“And I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive, and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me” (Romans 7:9-11).
The law shatters all of man’s attempts at self-righteousness.
The old saying “ignorance is bliss” is rarely true, and in the spiritual realm it is deadly. As a Pharisee, one of the rising stars of first-century Judaism (Gal. 1:14), Paul thought himself very much “alive apart from the Law.” When convicted of his utter sinfulness by the law, however, Paul “died”; that is, his false sense of security and self-satisfaction was shattered. The enormity of his guilt became evident to him, and he realized he could not save himself. He recognized he was “helpless” (Rom. 5:6) and desperately in need of the divine Physician (Matt. 9:12).
To his dismay, Paul found that the “commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death” for him. The law was given to provide blessing and joy (Prov. 3:1-2) by guiding men in the path of righteousness. That purpose, however, can’t be accomplished in the unsaved, since they lack the ability to keep the law. Shut out from its blessings by their disobedience, they face its curses. Instead of providing Paul with a rich, meaningful life, the law devastated him.
Paul further realized that he had been deceived by sin. He had thought himself “blameless” (Phil. 3:6), doing God’s work by persecuting Christians (cf. John 16:2). But instead of satisfaction, he found only misery, disillusionment, and disappointment.
Like Paul, millions today are tragically deceived. The deceitfulness of sin leads them to think they can please God and obtain His blessing by their good works or religious activity. Such trust in self-righteousness is the hallmark of all false religion. But those who trust in themselves will see no need for a Savior and will be eternally lost. What are you trusting in?
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask God to help you obey His commandments.
For Further Study
Read Hebrews 3:13. Are believers also in danger of being deceived by sin?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997.