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8 But sin, taking opportunity by the commandment, produced in me all manner of evil desire. For apart from the law sin was dead.


8 But sin,

“Sin” here is indwelling sin, the sin capacity or power to sin. Instead of the commandment helping people overcome sin, it exasperates their attempt to do so.

taking opportunity by the commandment,

Extra-biblical Greek used the word “opportunity” for the seat of military operations to launch a mission. The sin capacity uses the commandment as the base or starting point for sinful desires. “Al-Qaeda” means the base. It is the base from which the organization launches its terrorist attacks. The sin capacity uses the commandment as a base to launch its attacks against the soul.

“The commandment” here relates to the commandment of the previous verse against coveting.

produced [worked out] in me all manner of evil desire.

The law stimulates the sin capacity to go aberrant; it is not the cause of sin. The lust for what is forbidden is worsened by the commandment against it. Desire for the forbidden is rebellion; it is an avowal of independence from God. To rest in the law as the means of righteousness is a mistake, for it offers no means of sanctification.

The word “all” indicates that the sin capacity does not limit its sinning to covetousness.

For apart from the law sin was dead [not active].

The idea here is not that sin did not exist without the law but that sin is less vigorous without the law. The law is not a means of sanctification; rather, it establishes guilt only. The law did not break the power of indwelling sin or the sin capacity.

“Dead” here carries the idea of ineffective. The sin capacity is dormant without a challenge to its authority.


Law is the occasion of sin, not the cause of sin.


The law reveals our proclivity to sin. God’s commands are designed for our good but we view them as limiting our freedom. We resent the law because of this. There is fundamental rebellion in all of us.

Previous to seeing a sign that says, “Do not spit on the sidewalk,” we have no desire to spit. However, the sign itself creates saliva in our mouth. The law primes the pump of sin. Law sheds light on the sinfulness and rebellion of our heart.