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Sermon #3121

Sin Revealed By the Law

A Sermon on Romans 7:9


Romans 7:9 ESV KJV
I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. (ESV)

Sermon Description

Was there ever a time that Paul was without the law? In the sermon on Romans 7:9 titled “Sin Revealed by the Law,” Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones explains that Paul is referring to the time in Paul’s life when he was not aware of the law. Before a person knows the law, they are unconscious about their sin. Without the resistance of the law, they would have never understood the power of sin. Paul says “sin sprang to life” and now he has a full understanding of his sinfulness and sin is all the more evident. Previously, a person without the law believes they are alive and free, but with the law they lack old self-assurance and self-reliance. Now with the law, a Christian feels death as they mourn their sin. Dr. Lloyd-Jones explains that once again Paul has confirmed that the law can never sanctify or deliver. With the law, there is a complete view of morals and ethics and since God gave the law, Christians now know sin and are without excuse. Those who say that they have no sin are clearly deceiving themselves. Dr. Lloyd-Jones warns that there is no more hopeless statement than for someone to say that they are not a sinner.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The apostle is continuing his argument from the previous verses about the law.
  2. He is explaining and analyzing the facts he has stated.
  3. His statement is a personal one about what was once true for him.
  4. His terminology needs to be carefully analyzed to understand his meaning.
  5. Without understanding the context, we could draw the wrong conclusions.
  6. The apostle is showing the difference the coming of the law made to him.
  7. Before the law came, sin was dead to him and he was alive.
  8. After the law came, sin revived and he died.
  9. "Without the law" means apart from the law or in the absence of the law.
  10. There has never been a time without law, so this is a relative statement.
  11. As far as his experience, the law was not doing its work in him.
  12. He felt as if there was no law.
  13. "When the commandment came" also means in a relative sense. The law had always been there, but it had never come to him in power.
  14. Though he knew the law, he never understood the spirit of the law.
  15. The law had never found him, spoken to him, or come with force.
  16. Before the law came, sin was dead to him. This is a relative statement.
  17. Sin has always been present, but it seemed dead to him. He was unaware of its power.
  18. Sin was dormant and he was unaware of it.
  19. An illustration of a powerful but quiet engine helps understand this. The power is there but unnoticed until acceleration.
  20. He felt alive without awareness of the power of sin. He was self-satisfied and confident in himself.
  21. When the commandment came, sin revived and he died.
  22. Sin sprang to life and became active. It woke up.
  23. This seems surprising since we would expect the law to slay sin. But it reveals the nature and power of sin.
  24. The law irritated and aroused sin by prohibition. It put its foot on the accelerator.
  25. Resistance brings out power. The law provided resistance to bring out the power of sin.
  26. He realized his weakness, helplessness, and hopelessness. The self-confident man felt dead.
  27. He became poor in spirit, the opposite of alive. He mourned over his sin.
  28. He saw he could do nothing in himself. He was weak, helpless, and without strength.
  29. The law can never justify or sanctify. Only freedom from the law can lead to sanctification.
  30. The law kills by revealing our hopeless state.

The Book of Romans

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was a Welsh evangelical minister who preached and taught in the Reformed tradition. His principal ministry was at Westminster Chapel, in central London, from 1939-1968, where he delivered multi-year expositions on books of the bible such as Romans, Ephesians and the Gospel of John. In addition to the MLJ Trust’s collection of 1,600 of these sermons in audio format, most of these great sermon series are available in book form (including a 14 volume collection of the Romans sermons), as are other series such as "Spiritual Depression", "Studies in the Sermon on the Mount" and "Great Biblical Doctrines". He is considered by many evangelical leaders today to be an authority on biblical truth and the sufficiency of Scripture.