Think about the signs you see along the streets – Do Not Enter, One-Way, No U-turn, Speed Limit. These signs are posted to make us aware of the proper way to drive our car. What is their purpose? The signs simply work to make us aware of our condition, so that when we speed we are without excuse.
Why is Grand Avenue in Ft Thomas only 25 mph? Why am I stopped for driving the wrong way down a one way street during a snowstorm (another true story)?
I failed to take notice of the signs and my guilt was exposed. Fortunately in both cases, I received a mercy warning instead of a ticket.
If everything Paul is teaching is based on the mercy of God expressed through the sacrifice of Christ, then could the law itself be Sin? Paul is anticipating another question and addressing the fact that law’s purpose is to establish and reveal what Sin is in our lives.
One commentator wrote that the Law “is powerless to justify and sanctify not because it is sinful and deadly, but because I am sinful and my sin is deadly. Therefore this objection to his teaching on justification by faith and sanctification by faith falls to the ground. And the glorious truth of the gospel stands.”
Paul uses the thought of coveting as an example of how the law makes us aware of the state of our hearts before God. When was the last time you were envious of what someone else had? A career? Family? Home? Some special gift?
Like a road sign warning us, the law serves to confront us with the sin we face. So Paul says that the “law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.”