Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Misuse of God's Law

"For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death." (Romans 7:11)

We notice here, and throughout Romans 7:7–12, that it is not the law that is the enemy but sin. It was not the law but sin that deceived me and killed me. What was the instrument that sin used to slay me? It was the commandment of God.

Let’s take an analogy. Is there anything evil about a sword? No. A sword is just a sword. It has no will or mind. If I pick up a sword and kill someone with it, it is not the sword that is put on trial and sentenced, but rather it is I who am guilty of using the good sword in an improper manner.

Just so, Paul says that my sin deceived me and killed me by using the law. The enemy is my sin, and since it is my sin, ultimately the enemy is myself. I have destroyed myself by misusing God’s law. Instead of using the law as a list of things to do to please God, I used it as a list of things to rebel against. The more I knew about the law, the more consistent and ferocious my rebellion became, says Paul.

Paul wants to make it clear that the law is good. Verse 12 reads, “So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.” How much more clearly could the apostle speak? It is not that grace is good and law is bad. Rather it is that the law is good and sin is bad. Obedience to God’s law never brought about spiritual death. The problem is with me. The more of God’s law I see, the more I misuse it against myself. Thus Paul says that “in order that sin might be recognized as sin, [the law] produced death in me through what was good” (v. 13). The law, which was given to produce life and good works in me, was actually producing death in me because of the perversity of my sin and the way my sin was misusing the law.

Do you find it irksome to obey people in authority over you—employers, teachers, parents? Do you find that there is something in your heart that wants to disobey, even if only in some slight way, the things you have been instructed to do? These are some of the ways in which our sinfulness uses the commandments of others to cause us to act in self-destructive ways. Where in your life would you make a change from self-destructive patterns of rebellion to an attitude of willing obedience?