Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.

When Did He Know? 

I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.    Romans 7:9


In this verse Paul is referring to the tenth commandment—“You shall not covet …” Paul was “alive” until he began attempting to obey the tenth commandment. His attempt not to covet brought the sin nature back into power which resulted in a state of spiritual failure he called “death.” More than likely this took place within months after his conversion and after the sovereign period of walking in grace.


Paul testifies throughout this passage of scripture that attempting to keep the law brought his sin nature back into power in order that he might understand his sin nature and the purpose of the law.


In Romans 7:5 Paul had written:


For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.


But when and how did Paul know that his attempts to keep the law brought his sin nature into power? Paul testifies in Galatians 1:15-17:


But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace,  to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, … but I went to Arabia … 


The larger context of the Galatians 1:15-17 passage indicates that at the same time God revealed to Paul that Christ lived in him, He also revealed his oneness with Christ in the crucifixion, burial and resurrection. It is likely that while Paul was in Arabia—the place where Moses received the law—God revealed to him that the law was not given as a way of life but was given to create a spiritual state of “death” that he might be driven to grace for “life.”


What happened in the life of Paul happens in the lives of all Christians who come to understand and live out their union with Christ. When God gets us ready—and it may take years—He shows us that the sins that leave us in a state of “death” are the result of our “doing our best for Jesus” rather than permitting Him to live out His life through us.