Tuesday, 11 June 2013
But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead. Romans 7:8
The words in today’s verse hit at the heart of the depravity of man and at the immense glory of what must surely be realized in the work of Christ. In the previous verse we were shown that we would not have known sin except through the law. Using coveting as an example, it was demonstrated that we wouldn’t even know what it meant to covet unless we were told to not do it.
“But sin” – the excitation of this act; the wicked principle in the heart – takes its “opportunity by the commandment.” Once the commandment was given, the heart was stirred into an act of rebellion by presuming it could do the very thing it was instructed to not do. In the Garden of Eden there was no sin; all was holy. There existed a state which never was before and which could never be again. There was free will, but there was no commandment which could excite sin into being.
However, the commandment was given, ” Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16, 17
Once the words were spoken, it produced in man an evil desire, to do the very thing he was instructed to not do. Edgar Allen Poe would call it “the imp of the perverse.” The very thing that shouldn’t be done suddenly springs to life and wants to do that thing. When a new law is introduced in a land, the first thing that happens is for people to think about breaking that law or devising ways to get around it. But before the law was introduced, there was no impetus for doing the very thing which they are now intent on doing. In other words, “apart from the law sin was dead.”
To now look at this from the other side of the cross, we can see the immense glory of our state in Christ. A corporate body of law was given to Israel, a law based on God’s standards of righteousness and holiness. With the introduction of this law, sin took the opportunity and produced all manner of evil desire. The only way to be relieved from this was by grace through faith that God’s provisions for the sins committed would remove the sin. These included sacrifices and a Day of Atonement.
Even the sacrifices became sinful though when they were made without the faith which necessitated them in the first place. However, in a beautiful demonstration of God’s righteousness, mercy, love, justice, truth, holiness, and grace, a promise was made throughout the time of this law that God would provide a final Sacrifice which would, once and for all, handle the sin-debt which was excited into being through the law. Jesus came and lived His life under this body of law without sinning and then He gave His life as an offering and an exchange for those of us who cannot do so.
As He fulfilled the law, when He died, the law died with Him for those who trust in Him (through faith in His work). Because we are dead to the law, we are dead to sin. This is what Paul was speaking about in Romans 6:14, 15. The law has no power over us. Therefore, let us not sin because we are not under law, but under grace.
Life application: There is a struggle going on in each of us. The laws which exist around us are given and when they are introduced, we now have a standard by which we will be judged and a premise by which we are to conduct ourselves. But the law, when given, can also incite us to wrongdoing by the giving of the law. Does this make the law the cause of sin? No, it only shows us that we are prone to sin. In our weak and fallen state, we need a release from life’s temptations and it is found in Jesus. Let each of us look to Him for strength against this war which wages in our lives.
I am dependent on You, O God, completely and entirely, for strength against the war which wages in my life. Those things I know I shouldn’t do, these are the things which tempt me. Grant me Your wisdom to decide on the right course to take, and grant me Your strength to endure that course. In myself I am weak, but through You I am strong. Thank You Lord. Amen.