Ask God to orient or reorient you to himself. Confess any known sin. Thank him for his forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and his sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s word. Pray for others in your life that they too would know and love God today.
7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.
Sin in us is the culprit, not the law. Sin corrupts and kills our relationship with God. Sin violates standards established by God. Sin reveals our corrupt human nature. Sin is a distortion of what God created, a warping of our natural desires, so much so that we want to choose that which is wrong.
As believers there is an ongoing battle with sin. Paul alludes to the battle in our passage. How so? By his comment, “…sin seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment…” To seize something means to take ahold of it with force, to grasp, or to obtain something. To seize something carries the feeling of forcibly taking something. Some scholars like to use the word “bridgehead” instead of the word “opportunity.” A bridgehead is a strong position secured by an army inside enemy territory from which to advance or attack. This is exactly what sin does, it claim’s the “opportunity”; it sets up a “bridgehead” to corrupt the law. This is what Paul is saying it did to him, and it’s what sin does to us as well.
For example, Paul says that sin produced “every kind of coveting” in him. When the law instructed Paul not to covet, sin moved in and began to inflame Paul’s corrupt nature, so that he did the very thing he didn’t want to do. Sin moves in and takes what is good, perverts it into temptation, and, if one is not careful, makes a piece of “forbidden fruit” out of our desires. Remember that the enemy comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Our own sin is his weapon of choice.
I think it’s interesting that Paul uses coveting as an illustration. Coveting means to desire, lust, or crave. And here Paul said that sin produced “every kind of coveting.” Every kind implies lots of different ways. So what’s that look like? Here’s one way it looks: the law says not to covet another man’s wife. It’s pretty straightforward. So what might coveting look like in this case? Look first at what the law is saying: in essence, the law says, “Don’t conjure up all sorts of pleasurable encounters in your mind. Don’t give in to lustful fantasies about someone who doesn’t belong to you.” This is what the law is saying and it would be great if a person would just stop right there and not allow their mind to go any farther. But, sadly, many don’t. Why? Because of sin. Sin uses God’s good law to bring about death. Whenever a limit is set on behavior people seem to be incited to go beyond it; to be told “Don’t!” only arouses the desire to “do.” You’ve seen this before. You only have to tell a child not to touch and then, suddenly, there is this uncontrollable desire to touch! It doesn’t stop at childhood, but follows us right into adulthood.
We have this tendency to want to blame all kinds of things for the sin that lives in us. It would be easy to want to blame the law, but this would be wrong. The law is not the cause of the act of sin; it’s the nature of sin within us that does the damage to our lives.
Remember, the law only reveals our brokenness; it has no power to change our status. Remember the example of the security guard we used a few weeks ago? Who, when asked to do something about the bank robbers robbing the bank, said, “Oh, I don’t do anything. I’m just a security monitor. I only notify you when there is a problem—there’s a problem.” The law shows us how we have fallen short of the standards established by God.
Finally, look at how Paul ends verse 8, “Apart from Law, sin is dead.” This does not mean that sin has no existence without the law, but that without the law sin is less active because the law arouses “sinful passions.” Think of Proverbs 9:17, which says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
Why don’t you take a few minutes and ask God to reveal any areas in your life that are vulnerable to sin? Are there areas where the enemy is trying to build a bridgehead? If so, take some time today and confess it to Him. Know with certainty that you don’t have to quench sin’s desire; you’ve been set free to bear fruit for God. This is the objective reality of all those who belong to Christ.
*From what you have just read and considered what is a real implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer for today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through his Spirit as you go through your day. Ask him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell him “Yes” to his will today and ask him for his power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask him to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY TODAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.