In Romans chapter 7 we come to one of the most remarkable passages in all of Paul's writings. For here the apostle of Christ bares his very soul, and exposes his most intimate spiritual experience of the law of God and of sin in his human nature. The main discourse we have is in answer to the question of verse 7, Is the law sin? Paul is resolute in his determination to answer every possible allegation of the educated Jew whom he sees pitted against his defence of God's law and its ultimate purpose of life and well-being. He is still in the debating hall, and ready to plead from his personal experience of life. But first he buttresses his past and future argument with an analogy from everyday life, marriage and its sanctity and permanence in God's sight. 'By law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage ... she is released from that law, and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead' (vv. 2-4). It is a neat and telling figure with which to reinforce the point made in chapter 6 about dying with Christ and dying to sin, so freeing the believer for a new and fruitful union. 'So, what shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law ... For apart from law sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.' Paul is now speaking of the interaction between the law, itself holy, righteous and good, and inherent sin in himself. This interaction between the perceived law of God, and inherent sin, which sprang to life in the youthful Saul's experience as he grew into years of understanding and responsibility, leads him to say, starkly, I died. His conscience was awakened, and he became responsible as a sinner by practice as well as by nature. He now knew he was under God's condemnation as a sinner. No, the law itself is not sin; by no means. But sin in Paul's fallen human nature, responding to the law, brought conviction and guilt.
What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you - guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
2 Timothy 1:13-14