New Living Translation NLT
The Message Bible MSG
7 Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”
But I can hear you say, "If the law code was as bad as all that, it's no better than sin itself." That's certainly not true. The law code had a perfectly legitimate function. Without its clear guidelines for right and wrong, moral behavior would be mostly guesswork. Apart from the succinct, surgical command, "You shall not covet," I could have dressed covetousness up to look like a virtue and ruined my life with it.
8 But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power.
Don't you remember how it was? I do, perfectly well. The law code started out as an excellent piece of work. What happened, though, was that sin found a way to pervert the command into a temptation, making a piece of "forbidden fruit" out of it. The law code, instead of being used to guide me, was used to seduce me. Without all the paraphernalia of the law code, sin looked pretty dull and lifeless,
9 At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life,
and I went along without paying much attention to it. But once sin got its hands on the law code and decked itself out in all that finery, I was fooled, and fell for it.
10 and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead.
The very command that was supposed to guide me into life was cleverly used to trip me up, throwing me headlong.
11 Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me.
So sin was plenty alive, and I was stone dead.
12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.
But the law code itself is God's good and common sense, each command sane and holy counsel.
13 But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.
I can already hear your next question: "Does that mean I can't even trust what is good [that is, the law]? Is good just as dangerous as evil?" No again! Sin simply did what sin is so famous for doing: using the good as a cover to tempt me to do what would finally destroy me. By hiding within God's good commandment, sin did far more mischief than it could ever have accomplished on its own.
14 So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin.
I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God's commands are spiritual, but I'm not. Isn't this also your experience?" Yes. I'm full of myself - after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.
What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise.
16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.
So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.
17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help!
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it.
19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway.
20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
21 I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up.
22 I love God’s law with all my heart.
I truly delight in God's commands,
23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.
but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?
25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation
. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.