Ecclesiastes Podcast

Romans 7:13-14

The Apostle Paul writes to the world-renowned believers in Rome, the center of the world at that time, in order to answer a slanderous charge made to them against Paul and his message. Paul’s detractors claim his emphasis on faith overturns the law. Paul says that ” just living by the law” does not achieve personal justice before God, while “just living by faith” does. Paul then demonstrates what a just life looks like: harmonious living with Jesus as the leader. Paul also makes clear the choice a believer has: to walk in faith and the power of the resurrection and experience resurrection life, or walk in sin and unnecessarily experience the negative consequences.

Paul shows that while we are free from the law, there remains a true battle with sin that resides within us. The sin nature battles with the redeemed nature. The sin nature is so strong that only the power of Christ can deliver us from it.

This of course pulls the rug out from under the main point made by Paul’s opponents (the competing Jewish “authorities”). They have argued that the law is what brings us to righteousness. Paul’s counter is that the law actually shows us our sin, and it is the power of the Spirit of Jesus that delivers us from the power of sin in our daily walk.

The perfection of the law makes our sin very clear, just as any dirt in a glass of clear water would be easy to see. But the water is not the problem, the dirt is. In this same way, sin is the problem, not the law. Our sin nature is shown more clearly because it is carnal, it leads the flesh into sin, whereas the law is perfect and of the spirit.


Paul is hammering the point home, that it is not the law that causes separation (death), but it is sin. For example, let’s say that two people decided to get married and make vows to each other, “Till death do us part.” If one of those people leaves the other person for another partner, it is not the vow (or the commandment) of their marriage that is to blame for the person separating. If someone leaves their married partner for another, their marriage vow makes that sin very clear and “utterly sinful.” Paul is explaining that it is not the law that causes separation (death), that which is good did not become a cause of death for [Paul] . But that the law, because we are sinful and cannot follow it, shows our sin more clearly. In the same way, if someone makes a promise and does not keep it, that promise shows their sin all the more clearly. Through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful, the truth of sin bringing death was revealed.


In verse 14, Paul restates that the law is spiritual, good, and righteous, and he is of flesh (carnal), sold into bondage to sin. His sin nature leads him to sin with his body. Because Paul is of the flesh (as everyone is) and the law is holy and righteous, Paul cannot follow the law. That doesn’t make the law bad, but it reveals Paul’s sin nature. The law shows that it is sin effecting (bringing) death. 

Biblical Text

13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. 14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.