How Wicked Sin Is
So if sin is aroused by the law, is the law sin? This is the question that is necessarily raised by what has gone before. And again, the answer is, “By no means!” The law and the commandment is “holy and righteous and good.” Well then, did that which is holy and righteous and good produce death in me? Again, Paul exclaims, “By no means!”
Perhaps it is at this place that we should say something about the law. The law of God is not some arbitrary code that God writes up because He feels such rules will be of benefit to us. God doesn’t say, “You shall not murder,” for the practical purpose of keeping alive the human race, or “You shall not steal,” because government exists to protect private property. On the contrary, God’s laws express His own righteous nature. God says, “You shall not murder,” because God is the living God who created man in His image such that every living breathing human being is precious in His sight. God says, “You shall not commit adultery,” because God is faithful to His people. God says, “You shall not bear false witness,” because God is a God of truth who never lies. In other words, the omnipotent Creator of the universe could not have called murder, adultery, theft, and lying, “virtues”; and it cannot be otherwise. God gives us these laws because they express who He is as God; they are not just good ideas by which to organize a society. Indeed, the law even promises life to those who obey it (Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11).
The problem is sin. “Sin seizing an opportunity through the commandment produced in me all kinds of covetousness”; “Sin seizing an opportunity through the commandment deceived me and through it killed me.” And by this, the law, which sin used as its beachhead against us, shows us just how wicked sin is; or as Paul says, shows us that sin is sinful beyond measure as it takes that which was to be life for us and uses it to kill us.
But this also says something about us. We are the ones who are enticed by sin and lured away from the path of life which the law plainly shows us. Sin certainly crouches at the door but we are the ones who are mastered by it (Genesis 4:7). And this is because of our sinful nature: “Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart” (Psalm 36:1). And so we are sinners both by nature and by choice, and are shown to be not just sinful but exceedingly so. And this is why the law can’t save us; and this is why we need a Savior; and this is why God sent His Son.