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Romans 7:7

ESV What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
NIV What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.'
NASB What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Far from it! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COVET.'
CSB What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! But I would not have known sin if it were not for the law. For example, I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, Do not covet.
NLT Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, 'You must not covet.'
KJV What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.

What does Romans 7:7 mean?

Paul has previously written in Romans about the connection between the law of Moses and human sinfulness. In Romans 5:20, he wrote that "the law came in to increase the trespass," and in verse 5 in this chapter: "our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members." As with many spiritual ideas, it's easy to miss the context of a statement, misunderstand it, and take offense as a result. Or, to spin those words off into something the author never really intended.

Paul's critics may have suggested he was teaching that the law was, in itself, a bad thing. He quickly answers his own question about this by saying "By no means!" This again uses the phrasing mē genoito in the original Greek, a strong, emphatic "may it never be!" This also follows Paul's pattern of refuting a wrong idea by asking and rejecting an imagined question about it. Paul clarifies: he doesn't believe the law to be sinful. Instead, it is the way that God reveals to human beings that we are sinful. It shows us what sin is and then reveals our desire to sin in that specific way.

Paul uses the example of coveting, deeply desiring something (or someone) that belongs to another person. God's law commanded Israel, "You shall not covet" (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). Paul learned what coveting was, in a formal sense, from the law. Then, as he writes in the following verse, he discovered the sin of covetousness in himself.
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