Yellow Balloons Devotional Series: Advent

Romans 7:9-12

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 perfect but we are not. Therefore, the law shows our imperfection and sin nature very clearly. Because the law is perfect and we are sinful, we cannot follow the law.


Paul was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment was told to Paul, his sin nature became alive and he died. The reason this happens is because 1) when we are not aware of a rule we can’t knowingly break it, and 2) when we are told what we are not supposed to do, we suddenly want to do that thing (verse 15). The law is meant to bring life to us because it tells us what is holy and righteous, but sin uses what is meant for good to cause further rebellion and disconnection from God. Paul is sinful, and he points out that the Jewish “authorities” who have slanderously charged him (3:8) are also sinful and incapable of doing what the law says without failing (3:9-10). No one can always do what the law says because we have a sin nature, and so sin (through the law) creates death and disconnection in our relationship with God.


Thankfully, sin cannot undo God’s grace in our lives, and therefore our position before Him is a forgiven position. But sin can harm the fellowship of our relationship with Him, when we sin willingly.

Paul says he was once alive apart from the law. This could refer to the time before he knew the difference between good and evil, what some call the age of accountability. This could be a verse that supports the generally held belief that babies and infants who die go to heaven. Another passage that supports this belief is King David expressing a belief that he will go to his deceased infant son in heaven (2 Sam 12:23).

The law was to result in life  because it tells us the correct way to live, how God wants us to live. But, because of sin nature the law caused sin to be aroused in Paul and result[ed] in death (v. 5). Sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived [Paul] and through it killed [him]. This does not make the law bad; the law (commandment) is holy and righteous and good, as Paul tells his audience. The law, the commandments from God about how we should live, point out our sinfulness and our lack of ability to live by the law. In these verse, Paul makes it clear that while even as believers who have been made new (v. 6), we still have the sin nature inside of us, and the law points out this conflict.

Biblical Text

I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.