7 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.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
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. – Romans 7:7-13 ESV
Paul continues this week on the discussion of the law in this section by defending the law. Whether we like it or not, the law is good. We do not generally think about how great it is to have laws, but did you ever realize we would not know we sin if we did not have the law. Our problem is not with the law itself, but with the times when we sin. Have you ever noticed you really did not have a problem with speed limits in areas, until you were pulled over? Or like me, you don’t have a problem with seat belt laws, until you get a ticket.
We can also relate to the law like a mirror. When we look into the mirror, we can see reality. When we ignore the mirror, we don’t have to see where we have a blemish or crap on our face. Without the mirror, we can let our imagination define what we look like. Many times we may have come to a point where we really did not like to look at ourselves in the mirror, but as we get older we can relate to the benefits of having a mirror.
God’s law is a mirror by which we see not only the glory and radiance of God’s perfection but also ourselves, warts, wounds and all. The law is not sin, but the law makes sin known to us. We will not come to the gospel or beg for the mercy of God until the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, and the instrument that the Spirit uses to bring us to the cross is the revelation of law.
Always remember, condemnation (beating yourself up) is from the enemy. Conviction (desire to change) is from the Holy Spirit.
“The more deeply they have come to know the character of God, the more acutely conscious they have become of the severity of their sin. One of the sweet characteristics of God’s mercy is that he does not reveal all our sin to us at once or in all its fullness. If God were to reveal to me this moment the degree of abiding sin that continues in my life, even since I have come to the cross, I could not bear it, nor could you.
The downside is that when God withholds his judgement from us and the anguish of conviction, we can begin to think that he does not care. The world has lost its fear of God. There is no sense of judgement.” 
Have you ever reflected on the concept that the shear definition of the law can sometimes cause a desire to oppose it? Meaning when we are confronted with the law sometimes, sin can take on a form of rebellion. We get an adrenaline rush from the action of sinning, sometimes even more pleasure than the sin itself. This act of rebellion many times is the fleshly desire to demonstrate independence. This is based on a foundation from the 10th commandment, Thou shall not covet. But we do anyway…
Another paraphrase that I read this week was really good and I wanted to share it with you:
We certainly cannot say that the law is *sin. But I would not have known about *sin unless the law had told me. For example, without the law I would not know that it is wrong to desire someone else’s possessions. But the law said, ‘You must not want other people’s possessions.’ Because of this *commandment, *sin caused all kinds of wrong desires in me. Nobody can fail to obey a law that does not exist. – Romans 7:8 paraphrase
Can you remember, and care to share, a time when it was the act of the sin that caused you more temptation than the sin itself?
Covetousness: what is your definition? Do you think it is an issue in our society today? Or was it just something in the old testament?
Have you ever had challenges or troubles with coveting?
Have you ever had that challenge in your life where someone has told you “no” or “don’t”. How about the challenge when there is a sign that says “Do not Touch”. I think the “Do Not Touch” signs are the worst. The rebel in me just seems to be awakened to such signs. Do you have that inner propensity to touch it? Even if it does not matter to you at all? Isn’t it a strange desire?
Many times this is the same challenge that people get with physical affairs. It is not that they really want to leave or hurt their spouses, but more of a desire to see if they can get away with the rebellion. Paul will go into more details about those desires in the next chapter, here is a great verse:
7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. – Romans 8:7 NLT
7 [That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. – Romans 8:7 AMP
I know after I get reminded of my lawlessness, either by conviction or by the law enforcement officer, I get an attitude. Rarely do I get all happy because someone tried to protect me. Some of you may recall earlier this year when I had a little incident with a paid government worker that had my best interest in mind when I went through Harris County. (You can read about it here)
Believers who try to live by rules and regulations discover that their legalistic system only arouses more sin and creates more problems. The churches in Galatia were very legalistic, and they experienced all kinds of trouble. Their legalism did not make them more spiritual; it made them more sinful! Why? Because the law arouses sin in our nature.
Let us pull out verse 9 for a little bit more insights…
9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. – Romans 7:9 ESV
As we read this we should really grasp the concept that before his conversion, Paul was a pharisee. A keeper and perfecter of the law. In this verse, Paul is referring to himself directly, but we can directly relate to our own life. Our sinful nature, the law arouses the nature the way a magnet draws steel.
Can you recall how it was living your life before you knew that a specific behavior was unacceptable in God’s eyes? You were not riddled with guilt. The sinful act was orchestrated and time went on. There was no condemnation, or at least no personal vendetta.
I can recall my actions when I was in my 20’s openly looking through porn magazines in public. I would be on airplanes, on a bus trip. I am very regretful of my actions now, but before I knew the righteous law, I had no idea of the sin. I just thought I was bold and honest about my sexual desires and actions. Deep down inside I was attempting to establish my identity. (As if some gorgeous woman would walk up to me and say, “wow you like sex, so do I…”. Now I know, because of the moral law, that my actions were very inappropriate, and sinful. But if I did not have the law, it would just be inconsiderate, not sinful.
The law kills. The law cannot give life: it can only show the sinner that he is guilty and condemned. This explains why legalism is so damaging to churches. It sets a concept of performance and managing sin.
Another dangerous situation is when a person gets so rooted in a church body or a particular pastor/preacher and begins to take their message as the law. They begin to follow the church leader more than they follow Jesus. They begin to quote sermons rather than the truth of the bible.
NO HUMAN TEACHER CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF CHRIST. NO BOOK OR OTHER RESOURCE CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF THE BIBLE.
Our sin is a quick remedy for pleasure. Our soul longs for happiness, and we get barraged with products and media that indicate we can achieve happiness by applying pleasure.
Pleasure & Happiness
Can you explain, in your own words, what is the difference between happiness and pleasure?
Happiness is a state of inner fulfillment, not the gratification of inexhaustible desires for outward things…genuine happiness may be influenced by circumstance, but it isn’t dependent on it. It actually gives us the inner resources to deal better with those circumstances.
Happiness is often equated with a maximization of pleasure, and some imagine that true happiness would consist of an interrupted succession of pleasurable experiences…. There is no reason to deprive ourselves of the enjoyment of a magnificent landscape, of swimming in the sea or of the scent of a rose, but we must understand that the experience of pleasure is dependent upon circumstance, on a specific location or moment in time. It is unstable by nature, and the sensation it evokes can soon become neutral or even unpleasant.
In other words, pleasure is externally motivated and fleeting, while happiness is internally generated and constant.
Most of us know pleasure. It’s the sensation that drives us to eat a bag of chips even when we know it’s bad for our health; it’s the euphoric feeling of anticipation when waiting overnight to buy the new iPhone even though we know our current phone is perfectly adequate. Our pleasurable sensations are inextricable with the thing–the chips or the phone in this case.
Conversely, happiness allows you to enjoy the chips, but not require them; use the phone, but realize it’s just a phone and a new one with slightly more power won’t make you happier in any meaningful way. Focusing on happiness is not better per se, but it’s more reliable.
One litmus test to distinguish pleasure from happiness is something a teacher once told me, “If something is a source of happiness, the more you do of it, the happier you will become.” Do more chips, phones, square feet or bacon (my personal fave) make us happier? Of course not. Sure, these things might be pleasurable, but after a while and in excess they lose their appeal and become “neutral or even unpleasant” as Ricard explains (any buffet-goer can testify to this).
We are tempted because in the temptation is the offer of happiness, and the pursuit of happiness is given to us as a constitutional guarantee. The devil never tricks us by saying “do this and suffer” or “do this and die”.
“It is impossible for sin to bring happiness to a child of God, yet we do not believe it.” – RC Sproul
Sin is attractive because it brings us pleasure. It brings pleasure but never happiness.
Pleasure is the opposite of pain
Happiness is opposite of sadness.
The struggle will not go away in this lifetime
I want to be honest with all of us. Becoming a Christian does not eliminate the propensity to sin. It does not give you the ability to rid of the desires. Do not believe that message if you hear it somewhere. It is not true. The only benefit such a message brings is that you must not be really saved. Every Christian alive will be in a battle of sin. That is the sanctification process that the Holy Spirit is doing in us, to make us more righteous when we see Jesus face to face. You will not be walking around here all righteous one day.
What makes us Happy?
If pleasure doesn’t make us happy, what does? One idea is that it’s experiences, not stuff that makes us happy–in other words internal states rather than objects
 The Righteous shall live by faith: Romans – RC Sproul