What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET."Romans 7:7(NASB)
Knowledge of sin comes through the Law. It is the consummate tool that identifies and exposes sin. Once we have a knowledge of the Law, we have no alternative but to admit we are wretched sinners, in need of forgiveness... which only comes by faith in Christ. It is as we come face to face with the perfect Law of God that the horror of sin is exposed and our desperate need of God's gift of salvation becomes clear.
Earlier in Romans Paul shows, through systematic reasoning, that we are all sinners who fall short of God's Law. Paul points out that it is not the content of the Law that is the problem but the sin it lays bare, and asks the rhetorical question, "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin?"
Paul quickly supplies the only answer. "May it never be!" he exclaims emphatically. "On the contrary, I would not have come to know about sin except through the Law." Paul often uses this type of teaching when he passionately refutes his own, rhetorical questioning - with phrases such as "God forbid!" - " May it never be!" - "Absolutely not!" and he does this to strongly accentuate his point.
As a strict Pharisee, Paul had prided himself on sticking to the letter of the Law, but came to the terrible realisation that despite his outward piety, he himself had a greedy, grasping, covetous heart. In spite of His exterior religiosity, Paul nursed a sinful, covetous heart, which was only exposed through knowledge of the Law.
It was only through knowing and understanding the content of the Law that Paul was equipped to recognise his own hypocrisy and "sinful passion," and the iniquity hidden inside. The particular sin that haunted him was his own evil, covetous heart. "I would not have come to know sin except through the Law," he admits, "for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COVET.'"
It was at the giving of the Law to Israel that the finger of God exposed the evils of covetousness, "You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbour." This simple command has far-reaching implications in the life of every-man - for knowledge of sin comes through the Law and knowledge of the Law exposes SIN.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the carefully structured book of Romans that so systematically sets out the sinfulness of man and Your gracious gift of salvation - which is ours through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank You for the showing me that the Law brings with it a knowledge of sin which points us all to Christ - the one and only Sacrifice for sin. Keep my heart pure before You, I pray, and identify all the evils in my life that dishonour Your name. Thank You for Paul's clear teaching that the Law is the tool to draw us to Yourself. Examine my heart and see if there is any sinful covetousness within, and wash me clean, I pray. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.