Psalms 74-76

Romans 9:16-33


“What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not!...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.’”     —Romans 7:7


The “law” that Paul refers to in his letter to the Romans is the Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai—the moral law of God written with His own finger. If we were to stop total strangers on the street and read to them the Ten Commandments, the general consensus would be that most of the laws are good. We may not get 100% agreement, but the majority would say, “Yes” to “You shall not steal,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not covet,” and “You shall not commit adultery.” Although we agree that the Ten Commandments are good, we have to admit that they are actually unrealistic because every one of us has broken the law of God. This raises a very important issue: Why has God given a law that we cannot keep?

        Most families have family rules. A basic principle in making rules is any rule a person cannot keep is a bad rule. If we make rules people cannot keep, we are asking for trouble. Yet, God has given us a set of requirements we recognize as good but are unable to keep.

        The problem with the law is that it brings death. Paul tells us, “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death” (Romans 7:10). Throughout the Old Testament, the historical books affirm the law as the plumb line by which society and behaviour is to be judged. We get poetic books of the Old Testament that encourage meditating on the law and prophetic books that preach about the law. When we read the Gospels in the New Testament, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets...” (Matthew 5:17). The law is fully intact until we get into the writings of Paul and suddenly, the word “law” becomes like a dirty word. In fact, Paul said, “I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law.” It is the law that makes us aware of our own shortcomings.

        Paul writes, “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law’” (Galatians 3:10). The problem with the law is that it can demand what is right, but it cannot accomplish what is right. The solution to the problem is, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). The law no longer brings death because Jesus has redeemed us from the problem with the law.


PRAYER: Righteous God, under the law I deserve death. Thank You for sending Jesus to redeem us from the curse of the law. Praise You!

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