culture today! When an outcry against abortion is made, people decide they want to have an abortion! When there is an outcry against guns, people go out and buy guns! When there is an outcry against the LGBQT community, more of them “come out of the closet” demanding more rights! Who are you (humanity or God) to tell us what we cannot do, they argue? That’s the Law! Revealing sin, the consequences of sin, and therefore stirring up in humanity a fleshly rebellion against the Law to sin!
In verse 10, Paul again writes and says that the Law which was intended to bring life, actually proved to bring us death. Still, in answering his question, “Is the Law sin?,” Paul lets us know that the Law is holy, righteous and good! And that through the Law sin is revealed as sinful! Paul is making the point that he is not trying to say that the Law itself is sinful, because it is not; but that the Law revealed that mankind, by nature, is sinful. Hear what the word says about the Law:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;Psalm 19:7-11 NKJV
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.
Through the Law, God established a system, whereby His people were now made accountable of the things that they did or did not do. When they wronged another the Law made it clear that it was sin. When they lied, according to the Law, it was sin. When they worked on the Sabbath, it was sin. When they worshipped another God, again, the Law pointed out that it was sin. Even today, before we can lead anyone to the cross for salvation, we have to help them to understand that their life prior to God was a life filled with sin. God Himself declared that it was a life a sin, separated from Him, and that if we died in this sin, we would live a Christ-less eternity. All of this that Paul was teaching, would be a lesson or sermon taught to every hungry searching soul, and new believer to help them to understand theologically how salvation is acquired.
Paul is trying to help them to understand that the Law that they wanted to hold on to, along with their salvation, was the very thing that their salvation delivered them from. As a matter of truth, salvation caused them to die to the Law! There is so much in this chapter! I hope you are getting something out of it! Wonderful Jesus!