The Letter to the Romans



23. Sin's Relationship to the Law


Romans 7:7-13


7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, "Do not covet."

8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead.

9 Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.

10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.

11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.

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

13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.


Key Words and Phrases

The commandment deceived me

Alive apart from the law

The commandment is holy, righteous, and good

Through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful


In chapter 7 Paul has been explaining that not only have we died to sin (as explained in chapter 6), but when we are in Christ, we have also died to the law. In this passage of the chapter he examines the purpose of the law and its effect on people.

1. Because of the statements in verses 4-6 that through Christ we died to the law which aroused sinful passions, Paul now addresses the question, "Is the law sin?" He concludes that it is not sin, because without it he wouldn't have known what sin was. Why might a person who lived before the law was given not understand what sin was? (see Romans 4:15; 1:18-20, 28; 2:12; 3:10-20; Galatians 3:19)


2. What does Paul mean when he says, "Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died"? (see Philippians 3:4-16; Luke 18:20-21; Romans 2:17-24; 3:19-20)


3. How does the law produce sin, as Paul asserts in verse 8?


4. To what experience do you think Paul is referring when he speaks of the time when the commandment came and he died?


5. If the law stimulated sin in mankind, how does one explain Paul saying in verse 10 that it was intended to bring life? (see Leviticus 18:5; Luke 10:26-28; Romans 10:5; Hebrews 5:7-10)


6. How do the commandments, as verses 8 and 11 suggest, contribute to sin's deception? (see Genesis 3:1-13; 2 Corinthians 11:3)


7. How did sin produce death in mankind through the law? (see Romans 6:23; Galatians 3:10-12; 21-24; 5:4)



8. With what sin(s) [or even perceived sins] have you struggled not because you intuitively thought they were wrong but because a law or rule informed you they were wrong and thus produced guilt?


9. What events in your life have been the results of your being deceived by sin?


10. What convicted you that you were hopelessly sinful and doomed to death without divine intervention?


11. What in your life is God convicting you to acknowledge as sin and to surrender to his power?


12. Ask God to convict you of the sin you need to surrender to the resurrection power of Jesus. Ask him to fill you with his Spirit and to give you the willingness to know the truth he wants you to know about yourself. Surrender your habits to him, and ask him to heal your heart and to give you the desire to be whole in Jesus.

Copyright (c) 2004 Graphics Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted April 17, 2004.
Send comments and questions to