Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Romans 7:7-12 in our series through Romans. The key to understanding this passage is to understand Paul’s previous life before Jesus and the intended place of the law of God in our life.
Becoming a great pitcher is a difficult task. You must take the baseball that everyone is so familiar with and make people miss it. The key is to use deception. Many hitters are trained to look for the ball from the time the pitcher raises his hands in his windup toward the plate and look for the rotation and you will be able to tell what kind of pitch it is and be prepared to hit. All of this happens so quickly and that’s what makes hitting so difficult too. The success of some pitchers through the years has been to develop a pitch that they can throw with great success. For Nolan Ryan, it was the fastball. For Phil Niekro – it was the knuckleball.
The knuckleball is thrown in a completely different way than all other pitches. The approach to the plate is far different. The velocity is slower. The way in which you hold the ball is different – using your nails on the first three fingers and your knuckle on your fourth to hold the ball in place and release it without any rotation. This causes the ball to dance its way toward the plate. “To have the ball flutter and to render the power of the opposition totally useless, that to me is the pleasure in watching a knuckleballer,” said Dan Duquette, the executive vice-president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles. Some have described the knuckleball as floating like a butterfly with hiccups. The key to success with the knuckleball is deception.
So it is with sin. God intended the law for our good. While the law cannot save us, it does serve as a guardian and teacher to point us to our need for a Savior who is the Son of the living God—rather than our own self-righteousness. However, sin has used the law as a bridge to our hearts in order to excite the affections for our depravity. According to Paul, sin used our heart as the base of operations for attacking us and bringing greater condemnation upon us. So, is it sinful? Is the law bad? Paul said, “God forbid!”
The fact remains, the law of God is for our good and is used to bring us the knowledge of sin. Before we can be saved, we must first understand our need for salvation. It’s through the law that we come to this knowledge and see our need for Christ. Paul stated plainly that without the law, he would have never known of his covetous heart. Interestingly enough, the tenth commandment is the foundational ingredient for all other sins.
Paul concludes with the fact that the law is good and the commandment is holy, righteousness, and good. Why is this true? It’s on the basis that they reflect the character of God. The law is good because God is good. The commands are holy and righteous and good because God is and it’s through the revealed will of God that we see both the boundaries of the law and the need to repent.
Teacher that Instructs
James 1:14–15 – But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Mirror that Reveals
The law of God is a mirror of God’s holiness and our depravity (sinfulness). It serves to reveal to us our need of a savior.
Romans 3:20 – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Hammer that Crushes
Jeremiah 23:29 – Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?
Fire that Consumes
In Jeremiah 5:14, the prophet claims that the Word is like a fire that consumes!
The sovereign God who has been transgressed by our sin owes us nothing, however, he has pointed out our failures and likewise pointed us to the cross – specifically to the hope in Jesus Christ. God has called us to repent!
Acts 17:30–31 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,  because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
The law is good, however, sin has used it for evil. We must never forget that God will never have his plans thwarted by the created being that we know as the devil. God will continue to use the good law to reveal our sin and to point us to our need to repent. This is true at the point of salvation and it remains true throughout our progressive sanctification in the Christian life.