Main point summary
The law is good. Yet sin is of such power that it takes that which is good and, from it, still produces death.
What then shall we say?
That the law is sin?
By no means!
Yet if it had not been for the law,
o I would not have known sin.
For I would not have known what it is to covet
if p the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
But sin, q seizing an opportunity through the commandment,
produced in me all kinds of covetousness.
r 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 s that promised life
proved to be death to me.
For sin, t seizing an opportunity through the commandment,
u deceived me
and through it killed me.
So v the law is holy,
and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
Sin is a power that corrupts. The law is sweet and holy, and is graciously given to man as a mirror to reveal the nature of God. This mirror also reflects our own nature and confronts us with our relentless shortcomings and affronts to God. Despite this holy use of the law, sin is able to implacably produce all sorts of law-breaking in our hearts and actions, and it invariably leaves us dead. But praise be to God for the gospel given earlier in the letter. "But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it--the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe... (Roman 3:21-22ff.)"