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When the Commandment Came, Sin Revived

Category Articles
Date February 17, 2005

‘When the commandment came, sin revived’ (Romans 7.9) has illustrations in the personal experience of most of us. I remember as a boy walking home from chapel through some public gardens: the wide path had well-kept lawns both sides, and the plain cast-iron notice was pegged in the grass, ‘Keep off the grass’. How one’s feet itched until one had just dared to plant one’s shoe-sole on those verdant blades of grass! The commandment broken, fearful furtive looks over one’s shoulder were taken to see if one’s transgression had been seen. It had, by One above.

Again, a friend tells me of the Botanical Gardens, Singapore: there grow beautiful rubber plants with their glossy dark-green leaves. There is the notice: ‘Do not write on the plants’! Whoever thought of doing so until they saw the notice? The consequence – with pins or knives or suchlike ‘pens’ people have etched words all over those glossy green leaves. The prohibition sparked off the inborn disobedience of fallen human nature once again, as described in Romans 7, verses 7-11.

And one more: the village school in the 1940s was approached by a path at the side of some residential property. One day, after the children were somewhat noisy, the headmistress told them that they must go home quietly. That afternoon the class got down the path in silence, but just outside the gate (not in school now) they bellowed their heads off for all they were worth, before guiltily scampering away. Next morning came: the headmistress’s eyes told them what was coming: ‘Very well, you will each learn and recite to me individually tomorrow morning without fail David’s lament for Jonathan’ (2 Samuel 1.19-27). Over 200 words! And learn them they did!

But I did not quote all the verse to start with! ‘When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died’ (Romans 7.9). God told man (Adam) at the first that if he sinned, he would die: and though physically Adam did not die until he was 930 years old (Genesis 5.5), yet the very day he sinned his communion with God was gone, peace with God left him (and that alone is life); then only the sacrifice of an innocent life instead of his could make atonement, and fit them to appear before God as sure as they believed (Genesis 3.21). This is what Paul the apostle proved, as he records in his epistle to the Romans, that a sinner is justified by faith in Christ Jesus, God’s Way of saving. Read Romans through in all its wonderful detail!

[David Oldham is the editor of Cheering Words, a little monthly paper for children, from which February edition this article was reprinted with the editor’s permission (22 Victoria Road, Stamford, PE9 1HB).]

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