The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Romans 7:1-13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? 2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
7 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.” 8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 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.
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.
There are many people today who say the answer to sin is not repentance, but rather to do away with the law or the commandments. In today’s text Paul says: 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. So again, the answer for many is to disregard or do away with the commandments. They reason that if there are no commandments, there can be no sin. The problem with their rationale is that almost everyone will agree that there is a need for some laws. For instance, most people do not have a problem with: Thou shall not kill. Most would even agree that: Thou shall not steal, is a good and reasonable law or commandment. Although in our society there is a tendency for people to loosely interpret what it means to steal. Many people think it okay to take things from an employer, or to cheat and steal from large profitable corporations. Still, most would agree that stealing is wrong, they merely have their own interpretation of what is stealing, so they can justify their actions. As far as the rest of even the Ten Commandments, much of our society and even some in the church no longer think they are applicable. They at least, like interpreting stealing their own way, have redefined what is acceptable by their own standards rather than God’s. The world has determined and disregards laws or rules about morality as out dated, no longer applicable in today’s culture. Many in the church believe that they are rendered unnecessary by grace. The problem is that in a society or any group of people, the elimination of laws does not create freedom, rather it creates lawlessness. Once we have strayed from God’s standard, there is no longer true righteousness or right, there are only varying degrees of unrighteousness. In Isaiah 5:20, God says: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Contrary to what many believe that the lack of rules, laws or commandments leads to freedom; Jesus says: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) It is continuing in His word, the truth, that causes freedom.
In Matthew 5:17-20, Jesus Himself says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish (do away with) the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes (updates, redefines, reinterprets) one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The answer to sin is not to do away with the law or the commandments. Jesus says: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments… Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.” (John 14:15;21) In the text it says: Sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. 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. James 1;14-18 says: Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. This is why we need to hold to God’s standard and not man’s. We have a tendency to view more leniently the things which we desire and lust for, while holding more firmly against the lust and temptations of others. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. If it is truly good, it is from God. Some things may look good, feel good or taste good. They may appeal to our senses and satisfy our desires, but in the end they are not truly good if they are not from God or according to His standard. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures. When sin entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve all of creation suffered the consequence of the curse of sin. One day Jesus will return and fully restore, even recreate what has been cursed by sin. For now though, we, those who are redeemed are to be the first fruits of His redemption and restoration in and to the world. The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Jesus came to fulfill the Law in holiness and righteousness. If we truly love Him, we too will be the fulfillment of good and God, in and to the world.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your word of truth and the freedom that comes through obedience, righteousness and holiness. Thank You that indeed everything that is truly good comes from You and that in You there is no variation or shifting shadow. May I call what You call good, good and may I call what You call evil, evil. Amen.