|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:7-13 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.
Verses 12, 13. - So that the Law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Has then that which is good become death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, through that which is good working death unto me; that sin might become exceeding sinful through the commandment. The question of ver. 7, "Is the Law sin?" has now been answered so far as this - that, far from being so, the commandment was in itself "unto life" (cf. Leviticus 18:5; Romans 10:5), only that sin took occasion by it, and so got power to slay. But still it would appear that law was ultimately the cause of death. Was, then, its purpose and effect, after all, deadly? for, though not sin, it seems to have been death to us. No, it is replied; away with the thought! Its effect was only to reveal sin in its true light; it was only an Ithuriel's spear ('Par. Lost,' bk. 4.),bringing out and exposing the deadly thing that before was latent. And (as is elsewhere set forth in pursuance of the line of thought) its effect in the end was really "unto life;" for its awakening of the sense of sin, and of a craving for redemption from it, was the necessary preparation for such redemption (cf. Galatians 3:19, seq.).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Therefore the law is holy,.... This is a conclusion or inference drawn from the preceding discourse, in commendation of the law; that standing clear of any charge or imputation of sin, as being the cause of it. This epithet the apostle gives to the law is what the Jews frequently give it; worthy are the Israelites, say they (h),
"to whom is given "the holy law"; in which they study day and night.''
By "the law" is meant the whole body of the precepts of it in general; and by
the commandment, either the same, or everyone of the commandments in particular, and especially that which is cited, "thou shall not covet". Some have thought that the three properties of it design the threefold division of the law; and suppose that by that which is "holy" is meant the ceremonial law, which sanctified to the purifying of the flesh; by that which is "just", the judicial law, which pointed out to the Jewish commonwealth what was right and wrong; and by that which is "good", the moral law in all its precepts: but nothing is more certain, than that the moral law is only spoken of in this context, which may be said to be
holy, because of its author, the holy God, from whom nothing can come but what is holy; and because of the matter of it, it is a transcript of the holy nature of God, a declaration of his holy will; it requires holiness both of heart and life; it forbids whatever is unholy, and commands nothing but what is holy; it teaches men to live holy, sober, righteous, and godly lives. It may be truly called
just, or righteous, as it demands perfect obedience to all its precepts, or it will not admit of it as a righteousness; as it pronounces guilty, curses and condemns for every disobedience of it; as it deals impartially with persons the transgressors of it; and as it acquits believers upon the foot of the righteousness of Christ, the fulfilling end of it. It is rightly called
good, from the author of it, God, from whom every good thing comes, and nothing else; from the matter of it, and from the use of it both to saints and sinners.
(h) Zohar in Gen. fol. 48. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12, 13. Wherefore—"So that."
the law is—"is indeed"
good, and the commandment—that one so often referred to, which forbids all lusting.
holy, and just, and good.
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