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12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.


Verses 12 and 13 reveal how the law shows the sinfulness of sin.

12 Therefore

The “therefore” expresses the consequence of the previous discussion about whether the law is sinful somehow (Ro 7:7). The problem was that the law was used by the sin capacity to violate God’s standards. The law was not sinful per se, but its design was to reveal sin.

the law is holy,

The law does not invite sin but uncovers it. It is the sin capacity, not the law, that brings death, for the law is “holy.”

The word “holy” means something unique or set apart; it is something with absolute integrity and consistency. The law is set apart as unique or special in God’s eyes. The law is God’s law even if some manipulate it in the wrong way by using it as a means of salvation or sanctification.

and the commandment [not to covet] holy

Paul referred to both the “law” and the “commandment.” The law is the whole law, whereas the commandment is a particular commandment of the law, such as coveting.

The commandment is “holy” because it shows how separate God is from sin. The “commandment,” which is part of the law, represents all of the law in this case.

and just

God’s commandment is “just” or righteous because God’s absolute righteousness demands that He not compromise with sin. He makes no unfair demands on people because God is equitable in all His relations. He always operates in perfect conformity to His nature.

and good.

The design of the law of God has a good purpose. When God established the law, He kept our welfare or benefit in mind. That purpose is fellowship with God without any strings attached.


The true purpose of the law is to reveal sin against the nature of who God is.


Holiness produced by the flesh is detestable to God. Spiritual smugness carries an awful stench to His nostrils. God honors holiness that comes from Christ and by which Christians rest their lot. The groundwork of sanctification rests on justification by Christ. That justification, in addition to giving eternal life, gives us the right to fellowship with God on a daily basis.

Both salvation and sanctification rest on the work of God, not man. We must see our place in the grace of God, otherwise we will fail spiritually. By turning our gaze from self to the Savior, we operate on God’s principle for justification and sanctification. Counterfeit holiness will lead us away from that principle into a bastard sanctification, a sanctification unacceptable to God.