• Category: Religion
  • Words: 884
  • Grade: 100
Is the Law Good or Evil ? In the New Testament, the Pauline epistles play an important role in the development of Christianity and the Christian church. Arguably, the most important letters of Paul are that of the ones for the Christians of Rome. The letters to the Romans are slowly revealing the thought process of the apostle. In the letters to the Romans, the apostle discusses God's righteousness and forgiveness to all those who believed, the relationship between human, God, and the church, and "the question of the relation between the Gospel and the Law" (Wand 94). In Romans 7:1-25, Paul discusses to the Romans about the Law, referring to the Ten Commandments. What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I should not have known sin. I should not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, wrought in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died; the very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good (Romans 7:7-12). Clearly in this passage, Paul is blaming sin on the Law. Paul states that without the Law there would be no sin and that the Law brought about sin. "In other words, it is law that makes us both conscious of, and responsible for, sin" (Knox 59). If there had been no law then there would be no sin because the actions of man have no restrictions. "Sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law" (Romans 5:13). The law gives upon man restrictions that they must follow and obey. If man breaks this holy code, they are, basically, disobeying God. This disobedience is the nature of sin. "Through the law comes the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). Through this reasoning, Paul sees the law God created as evil. "The law then is `the power of sin' and release from this demonic power is for Paul as certainty an element in our salvation as is release from sin and death" (Knox 59). Yet, Paul contradicts himself. In Romans 7:12, Paul says "So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good. Paul also states that "the law is spiritual" (Romans 7:14). Paul justifies this by stating that the law was given to man by God. There is a sense of an ambiguity in Paul's letters to the Romans. Paul states that the law is both good and evil. In answering this paradox; The first remark is that when Paul speaks of the law as good, he is looking at it from God's point of view, as it were-----he is recognizing god's ultimate purpose in giving it-----whereas when he speaks of it as evil, he is looking at it from the point of the human being who finds himself inexorably obligated to it and at the same time hopelessly incapable of fulfilling it (Knox 61). The evil does not lie in the law but in ourselves. The law created by God is good because it was given to us by God. There is no evil in what God creates. The evil lies in human nature, more specifically, the temptation. Human beings, like any other animal, have a natural tendency to be curious. When humans are bounded by restrictions, human nature causes them to break the restrictions without realizing the consequences for the most part. This is evident in the creation stories referring to Adam and Eve. Their curiosity and temptation cause them to commit the ultimate sin that has doomed all of mankind thereafter. This is the evil that Paul refers to in Romans 7. The evil of sin lies deep within us and the law tempts us to let it loose. "Paul lays the blame not on the Law but on Sin and man's inability to do the good that he would" (Fitzmeyer 59). This is the point Paul tries to make when he refers to the law and sin in his epistles. Temptation is a human flaw that humankind surrenders to and thus leads us into sin. In conclusion, the law is not evil but, in fact, good. God created law to bring about order. Those who break the law are sinners. The evil lies within human nature. The temptation of breaking the law is the evil that lurks within our inner selves. "In a word, when Paul speaks of the law more objectively he tends to see it as good: when he speaks of it more existentially, he tends to see it as evil" (Knox 61). Works Cited Fitzmeyer, Joseph A. Pauline Theology: A Brief Stretch. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1967. Knox, John. Life In Christ Jesus. Connecticut: Seabury, 1961. The New American Bible. 1989-1990 ed. Kansas: Catholic Bible Publishers, 1970. Wand, J.W.C. What St. Paul Really Said. New York: Schocken Books,1968.
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