“And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.” —Romans 7:10
If the Law of Moses could teach anything, the apostle Paul, being perhaps one of the most brilliant scholars of the Law in his day, may have found salvation through the law. But no, it took the revelation of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus to reveal life to him and create life in him, because he found life in Him; that is, in Jesus Christ. The law, though it offered life through its strict adherence, was unable to give life because no sinful descendent of Adam could obey.
What did the apostle mean when he said that the commandment was ordained to life? I believe he was referring to the Old Testament and the law in particular:
“Ye shall therefore keep My statutes, and My judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.” —Leviticus 18:5
Yet, because it only exposed sin in his life, he was condemned by the law (“I found to be unto death”); that is, it dashed all hope of eternal life by the works of the law. It is likewise for every child of God in Christ who has been saved by grace through faith.
“For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me” (Romans 7:11).
Remember, speaking with regard to the life of a sinner prior to salvation by grace, he says that sin took occasion (Romans 7:8), or took the opportunity, because of the commandment that was given in the law. How so? Because of his fallen condition as Adam’s descendent, his flesh deceived him into thinking that he could possibly keep the commandment of God; which produced even greater depths of sin: pride and idolatry, for example. Therefore, Paul says, “I was justly condemned” (‘by it slew me’).
“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12).
The reason I know that the law and its commandments in particular are holy, just, and good, to paraphrase the apostle, is because the law is justified in condemning me for the sin I commit through it (Romans 7:11).
“Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:13).
Here again, the apostle answers another objection before it could be raised. Someone might say, “Okay Paul, you say the law is good, but how could anything that brings death be good?” Paul answers by saying, that the law is so good and holy because it exposes sin exceedingly; yet, if it has done this, it has done its job gloriously because we understand that the role of the law, in its holiness and goodness, was to expose sin; and, as we read in Galatians 3:21-25 in the previous article, the law, in that way, led us to Christ!
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Read the previous article in this series, “The Role of the Law as Schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:21-25).