Romans 7:7-13

音频:Romans 7:7-13

讲道从19:10开始。


7 这样,我们可说甚么呢?律法是罪么?断乎不是!只是非因律法,我就不知何为罪。非律法说不可起贪心,我就不知何为贪心。
7 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.”
8 然而罪趁着机会,就藉着诫命叫诸般的贪心在我里头发动;因为没有律法,罪是死的。
8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
9 我以前没有律法是活着的;但是诫命来到,罪又活了,我就死了。
9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
10 那本来叫人活的诫命,反倒叫我死;
10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
11 因为罪趁着机会,就藉着诫命引诱我,并且杀了我。
11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
12 这样看来,律法是圣洁的,诫命也是圣洁、公义、良善的。
12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
13 既然如此,那良善的是叫我死么?断乎不是!叫我死的乃是罪。但罪藉着那良善的叫我死,就显出真是罪,叫罪因着诫命更显出是恶极了。
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

This is the word of God.

Introduction

Last month, I had a class about the multi-ethnic church and multi-ethnic ministry at Atlanta. One of the activities in the class was to discuss some definition of terms in a small group. For example, what is “culture”, what is “ethnic” or “racism”.
My partner was a black gentleman over 60 years old, a retired engineer. And one of the terms we discussed was “Evangelical”.

I used to think I am an Evangelical, and one of the core values of CIU is “Evangelical Unity.” So I gave him my definition of Evangelical:

An evangelical Christian is a believer who holds to
1. the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture,
2. the Trinity,
3. the deity of Christ,
4. and salvation by grace through faith alone.

But I was shocked by his definition or first impression in his mind of the term “Evangelical”: White, old, southern Americans who used to support slavery or segregation.

This was the most important moment for me in the class, and if I had one thing remembered forever from the class, it must be this old black gentleman’s eyes. For the eyes told me, I processed the knowledge of some terms, but I truly had no idea what did it mean or how to apply it in my life.

I don’t know how you should understand today’s passage, but surely you must use your own experience and see by yourself what the FUNCTION of the law is, and what the SIN is. For from this passage to the end of Romans chapter 8, we will go into the jungle of experience and spirit, not only stay in the realm of rationale and knowledge.

First, I want you to understand how powerful the language is. For me, the language is the thought. For example, do you know what a newborn baby is thinking when she processes no words to express herself? Actually, without words, she cannot really THINK but only feel the world. You need to teach her word by word so she can say something like “My daddy”, “No daddy”, “hug Daddy”. And then she knows she is not the world, and the world is an object that she needs to deal with.

Your vocabulary has a strong co-relationship with your income. The high-income lawyers and doctors usually have a bigger vocabulary.

That’s because, with the term and its definition, you will have the tool to think better and deeper.

Last week, we discussed that we must be set free from the Law so we can follow Jesus:

5 因为我们属肉体的时候,那因律法而生的恶慾就在我们肢体中发动,以致结成死亡的果子。
5 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.
6 但我们既然在捆我们的律法上死了,现今就脱离了律法,叫我们服事主,要按着心灵(心灵:或作圣灵)的新样,不按着仪文的旧样。
6 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.

If we combine this conclusion and all the questions and answers through Romans 6:1-7:6,

6:1 这样,怎么说呢?我们可以仍在罪中、叫恩典显多么?
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 断乎不可!我们在罪上死了的人岂可仍在罪中活着呢?
2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

6:15 这却怎么样呢?我们在恩典之下,不在律法之下,就可以犯罪么?断乎不可!
15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

Theme

It likes that the Law is the source of our sinful passions. So it’s natural to ask the next question:

7 这样,我们可说甚么呢?律法是罪么?
7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin?

I used to know what is the Law, but now I am confused. Paul, can you tell me if the law is sin?

This is tough, for the Gospel is somewhat anti-intuition, as it has a spiritual dimension. But I like the Bible, for it not only proclaim the truth but also argues the reason and appeals to our experience. It will never avoid the toughest questions like SIN. Actually, in Acts, Luke says Paul uses πείθω (“persuade” or “urge”), διαλέγομαι (“reason”), διανοίγω (“explain”), and παρατίθημι (“prove”) when he shares Gospel to Jews and Gentiles.

7 这样,我们可说甚么呢?律法是罪么?断乎不是!只是非因律法,我就不知何为罪。非律法说不可起贪心,我就不知何为贪心。
7 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.”

The answer is, By no means! Law is not SIN. In the opposite, the law helps us to know sin. The law gives us terms to think about sin and realize the existence of the sin. And, as Paul tells Timothy, covet is the source of all kinds of evils.

1Tim 6:10 贪财是万恶之根。有人贪恋钱财,就被引诱离了真道,用许多愁苦把自己刺透了。
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Do you know what is covet? No you don’t. Look at this picture, a truck with 20 tons of apple toppled over on the road. The driver saw a lot of people came to help, but they were not helping him but robbed the apples away. Such kind of things is happening every day.

How can you comment on such things if you don’t know the term? Recently, a man bought a drawer from a garage sale. He loaded it into his car and heard some noises. Then he checked the dresser and found out this:

What did he do?
“I’m an old ex-Marine and I try to do the right thing. Jeff also, the man in charge, his immediate reaction was, ‘Let’s call the owner.’ There was never a question of anyone keeping it; it was: ‘This is fantastic. Let’s call the owner and get the stuff back to them,'” he said.

What’s the difference? “I’m an old ex-Marine and I try to do the right thing!”

But let’s think about it. If there was a law says, you must return anything in the dresser, otherwise you broke the law, and let’s pretend you were the old man there, what would you do?

I had this experience. One day I went to an ATM, trying to get some cash. The lady in front of me insert her debit card, withdrew some cash and then left. When I got close, I found out her card was inside and I could withdraw whatever I wanted. Then, I had to quickly go over my options and the consequences. Could I safely withdraw some money? No, it would be against the law. What I should do? Got the card and found the lady, so she may repay me a silk banner that I could hang on my wall? Or maybe we could have a drink in a bar? …

8 然而罪趁着机会,就藉着诫命叫诸般的贪心在我里头发动;因为没有律法,罪是死的。
8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.

That was the opportunity of sin. When I went over all my options against the law, sin produced in me all kinds of covetousness. I said to myself, enough! And I quickly took out the card and handed it to the teller in the bank. All done. I would no longer worry about the consequence of the law, and sin, if it became life in a moment, at least fell asleep again and waited for its next opportunity.

Please be careful, don’t take the phrase “sin lies dead” as literal. Even Paul personalizes sin, Sin is not a person, nor is a harmless dog crouching at your door in Genesis 4:

Gen 4:7 你若行得好,岂不蒙悦纳?你若行得不好,罪就伏在门前。它必恋慕你,你却要制伏它。
7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Without law sin is still sin, just less powerful and less active. It would not die, but as the Aesop‘s “The Farmer and the Snake”, when sin walks up, it will resume its natural instincts and bit you deadly. For your interest, the serpent did not take action in Genesis 2, but only after God gave Adam and Eve a commandment he began to lure man into sin. For without law, there would be no conscience about sin and no conviction of sin.

9 我以前没有律法是活着的;但是诫命来到,罪又活了,我就死了。
9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
10 那本来叫人活的诫命,反倒叫我死;
10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
11 因为罪趁着机会,就藉着诫命引诱我,并且杀了我。
11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Main points

Thus, we understand that sin uses the law to kill us in two ways:
1) law becomes sin’s tool and ground to attack us;
2) through law, sin becomes more powerful and attractive to us.

13 耶和华 神对女人说:你作的是甚么事呢?女人说:那蛇引诱我,我就吃了。
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

12 这样看来,律法是圣洁的,诫命也是圣洁、公义、良善的。
12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Paul’s conclusion is, since the law is not inherently evil but is in reality just the instrument of sin, and according to the purpose God gives the law to us, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

As Bible teaches us, there is only one God who is holy which means separate from all creation, transcend above all—through the definition, we know we cannot be holy at all.

And we know that the law God gives us is holy, which by definition we cannot be holy through observing the law, but we can only know the sin through the law.

Conclusion

And he gives out the summary of 6:1-7:12:

13 既然如此,那良善的是叫我死么?断乎不是!叫我死的乃是罪。但罪藉着那良善的叫我死,就显出真是罪,叫罪因着诫命更显出是恶极了。
13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.

So we come back to the core of Gospel with an even stronger statement than 3:20:

3:20 所以凡有血气的,没有一个因行律法能在神面前称义,因为律法本是叫人知罪。
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

For here sin is not a passive force but an active force which can deceive us and produce death in us through what is good.

Applications

Then, shall we abolish the law as if God did not know what he was doing by giving us the law and later He saw it could not work out its purpose so He gave Jesus to us as a substitute of the law?

No and Yes.

No, the law is good, and it “promised life (v. 10)”. No one can abolish the law except the one who gave the law to us which is God. But God will never abolish the law until it fulfills its purpose.

Mat 5:18 我实在告诉你们,就是到天地都废去了,律法的一点一画也不能废去,都要成全。
18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

And that’s what happened in the history: Jesus came to fulfill the law through His death and resurrection, so that we have a new covenant with God through Jesus by faith along, and we are free from the Law and the law has fulfilled its purpose of leading us to Christ—not by observing it but by understanding that sin is working in us, and there is no way we can kill the sin without killing ourselves first, or there is no way to fulfill the requirement of the law through our own efforts. For whatever we do, the sin will seize the opportunity to deceive us and work among us, trying to kill us.

Only when we surrender to the Lord and tell Jesus, “I am hopeless, I cannot separate from sin. Please help me, Lord, for I will trust you and put my faith on you and be set free from the slavery of sin and die to the law, so I can live again with the rising Son Jesus Christ.”

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