Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Romans 7:12 - The Law

Romans 7:12
So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

Still on the theme of the law from Romans 7, but here Paul defends the law. Previously, he has explained why the law cannot save - it only condemns. Here he explains that sin is not the law's fault, but it is our fault - we are born sinful, totally depraved and cannot help ourselves. The law is not at fault for causing us to sin more - we are at fault for sinning more.

First, a slight Clarification: The law and the commandment (I think) are the same thing. Probably repeated for emphasis on the point. It's possible that the commandment refers back to the single example of coveting used by Paul in v7-8, but that doesn't seem to fit. If people have a different opinion then feel free to comment, as I'm no expert.

The law is God's word, his standard. It is based on his character. The law is holy, righteous and good because God is holy, righteous and good - he defines those terms. To be holy means to be set apart by God. It involves being pure, and being different from the rest. Holiness is opposed to sinfulness which is hated by God. Righteousness is being right with God, being perfect in his eyes and not his enemies. Goodness is again defined by who God is - he is good. He is righteous, just, perfect, holy, pure, compassionate, loving, merciful, kind. He is good. He hates evil and will condemn it.

Where does that leave us? We are sinful, we are evil. We are not holy, since we break the law. We are not righteous, because righteousness is being right with God, and we are his enemies, deserving of his wrath. We are not good, we disobey the law. As we are, therefore, we are condemned by the law, and if nothing had changed, we would not be able to escape that condemnation - it is perfectly right and just for God to condemn us for our disobedience.

Thats the point of the gospel. We are sinful, but Jesus is perfect. He is God, he is therefore holy, righteous and good. He did not break the law, but obeyed completely. Therefore he alone did not deserve to die, but chose to do so, coming to earth as a man and taking the sin of his people and God's wrath in our place. Why? So that God can display his compassion, mercy and grace to us, so that God can be glorified not only in destroying sin, but in showing love and grace. What a wonderful saviour! What a glorious God! I know I often bring it back to Jesus, but what better thing is there to tie it back to then our utter hopelessness and God's abounding grace? Sure, there are other lessons to learn, but it all starts with turning to Christ.

1 Timothy 1:15-16
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."

At salvation, we swap our sinfulness with jesus' righteousness. We become holy, righteous and good in God's eyes, forgiven by him and shown mercy. If someone has genuinely turned to Christ in repentance and faith, they are completely saved. We are united with him - we died to sin with him (Romans 6), and we have risen with him to have new life. Therefore, if we are viewed as these things in God's sight, conformed to Christ in principle, we should be aiming to live like it. If you are a christian, are you fighting sin? Are you fleeing from disobedience? We don't obey the law so that we will be saved - the law cannot save. But we obey it to honour our God and from of faith and love for him. Genuine salvation always results in a change of life.

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