The Commandment Brought Death; Jesus Brought Life—Romans 7:10
"I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death" (Romans 7:10)
Isn't it interesting that the law actually widened the gap between us and God. Instead of reconciling fellowship with the Lord, it proved to be our undoing. Paul said in verse 9 that sin was revived within him once he understood his sin in contrast to God's holiness, a contrast that was illuminated through the law. This disparity is evident because the law describes the standard to which God requires and to which we cannot obtain on our own. Trouble comes when we look to works of the law as a means to obtain salvation. In that sense, the law, which holds the keys to life, actually brings about death.
How can something that is good, righteous and holy bring us death? It condemns us, because it stands as our accuser before God. It shows the level of righteousness that God possesses and it shows us how we fall short of obtaining the required standard. Jesus said in Matthew 5, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." ( Matthew 5:20 ). The Pharisees were the most righteous holy people that have ever lived in the world. They went through great pains to live by every commandment handed down by Moses. The average person will never measure up to the standard that the Pharisees lived by and yet, Jesus said for us to see the kingdom of heaven our righteousness has to far exceed them. How can this be?
Paul is speaking to those aware of the law. He knew how important adherence to the law was for the Jews. Paul himself started out as a Pharisee. He was a devout follower of the Law and lived by the letter of it. As a teacher of the law, I am sure Paul loved the scriptures and took great pride in following them. Along the way as he grew in knowledge, he must have realized that living a perfect holy life, to which the law required, was impossible. However, he continued to do this until he came face to face with Jesus on the road to Damascus. After that experience, Paul had a revelation of grace. This revelation led him to pen this very thought, "the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death" ( Romans 7:10 ) The Law in itself is good and holy, but as a Pharisee, Paul misinterpreted the application of the scriptures. It was never a means to make him justification before God. After knowing Jesus and what he had done, he understood the real purpose of the law. The law was intended to bring him to a place where he fell upon God mercy and received his grace.
The good news for us today, is that our salvation is not in the written code. Our Salvation is in Jesus. While it is true that the law points out our shortcomings compared to God's righteousness, it also points the only one who has ever fulfilled the law, Jesus. By trusting in him to save us, his holiness is transferred to us and we stand before God completely justified. Today, may you rejoice in knowing that you are freely and eternally justified by Jesus... May you experience true freedom in him from now on. Amen!
Original article published November 6, 2009.