Thursday, November 14, 2013

Romans 7:7-13 - The Function of the Torah

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In the last post on Romans, Paul used an analogy about marriage to describe the position that the believer has regarding the Torah's condemnation, the old fleshly nature, and the new nature. In essence, the believer's fleshly nature is dead, there is no longer any condemnation or guilt because of Torah disobedience, and he or she is legally free to "marry" and serve Yeshua.

Romans 7:7-13 (KJV)
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 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.

After Paul's analogy, he expected his readers to ask the question in verse 7, "Is the Torah sin?" Again, he answered firmly, "God forbid!" In fact he had known sin only because of the Torah. For example, he had not known lust except that the Torah had commanded, "Thou shalt not covet." Paul was saying that the Torah could not be sin because it is through Torah that sin is revealed. In fact, while examining himself regarding the command not to covet, he found in his heart a deeper problem, lust. So not only did the Torah reveal sin, but it revealed the intents of the heart. How could Torah be sin when it served such a good function?

In verse 8 Paul stated that sin, once revealed as sin, wrought in him all manner of strong desire or lust. Notice that Paul is not saying that the commandment or Torah wrought these desires, but the sin itself. The Torah acts as a mirror. When sin is revealed, there is shame, guilt, and estrangement from God. Seeing, through Torah, that there is even more behavior and inclinations contrary to God within, it is as if the sin is multiplied. Paul added that without Torah, sin was dead. This goes back to his prior argument about there being no accountability or guilt for sin, until it is known and transgressed.

Verse 9 continued Paul's thought. Paul himself had been alive (free from the condemnation of Torah) before he knew Torah, but once he knew the Torah he came under its condemnation and in a sense he died (dead in trespasses and sin).

Although the commandment (regarding coveting) was meant for life (shows how life should be lived), was found by Paul to be unto death (the penalty for sin) (verse 10).

For sin, being revealed by the Torah, deceived Paul and it (the sin) rendered him guilty and deserving of death (verse 11). Paul was admitting that sin comes with the expectation of good or pleasure. However, once sin is committed, sin only brings its wages (death).

Therefore the Torah is holy and the commandment against coveting is holy, just, and good (verse 12).

Paul then asked in verse 13, was the good Torah the source of death? He answered again, "God forbid." He clarified by saying that although the Torah revealed his sin and he became guilty of death, that was the function of the Torah, to reveal, by the commandments, how exceedingly sinful sin was. The Torah does what it was designed to do!

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