For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
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.
For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Knowing what isn’t allowed often opens the door for us to want to do it. This principle is one big reason why parents don’t talk to their kids about sex, drugs, porn, or other vices to avoid. If we tell them what it is, they might try to learn more about it or even do it! is what we think.
That is sort of true, but sort of false. Knowing about something that is a no-no is partially enticing simply because it is a no-no. Thats where the temptation comes in. Not because it’s particularly wonderful to eat the cookies from the cookie jar, but because they are off limits and there is some risk/rebellion/adventure involved here.
The power there is that there is a law. But what if there isn’t a law? What kid ever enjoyed smoking pot with their parents? It’s kind of depressing at that point. When all of my friends had midnight curfews and I didn’t have one at all, I discovered how boring Evansville was at 12:15 am.
There is good to all of these laws and rules, but there is a better way. What if instead of avoiding the cookie jar out of fear of the wooden spoon, we avoided it because we understood healthy eating, our mom’s cooking, and the sanctity of dessert after dinner?
What if we got all of the attention we needed from our families and were secure in our identity with God that we didn’t’ get their attention by getting into trouble?
It’s easy to see that the law is good, but there is a way of obedience and friendship that is so much greater than by law.
That’s what Paul is getting at here. He’s not saying that the Old Testament needs to be tossed, or that we can turn to lawless licentiousness. He’s just saying that we’re free. There is a better way of obedience and friendship with God that is above the Law, where God lives.
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