Editor’s note: This article falls in the middle of a series of related articles on Romans 7. If you haven’t read the past couple of articles, you’re welcome to use the “Previous Post” link at the bottom of this article to view them and catch up. However, I also try to make most of these articles useful on it’s own, for those seeking to learn about Jesus Christ and grow in Him. I’ll try to keep you caught up if you jump in the middle.
As Paul has been describing the purpose of the law (even though it couldn’t save us) in God’s plan to save humankind in Romans 7:7-11, I think that verse 12 is a great summary.
So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
Romans 7:12 NIV
The law – the commandment – is holy. Now, if holiness is being “set apart” (often being set apart for a particular purpose), what is the law set apart for? Maybe it is set apart for God’s purpose, to bring us back to Himself by showing us just how far away from Him we had become in the first place (see Romans 3:20-21, Romans 5:13, 20).
I also believe that the law isn’t just some arbitrary set of rules. Instead, I’m pretty sure that it’s merely a reflection of God’s nature, telling us what is good (meaning what is consistent with who God is) and what is evil (which is everything else). Per Jack Cottrell (a commentator cited below), that makes the law holy. Per the Lookout (also cited below), “The law was intended to make God’s people holy. In the end, the law underlined their sinfulness.” (emphasis mine)
Lets continue on to verse 13.
Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
Romans 7:13 NIV
The law didn’t cause death in us. The law is good. It is sin (which enslaved us) that is guilty of using a good thing to destroy us.
And, when sin does this, the law has another purpose: to shine a light on what sin really is. The more that we learn about the law, the more we see just how sinful we are, and the more that we see how ugly sin is.
And, how many sins are just that: corruptions of good things that God gave us?
Regrettably, this battle against sin is not an easy one. Romans 7:14-20 contain a well-known lament of Paul. If you struggle with sinning (even when you don’t want to), this is an encouraging passage to read, to see that even the great evangelist Paul struggled with these things. Having said that, the next passage (Romans 7:21-25, to be covered in the next couple of articles), reminds us that – while sin is indeed bad – there is hope.
It may be difficult some days, especially when sin seems to get the upper hand in our fight against it, but there’s a purpose for us to remain here on earth as long as God gives us days here. So, as the hymn says, “Onward Christian Soldiers”, but not just against external foes. We continue to fight against the remnants of ourselves that may still be under control of the enemy, but the battle for what matters has already been won.!
So, keep fighting the battle. Try to win more than you lose (with help from the Holy Spirit, as commentaries below suggest we can read about in Romans 8), and remember that the part of you that will live forever is prepared for eternity, even as we battle the part of us (which won’t last forever) that still wants to sin.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for March 13, 2022
- The Lookout, March 13, 2022, © 2022 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Romans, Volume 1, by Jack Cottrell. College Press Publishing Company, © 1996.