“I Was Alive Without the Law Once.” — Romans 7:9

“I Was Alive Without the Law Once.” — Romans 7:9
When Paul says that he was alive without the law, he does not mean that he did not know the law. He knew and understood the letter of it very well. When Paul says, “I was alive without the law once,” his meaning is this – There was a time when the law of God had never come home to my heart and conscience. I did not know its spirituality or its demands.
Lost in Religion
Saul of Tarsus was a lost religious man. He was zealous, devoted and strict. He kept the law in its letter all the days of his life. But he was as lost as the most debased barbarian who ever lived in the darkest corners of Africa. Yet, he was totally convinced that everything was well with his soul.
Though he was dead in sin, he was full of religious life. He enjoyed a false joy, a false peace, a false confidence, rested in a false hope, a false faith, a false assurance and was deluded by a false security, possessing all that religious legalists call “evidences” of salvation. There are many things which support men and give them security in self-righteous religion. Saul lacked none of those things. Saul’s proud, self-righteous security made him very zealous in his religion. He looked down upon others with disgust and scorn. He held sinners in contempt. He became a ferocious persecutor. — O beware of self-righteousness! As soon as we think ourselves better than others, we become the judges of others; and the next step is to carry out our sentence upon others.
Spirituality of the Law
Self-righteousness stems from a failure to understand the spiritual character of the law of God. Paul tells us that he was ignorant of the law’s spiritual character (Romans 7:7). “Like the rest of the Pharisees,” John Gill wrote, “he thought the law only regarded the outward actions, and did not reach to the spirits or souls of men, the inward thoughts and affections of the mind.”
Uncleanness of mind in God’s eyes is as obnoxious as uncleanness of life. An unclean thought is adultery. Anger is murder. Covetousness is theft. Love of self is idolatry. Saul had the respectability and esteem of high office in the church. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He came behind no one in matters of religious devotion. Read the third chapter of Philippians. Saul of Tarsus was a remarkable, highly respected figure in the religious world. He rested in a false evidence of God’s love and favor. He thought external reformation was an indication of inward grace (John 8:39-41). He strengthened his carnal security by comparing himself to those who were more profane and wicked than himself. He was deluded by that love of self, which causes a man to overlook his own faults and exaggerate the faults of others (Matthew 7:3-5).
Perfection Demanded
Saul of Tarsus was a man deceived with a wrong idea of God’s justice. He did not realize that the law of God demanded perfection and that the justice of God required an infinite atonement for every deviation from his holy law. Through all these things, the god of this world blinded his mind, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto him. Like so many today, Saul of Tarsus was a man lost in religion. His righteousness kept him from Christ!
Don Fortner

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