Let’s read that interesting verse: “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’” (NKJV).

In order to understand and appreciate Paul’s words in this verse, we must see what he said earlier in verses 4-6. They read, “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become DEAD TO THE LAW through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions WHICH WERE AROUSED BY THE LAW were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. But now WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” In these verses Paul is showing us that believers are “dead to the law” through the death of Christ and now we can now bear fruit for God. He reminds us that before we were saved the law stirred up our sinful lusts and instead of bringing forth “fruit to God” it produced “fruit to death.”

Paul knew that some would conclude that the law must be bad because of this, so he asks the question they would eventually ask, “Is the law sin?” In other words, “Is the law itself sinful in that it stirs up sinful lusts that lead to us committing more sins?” Paul’s answer is an emphatic, “Certainly not!” And then he goes on to show that the law had a definite purpose…to reveal our sin to us! He had already stated this truth in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for BY THE LAW IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.” So, even though the law stirred up “sinful passions” in us, it also served the holy purpose of revealing to us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. In Paul’s case the commandment “You shall not covet” was used of God to convict him that he was not the man he thought he was. Before his conversion he had this to say of himself, “Concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:6). He truly thought he was blameless, meaning he thought he was keeping the law perfectly and that he was righteous before God. Yet when the law came to him in power saying, “You shall not covet,” he realized that he was indeed guilty of desiring things that didn’t belong to him. So, even though his “outward life” might have appeared “blameless,” he came to learn, by the law, that his “inward life” was corrupt and sinful.

Before we close, I hope we get the important message that is seen in verses 4-6. After one is saved they want to please God and it’s quite common to think, “I know I couldn’t be saved by keeping the law, but now that I’m saved I can keep the law and bear fruit to God.” This chapter teaches us that the law will also stir up “the sinful passions” in the believer too. We still have the old sinful nature in us called “the flesh” and if we try to “make it better” by trying to keep the law we will find ourselves failing time and time again. This is brought out forcefully in verses 13-25. But God has done something for us that will enable us not to sin and to produce fruit for Him; He has identified us with Christ in His death and resurrection. Romans 6:6 teaches us that “our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” If we lay hold of this truth by faith, we won’t be held in bondage to law which results in sin; we will be occupied with our blessed Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit will give us victory over sin and we WILL “bear fruit to God.” (248.9) (DO)