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commandment, which was to
death for me; (NASB:
Amplified: And the very legal ordinance
which was designed and intended to bring life actually proved [to mean
to me] death. (Amplified
Bible - Lockman)
The commandment that was meant for life—I discovered that that very
commandment was in me for death. (Westminster
NLT: So the good law, which was supposed to show me the way of
life, instead gave me the death penalty. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: But when
the commandment arrived, sin sprang to life and I "died". The
commandment, which was meant to be a direction to life, I found was a
sentence to death. (Phillips:
Wuest: And the commandment which was to life, this I
found to be to death (Eerdmans)
and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in
death for me;
Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Slaves Serving God
Life by Faith
Service by Faith
Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
AND THIS COMMANDMENT, WHICH WAS TO RESULT IN LIFE: kai heurethe (3SAPI)
moi e entole e eis zoen: (Ro 10:5; Lev 8:5; Ezek 20:11,
13,21; Lk 10:27-29; 2Cor 3:7)
Literally, “the commandment the
one for (meant for) life, this was found for me unto death.”
commandment - Thou shall not covet. It is representative of all of
God's Law which was intended to guard and promote life but man could not
keep the law.
Handbook adds that...
According to the Genesis account,
obedience to the command of God meant that life would continue, whereas
disobedience meant death would come. But Paul discovers that Adam’s
experience and his own are similar: the commandment which was meant to
bring life, in my case brought death. (The
United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series
Why was it to result in "life"? If we could
keep it perfectly every moment of every day of our life, we would be righteous and have
eternal life (see Jesus' words below). The only man who kept it
perfectly was the Man Christ Jesus. As we are confronted with the law we
realize our own sinful disobedience to the law and have to face up to
the awful penalty of a broken Law which is death.
not to covet was given to help people see how to live, but it actually
produced death because of the power of sin that indwelt the human heart.
encounter with the rich young ruler explains the relationship between
Law and Life...
And behold, one came to Him and said,
"Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?"
And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is
only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep
the commandments." (Matthew 18:16-17)
encounter Jesus reiterates the association of Law and
25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood
up and put Him to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit
26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to
27 And he answered and said, "YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL
YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH
ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF."
28 And He said to him, "You have answered correctly; DO THIS, AND YOU
WILL LIVE." (Luke 10:25, 26, 27, 28)
Bible adds that...
All (!!!!) a person needs to do to
LIVE and to inherit eternal life is to keep the law. But he must keep it
perfectly and completely and he must do so throughout his entire life!
(cp Jas 2:10) The problem is that no person has ever done this and no
sinful person will ever do this! (cp "all under sin" in Ro 3:9-note
and thus none righteous Ro 3:10-note)
Those who have clean faces do not have to fear the mirror (Lk 1:69, 74,
75, 1Jn 4:18). The problem is that none of us have clean faces! (Eccl
7:20, 1Ki 8:46, 2Chr 6:36, Pr 20:9) We are all sinners and thus the law
condemns us all! "I found to be death"—As I was confronted with
the law I realized my own sinful disobedience to the law and I had to
face up to the awful penalty of a broken law which is death. (Romans
Life includes the ideas of
happiness and holiness. The law was designed to make men happy and holy.
Death, on the other hand, includes the ideas of misery and sin.
The law became, through no fault of its own, the means of making
the apostle miserable and sinful. How vain it is therefore to expect
salvation from the law, since all the law does, in its
working on the unrenewed heart, is to condemn and to awaken opposition!
It cannot change the nature of man. (Hodge, C. Commentary on the Epistle
to the Romans, 1835)
The Law's design and ideal were to promote observance that
would lead to divine blessing and consequent human happiness. Moses
records a similar declaration by Jehovah as He gives His charge to
So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live
if he does them (Lev 18:5; see also Deut 8:1)
One Jewish interpretation of
was that those who keep the commandments merit (earn) eternal life. This
misinterpretation of the passage appears in Jewish texts alongside the
view that God elects Israel as a whole to be saved.
In a NT
"paraphrase" of Leviticus 18:5 Paul writes that...
Moses writes that the man who
practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that
righteousness. (Ro 10:5-note)
This verse states
the purpose of the Law: if you obey it, you live. The religious Jew
“But we did obey it!”
To which Paul
"You may have obeyed it outwardly,
but you did not believe it from your heart.” (Ro 2:28, 29-notes)
The Mosaic Law
makes the path to righteousness through the law plain. If you want to
live by the law (find life through the law), you must do the law - and
do it completely and perfectly. The Amplified Version accentuates this
For Moses writes that the man who
[can] practice the righteousness (perfect conformity to God's will)
which is based on the Law [with all its intricate demands] shall
live by it.
The practical difficulty, of course, is that man
is born with a sin nature and is incapable of perfectly doing the will of God as set forth in the commandments...
For whoever keeps the whole law and
yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
James is saying
that just one sin makes man a sinner and deserving of condemnation that
sin brings. No one could never be declared righteous before God by
keeping the law, since no one could ever keep it perfectly. One
unforgiven sin is enough for condemnation.
In Ezekiel we read
a similar teaching...
And I gave them My statutes and
informed them of My ordinances, by which,
if a man observes them, he will live...
13 But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They
did not walk in My statutes, and they rejected My ordinances, by which,
man observes them, he will live; and My
sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on
them in the wilderness, to annihilate them... 21 "But the children
rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, nor were they
careful to observe My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them,
he will live; they profaned My sabbaths. So I resolved to pour out
My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the wilderness.
James and Ezekiel
remind us that if it were possible to keep the law even for a while, a
person who failed in only one point of the law would remain just as lost
and under God's wrath as a person who failed in every point of the law.
Writing to the Galatians Paul addressed this
same question asking...
Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law
had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would
indeed have been based on law. (Galatians 3:21)
TO RESULT IN DEATH FOR ME:
heurethe (3SAPI)...aute eis
(heurisko) means to find either with a previous search or to find
out by inquiry. To learn. To discover. In the present context the verb
expresses the idea of surprise at such an unexpected
result regarding the Law. The
indicates that this was not the result of vigorous search but was
disclosed without any initiative on the part of the subject.
would especially “surprise the Jew” who learned for the first time that
before God he had no moral superiority over the Gentiles whom he
superciliously dubbed “sinners,” while he esteemed himself to be
(pronoun "me") expected his life under law to earn eternal life.
Instead he discovered that he was condemned to death, because law reveals sin, and
the wages of sin is death (Ro 6:23-note).
(thanatos, English - thanatology) is a permanent cessation of all
vital functions. It marks the end of life. In the present verse the
reference is to spiritual life.
Guzik (Romans 7)
explains the spiritual dynamics of how the law brings death writing
Sin does this by deception. Sin
· Because sin falsely promises
· Because sin falsely claims an adequate excuse
· Because sin falsely promises an escape from punishment
“The trouble with trouble is that it
usually starts out as a whole lot of fun.” anonymous
Ideally the law promised life
to those who kept it. The sign outside a lion’s cage says, “Stay back of
the railing.” If obeyed, the commandment brings life. But for the child
who disobeys and reaches in to pet the lion, it brings death. (MacDonald,
W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson or
Wiersbe brings out a very
practical application noting that...
This (i.e., the truth that the Law
brings death) explains why legalistic Christians and churches do not
grow and bear spiritual fruit. They are living by Law, and the Law
always kills. Few things are more dead than an orthodox church that is
proud of its “high standards” and tries to live up to them in its own
energy. Often the members of such a church start to judge and condemn
one another, and the sad result is a church fight and then a church
split that leaves members—or former members—angry and bitter. As the new
Christian grows, he comes into contact with various philosophies of the
Christian life. He can read books, attend seminars, listen to tapes, and
get a great deal of information. If he is not careful, he will start
following a human leader and accept his teachings as Law. This practice
is a very subtle form of legalism, and it kills spiritual growth. No
human teacher can take the place of Christ; no book can take the place
of the Bible. Men can give us information, but only the Spirit can give
us illumination and help us understand spiritual truths. The Spirit
enlightens us and enables us; no human leader can do that. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
deceived me and
killed me. (NASB:
Amplified: For sin,
seizing the opportunity and getting a hold on me [by taking its
incentive] from the commandment, beguiled and entrapped and cheated
me, and using it [as a weapon], killed me. (Amplified
Bible - Lockman)
Barclay: For, when
sin obtained a foothold through the commandment, it seduced me, and,
through it, killed me. (Westminster
NLT: Sin took advantage of the law and fooled me; it took the
good law and used it to make me guilty of death. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
commandment gave sin an opportunity, and without my realising what was
happening, it "killed" me. (Phillips:
Wuest: for the sinful nature, using the commandment as a
fulcrum, beguiled me and through it killed me. (Eerdmans)
for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and
through it killed me.
FOR SIN, TAKING OPPORTUNITY THROUGH THE COMMANDMENT, DECEIVED ME:
aphormen labousa (AAPFSN) dia tes entoles
exepatesen (3SAAI) me:
(Ro 7:8,13 Isa 4:20; Jer 17:9; 49:16; Obad 1:3; Eph 4:22; Heb 3:13; Jas
Sin - Note that the following
explanation of sin is repeated at several points in the notes on
Romans 5-8, because it is such an important truth to keep in mind as one
studies this this doctrinally rich section of Scripture.
(hamartia) originally meant missing the mark, and thus missing
the true purpose God has for each created man and women. It describes a
falling short of His standard of holiness, a departure from doing what
is right, and an acting contrary to God's will. Now here is where the
definition of Sin as used in Romans 5-8 might be a bit confusing.
First note that sin is singular, so it is not sins but
sin the significance of which becomes more apparent from the next
fact. In many (most) of Paul's uses of hamartia in Romans 5-8,
Paul places the definite article "the" before sin
(even though the "the" is not translated in most English
versions for it would be somewhat difficult to read). The use of the
definite article indicates that Paul is not referring to "a sin"
(not to just any sin) but "the sin". In this way Paul
is speaking of Sin figuratively, in what is referred to as a metonym
(derived from "meta" = with + "onym" = name") which
describes the substitution of a word referring to an attribute for the
thing that is meant (eg, the use of the word "crown" to refer to
the entire "monarchy").
Now are you really
confused? Well, what Paul is doing with the Sin (he hamartia) is to
use this word not to describe the actions or results (i.e., the
specific sins we
commit in thought, word or deed) but to describe the underlying root cause, the principle or, in
medical terms (I'm a physician with sub specialization in infectious
disease), the "sin virus" we have all inherited from Adam. The Sin
is like a highly contagious, lethal virus which every man, woman and
child has inherited because every person alive can trace their lineage
back to Adam, the first man. The presence of the Sin gene in our
"moral make up" is the reason every man, woman and child commits sins
(note the plural).
Try to keep this distinction in mind when studying Romans 5-8, where Paul
refers primarily to the "sin virus", the underlying root cause of
why we do the wicked things we do. To state it another way, in Romans
1:21-32 Paul described the acts of sin (sins committed) but in this use
he speaks of sin as a disposition deep in every person's life that
produces the ungodly acts.
Wayne Barber explains sin
Sin entered the world! (Ro 5:12-note)
When you see the word sin
in this verse (Romans 5:12), take a pencil and write right behind it "The" (so
that it reads "the Sin"). When the definite article "the" (Ed
note: look at the Greek sentence above. Do you see "he"
before "hamartia"? The "he" is the definite article in
Greek, corresponding to the English definite article "the") is
used in Scripture, it is very important because it is identifying
something as very specific... In English,
we would say "THE cup," where the definite article means, not
just any cup, but the specific cup.
5:12-14) (Bolding and italics added)
So Sin here refers not
particular sin, but to the inherent propensity to sin that entered
the human realm when Adam sinner and fathered men who became "little sinners" by nature,
by birth. Adam passed to all
his descendants the inherent sinful nature he possessed because of his
single act of disobedience. That "Adamic" nature is present in every
person ever born from the moment of conception David writing...
Behold (this Hebrew word means
"Listen up!" what I have to say is very important!) I was brought forth
in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. (Psalm 51:5)
The Sin in each
man makes it impossible for man to live in a way that pleases God.
Paul is explaining in Romans 7:14-25
how he came to discover that his best efforts to do good and to obey the
Law resulted in defeat and death. The Law, using the
or the evil nature in him as a
base camp, brought out the power of sin all the more, and this condition he calls death.
Sin is like a personal enemy within our physical body. God warned Cain
of this internal enemy in Genesis 4 declaring...
do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do
is crouching at the door; and
its desire is for you,
but you must master it." (Ge 4:7).
(lambano) means to get hold of something by laying hands on or
(aphorme from apó = from, and horme = a rushing on,
onset, impetus, violent tendency) describes an occasion, an opportunity
or casual circumstance producing a tendency toward something else.
Aphorme - 7x in
6v in the NAS - Rom. 7:8, 11; 2 Co. 5:12; 11:12; Gal. 5:13; 1 Tim. 5:14
and is rendered by the NAS as occasion(2), opportunity(5).
specific requirements of the law as a base of operation from which to
launch its evil work. Confronted by God’s law, the sinner’s rebellious
nature finds the forbidden thing more attractive, not because it is
inherently attractive, but because it furnishes an opportunity to assert
Sin finds its foothold in the
Ro 8:7-note), and its soldiers
wield “weapons” (hopla) of wickedness rather than weapons of
righteousness (Ro 6:13-note; 2Cor 6:7).
Sin preys on people, awaiting the
opportunity to make the Law a “bridgehead” in humans and “wages war” (antistrateuomai,
see Ro 7:23-note,
cp 1Pe 2:11-note) and “takes prisoners” (aichmalotizo,
= intensifies meaning of root +
= seduce, deceive - see study of related word
apate) means to beguile thoroughly,
deceive completely or seduce (persuade to disobedience, lead astray by
persuasion or false promises) wholly. To make or cause someone to lose
their way (cp Pr 14:12).
Exapatao means not just to give a false impression but to actively lead
cause a subject to believe or accept false ideas about something with
the implication of that one is led out of the right way into error and
especially to sin.
Exapatao - 6x in 6v - Rom.
7:11; 16:18; 1 Co. 3:18; 2 Co. 11:3; 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 Tim. 2:14
Richards writes that...
and its derivatives indicate ethical enticement...Deception sometimes
comes from within, as our desires impel us to deceive. But more often in
the NT, deceit is error urged by external evil powers or by those locked
into the world's way of thinking. (Richards,
L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
a strong word indicating utter deception. Paul uses the same word on two
other occasions when speaking of the deception effected by the serpent
in relation to Eve (2Cor 11:3, 1Ti 2:14). Sin within Paul, led him to do
the very thing the commandment forbade, thus bringing him under
condemnation as a lawbreaker.
The writer of Hebrews
exposes sin (and also gives an "antidote") writing...
one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest
any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness (apate) of
sin. (He 3:13-note)
deception! How? Here is the "deception" -- Since
the commandment was intended to bring life, Paul expected the
commandment to yield life as a result. But instead it became the
occasion for sin and subsequently for death. Since the commandment
yielded the opposite of what Paul expected, he felt deceived. But the
perpetrator of this deception was not the commandment itself, but
commandment was merely the instrument by which
Sin deceived him.
Haldane agrees writing
blinding his mind as to the extent of the demands of the law, had led
Paul to believe that he could fulfill it, and so obtain justification
and life, and had thus by the law taken occasion to deceive him. Till
the commandment came home to him in its spiritual application, sin was
never brought to such a test as to make a discovery to Paul of its real
power. (Haldane, R. An Exposition of Romans)
Daniel Hill asks...
the deception? It is the deception that caused Paul to think he could
live under the law, fulfill the law, and again experience life unto God
through law-obedience. But he found that all his efforts at
law-obedience came up short and resulted in defeat...and this defeat
killed him. THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE OF PERFORMANCE-BASED CHRISTIANITY,
it does not work! The result is often more guilt, more loss, more sense
of defeat, more sense of dread and death....
mankind go through a state of innocents based on ignorance.
2. This gives way to a state of guilt based on cognizance.
3. The Law makes man cognizant of sins and the sin nature
4. Without the 10th commandment it was easy for Paul, a self-righteous
Jewish leader, to see sins on the outside.
5. The 10th commandment, however, placed sin on the inside and with that
there was awareness of the Sin Nature.
6. Coveting or Lusting is something no one else sees, no one hears it,
but it is there, very real, very much sin.
7. That sin was an evidence of the presence of the Sin Nature
8. And that awareness brought about the recognition of spiritual death.
There are other ways Sin
deceives. For example, Sin promises satisfaction.
Sin is a liar through and through because it
falsely claims an adequate excuse (there is never a "good excuse" to
commit sin because sin is ultimately missing mark of God's
righteousness). But you may be asking questions like
what about Rahab who deceived the men of Jericho when she hid the
Israeli spies? What about David and his men when they ate the
bread on the Table of Shewbread in the tabernacle when they were
famished? The basic questions one must ask to determine whether an
action is sin or not are, "Does it serve God's purpose or mine?" "Does
my conscience tell me that what I am am about to do is wrong (never
offend your conscience)?" Even when we ask ourselves these
questions, we may still miss the mark of God's righteousness, and we may sin in
ignorance, but thanks be to God, that the blood of Jesus covers
all our sin!
also falsely promises an escape from punishment. Sin, when followed,
leads to death not life. One of Satan’s deceptions is to get us to think
that committing sins is
something good and something a mean God wants to deprive us of. Remember
the first attack by Satan... "Indeed, has God said?" (Ge 3:1,
Sin is strongly personified, being represented as acting as a person
would act. The language is reminiscent of the fall, with Sin taking the
place of the tempter and provoking a deception that led to death (the
spiritual death that occurred then and there was prophetic of the
physical death to follow in due time).
John MacArthur comments
Paul says that sin also deceived
him. Deceit is one of sin’s most subtle and disastrous evils. A person
who is deceived into thinking he is acceptable to God because of his own
merit and good works will see no need of salvation and no reason for
trusting in Christ. It is doubtless for that reason that all false
religions-including those that claim the name of Christ-in one way or
another are built on a deceptive foundation of self-trust and
self-effort. Self-righteousness is not righteousness at
all but is the worst of sins. Both by the standard of the law and by the
standard of grace, the very term self-righteousness is a
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press
explains how sin completely deceived Paul writing that it was...
By leading the apostle to expect one
thing, while he experienced another. He expected life and found death.
He expected happiness and found misery. He looked for holiness and found
increased corruption. He thought that by the law all these desirable
ends could be achieved, but he found that it produced exactly the
opposite effects. Sin therefore used the commandment to deceive and by
it slew him. Instead of the law being a source of holiness and
blessedness, it brought death to Paul. (Hodge, C. Commentary on the
Epistle to the Romans, 1835)
AND THROUGH IT KILLED ME: kai di autes apekteinen (3SAAI):
Recall Paul's instruction about
the law in (2Cor 3:6) that "the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life"
(apokteino from apó = intensifier + kteíno =slay)
means to kill outright or to put to death.
James explains that sin
is the killer writing that...
when lust has conceived, it gives
birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings
forth death. (James 1:15)
A T Robertson paraphrases
Paul as saying that Sin...
“Killed me off,” made a clean job of
it. Sin here is personified as the tempter (Ge 3:13).
Here Paul perceived the horror of
indwelling sin which, like a dormant reptile, had always been lurking in
him. Suddenly he found it was alive—and then it slew him. (Barnhouse, D.
G. God's Freedom: Romans 6:1-7:25. Eerdmans)
Guzik adds that....
One of Satan’s greatest deceptions is
to get us to think of sin as something good that an unpleasant God wants
to deprive us of. When God warns us away from sin, He warns us away from
something that will kill us.
S Lewis Johnson has an
It is an interesting fact, too, that
genuine Christianity often has the same effect as the Law of Moses. When
it is practiced in the midst of the world, the world, which was able to
sleep soundly in the sleep which is spiritual death, is stirred to an
awakened conviction that leads to persecution of those who practice the
faith. The "ravings" of the old man replace the sweet reasonableness of
the unawakened conscience. Those who lived with a pale and anemic
Christianity cannot stand to live by the side of a vital life of faith.
It's the story of Ishmael and Isaac all over again, for "as then he that
was born of the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit,
even so it is now" (cf. Ga 4:29).
holy, and the
Amplified: The Law
therefore is holy, and [each] commandment is holy and just and good. (Amplified
Bible - Lockman)
NLT: But still, the law itself is holy and right and good. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: It can
scarcely be doubted that in reality the Law itself is holy, and the
commandment is holy, fair and good. (Phillips:
Wuest: So that the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and
righteous, and good.
So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous
and good. (Eerdmans)
SO THEN, THE LAW IS
HOLY AND THE
COMMANDMENT IS HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS AND GOOD: hoste o men nomos hagios kai
e entole hagia kai dikaia kai agathe:
(Ro 7:14; 3:31; 12:2; Dt 4:8; 10:12; Neh 9:13; Ps 19:7, 8, 9, 10, 11,
12; 119:38,86,127,137; Ps 119:140,172; 1Ti1:8)
Notice that there
are no verbs in this verse making it a very dogmatic statement of truth.
Paul is in effect
clearly answering the question in Ro 7:7 (note)
about the nature of the law.
So then (hoste)
brings this section to a conclusion. Paul is answering
the question raised in
Romans 7:7 (note) where
asked "Is the Law sin?" The fact that the law reveals (like a
mirror which shows dirt but cannot make you clean), arouses, and
condemns sin and brings death to the sinner does not make the law itself
evil. The problem with the sin of man is not the Law, for it is
holy, righteous, and good. The difficulty lies elsewhere, and
that the apostle will dwell on in Ro 7:13-note.
God's Law is
perfect...a perfect reflection of the One Who gave it to Israel...
The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The
testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. (Ps 19:7 -
Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in
Him. (Pr 30:5)
Thus believers should honor the
Law as representing perfectly the holiness and justice of God. But as
sinners condemned by the Law, our need is not justice but grace and
and good - Ultimately, these attributes express the character of the
Living God Whose commandment it is.
literally refers to that which is set apart for a special purpose. Hagios speaks of that
which represents God’s holiness. That which is holy is set aside
for sacred use.
The Law is holy
but it cannot make me holy
The Law is holy
- Holy means set apart from the common and profane. The Law is set apart
and full of purity, majesty, and glory because it's Source is the Holy
God. The Law is set apart in that it reveals God’s nature and will. It
is set apart in that it exposes sin, all that is contrary to God’s
holiness. The Law is holy in that it is different and set apart
from everything else on earth. The Law is holy because it is God’s way
for man to live a life of holiness, a way that is so different and so
set apart. Such a life can never be lived by trying to "keep the Law"
but only by lovingly obeying the urging of the indwelling Spirit of
Christ (see notes walking in the Spirit - Gal 5:16-note;
being continually controlled by the Spirit - Ep 5:18-note),
Who not only gives us the desire to obey but also the power to obey to
His good pleasure (Php 2:12-note;
from dike =
defines that which is
in accordance with high standards of rectitude. It is that which is in
right relation to another and so in reference to persons defines that
which is morally and ethically upright or just.
79x in 74v in the NAS - Matt. 1:19; 5:45; 9:13; 10:41; 13:17, 43, 49;
20:4; 23:28f, 35; 25:37, 46; 27:19; Mk. 2:17; 6:20; Lk. 1:6, 17; 2:25;
5:32; 12:57; 14:14; 15:7; 18:9; 20:20; 23:47, 50; Jn. 5:30; 7:24; 17:25;
Acts 3:14; 4:19; 7:52; 10:22; 22:14; 24:15; Rom. 1:17; 2:13; 3:10, 26;
5:7, 19; 7:12; Gal. 3:11; Eph. 6:1; Phil. 1:7; 4:8; Col. 4:1; 2 Thess.
1:5f; 1 Tim. 1:9; 2 Tim. 4:8; Tit. 1:8; Heb. 10:38; 11:4; 12:23; Jas.
5:6, 16; 1 Pet. 3:12, 18; 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:13; 2:7f; 1 Jn. 1:9; 2:1, 29;
3:7, 12; Rev. 15:3; 16:5, 7; 19:2; 22:11 and is rendered in the NAS as
innocent(1), just(6), justice(1), right(6), righteous(45), righteous
man(8), righteous Man(1), righteous man's(1), righteous men(2),
righteous one(1), Righteous One(3), righteous persons(1), what is
right(1), who is righteous(1).
The Law is just
but it can never justify me!
by the works of the Law no flesh will
be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of
sin. (Ro 3:20-note)
Galatians he wrote...
nevertheless knowing that a man is
not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus,
even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith
in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the
Law shall no flesh be justified. (Ga 2:16)
The English word “righteous” was
formerly spelt ‘rightwise’, i.e., (in a) straight way. In the N.T. it
denotes righteous, a state of being right, or right conduct, judged
whether by the Divine
standard, or according to human standards, of what is right. Said of
God, it designates the perfect agreement between His nature and His acts
(in which He is the standard for all men). (Vine,
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words. 1996. Nelson)
The Law is
righteous - It is right, fair, impartial, equitable and straight (a
"perfect plumbline"). The Law is righteous in that it reveals the
righteous character of the Lawgiver. The Law is righteous in view of the
just requirements it lays upon men. It is righteous because it forbids
and condemns sin. The Law treats a man exactly like he should be treated
and shows no partiality to anyone, be they king or pauper. The Law
reveals how a man should treat others. The Law is righteous in that it
reveals exactly how a man should live in relation to God and to his
(agathos) means intrinsically good,
inherently good in quality but with the idea of good which is also
profitable, useful, benefiting others, benevolent (marked by or disposed
to doing good).
Agathos is that which is good
in its character, beneficial in its effects and/or useful in its
The Law is good
but it cannot make me good.
The Law is good
- It is beneficial because its aim is life. The misuse of the law at the
hands of sin has not altered its own essential character. The Law is
good in that it shows man how to live and tells him when he fails to
live that way. It exposes his sin and demonstrates his desperate need
for a Savior. The law tells man the truth about the nature of man in a
most explicit way, and it points him toward the need for outside help in
order to be saved.
Barnhouse sums it up...
Law is holy because it reveals
sin; righteous because it condemns the sinner to death; good
because it shows what a holy God demands; and its intrinsic purpose is
spiritual. Law does not invite sin, it uncovers it; not the law, but sin
brings death. (God's Freedom: Romans 6:1-7:25 Eerdmans)
Therefore did that
become a cause of
death for me? May it
Rather it was
order that it might be
shown to be
Did that which is good then prove fatal [bringing death] to me?
Certainly not! It was sin, working death in me by using this good
thing [as a weapon], in order that through the commandment sin might
be shown up clearly to be sin, that the extreme malignity and
immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear. (Amplified
Bible - Lockman)
then that which was good become death to me? God forbid! But the
reason was that sin might be revealed as sin by producing death in me,
through the very thing which was in itself good, so that, through the
commandment, sin might become surpassingly sinful. (Westminster
NLT: But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my
doom? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my
condemnation. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God's
good commandment for its own evil purposes. (NLT
- Tyndale House)
Phillips: Can it be that something that is intrinsically good
could mean death to me? No, what happened was this. Sin, at the touch
of the Law, was forced to express itself as sin, and that meant death
for me. The contact of the Law showed the sinful nature of sin. (Phillips:
Wuest: Therefore, that which is good, to me did it become
death? Away with the thought. But the sinful nature, in order that it
might become evident that it is sin, through that which is good [the
commandment] brought about death in me, in order that the sinful
nature [its impulses and workings] through the intermediate agency of
the commandment may become exceedingly sinful. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: That which is good then, to me hath it become
death? let it not be! but the sin, that it might appear sin, through
the good, working death to me, that the sin might become exceeding
sinful through the command,
THEREFORE DID THAT WHICH IS GOOD
BECOME A CAUSE OF DEATH
FOR ME? MAY IT NEVER BE! RATHER IT WAS (the) SIN IN ORDER THAT IT
MIGHT BE SHOWN TO BE SIN BY EFFECTING MY DEATH THROUGH THAT WHICH IS
GOOD: To oun agathon emoi egeneto (3SAMI) thanatos me genoito
(3SAM0) alla e hamartia, hina phane (3SAPS) hamartia dia tou agathou moi katergazomene (PMPFSN)
thanaton: (Ro 8:3; Ga 3:21) (Ro 7:8, 9, 10, 11; 5:20; Jas
1:13, 14, 15)
Can it be that something that is
intrinsically good could mean death to me? No, what happened was this.
Sin, at the touch of the Law, was forced to express itself as sin, and
that meant death for me. The contact of the Law showed the sinful nature
of sin. (Phillips:
Four times in 3
verses (Ro 7:12, 15, 16-see notes
15;16) Paul emphasizes that the Law
is good (agathos
[beneficial in effect] in
first 3 uses,
in third). Remember that whether
one interprets the
following verses as descriptive of a man who is regenerate or one who is unregenerate, the
Law cannot sanctify either. In short, however you interpret the verses
(Romans 7:13-23) this vital principle is true.
Paul anticipates a
reader's question. His answer re-emphasizes that the spiritual death
he died was absolutely not caused by the Law but by the Sin in him
which was exposed by the Law (cp Jas 1:15, Ro 6:23).
Ray Stedman writes that...
the fact that this evil force (Sin) is in every one of us, waiting only
for the right circumstance in order to spring into being (cf God's
warning to Cain "sin is crouching at the door; and its desire
is for you, but you must master it." Ge 4:7b, cp Ge 4:6,
8), overpower our will
and carry us into things we never dreamed we would do. Many of us
experience this. According to this passage, the great power of sin
is that it deceives us (Ro 7:11-note).
We think we have got life under control -- and we are fooled. All
sin is waiting for is the right occasion (Ro 7:8, 11-notes
when, like a powerful, idling engine, it roars into life and takes over
at the touch of the accelerator and we find ourselves helplessly under
its control. (The
THAT THROUGH THE COMMANDMENT (the) SIN MIGHT BECOME UTTERLY SINFUL: hina genetai (3SAMS) kath huperbolen hamartolos e hamartia dia tes entoles:
expresses purpose - that sin might be exposed in all its heinous
character. Sin is the real problem not the Law. It is not the Law that
brings death but sin which uses the Law which itself is good.
is a preposition defining the means or agency ("the commandment") by
which something takes place ("sin became utterly sinful"). Sin
"became more sinful" by means of the light shed by the Law.
Sin uses the
commandments of the Law of God to manifest its true nature as
intractably rebellious to God and to demonstrate its evil power within
sounds an important practical note regarding the phrase through the
commandment reminding all who would faithfully proclaim the gospel
the preaching of the law is necessary
to the preaching of the gospel. Until men see their sin for what it is,
they will not see their need of salvation from it. (MacArthur,
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press
utterly sinful - Law "magnified" sin - Next to God's holy magnifying
mirror (see below), we all appear as abominably filthy, utterly unholy!
that the extreme malignity and
immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear. (Amplified Bible)
sin might become surpassingly sinful
that sin shows its unbounded sinful
So we can see how terrible sin really
in order that by means of the
Commandment the unspeakable sinfulness of sin might be plainly shown.
that the extreme malignity and
immeasurable sinfulness of sin might plainly appear. (Wuest)
The more fully and widely the Law
resolved itself in new and fresh commands to Paul's soul, the more
intense and desperate became indwelling Sin's horrid opposition to it.
Thus was Sin's hideous countenance seen in full! It became exceeding
(huperbole from huperballo = a throwing beyond the usual
mark from huper = above + ballo = cast)
refers to a degree which exceeds extraordinarily a point on an implied
or overt scale of extent. It means extraordinary, far more, much
greater, to a far greater degree, surpassing, beyond measure, utterly.
This Greek word
gives us our English hyperbole = extravagant exaggeration. In
rhetoric, hyperbole is a figure of speech which
expresses much more or less than the truth, or which represents things
much greater or less, better or worse than they really are. An object
uncommon in size, either great or small, strikes us with surprise, and
this emotion produces a momentary conviction that the object is greater
or less than it is in reality. The same effect attends figurative
grandeur or littleness; and hence the use of the hyperbole, which
expresses this momentary conviction. The following are instances of the
use of this figure. For example in Ge 13:16 "as the dust of the earth"
is a hyperbole.
Paul's point is that the Law exposes and magnifies sin in an
extraordinary manner. If sin can use something good like
the Law to its own advantage to promote evil, how evil sin is!
8x in 7v in the NAS - Ro 7:13; 1Co. 12:31; 2Co. 1:8; 4:7, 17;
12:7; Gal. 1:13. NAS = all comparison(1), beyond
measure*(1), excessively*(1), far(1), more excellent(1),surpassing
greatness(2), utterly(1). There are no uses in the Septuagint. Here are
the other uses of huperbole.
1 Corinthians 12:31 But earnestly
desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more
2 Corinthians 1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our
affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened
excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
2 Corinthians 4:7-note But
we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing
greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;
2 Corinthians 4:17-note
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of
glory far beyond all comparison,
2 Corinthians 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the
revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was
given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to
keep me from exalting myself!
Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my former manner of life in
Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure
and tried to destroy it;
Sin magnifies the
blemishes that were there all the time. Have you ever looked in a make
up mirror that greatly magnifies one's face? What have you seen? Well if
there was a small blemish you failed to see before, the magnifying
mirror makes the blemish very apparent. This is a picture of the work of
the Law. Think about it this way -- if you see something holy next to
yourself, the effect is to see that you are utterly unholy, utterly
sinful, which is exactly the way the prophet Isaiah felt when he had an
encounter with the Holy One Himself...
In the year of King Uzziah's death, I
saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of
His robe filling the temple.
2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings; with two he covered
his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
3 And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD
of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory."
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who
called out, while the temple was filling with smoke.
5 Then I said, "Woe (Hebrew = oy = a passionate cry of grief or
despair) is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean
lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen
the King, the LORD of hosts." (Isaiah 6:1-5)
Paul’s point here is that sin is so
utterly sinful that it can even pervert and undermine the purpose of
God’s holy law. It can twist and distort the law so that instead of
bringing life, as God intended, it brings death. It can manipulate the
pure law of God to deceive and damn people. Such is the awful
wretchedness of sin. (MacArthur,
J: Romans 1-8. Chicago: Moody Press
(see related topic
- Purpose of the Law)
agrees writing that...
Those who preach only the Gospel to
sinners, at best only heal the hurt of the daughter of my people
slightly. The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a
faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners.
C H Spurgeon wrote...
Paul here calls sin "exceeding
sinful." Why didn't he say, "exceeding black" or "exceeding horrible" or
"exceeding deadly"? Because there is nothing in the world so bad as sin.
When he wanted to use the very worst word he could find to call sin by,
he called it by its own name, and reiterated it: "Sin... exceeding
In another place Spurgeon
speaking of sin being made to appear as it really was was
because it always wants to hide in us
and conceal its true depths and strength. “This is one of the most
deplorable results of sin. It injures us most by taking from us the
capacity to know how much we are injured. It undermines the man’s
constitution, and yet leads him to boast of unfailing health; it beggars
him, and tells him he is rich; it strips him, and makes him glory in his
Warren Wiersbe adds that
Instead of being a dynamo that gives us power to overcome, the Law
is a magnet that draws out of us all kinds of sin and corruption....
Paul’s argument here is tremendous:
(1) the Law is not sinful—it is holy, just, and good; (2) but the Law
reveals sin, arouses sin, and then uses sin to slay us; if something as
good as the Law accomplishes these results, then something is radically
wrong somewhere; (3) conclusion: see how sinful sin is when it can use
something good like the Law to produce such tragic results. Sin is
indeed “exceedingly sinful.” The problem is not with the Law; the
problem is with my sinful nature. This prepares the way for the third
topic in this chapter. (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor
The Law is designed to expose sin, and to make us feel the way Paul
describes in this section so that we begin to understand what this evil
force is that we have inherited when we were all born in Adam (see
Romans 5:12). The
Law shows sin to be what it is, something exceeding
powerful and dangerous, something that has greater strength than our
willpower and a force that causes us to do things which we are resolved
not to do! Beloved, do you not see how utterly foolish it is to give
ourselves over to the power of sin for even a moment!
summarizes the principles in this verse...
1. The law shows us that sins come
from the inside, the sin nature. And that the sin nature will always be
2. The recognition of the sin nature
results in a recognition of spiritual death.
3. So the process again: LAW ---- Sin
Nature ---- SINS ---- DEATH
4. And that process is exactly the
route God wants it to take in our lives.
5. It is only when we realize the
outcome is death that we will realize we can do nothing about our
6. So the Law was designed to show
mankind that it was impossible to be saved, impossible to impress God
with keeping the Law because it could not be done.
7. Rather than be a means of
salvation it is a means of death. (Romans
In summary, note
the three things that the Law does with respect to sin...
The law reveals Sin (like a
mirror) -- Romans 7:7
(note); Ro 3:20
The law arouses Sin --
(note), Ro 7:9
The law magnifies Sin -- Romans 7:13
(cp 1Co 15:56)
><> ><> ><>
Read the following poem entitled
Jehovah Tsidkenu (The Lord Our Righteousness) by Robert Murray
McCheyne. Compare the fourth stanza with the experience Paul
describes here in Romans 7 when confronted with one purpose of God's Law
I once was a stranger to grace and to
I knew not my danger, and felt not my load;
Though friends spoke in rapture of Christ on the tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu was nothing to me.
I oft read with pleasure, to soothe
Isaiah’s wild measure and John’s simple page;
But even when they pictured the blood-sprinkled tree,
Jehovah Tsidkenu seemed nothing to me.
Like tears from the daughters of Zion
I wept when the waters went over His soul,
Yet thought not that my sins had nailed to the tree
Jehovah Tsidkenu-‘twas nothing to me.
When free grace awoke me by light
from on high,
Then legal fears shook me, I trembled to die;
No refuge, no safety in self could I see-
Jehovah Tsidkenu my Savior must be.
My terrors all vanished before the
My guilty fear banished, with boldness I came
To drink at the fountain, life-giving and free-
Jehovah Tsidkenu is all things to me.
Jehovah Tsidkenu! My treasure and
Jehovah Tsidkenu! I ne’er can be lost;
In Thee shall I conquer by flood and by field-
My cable, my anchor, my breastplate and shield!
Even treading the valley, the shadow
This “watchword” shall rally my faltering breath;
For while from life’s fever my God sets me free,
Jehovah Tsidkenu my death-song shall be.
><> ><> ><>
of light thoughts
C H Spurgeon
(Morning and Evening) warns about the utter sinfulness of sin...
Beware of light thoughts of sin. At
the time of conversion, the
conscience is so tender, that we are afraid
of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear
lest they should offend against God.
But alas! very soon the fine bloom
upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the
surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a
willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding.
It is sadly true,
that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which
once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get
familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not
notice slight sounds.
At first a little sin startles us; but soon we
say, “Is it not a little one?” Then there comes another, larger, and
then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little
ill; and then follows an unholy presumption:
“We have not fallen into
open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main.
We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our
conversation, it has been consistent.”
So we palliate sin; we throw a
cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. (Ed note: "an affair" not
Christian, beware how thou thinkest
lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little.
Sin, a little thing? Is it not
a poison? Who knows its deadliness?
Sin, a little thing? Do not
the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build
a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will
not continual droppings wear away stones?
Sin, a little thing? It girded
the Redeemer’s head with thorns, and pierced his heart! It made Him
suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe.
Could you weigh the least sin in the
scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor
the least appearance of evil.
Look upon all sin as that which
crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be “exceeding sinful.”
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