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Yellow Balloons Devotional Series: Advent

Romans 7:7-8

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 law is not sin, but it shows us our sin. More rules always means more lawlessness, not more morality. The law gives our sin nature more opportunities to rebel.

 

Paul is writing Romans as a defense of his gospel message against competing Jewish “authorities” in Rome at that time. These “authorities” accused Paul (3:8) of saying that, if God’s grace increases if we sin, then sinning is a good thing. In verse 7, Paul is suggesting that these “authorities” might also accuse him of saying that the law is sin, because Paul just told his audience that sin is aroused by the law (verse 5).

 

He quickly explains that the law is not sin, but that it shows us our sin. He points this out by explaining that he would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET” (Deuteronomy 5:12)—which means it is a sin to desire what doesn’t belong to us and that we should not do it—then Paul would have never known that craving something that belonged to someone else was wrong. Paul explains that he would not have come to know sin except through the Law. He goes on to explain that the law gives sin the opportunity to do what we were told not to do, and that sin desiring to break the law is the reason Paul experiences cravings of every type. Sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. 

 

So, without the law telling us what to do, sin does not have the chance to do something outside of the law, apart from the Law sin is dead. If a child was never told that they could not take cookies from the jar, then taking those cookies would not be wrong. However, if the child was told not to take those cookies then each time they took a cookie it would be wrong. This is why Paul tells the audience that apart from the law, sin is dead.

Biblical text

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.