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10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.



And the commandment, which was to bring life [literally unto life],

The law directed people toward God’s life-giving standards.

I found to bring death [literally unto death].

God ordained the law “unto life” but sin caused Paul to move “unto death.” Note the parallelism between these two statements. Coming to an adequate understanding of the law destroyed all his hope to fulfill the law by his own means.

The condemnation of the law shows our spiritual death, a cutting off from life with God. This is not something Paul found but something that found Paul (passive voice). It was of no credit to him that he found that he could not keep the law. Rather, God disclosed it to him. He came to a place of death to self-reliance. Trying to keep the law without the grace principle proved fatal to Paul’s spirituality.

Ro 8:4, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.


For sin, taking occasion by the commandment,

“Sin” here is the sin capacity or the power that produces sin. As in verse eight, Paul used the military image of a base of military operations through the word “occasion.” The law was a fulcrum or a base of operations that brought defeat to Paul because of the dynamics of the sin capacity.

deceived me,

Paul was under the seduction of thinking that salvation or sanctification can come by the law. All erroneous doctrines of salvation and sanctification rest on the self-effort of the sin capacity and trusting in what man can do as over against what God did in Christ. The deception was to make Paul think that he could operate in his own strength. It created a delusion that everything rested on his effort rather than God’s grace.

and by it killed me.

The sin capacity that thought itself sufficient to keep the law paradoxically brought death. Paul discovered himself to be a legally dead man before God. The result was catastrophic to Paul. His failure to measure up to the law killed him. The very commandment he thought would give him a relationship with God failed him. As the law of gravity works inexorably on all creation, so the law of God works inexorably against the self-sufficiency of man. Man needs to realize that his only sufficiency is the sufficiency of Christ, the position he has in Christ.


The principle of grace dispels the delusion or the blissful misbelief that we can please God by operation bootstraps.


The fallen conscience of man fails, even for the most religious of people on the earth. They have a hard time coming to grips with the horror of sin before an absolute God and that the only solution is God’s grace. We can see this in the seduction of Adam and Eve. Yielding to the wisdom of Satan’s offer of an alternative blessing brought their downfall. Their conscience became corrupt.

2 Co 11:3, But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Mankind is under the general impression that we can impress God by who and what we are. This is deadly deception. It is a pipe dream and a false pursuit that leads to spiritual death.

The competency of the sin capacity that uses the law to gain God’s approval deceives us and kills our relationship to God. Instead of the law being a dynamic for spiritual living, it kills anything spiritual. The law utterly fails to do what we hope it will do if we trust it for salvation or sanctification.