9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.
9 I was alive [in Paul’s opinion] once without the law,
There was a point in Paul’s life when he was uninformed about the law in terms of his own conscience. He had not come to grips with the force of the law. In this verse, Paul was not speaking about being apart from mere knowledge of the law but being apart from a true response to the law.
The “I” here is emphatic because Paul wanted to distinguish himself from his sin capacity. Paul was also speaking for all believers.
but when the commandment came,
The commandment coming here has to do with Paul’s coming to grips with the law in his own life.
sin revived [came to life again]
The sin capacity sprang to life, making its presence known when Paul came to grips with the law. It was dormant before it hit his consciousness. The law precipitates rebellion. Forbidden fruit is often the sweetest fruit. The potential for the sin capacity to arise at any time lurks in all of us.
and I died.
Paul saw himself dead under the sentence of judgment from the law. All his hope of fulfilling the law in himself was abolished with a true understanding of the law. He had finally come to the conclusion that he was dead and alien to God when he operated by his sin capacity.
The only way to gain God’s approbation for His acceptance of us is to embrace what Jesus did for us on the cross.
What we experience in reference to the law is similar to what happened to Adam in the garden. There is a point when we see ourselves condemned under the law. The old Adam in Paul died. What Paul thought to be a way of salvation and sanctification turned out to be spiritual death. This is not being dead to sin but in sin, a death to fellowship with God.
Christians cannot gain approbation with God for sanctification by keeping the law. All the law does is condemn us. All we can do is turn to Christ for the grace we need to live as we should before God.
Ga 2:19, For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.