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Romans 7:13

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Was then that which is good made death unto me? - This is the question of the Jew, with whom the apostle appears to be disputing.

"Do you allow the law to be good, and yet say it is the cause of our death?" The apostle answers: - God forbid! μη γενοιτο, by no means: it is not the law that is the cause of your death, but sin; it was sin which subjected us to death by the law, justly threatening sin with death: which law was given that sin might appear - might be set forth in its own colors; when we saw it subjected us to death by a law perfectly holy, just, and good; that sin, by the law, might be represented what it really is: - καθ 'ὑπερβολην ἁμαρτωλος, an Exceeding Great and deadly evil.

Thus it appears that man cannot have a true notion of sin but by means of the law of God. For this I have already given sufficient reasons in the preceding notes. And it was one design of the law to show the abominable and destructive nature of sin, as well as to be a rule of life. It would be almost impossible for a man to have that just notion of the demerit of sin so as to produce repentance, or to see the nature and necessity of the death of Christ, if the law were not applied to his conscience by the light of the Holy Spirit; it is then alone that he sees himself to be carnal, and sold under sin; and that the law and the commandment are holy, just, and good. And let it be observed, that the law did not answer this end merely among the Jews in the days of the apostle; it is just as necessary to the Gentiles to the present hour. Nor do we find that true repentance takes place where the moral law is not preached and enforced. Those who preach only the Gospel to sinners, at best only heal the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly. The law, therefore, is the grand instrument in the hands of a faithful minister, to alarm and awaken sinners; and he may safely show that every sinner is under the law, and consequently under the curse, who has not fled for refuge to the hope held out by the Gospel: for, in this sense also, Jesus Christ is the End of the Law for justification to them that believe.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Was then that which is good … - This is another objection which the apostle proceeds to answer. The objection is this, “Can it be possible that what is admitted to be good and pure, should be changed into evil? Can what tends to life, be made death to a man?” In answer to this, the apostle repeats that the fault was not in the Law, but was in himself, and in his sinful propensities.

Made death - Romans 7:8, Romans 7:10.

God forbid - Note, Romans 3:4.

But sin - This is a personification of sin as in Romans 7:8.

That it might appear sin - That it might develope its true nature, and no longer be dormant in the mind. The Law of God is often applied to a man‘s conscience, that he may see how deep and desperate is his depravity. No man knows his own heart until the Law thus crosses his path, and shows him what he is.

By the commandment - Note, Romans 7:8.

Might become exceeding sinful - In the original this is a very strong expression, and is one of those used by Paul to express strong emphasis, or intensity καθ ̓ ὑπερβολὴν kath huperbolēnby hyperboles. In an excessive degree; to the utmost possible extent, 1 Corinthians 12:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 1:13. The phrase occurs in each of these places. The sense here is, that by the giving of the command, and its application to the mind, sin was completely developed; it was excited, inflamed, aggravated, and showed to be excessively malignant and deadly. It was not a dormant, slumbering principle; but it was awfully opposed to God and His Law. Calvin has well expressed the sense: “It was proper that the enormity of sin should be revealed by the Law; because unless sin should break forth by some dreadful and enormous excess (as they say,) it would not be known to be sin. This excess exhibits itself the more violently, while it turns life into death.” The sentiment of the whole is, that the tendency of the Law is to excite the dormant sin of the bosom into active existence, and to reveal its true nature. It is desirable that that should be done, and as that is all that the Law accomplishes, it is not adapted to sanctify the soul. To show that this was the design of the apostle, it is desirable that sin should be thus seen in its true nature, because,

(1)Man should be acquainted with his true character. He should not deceive himself.

(2)because it is one part of God‘s plan to develope the secret feelings of the heart, and to show to all creatures what they are.

(3)because only by knowing this, will the sinner be induced to take a remedy, and strive to be saved. So God often allows people to plunge into sin; to act out their nature, so that they may see themselves, and be alarmed at the consequences of their own crimes.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
There is no way of coming to that knowledge of sin, which is necessary to repentance, and therefore to peace and pardon, but by trying our hearts and lives by the law. In his own case the apostle would not have known the sinfulness of his thoughts, motives, and actions, but by the law. That perfect standard showed how wrong his heart and life were, proving his sins to be more numerous than he had before thought, but it did not contain any provision of mercy or grace for his relief. He is ignorant of human nature and the perverseness of his own heart, who does not perceive in himself a readiness to fancy there is something desirable in what is out of reach. We may perceive this in our children, though self-love makes us blind to it in ourselves. The more humble and spiritual any Christian is, the more clearly will he perceive that the apostle describes the true believer, from his first convictions of sin to his greatest progress in grace, during this present imperfect state. St. Paul was once a Pharisee, ignorant of the spirituality of the law, having some correctness of character, without knowing his inward depravity. When the commandment came to his conscience by the convictions of the Holy Spirit, and he saw what it demanded, he found his sinful mind rise against it. He felt at the same time the evil of sin, his own sinful state, that he was unable to fulfil the law, and was like a criminal when condemned. But though the evil principle in the human heart produces sinful motions, and the more by taking occasion of the commandment; yet the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good. It is not favourable to sin, which it pursues into the heart, and discovers and reproves in the inward motions thereof. Nothing is so good but a corrupt and vicious nature will pervert it. The same heat that softens wax, hardens clay. Food or medicine when taken wrong, may cause death, though its nature is to nourish or to heal. The law may cause death through man's depravity, but sin is the poison that brings death. Not the law, but sin discovered by the law, was made death to the apostle. The ruinous nature of sin, and the sinfulness of the human heart, are here clearly shown.
Ellen G. White
The Faith I Live By, 70.1

That sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. Romans 7:13. FLB 70.1

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Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 31

God's ministers must come into close companionship with Christ, and follow His example in all things—in purity of life, in self-denial, in benevolence, in diligence, in perseverance. To win souls to the kingdom of God must be their first consideration. With sorrow for sin and with patient love, they must work as Christ worked, putting forth determined, unceasing effort. GW 31.1

John Welch, a minister of the gospel, felt so great a burden for souls that he often rose in the night to send up to God his supplication for their salvation. On one occasion his wife pleaded with him to regard his health, and not venture on such exposure. His answer was, “O woman, I have the souls of three thousand to answer for, and I know not how it is with them.” GW 31.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 507

The same enmity is manifested toward Christ's followers as was manifested toward their Master. Whoever sees the repulsive character of sin, and in strength from above resists temptation, will assuredly arouse the wrath of Satan and his subjects. Hatred of the pure principles of truth, and reproach and persecution of its advocates, will exist as long as sin and sinners remain. The followers of Christ and the servants of Satan cannot harmonize. The offense of the cross has not ceased. “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12. GC 507.1

Satan's agents are constantly working under his direction to establish his authority and build up his kingdom in opposition to the government of God. To this end they seek to deceive Christ's followers and allure them from their allegiance. Like their leader, they misconstrue and pervert the Scriptures to accomplish their object. As Satan endeavored to cast reproach upon God, so do his agents seek to malign God's people. The spirit which put Christ to death moves the wicked to destroy His followers. All this is foreshadowed in that first prophecy: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.” And this will continue to the close of time. GC 507.2

Satan summons all his forces and throws his whole power into the combat. Why is it that he meets with no greater resistance? Why are the soldiers of Christ so sleepy and indifferent? Because they have so little real connection with Christ; because they are so destitute of His Spirit. Sin is not to them repulsive and abhorrent, as it was to their Master. They do not meet it, as did Christ, with decisive and determined resistance. They do not realize the exceeding evil and malignity of sin, and they are blinded both to the character and the power of the prince of darkness. There is little enmity against Satan and his works, because there is so great ignorance concerning his power and malice, and the vast extent of his warfare against Christ and His church. Multitudes are deluded here. They do not know that their enemy is a mighty general who controls the minds of evil angels, and that with well-matured plans and skillful movements he is warring against Christ to prevent the salvation of souls. Among professed Christians, and even among ministers of the gospel, there is heard scarcely a reference to Satan, except perhaps an incidental mention in the pulpit. They overlook the evidences of his continual activity and success; they neglect the many warnings of his subtlety; they seem to ignore his very existence. GC 507.3

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Ellen G. White
Our High Calling, 153.4

But God is ever seeking to impress our hearts by His Holy Spirit, that we shall be convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment to come. We may place our will on the side of God's will, and in His strength and grace resist the temptations of the enemy. As we yield to the influence of the Spirit of God, our conscience becomes tender and sensitive, and sin that we have passed by with little thought, becomes exceeding sinful. OHC 153.4

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