Summary: The law can’t save us; only faith in Jesus.
LAW GOOD; SIN BAD
Text: Romans 7:7-13
1. Illustration: A hotel in Galveston, Texas, that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, faced a potential problem. The edge of the hotel hangs over the water. Before the hotel opened, someone thought, "What if someone decides to fish out of the windows?" This person then erected signs saying not to fish from the hotel windows. Guess at the result? People fished out of the windows. Rather than preventing a problem, the signs had the opposite effect and simply exposed humankind's rebellious nature.
2. When it comes to the law, we are like those people at the hotel, if you tell us not to do something that’s exactly what we are going to do.
3. The sign at the hotel was good; people’s rebellious nature was bad.
4. So, that’s Paul message in this passage today. The law is good; sin is bad. He says…
a. The Law Introduces Sin
b. Sin Deceives Us
c. The Law Is Holy
5. Please stand with me, out of respect for the Word of God, as we read Rom. 7:7-13.
Proposition: The law can’t save us; only faith in Jesus.
Transition: First, Paul talks about how…
I. The Law Introduces Sin (7-8).
A. The Law Showed Me My Sin
1. How many here are old enough to remember Richard Nixon? If you do, you probably remember the saying is most famous for, "Let me be perfectly clear!"
a. That is what Paul wants to do in this section of his letter. He wants to be perfectly clear when it comes to his teaching on the Law and its relation to sin.
b. Some of the people in his day when under the misunderstanding that he believed that the Law was bad.
2. So, he begins here with one of his rhetorical questions, "Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”
a. He responds to this accusation in two related ways, showing that the Law is not sin, but it is still related to sin.
b. First, he says it was the law that showed what sin is.
c. The word "showed" refers to Paul's experience with sin. He not only came to the realization of what sin is, but actually participated in it because of the law.
d. Second, Paul turns to refers to a single example of sin based on one of the Ten Commandments.
e. When the law told him, "You shall not covet," Paul not only became aware of his sin but he was actually more attracted to it.
f. Some people think this refers to sexual lust, but it more appropriately refers to types of sinful desires.
g. In fact, coveting was actually considered the core of the Ten Commandments.
3. Then Paul goes on to say, "But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power."
a. First, sin establishes a stronghold. The phrase "used the command," is actually better translated "seized the opportunity," which is a military term for establishing a base of command in enemy territory.
b. Sin is an active force which takes the first step and goes to war against us by using the law as a weapon against us.
c. Coveting grabbed the opportunity used the law against us a made its camp in our own back yard.
d. As a result, it produced in Paul every kind of covetous desire.
e. It's clear that sin is the culprit here and the law was simply the tool it used to do its dirty work.
f. Two famous people gave good illustrations of this problem. Augustine in his book "The Confessions," told of when he was a boy and he and his friends would steal pears not because they liked them but simply for the joy of breaking the law.
g. Mark Twain also said, "like a mule, a person will do the opposite of what they are told, just for the sake of meanness."
h. Now certainly there was sin before the law, but it was the law that gave sin its power.
i. Without sin people don't know that sin is a transgression of God's laws.
B. The Law Gives Sin It’s Power
1. Illustration: Augustine on Depravity and Grace; “Without you what am I to myself but a guide to my own self destruction?” “... the self which willed to serve (God) was identical with the self which was unwilling. It was I. I was neither wholly willing nor wholly unwilling. So I was in conflict with myself and was disassociated from myself...how does anyone suffer an unhappy life by his will since absolutely no one wills to live unhappily?” Grace, writes James Smith, is the answer to that question. Grace is the answer to the call for help. Grace isn't just forgiveness, a covering, an acquittal; it is an infusion, a transplant, a resurrection, a revolution of the will and wants. It's the hand of a higher power that made you and loves you reaching into your soul with the gift of a new will. ("On the Road with Saint Augustine" by James K.A. Smith).