New International Version
What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "You shall not covet."
King James Bible
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
Darby Bible Translation
What shall we say then? [is] the law sin? Far be the thought. But I had not known sin, unless by law: for I had not had conscience also of lust unless the law had said, Thou shalt not lust;
World English Bible
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, I wouldn't have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn't have known coveting, unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."
Young's Literal Translation
What, then, shall we say? the law is sin? let it not be! but the sin I did not know except through law, for also the covetousness I had not known if the law had not said:
Romans 7:7 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Is the law sin? - The apostle had said, Romans 7:6 : The motions of sins, which were by the law, did bring forth fruit unto death; and now he anticipates an objection, "Is therefore the law sin?" To which he answers, as usual, μη γενοιτο, by no means. Law is only the means of disclosing; this sinful propensity, not of producing it; as a bright beam of the sun introduced into a room shows; millions of motes which appear to be dancing in it in all directions; but these were not introduced by the light: they were there before, only there was not light enough to make them manifest; so the evil propensity was there before, but there was not light sufficient to discover it.
I had not known sin, but by the law - Mr. Locke and Dr. Taylor have properly remarked the skill used by St. Paul in dexterously avoiding, as much as possible, the giving offense to the Jews: and this is particularly evident in his use of the word I in this place. In the beginning of the chapter, where he mentions their knowledge of the law, he says Ye; in the 4th verse he joins himself with them, and says we; but here, and so to the end of the chapter, where he represents the power of sin and the inability of the law to subdue it, he appears to leave them out, and speaks altogether in the first person, though it is plain he means all those who are under the law. So, Romans 3:7, he uses the singular pronoun, why am I judged a sinner? when he evidently means the whole body of unbelieving Jews.
There is another circumstance in which his address is peculiarly evident; his demonstrating the insufficiency of the law under color of vindicating it. He knew that the Jew would take fire at the least reflection on the law, which he held in the highest veneration; and therefore he very naturally introduces him catching at that expression, Romans 7:5, the motions of sins, which were by the law, or, notwithstanding the law. "What!" says this Jew, "do you vilify the law, by charging it with favoring sin?" By no means, says the apostle; I am very far from charging the law with favoring sin. The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, just, and good, Romans 7:12. Thus he writes in vindication of the law; and yet at the same time shows:
1. That the law requires the most extensive obedience, discovering and condemning sin in all its most secret and remote branches, Romans 7:7.
2. That it gives sin a deadly force, subjecting every transgression to the penalty of death, Romans 7:8-14. And yet,
3. supplies neither help nor hope to the sinner, but leaves him under the power of sin, and the sentence of death, Romans 7:14, etc. This, says Dr. Taylor, is the most ingenious turn of writing I ever met with. We have another instance of the same sort, Romans 13:1-7.
It is not likely that a dark, corrupt human heart can discern the will of God. His law is his will. It recommends what is just, and right, and good and forbids what is improper, unjust, and injurious. If God had not revealed himself by this law, we should have done precisely what many nations of the earth have done, who have not had this revelation - put darkness for light, and sin for acts of holiness. While the human heart is its own measure it will rate its workings according to its own propensities; for itself is its highest rule. But when God gives a true insight of his own perfections, to be applied as a rule both of passion and practice, then sin is discovered, and discovered too, to be exceedingly sinful. So strong propensities, because they appear to be inherent in our nature, would have passed for natural and necessary operations; and their sinfulness would not have been discovered, if the law had not said, Thou shalt not covet; and thus determined that the propensity itself, as well as its outward operations, is sinful. The law is the straight edge which determines the quantum of obliquity in the crooked line to which it is applied.
It is natural for man to do what is unlawful, and to desire especially to do that which is forbidden. The heathens have remarked this propensity in man.
Thus Livy, xxxiv. 4: -
Luxuria - ipsis vinculis, sicut fera bestia, irtitata.
"Luxury, like a wild beast, is irritated by its very bonds."
Audax omnia perpeti
Gens humana ruit per vetitun; nefas.
"The presumptuous human race obstinately rush into prohibited acts of wickedness."
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
is the law.
lust. or, concupiscence.
Westminster Abbey, First Sunday in Advent, 1873. Romans vii. 22-25. "I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." This is the first Sunday in Advent. To-day we have prayed that God would give us grace to put away the works …
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons
Sin is Spiritual Slavery
Carey's Last Days
His Freedom from Sin.
"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When the people heard this, they said, "God forbid!"
But if our unrighteousness brings out God's righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.)
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God's sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
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