Pauls Footsteps #322

 “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.  Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” Romans 7:6-7 NLT 

The expression “certainly not” has occurred in Rom.3:31, 6:2 & v15. In the process of his explanations, Paul has said some pretty unflattering things about the law e.g Rom.4:15 and 7:5. He fears that some will conclude from what he has said that the law is evil in itself. Once again he will vigorously react to such a suggestion, using the same Greek words as in Rom.6:2&15. In the rest of chapter 7, he will spend defending the goodness, holiness, and spirituality of the law and helping his readers see that it is not the law that is the problem but sinful humanity’s misuse of it. 

Paul here walks a tightrope in his discussion of the law. On the one hand, he desires to help his readers see that it is a disaster when employed as a way of salvation. On the other hand, he wants people to recognise that the law is a good gift from God and, if rightly used, is of great importance in the life of believers. In Rom.7 Paul provides us with one of his most significant discussions of the role of the law in the lives of Christians. One of the most important things we need to understand is the law’s true place in our walk with God. 

Read v7. In chapters 1 & 2 Paul had pointed out that even those “without the law” had a sense of right and wrong. But to see wrongdoing as sin against God helps people feel sin’s weight and their need for a Saviour. His reference to the 10th commandment is important because it moves beyond outward behaviour to the inward undergirding of sin. All the other 9 require outward actions. Sin is not just outward behaviour. The 10th commandment goes beyond the behaviour to the lusting motivation that causes it and relates it to sinful self-centeredness that causes the violation of all 10. In other words, he is saying that sin is much deeper than outward acts. Jesus did the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount regarding murder and adultery and in Matt.15:18-19, He claimed that sinful actions proceed out of a corrupt heart. 

For Paul, both sin and conversion are issues of the heart. That is also true of both law-breaking and law-keeping. The law has a deeper level than mere behaviour.

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