In 1919, British actor Sir Ralph Richardson was an office boy for an insurance company in Grighton. To relieve the tedium of the job, he decided one day to see if he could walk around the building on a narrow ledge several stories above the street. He meant for his exploit to coincide with his bosss absence from the officebut unfortunately, as the young daredevil was edging his way past his bosss window, the man entered the room and froze. Richardson gave him a cheery wave and called, “ I was chasing a pigeon.”
Why did young Richardson feel compelled to offer his boss an excuse, and a silly one at that, for his foolish escapade? The answer to that question reveals a lot about human nature. Not only does the sinful nature within us provoke us to foolish behavior. It also urges us to point the finger at someone else. Is that what Paul was doing when he said that the Law provoked his sin? In other words, was Paul implying that Gods Law was somehow faulty?
The Apostle proposed that notion himself, and answered it in characteristic fashion: “Certainly not!” Here he seemed to have the Mosaic code more clearly in view, for he quoted one of the Ten Commandments as an example. He then noted three functions of the Law:
1. it reveals sin (v.7);
2. it provokes sin (v.8); and
3. it condemns sin (vv. 8-12).
The Law of Moses isnt the problem. Instead, Gods commands are a reflection of Hisholiness and goodness. No, its sin which causes death (v. 13). Why? Because an unspiritual person cant obey spiritual statues. Its like teaching calculus to a baby. Paul went on to prove it with two lines of evidence. First, he drew on his own inability to keep from doing wrong (vv. 15-17), giving this struggle its classic statement in verse 15.
Second, he was also incapable to doing right (vv. 18-21). Pauls internal conflict seemed to doom him and all mankind to failure (vv. 22-24). But thankfully, he didnt stop there because there is One who gives victory (v. 25)!
Romans 7 makes it plain that as “slaves to sin,” we were in desperate need of a new identity in Christ! We have spent a lot of time this month dealing with harmful things that can get a foothold in our lives. But the opening declaration of verse 25 is so positive that we want to continue in that spirit. Today, look back over your recent Christian experience. Can you recall an area where God has given you victory over a problem? Can you see other clear signs of growth and progress in your walk with Christ? As you go to prayer today, begin with praise!