The Ministries of the Law
Romans 7:7-13 (Pastor Heo)
The Law and Sin
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. 10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. 12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 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.
Sin is utterly sinful.
Last time in the first part of this chapter (v. 1-6) we saw our new relationship to the Law due to our union with Jesus in his death / resurrection. If we are united with him in these things, surely our relationship with the Law is that we are dead to the Law, and under Christ (under Grace).
Somebody might argue saying, “What good is the Law if we do not need it any longer?”
A: (v. 7-13) – this is the ministries of the Law (why we need the Law)
The ministries (businesses/jobs) of the Law = 4.
These ministries function even today.
#1. Law reveals sin
The Law defines sin as sin – it exposes it as what it is.
(v. 7) “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.””
Romans 3:20 “Through the Law we become conscious of sin – the knowledge of sin.” Without Law, there is lawlessness. This reveals to us the inner man and shows us how dirty/sinful we are.
Paul doesn’t use “obvious sins” (killing, adultery, stealing) is sin. This is not difficult to understand. But rather, he uses “coveting” (I want what you’ve got). This is not an outward action, but an inward attitude – and almost every human has covetousness in their heart (this is the last of the 10 Commandments in Exodus).
Covetousness = leads to the breaking of the other 9 Commandments – it is an insidious sin that most people do not recognize in their own lives, but God reveals it.
Mark 10 – the Young Rich Ruler –
This is an example of revealing sin to show his need for a Savior.
“One day, a young man came to Jesus and knelt down and said, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’
Jesus, ‘No one is good except God alone. You know the Commandments.’
Man, ‘I have done all this since I was a boy.’
Jesus loved him and said, ‘One thing you lack. Go and sell all you have and give it to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Come again, and follow me.’
At this, the young man’s face fell, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
No question, outwardly, this man was moral. It may be certain that he’d never broken the Commandments as he said. But when Jesus said, ‘Go and sell your possessions, and give to the poor.’ the Commandment to not covet revealed just how sinful he was. He did not realize that coveting was sin. But the Law revealed to him how covetous he was.
Jesus didn’t tell him the Law to save him, but to reveal to him his inward sinfulness.
This world says, Develop yourself, your greed, your wealth. But the Bible says, Covetousness is sin. Also “Put to death whatever is in your nature: greed, selfish desires, covetousness.”
Coveting, greed is idolatry.
- “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs….
- Be content with what you have…
- Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…
- Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Christ Jesus, then you will be able to know and approve his good, pleasing, perfect will.”
Our standard (as a Christian) is NOT the world.
Our standard is what God says in his Word.
First ministry: it reveals sin.
#2. Law arouses Man’s sinful nature to sin
What does this mean?
Is the Law itself good or bad? (Good)
(v. 12) “12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.”
Because the Law is from God, who is all of the above.
How does the Law provoke us to sin?
There is no problem in the Law itself. The problem is human nature. Sin has evil power.
Sin uses our sinful nature to rebel against the Law. (We know the story of the Fall of Man in Genesis 3 – the serpent used the Word of God to make Man fall – “Did God really say, ‘Don’t eat from these trees?’ No, no, no, eat, and you will become like God.” Eve thought it looked good – and from Adam all Men have received this same inclination – to do that which is prohibited.)
There’s a saying, “Stolen apples are sweeter.”
Forbidden things look more appealing.
- Mom says, “Children, do not open this box. NEVER open this box! NEVER EVER EVER!”
- So, what do children want to do? Open it quickly, just once, then close it forever.
Phil “The strength/power of the Law is sin.”
Genesis 1-3, at first, Adam lived in perfect surroundings – a commandment was given to him to NOT eat ONE fruit. It was given for his benefit. But the serpent turned this into his temptation. The mere fact that it was forbidden made it tempting.
- Serpent = a symbol of pleasure.
- Eve = senses (emotion).
- Adam = reason (logic).
Which is stronger? Sense or reason?
Follow your heart, or follow your mind?
Pleasure attacked through emotion – through the senses, then reason was led astray and sinned. Even a man with reasoning may say, “Look, other people are doing the same thing! If I do this small thing only once, it will make no difference.” In this way, emotion can lead Mankind away from his reasoning.
Strong passions, desires, feelings, reasoning, knowledge, understanding, etc – must all be put under control of the Holy Spirit.
#3. Law kills
If you are outside Christ, the Law kills you. Thus, we must be INSIDE Christ. “There is no more condemnation (of Law) for those who are in Christ.”
(v. 10-11) “10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. 11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.”
Gal 3:24 says the final ultimate job of the Law is: “The Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ…”
Let’s read and memorize this verse. It’s a key verse to understanding this.
Gal 3:24 “24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”
The Law is our tutor – in leading us to Christ.
Romans says, “Christ is the END of the Law.” This has many meanings, but one meaning is: The Law is the sign board pointing to Jesus (an arrow). If you go to Seoul, follow the sign boards. If you go in the opposite direction, you go to Busan. The Law is the final sign board pointing to Jesus Christ – to have life. Because only IN Jesus Christ, there is eternal, abundant, heavenly life.
John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my voice and believes in me shall not be condemned. The thief Satan comes to kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
“I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.” (I am the WAY to LIFE, and that is TRUTH.) This is the reason why the book of God is written. “These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have eternal life.”
John 5 “Whoever has the Son of God has life, whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
We are studying the Law, but is it not the same as the gospel?
There is a book called Gospel/Law.
- OT = Book of Law.
- NT = Book of Gospel.
Outwardly, this looks true, but inwardly, they are the SAME.
- Gospel is “If you believe in and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, you will have eternal life.”
- Law says, “If you reject Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, you will die.”
This is the same. Like two sides of one coin.
- Gospel: “Believe in Christ as your Savior, and live forever.”
- Law: “Reject Christ as your Savior, and die forever.”
#4. Law shows sinfulness of sin
Do you hate sin? (or sinners?)
We heard many times, “God hates sin, but loves sinners.”
(v. 12-13) “12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good. 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.”
Sin might become utterly (exceedingly) sinful.
The Law shows the sinfulness of sin.
Even unsaved, unbelievers know there is such a thing as sin – murder, stealing, lying, adultery, all sins. But, they do not realize the sinfulness (seriousness, true nature)of sin. Even today, some Christians may excuse their sin with words like “My mistake, human nature, instinct, bad habits…”
God condemns our sins. Yes, there is no penalty for condemnation for those who are IN Christ, but he still condemns our sins and tries to get us to see that they are utterly sinful. Until we realize how wicked sin really is, we will never want to oppose it and live in victory and holiness.
Ps. 19:12 “Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”
The root of ALL problems: SIN
Do you have any kind of problems? The ROOT: SIN.
Then we have hope, and we can rejoice that the answer is JESUS – the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
- ROOT: SIN
- SOLUTION: JESUS
- 1 John 2:2 “Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.”
- 1 John 3:5 “Jesus appeared in this world that he might take away our sins – because in him there is no sin.”
In Him: no sin.