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Sermon #3119

The Purpose of the Law

A Sermon on Romans 7:7


Romans 7:7 ESV KJV
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)

Sermon Description

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 “By no means!” Those who argue that have completely missed what Paul was teaching; in fact, he was teaching the exact opposite. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points out in the sermon on Romans 7:7 titled “The Purpose of the Law” that Paul’s response is a self-reflection 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 the 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 person’s heart and their attitude toward sin. Therefore, the law is not sin but it merely shows sin and Paul thanks God for the law.

Sermon Breakdown

  1. The context and setting of Romans 7 is crucial to understanding this chapter. Chapter 7 is a parenthesis explaining chapters 5 and 6.
  2. Chapter 7 explains why it's important we are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:14). The law cannot sanctify any more than it can justify.
  3. Section 1 (Rom 7:1-6): We are no longer under law but under Christ. This is so we can serve in the newness of the Spirit.
  4. Section 2 (Rom 7:7-12): The law is vindicated and shown to not be responsible for our failure. The law shows the nature of sin.
  5. Section 3 (Rom 7:14-25): Shows in experience how the law cannot deliver us but aggravates our problem. Yet there is hope in Christ.
  6. The objection in Rom 7:7 is that Paul's teaching makes the law out to be sinful. Paul says "God forbid!" This is a misunderstanding.
  7. The law shows the nature of sin (Rom 7:7). Paul didn't know sin except through the law. The law reveals the character of sin.
  8. The law shows the power of sin (Rom 7:7). Paul didn't know lust except the law said "Do not covet." The law reveals the power of sin in our lives.
  9. The law is not sin but reveals it. The law showed Paul the meaning and power of sin, especially lust. The law is glorious.
  10. To lust is to sin. Merely avoiding the act is not enough. Sin is a matter of the heart and mind, not just outward actions.

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.