Since we are now free from both the power of the Law and the power of sin, Paul reasons, does that mean that the Law of God is sinful? Of course not! But the law does show up our sin, and gives strength to it.For example, Paul says he would not have know about coveting, were it not for the tenth commandment. But once the commandment was given, sin appeared immediately in his life, stirring up all kinds of prohibited desires, in direct opposition to the commandment. And so the law empowered sin at Paul’s expense.

At one time, Paul said, he lived oblivious to the law. But once he learned the law, the power of sin came to life in him, and he succumbed. Thus the law, intended for his good, intended to bring him life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin, taking opportunity by the coming of the law, deceived Paul and brought him under the sentence of death.

And yet, in spite of that, the Law and its commands are holy, right, and good.

This situation, which might seem at first terribly unfair in our spiritual life, is an easily recognized phenomenon in ordinary life. Children, for example, need some rules in their growing up; some rules are necessary, good rules, for the benefit of the child. But, as soon as you give the child a rule, there is an immediate and almost overwhelming urge for him to break that rule. And so the rule, given to help the child on his way to becoming a responsible, mature adult, instead becomes the opportunity for  an ugly rebellion.

And so, Paul concludes, the law actually did not cause our death, our separation from God. Sin itself, taking advantage of God’s Holy Law, brought about our condemnation. That is how terrible sin is– it takes what is good, intended for our benefit, and twists and distorts it for its own evil purposes.


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