ESV - 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
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In my opinion, what is being said in this verse is that, if there is no standard by which right and wrong can be determined, then nothing can be declared wrong. In other words, if there is no law, then it is impossible to "break" the law by sinning against it. It is when we have a knowledge of what is right and what is wrong that it becomes possible to sin by doing what we know is wrong. And yet (as Paul pointed out) it is the perverse nature of sin that results in a person being tempted to do something that is wrong just as a result of the very fact that he knows that it's wrong.
Beloved; This means that where there is no law, there is no sin because only the law determines what is wrong and what is right. People cannot know that their actions are sinful unless the law forbids those actions. God's law makes people realizes that they are sinners by nature and doomed to die; sin is the nature of men, is real and it is dangerous. The Law of Moses fully exposed what was already in man's heart (the nature); that is one of the reasons God gave the Law. Glory to YHVH for; when we come to the Cross, the Law has no effect on us because of The Blood of Jesus Christ washes our sinful nature away. The Law revealed sin yet offered no help Galatians 2:20-21King James Version (KJV) 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Stay blessed.
GOD enjoys using a 'universal language' in His holy word that makes it equally accessible and understandable to people from every tribe, culture, tradition and of every intelligence level. It is a 'story language' usually referred to as 'analogy.' This word 'analogy' even comes directly from the Greek New Testament, (Greek: 'analogia'). We find the term in the phrase 'analogia pistis' meaning, 'analogies of faith' (often poorly translated 'proportion of faith'). The power of faith is preserved inside of these 'sacred analogies.' Without them, we have a very poor understanding and no real way to exercise our faith. Knowing this, Satan focuses his attention on 'muddling' or 'hiding' these analogies. So when we seek to understand what GOD means by 'sin,' it helps to realize that He is using a term of 'archery.' 'Sin' means, 'to miss the intended marked targets.' The Bible even uses the term 'entugchano' which means, 'to hit the bullseye' when we see the word translated 'intercession.' Jesus 'hits the bullseye' for us when He steps in to intervene for us before GOD so that we might stand in His perfect righteousness. So how can the 'intended marked targets' be 'dead' or 'alive?' The Holy Spirit is describing 'targets' in much the same way that modern military people do. In fact, the same trigonometry that is used in archery remains exactly the same when we fire missiles at targets, including the dreaded 'ICBM nuclear armaments.' So 'archery' remains very important to us, revealing why GOD may have used it as a 'main analogy' regarding sin and righteousness. We are now in a unique position to understand how a target can be 'active' or 'inactive.' We can't 'miss' until we fire, right? We can't fire until the 'order' is given. So 'sin' was only a potential until someone gave the order to 'fire.' The Torah of GOD delivered through Moses is also known as the 'law of sin and death' (Romans 8:2). Early people remained under the curse of original sin when GOD gave only one simple command to Adam and Eve and they disobeyed it. They 'missed the mark' set by GOD. However, this punishment was complete when they were driven from a perfect environment and 'died' (losing their eternal life on that same day). GOD had not set any other 'targets' for mankind. They were free to do as they pleased within the limits set by their own original sin and no further punishment was necessary. Life was punishment enough because childbirth was harsh, survival was difficult and toilsome with the ground cursed and with the help of the angels removed. Yet, GOD wasn't done with mankind. He wanted to give them a chance to return to perfection and to 'hit the bullseye' again. In order to do this, He needed them to understand the nature of 'sin' and 'death.' This meant providing them with a set of standards achievable only by GOD Himself. If they could somehow achieve them, this would give them a path of redemption. They failed miserably, but GOD already knew this would happen, He really just wanted them to appreciate how high His standards truly are and what they destroyed when they disobeyed Him in the garden. GOD had always planned to step in and demonstrate how a 'human' could achieve these high standards and 'hit all the marks' by becoming this human Himself. This act both condemned the entire world and potentially saved it at the same time. 'Sin' became alive because proof now existed that humans could have achieved the seemingly impossible, even while inhabiting our mortal bodies. Yet, this condemnation is not why Jesus came to us. He came to 'hit the bullseye' on our behalf and end the power of the 'law of sin and death.' We as Christians are not 'lawless' now, however. We are governed by the new 'law of liberty,' (James 1:25,2:12), also known as the 'law of the Spirit of life,' (Romans 8:2), the 'law of Christ' (1 Corinthians 9:21), and the 'law of burden-bearing' (Galatians 6:2). 'Irreversible goodness' is possible, (Romans 8:28).
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