Questions for Littles: What were some people saying about the law (v7)? What had the law enabled Paul to recognize? Which sin, in particular, had the law made him identify? What did sin do with the commandment, according to v8? Without the law, what had he thought of himself (v9a)? When the commandment came, what did he see was really alive? Whom did he see was really dead? What had he thought the commandment could bring him (v10a)? What did he find that the commandment actually brought him instead (v10b)? Ultimately, what was it that had killed him (v11)? What, then, does he conclude about the law (v12)? What three things does he conclude about the commandment, in particular? What question does he ask in v13? What did he conclude had actually done the harm? What had the commandment led him to conclude about sin? Where does he place the blame in this whole mess in v14?In this week’s Epistle reading, the Lord preserves for us a love and esteem for His law and its commandments.
There were those who were calling the law sin (v7), because it could not produce righteousness in us (v6). They reasoned that since having grace as our master by the Holy Spirit is what gave righteousness, that we should therefore throw away the law of God as if attempting to follow it was a wicked thing.
Many people do the same today. They cry “legalist,” if anyone thinks he can follow the law to be made right with God. And they are correct about that. But then they turn around and cry “legalist,” if anyone says that we ought to try to obey the law of God. In this, they are greatly mistaken.
The law is not sin. Sin is sin. In fact, God’s law has this wonderful effect of showing us the sinfulness of sin, the deadness of ourselves apart from Christ, and our complete need for and dependence upon Christ (v7-11, 13). The commandment isn’t only holy and just. It’s also good.
That third characteristic is vitally important. When we follow the law in the strength of the Spirit instead of in our flesh, we see that we are not self-made men, but rather that God the Holy Spirit is actually working in us, the very sons and daughters of the living God, who have been adopted by Him through faith (cf. 8:1-14!).
And it is in that process that we see just how much good the law of God continues to do unto us, if we follow it by the work of the Holy Spirit who is producing in us the life of Christ Jesus so that we no longer walk according to the flesh (8:1-2).
In the end, we have to admit to ourselves that whatever comes from Christ—including His law!—is good, but whatever comes from ourselves is sinful. Is the law sin? Certainly not!
What use do you make of the law of God? Have you been treating it as something good for you?Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord Let My Cry Before You Come” or HB253 “How I Love Thy Law O Lord”