What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust…
I. WITHOUT THE LAW — in its application to the conscience, or in the knowledge of its spirituality and extent. It is easy to have the law and yet to be without it, which is the case of most. An unawakened man has the law in his hand; he reads it: an awakened man has it in his conscience; he feels it: a regenerate man has it in his heart; he loves it.
II. SIN WAS DEAD —
1. As to any consciousness of its existence.
2. Comparatively as to its activity.
3. As to any knowledge of its true character as opposed to God's law.The strong man armed keeps his house and goods in peace. The heart's opposition to the law only bound by its presence. Sin dead, and put to death, two different things; it is dead in the unawakened, but put to death in the believer. Sin never has more power over a man than when dead in him, is never less dead than when it appears or is felt to be so. It has to be aroused into life before it is actually put to death. Dead in the soul, it shows that the soul is dead in sin. Sin was alive in the Publican, but dead in the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14). It must be roused to life and slain here, or live forever hereafter.
(T. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: 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."