Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
God knows everything. He knows what people are thinking before they express what they are thinking. There were people in Paul’s day who were looking for an argument, just like people today. The question being asked is: “is the law sin?” Did God make a mistake in giving the law? Did God force people into sin? If the law cannot save, then what is the purpose of the law?
The apostle Paul stated that without the law he would never have known sin. Adam would not have known that it was wrong to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, if God had not told him not to eat of it. Cain would never have known that his sacrifice was not acceptable to God, if God had not told him what an acceptable sacrifice was. He would never have known that murder was sin if God had not given a law on life. The people of Noah’s day would never have known they were in trouble with God if God had not given them laws. The same is true for the nation of Israel and for all of mankind.
God does not hold a person accountable for what he does not know to be wrong. That is why God created man with a conscience. Romans 1 has already made it clear that all people have the necessary knowledge to be drawn to the true God. The problem is not with God and the law. The problem is with the sinful nature of man.
The apostle Paul referred to the Ten Commandments in his example here. “Thou shalt not covet . . .” Covetousness is sin. Paul would never have known about the sin of covetousness if God had not declared it as sin. It does not mean that people would not be covetous. God does not accuse a person of something he does not know he is guilty of. God is reminding us here of His righteousness and His justice.
Paul used covetousness because it is a very common sin. In verse 8 Paul further reminded us that sin has been around since the fall of man. The law did not create sin. The law simply exposes the sin. It helps us to understand that there are certain things that are not acceptable.
We know that the crime rate is rising drastically in Canada. We know that there are certain areas of cities that people should avoid if they want to be safe. We know that our courts have redefined crime to allow for people to get away with things that are sin. When laws are not enforced, sin will increase. Sinners will be emboldened when laws are not enforced. It is not that criminals do not know the law. It is that they do not care about the law unless the law is enforced.
In verse 9 the apostle Paul talked of his life prior to salvation. Prior to salvation he was going around arresting Christians. He approved of the killing of Stephen. He thought he was serving God. God’s law showed him that he was not serving God. He was fighting against God and he was guilty of murder and of rejecting the true God. God did not kill him for this. He stopped him on the road to Damascus and gave him another opportunity to repent and be saved. Paul was sinning and in his conscience he knew that. He had seared his conscience to a degree and opposed God. The law showed him that he was guilty. He was proven to be dead in sins.
In verse 10 Paul understood that the law was designed by God to life. A person that would know the true God and live according to His will, would have life. The apostle Paul had found the law condemning him prior to his salvation. He was guilty and he knew it. He needed to be forgiven and saved. The law was good because it showed him of his need to repent and be saved.
In verse 11 we see that sin deceives. The person that chooses to sin, is deceived. His conscience tells him what he is doing is wrong, but he rejects that fact and chooses to go by his feelings or by his fallen thinking. He can convince himself that he is okay when he is not.
We know that gambling is sin. The Bible teaches that a man needs to work with his hands to eat. The devil has worked in subtle ways to introduce gambling into people’s lives. We know that the Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus’ robe. We have now come so far in Canada that the governments of Canada are guilty of promoting and profiting from gambling. Many people are deceived into thinking that gambling is a good thing. You can walk into just about any gas station and find a ready display of tickets you can purchase to try to make a fast buck. Casinos are across this country and there are signs advertising them. They will try to lure people in with a tasty meal and then, since you are there anyway, why not try your hand at some gambling. The devil is subtle. If he can get you started by purchasing a raffle ticket for some item like a quilt or some other thing, he is content with that. After you get comfortable with that by maybe winning something, then you will go on to other forms of gambling.
That is how sin works. It seems so “innocent”, but it is so deadly.
In verse 12 Paul concluded that the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. The problem is not with the law, it is with the heart of man. The lost need to stop wasting time and energy fighting against a righteous and holy God and submit to Him and begin to enjoy His many blessings. Those who are saved need to understand that we do not live by law-keeping, but we honour God in living by the righteousness of Christ which will direct us in keeping the law.