Paul expands from where he left off last time on the new way of the Spirit which has given the Jews freedom:
“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom 7:7-12).
The key to understanding this is that Paul is describing sin as a person. So if we replace “sin” with “Satan” we get closer to his meaning. Sin is the snake born in me because of the original sin of Adam and Eve. But it lay dormant in me until a law was set down by my mother when I was about five years old to not chew gum, even though she did every day. So I stole some from her purse, and the judgment was my first spanking. But even worse was the look on her face – as if she knew I would never be the perfect son she expected me to be. Never! This is Paul’s sense of sin deceiving and then killing us.
“Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. For if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (Rom 7:13-20).
Convinced now that her son could become a mass murderer if he could steal gum, my mother’s strictness increased and the warnings were constant as I grew, which simply made me aware of more sin.
“So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Rom 7:21-25).
Here again is the fork in the road to perfect unity with Jesus. Choosing the wrong fork leads to disunity and spiritual death.
Repentance through Jesus Christ delivers us from a body of death and leads to serving the law of God because of the never-ending love of God!