What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. No, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust…
Sin full-grown defies law because it is a law: resists restraint because it is restraint; contests authority with God because He is God. Says Cain, as depicted by Lord Byron in colloquy with Lucifer: "I bend to neither God nor thee." Lord Byron knew whereof he affirmed. That is the legitimate heroism of sin. Sin runs to passion: passion to tumult in character: and a tumultuous character tends to tempests and explosions, which scorn secrecies and disguises. Then the whole man comes to light. He sees himself, and others see him, as he is in God's sight. Those solemn imperatives and their awful responses: "Thou shalt not" — "I will"; "Thou shalt" — "I will not" — make up, then, all that the man knows of intercourse With God. This is sin, in the ultimate and finished type of it. This it what it grows to in every sinner, if unchecked by the grace of God. Every man unredeemed becomes a demon in eternity.
Parallel VersesKJV: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
WEB: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? May it never be! However, I wouldn't have known sin, except through the law. For I wouldn't have known coveting, unless the law had said, "You shall not covet."