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THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS - Chapter 7 - Verse 9

Verse 9. For I. There seems to be no doubt that the apostle here refers to his own past experience. Yet in this he speaks the sentiment of all who are unconverted, and who are depending on their own righteousness.

Was alive. This is opposed to what he immediately adds respecting another state, in which he was when he died. It must mean, therefore, that he had a certain kind of peace; he deemed himself secure; he was free from the convictions of conscience and the agitations of alarm. The state to which he refers here must be doubtless that to which he himself elsewhere alludes, when he deemed himself to be righteous, depending on his own works, and esteeming himself to be blameless, Php 3:4-6 Ac 23:1; 26:4,5.

It means, that he was then free from those agitations and alarms which he afterwards experienced when he was brought under conviction for sin. At that time, though he had the law, and was attempting to obey it, yet he was unacquainted with its spiritual and holy nature. He aimed at external conformity. Its claims on the heart were unfelt. This is the condition of every self-confident sinner, and of every one who is unawakened.

Without the law. Not that Paul was ever really without the law—that is, without the law of Moses; but he means before the law was applied to his heart in its spiritual meaning, and with power.

But when the commandment came. When it was applied to the heart and conscience. This is the only intelligible sense of the expression; for it cannot refer to the time when the law was given. When this was, the apostle does not say. But the expression denotes whenever it was so applied; when it was urged with power and efficacy on his conscience, to control, restrain, and threaten him, it produced this effect. We are unacquainted with the early operations of his mind, and with his struggles against conscience and duty. We know enough of him before conversion, however, to be assured that he was proud, impetuous, and unwilling to be restrained. See Ac 8:1-9:43. In the state of his self-confident righteousness and impetuosity of feeling, we may easily suppose that the holy law of God, which is designed to restrain the passions, to humble the heart, and to rebuke pride, would produce only irritation, and impatience of restraint, and revolt.

Sin revived. Lived again. This means that it was before dormant, Ro 7:8 but was now quickened into new life. The word is usually applied to a renewal of life, Ro 14:9; Lu 15:24,32

but here it means substantially the same as the expression in Ro 7:8, "Sin—wrought- in me all manner of concupiscence." The power of sin, which was before dormant, became quickened and active.

I died. That is, I was by it involved in additional guilt and misery. It stands opposed to "I was alive," and must mean the opposite of that; and evidently denotes that the effect of the commandment was to bring him under what he calls death, Ro 5:12,14,15

that is, sin reigned, and raged, and produced its withering and condemning effects; it led to aggravated guilt and misery. It may also include this idea: that before, he was self-confident and secure; but that by the commandment he was stricken down and humbled, his self-confidence was blasted, and his hopes were prostrated in the dust. Perhaps no words would better express the humble, subdued, melancholy, and helpless state of a converted sinner than the expressive phrase "I died." The essential idea here is, that the law did not answer the purpose which the Jew would claim for it, to sanctify the soul and to give comfort, but that all its influence on the heart was to produce aggravated, unpardoned guilt and woe.

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