The Purpose of the Law
A Sermon on Romans 7:7
The Law and Sin
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (ESV)
Is the law sin? After repeated chapters concerning the Christian’s death to the law, some listeners may have asked Paul if the law was in fact sinful. Paul’s reply is “God forbid!” Those that have that argument completely missed what Paul was teaching, because in fact, he was teaching the exact opposite. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out in Romans 7:7 that Paul’s response is a self-reflection in order to help others understand. Paul says that he had not known sin apart from the law. He was not aware of the real nature of sin until the law made it clear to him. It is the law itself that enables anyone to understand the true nature and character of sin. As an illustration, Paul says that he did not understand that his lust was a sin until the law told him so! The law, showing our desperate need for a Savior, magnifies the gravity and weight of our sin. The law is merely concerned with the meaning and character of a man’s heart and his attitude toward sin. Therefore, the law is not sin, it merely shows us our sin, and Paul thanks God for the law.