13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

The above passage is Romans 7:13. Throughout the course of this mini-series on Romans we have seen a few things. First, all mankind is under the condemnation of the Law. God requires absolute moral perfection and mankind falls far short of this. Second, the only way we can be justified is through faith alone. Our works will never be good enough to justify us. Only the works of Jesus Christ can justify us. His perfect life and sacrificial death takes away our guilt and gives us righteousness. 

In Romans 7, Paul is talking about the relationship between the justified Christian and God's Law. His basic point is that the Law cannot empower us to obey the Law. The Law is good and we must obey the Law. But the Law will not give us the power to obey. Rather, the Gospel gives us the power to obey the Law. We will see this over the course of the next few weeks. 

I like to take walks around the neighborhood in the morning. As I walk through and admire the nice houses, I notice that many front yards have signs. Some of them read “No dogs on grass.” Or “Clean up after your dog.” You see not only do I enjoy walking through the neighborhood, but so do dog owners. Sometimes, their dogs need to find some grass. On a number of occasions, I have witnessed a dog doing what he had to do, right in front of one of those signs. The commandment on the sign, did nothing to stop the behavior. In fact it may have provoked it.    

Paul is saying something similar in verse 13. He is talking about God’s law and he is saying that it is good. The problem is that he is sinful and when the law (which is good) meets up with a sinful nature (which is bad), the result is more sin!

We see this in the previous section in Romans 7:7-8. Paul says,

“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.”

Paul says again in our Romans 7:13, “in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.”

What he is saying is that God’s good law does not empower obedience, but actually inflames sin. Just like those signs that say “keep dog off grass,” so also God’s law makes a sinful nature worse. There is something about fallen man that makes him rebel against God’s law, even as a Christian.
It is important to realize that Paul is writing these verses as a committed Christian. He is sharing with us his own experience in living the Christian life. This is very instructive for us because Paul was probably one of the most sanctified men to walk the face of the earth. And yet he tells us that the law inflames his sinful nature. But he is emphatic. The problem is not the Law, it is us. It is the remnants of the sinful nature in us as Christians. That is the problem. Paul will elaborate on this next week.