The Berean Expositor
Volume 24 - Page 130 of 211
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it as a means of justification or sanctification, can nevertheless serve in the spirit of
that holy law, even though free from its dominion. This we shall se definitely stated in
Rom. 7: 4.
We might perhaps be pardoned for thinking that the way is now cleared for the theme
of Rom. 5: to be continued, and for the triumphant notes of Rom. 8: to sound out.
But it is not so. The apostle has been incisive regarding the utter failure of the flesh to
find in the law anything but condemnation and death; and he has not hesitated to link the
dominion of sin with the dominion of law, and to show that a common deliverance was
necessary from both. At this point some further explanation is necessary before the
apostle can conscientiously pass on to the triumphs of  Rom. 8:  There was the
possibility that, just as some might misunderstand the fullness of grace and think that it
excused sin, so some might think that the holiness of God was compromised, and that the
law by its inability to save or sanctify was at fault. This possible mistake the apostle now
seeks to rectify, and he does so by continuing the method of hypothetical questioning:
"What shall we say then? Is the law sin?" (Rom. 7: 7). He repudiates the idea
immediately, and then by a series of arguments leads to the conclusion: "Wherefore the
law is holy" (Rom. 7: 12). The explanation which leads up to this conclusion deals
particularly with one of the great offices of law in its relation to sin. This particular
office of the law has already been emphasized in the sphere of justification: it must now
be restated in the sphere of sanctification:--
"Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight; for by
the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3: 20).
Further, the provoking effect of the law has already been expressed in Rom. 4: 15:
"The law worketh wrath: for where no law is there is no transgression." A glance at the
context will show the purpose of this statement. The argument of Rom. 4: is that the
promise is by grace, and that the law was not given to implement the promise, but to
reveal the utter need of the grace of God, so that the promise should be sure. If we could
conceive of a time when there was absolutely no law, then at that time there would have
been absolutely no transgression. There has always, however, been some law of God, as
Rom. 2: makes clear, and the fuller the law the greater the transgression. The teaching
of Rom. 7:, however, goes deeper than "transgression"; it uncovers unsuspected and
dormant sin. The link between the two aspects of truth--one presented in Rom. 4: 15,
and the other in Rom. 7: 7-25--is found in Rom. 5: 14:--
"Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned
after the similitude of Adam's transgression" (Rom. 5: 14).
This passage does not state that "death reigned even over them that had not sinned",
for that would be a monstrous injustice. It speaks of a period and of an aspect--the
period "from Adam to Moses" before the giving of the law from Sinai; and that character
of sin that was not "after the similitude of Adam's transgression". It does not speak of
exemption from guilt, but of the degree of guilt. All have sinned; but not all have sinned
as Adam did, by transgressing a positive and revealed command. It is the relation of this
"law" and the more explicit "command", to "indwelling sin" and manifest transgression"