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. 9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.
Verse 9 can be kind of confusing when you first read it. Here are the three key points in this verse: I was alive; the commandment came; I died.
So, what is Paul saying? It’s as though Paul is looking back over his life from the vantage point of his present understanding. In Paul’s previous life, before he realized the law condemned him to death, he perceived in his mind that he was “alive.” Before being convicted by the law his sinful nature was comparatively dormant and he was blissfully unaware of the deep pit of iniquity in his heart. I think of it as Paul looking back over his life and saying, “Fellas, I was clueless—I was as lost as a goose in a snow storm! But I thought I was living the high life. I thought I was as alive as I could be. It wasn’t until God got ahold of me that I really saw the true state of my being.”
Paul’s realization of the true state of his being occurred when the “commandment came.” That’s when Paul realized that he alone assumed full responsibility for the law; it wasn’t something abstract or hypothetical. No, the law was real, and it was at this time Paul became aware of the full force of the law. This is when the law came with its crushing conviction.
This realization inflamed his sinful nature. As long as Paul was ignorant of his sin, the enemy didn’t need to put much effort into keeping him. But now that God began to get ahold of him, sin was awakened. The more Paul would try to obey the Law, the worse he failed. Paul fully realized the dire circumstances of his dilemma. One commentator said it like this: He died as far as any hope of achieving salvation by his own character or efforts was concerned. He died to any thought of his own inherent goodness. He died to any dream of being justified by law-keeping.
The basic point is this: God’s intent in the law was life, but sin deceived man by the law and brought death. Sin is dormant; not until it has help (the law) does it become an active power of mischief.
As believers, I’m sure we’ve all experienced what Paul is talking about. It reminds me of my wife, Patty, and her struggles when she first started walking with Jesus. She had the belief that as a believer you were either “in” or “out.” How well you walked with Jesus determined whether you were “in.” The problem with this kind of thinking is that any time we look to the law to do only what Jesus can do for us we will always fall short. And that is exactly what happened to her. Her thinking led her to want to give up. She felt exasperated. I remember her saying, “Why try?! I’m just going to continue to mess up. Jim, I can’t do this!” It was then that Patty died to any hope of achieving salvation by her own character or efforts. She died to any thought of her own inherent goodness. She died to any dream of being justified by law-keeping.
*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.