Is the law done away? (part 5)

     For those who attach great importance to God’s law and the 10 commandments it must be confusing when Paul writes “you are not under the law (Romans 6:14),” “you died to the law (Romans 7:4),” “we have been released from the law (Romans 7:6),” and “the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives (Romans 7:1),” which means – because we died with Christ – that God’s law doesn’t have authority over us anymore. 

     So why all these negative statements about the law? Because the law has no power whatsoever in dealing with our nature. In fact, Paul explains, the law only makes sin worse, because instead of controlling our human nature, it only arouses it (Romans 7:5) – just like a child finds something he shouldn’t touch far more tempting and interesting after he’s been told not to touch it! But that’s our nature; being told not to do something has a nasty habit of exciting one’s curiosity and a greater desire do it! God’s law does that too – it excites and “arouses sinful passions.” 

     The law, therefore, is useless when it comes to subduing the passions that bubble and boil inside us. Does that mean God’s law has no use at all then, if it can’t make us behave better? Paul even asked “Is the law sin?” because it only seems to make things worse. And his answer? No – because, verse 7 – “I would not have known what sin was except through the law.” 

     So, why do we need to know what sin is? Because these sinful passions “at work in our bodies” all “bore fruit for death (verse 5).” We live in remarkable bodies, fuelled and fired by amazing passions bubbling with creative energy, but they’re killing us. Watch a teenager. All that wasted energy doing useless things, but he’ll keep on doing them ’til he drops from exhaustion! It’s like an automatic self-destruct module in his head. Even though we know what we’re doing to ourselves, we can’t stop doing them. 

     But that’s when the law becomes useful, because it exposes what our nature is doing to us. Because of the law, Paul writes, “sin sprang to life (Romans 7:9).” The law gave sin life. It gave sin a body and an outline that could be seen. We couldn’t see sin before because it was hiding out of sight, quietly destroying us, without giving us any clue that we had this monster inside us. But the law dragged sin out of the closet, and there it appeared before us in all its squealing ugliness, like some awful alien in a horror movie…    

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