Gods Law Made Paul Die
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 78b-9a For without the Law sin was dead. For I was alive without
the Law once.
Paul illustrated from his life the utter impotence of Law to deliver from evil. For a time in Pauls life, sin was dead. This means it was unknown as such. It was there, but unrevealed in its true identity. He was full of sin within, but was asleep to it in his consciousness. At one time he had viewed himself as blameless (PH 36).
Paul was satisfied with his behavior when he was without the law. Before Paul received Jesus, he claimed to be a follower of the Law. He was even a Pharisee. But he picked and chose what he wanted to obey.
Paul saw the Law only as an external code, and did not know its true intention. He had the Law in his hand and his head, but not in his heart.
He always overlooked his internal failures. Satisfied with the outward mask of righteousness (Calvin), Paul never saw everything God required of him.
As far as he was concerned, Paul was really living. He was perfectly content–no pain of conscience, all was going well. Sin was dead, and I was alive.
Romans 79b But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
Just when Paul was feeling alive and well, thinking sin was no issue to him, the commandment came. This means the Holy Spirit suddenly seared the Law into Pauls heart and brought conviction. Paul had been using Law for his own salvation, but God now used it for Pauls indictment. Immediately, sin revived, and I died.
When Law finally broke through to him, he realized how sinful he was. Paul was aware of his own inner badness. He recognized sin as a bitter root hiding within.
Sin revived It appeared as the monster it really is. Paul realized his inner sins were an affront to Holy God, rebellion against the throne of the universe. And what was the result of this revelation I died.
He suddenly became petrified. Knowing he was in danger of condemnation, his confidence was shattered. Paul was no longer self-satisfied and self-secure.
For the first time he heard his own conscience. It suddenly awoke from sleep and attacked him. He immediately felt like a criminal whose hour of execution had come. A cold shiver went through his frame. Grace had taught his heart to fear.
And in his dark hour, Paul saw the Law for what is really is
Romans 710 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be
The law had always been his hope for life and heaven. He had always prided himself in it. But now, instead of seeing himself headed for Heaven as a reward for keeping the Law, he saw himself headed for Hell because he could never keep all the Law. He immediately went from being a victor to being a victim.
When Paul saw how lofty the demands of Gods Law actually were, and how wretchedly deficient he was, he died. The Law devastated him. He had thought it would lead to life and confidence, but it now laid him low and made him miserable.
To make it worse, sin attacked him in order not to lose its prey
Romans 711 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and
by it slew me.
Evidently, sin was very successful with Paul in his pre-Christian days. He listened to the Devils deceptions. He kept turning to the Law, thinking victory would eventually be found there.
But this did not help. It only left him with a sense of hopelessness. His efforts proved futile and fatal. Sin used the commandment as its knife to kill Paul (Gore).
He kept reviving himself in the Law, but that effort resulted in his being slain again. Sin was murdering him. He kept on being destroyed. Finally, God had to knock him to the ground to deliver him from this state.
When Paul came under heavy conviction, I am sure Satan attacked again. Trying to persuade Paul to keep his confidence in the Law, Satan probably whispered, No one is perfect, Paul. Dont be so hard on yourself. Youre really a good man. You are doing well enough to get by. God would never send a man as good as you are to Hell. Just resolve to do better from now on. Be a positive thinker and pull yourself together.
Fortunately, the God-ordained revolution ultimately took place in Paul. In one seconds time, Paul realized the impotence of the Law to save him. The Law could yield him no peace once he was smitten by conviction, and it could yield him no life.
Paul learned the hard way that the purpose of his misery was to send him a Savior for healing. God intends for conviction to send the sinner to a Savior.
We will never keep enough of the Law to purchase our salvation. We are already too deeply in debt to merit forgiveness. Our only hope is a Substitute. Christ died in our place, and paid our debt. This gift can be received right now.
Romans 712a Wherefore the Law is holy, and the commandment holy,
Whenever we see a therefore in the Bible, we need to see what it is there for. In this case Paul is transitioning from what have appeared to be negative comments about the Law. He will now present it in its proper, helpful role.
Holy refers to anything that is set apart. In this verse it means that the Law is set apart unto God. It is His possession. The Law springs from Holy God, and reflects His will and character. The things commanded in the Law are things that agree with Gods nature. Since this is the case, Gods Law must be held in reverence.
Romans 712b and just,
There is nothing unfair about the Law of God. Satan wants us to believe otherwise. He tries to convince us the Law is unfair. The Evil One wants us to think the Law is too strict. He also tries to persuade us it requires too much of us, that it is impossible to keep.
Be ever mindful of the fact God has the right to oversee our conduct. We are His creation, and therefore are rightfully under His sovereign authority. God made us in His own image. He has stamped Himself into each one of us. Hence, it is reasonable that He should be allowed to require certain actions from us.
Also, we must realize the Law is not unreasonably difficult to keep. It requires only what people are capable of rendering. Whatever God commands, He provides power to obey. If we break a command, it does not mean the Law is unreasonable. Rather, it means we are not availing ourselves of power available to us.
Romans 712c and good.
This means the Law produces positive results. The Law of God points to our own best welfare. It is given for our own best interest. The Law is free from anything that might do us harm.
It is by the precepts of God we learn what is best for our life. The most fulfilling life is one that is lived in conformity to the Word of God.
Your command makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is always with me. I have more insight than all my teachers because Your decrees are my meditation. I understand more than the elders because I obey Your precepts (PS 11998-100).
What is true of us individually is also true of us collectively. The Laws of God are peoples best hope for peace and order in a society. All the worlds miseries have been produced by the disregard of Gods precepts.
The early settlers of Massachusetts knew Gods Laws were good, and chose to be controlled and guided by them. They selected the Bible as their Law Code. And British common law is in essence a using of Bible precepts for everyday situations.
Do not disparage the Law of God. It is holy in its origin, just in its application, and good in its results.