“Wherefore the Law {is} holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.”
Paul uses two different words for “law” in this verse 12:
1.      (Grk.–nomos)–Meaning:  “law.”  Referring to the Mosaic legalism as a whole.
2.      (Grk.–entolē)– Meaning, “commandment.” Referring to a specific commandment (although representative of the body of the Jewish legal system).

“Wherefore the Law is holy”
Literally:  “So that the Law is holy.”  Paul now draws the conclusion that the Law is not to be blamed, though these are its effects under existing circumstances.

                        WHEREFORE:  (Grk.–hote)–Greek conjunction literally meaning, “when, at which time; while, as long as, so that.”

          The source of all this is not the Law, but the corrupt nature of man. The Law is good; and yet the position of Paul is true: that it is not adapted to purify the heart of fallen man. Its tendency is to excite increased guilt, conflict, alarm, and despair. This verse contains an answer to the question in v. 7, “Is the law sin?”   
            Here Paul positively refutes the charge that he dishonored the Law.  The Law springs from, and partakes of, the holy nature of God; it is in every way just and right in itself; it is designed wholly for the good of man. It is pure in its nature and it almost looks as if Paul is attempting to “smooth the ruffled feathers” of his countrymen, to whom he had been showing the absolute insufficiency of the Law either to justify or save from sin: This is not to intimate that there is anything improper or imperfect in the Law as a rule of life.  
            The Law prescribes what is holy, just, and good for it comes from a holy, just, and good God.  Its purpose is to regulate the whole of the outward conduct, is holy; and the COMMANDMENT,
“Thou shalt not covet, which is to regulate the heart, is not less so.  All is excellent and pure; but it neither pardons sin nor does it purify the heart;.  It is because it is holy, just, and good that it condemns transgressors to death. The Law has one great deficiency: that is that to attain salvation under the Law is impossible, because it cannot deliver one from the flesh (3:20).  The Law cannot give holiness, for the flesh is the seat of sin.

“and the commandment is holy, and just, and good”–It springs from, and partakes of, the holy nature of God; and it is in every way just and right in itself.  It is designed wholly for the  good of man.  The modern revolt against law needs these words.                                                                                                

          COMMANDMMENT: (Grk.-entolē)–That is, every branch of the Law. The word, “commandment” is synonymous with the Law. It literally means, “that which is enjoined.          

                     HOLY:  (Grk.- hagia)–The commandment is God's and so holy like He is.

    JUST:  (Grk.–dikaia)-The Commandment is just in its requirements and designed forour good.        

   GOOD:  (Grk.–agathē)–The Commandment is designed wholly for the good of man. 

“Was then that which is good made death unto me?  God forbid.  But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.”

Paul has just shown that the Law, even though it does occasion or inspire sin, is just and good. He has also shown that through it sin slew him. Is the law death?  Nay, far from it. It is sin, not the Law, that is the source of death.   Sin is so exceedingly sinful, that it seizes upon the law, that which is holy, and just, and good, to work death .  It stirs up the carnal nature to rebel against the Law, to break it, and hence, to pass under the condemnation of death.

“Was then that which is good made death unto me?”
Literally:: “Then that {which is} good, {has it} become death to me?”  This is another objection, which Paul proceeds to answer. The depravity of sin is revealed in its violations of God's Law.

         The objection is this: “Can it be possible that that which is admitted to be good and pure, should be changed into evil? Can that which tends to life, be made death to a man?”  In answer to this, Paul repeats that the fault was not in the law, but was in himself, and in his own sinful tendencies..
        This is the question of the
Jew, with whom Paul appears to be disputing.  “Do you declare the law to be good, and yet turn around and say it is the cause of our death?”  No, it is not the Law that is the cause of your
death but sin.  It was sin which subjected us to death by the Law, justly threatening sin with death: which Law was given that sin might appear; might be set forth in its own colors; when we saw it subjected us to death by a law perfectly holy, just, and good; that sin,

“made death unto me”
Literally:  “become death to me”–See verses 8 and 10.  Again Paul raises the question of was it the Law which caused his ruin? Paul here turns around and answers his own question.

          Paul replies:  “God forbid” (Grk.–me genoito). That is, “By no means.” It was my own  wicked desires and tendencies that were the cause of it.  SIN: it was my own inbred sin that was working death in me by that which is good; by leading me to resist the Law, to sin against greater light and stronger motives, and thus become more sinful: such are the effects of human depravity when left to act itself out under the influence of mere law.
          Unfortunately it is a fact that the more clearly men in their natural state see the purity and extent of the Law of God, the more strenuously they resist it and by doing so, they increase their wickedness.  This shows the hateful nature and desperate tendency of human depravity, and the utter fallacy of all hope, from the influence of law merely, of ever removing or lessening it.

“but sin”– This is another of Paul’s personification of sin as in verse 8.  He again declares that  it was sin which was made death to me, inasmuch as it wrought death in me even by   that which is good.

            “that it might appear sin”
            Literally:  “that it appear {to be} sin.”  That it might be seen in its true light. The awfulness of sin is revealed in its violations of
God's Law.

That it might develop its true nature, and no longer be dormant in the mind. The Law of God is often applied to a man's conscience so that he may see how deep and desperate his depravity really is.  No man knows his own heart until the Law crosses his path, and shows him what he is.  

“might become exceedingly sinful.”
Literally: “might become excessively sinful.”–In the original this is a very strong expression, and is one of those used by Paul to express strong emphasis, or intensity, i.e., by hyperboles. 

         The sense here is that by the giving of the command, and its application to the mind, sin was completely developed; that it was excited, inflamed, aggravated, and showed to be excessively malignant and deadly.  Sin was not just a dormant, or slumbering principle; but it was awfully opposed to God and His Law.
          The sentiment is that the tendency of the Law is to excite the dormant sin of the bosom into active existence, and so reveal its true nature. It is desirable that that should be done; and as that is all that the Law accomplishes, it is not adapted to sanctify the soul. To show that this was Paul’s intent it is necessary for sin to be seen in its true nature, because:
1.        Man should know his true character and not be deceiving himself.
2.         It is one part of God's plan to develop the secret lusts of the heart, and to show everyone just what sort of creatures what really are.
3.         It is only by knowing this that the sinner will be induced to make some sort of remedy, and thereby strive to be saved. 
God often allows, and even leads, men to plunge into sin and to act out their nature, that they may see themselves as they really are, and then be alarmed at the consequences of their own actions.

        EXCEEDINGLY SINFUL: (Grk.–kath’ huperbolēn)–Literally “beyond measure; to an extraordinary degree.”  We might say this as, “as sinful as possible.” The excesses of sin reveals its real nature. It is only then some people get their eyes opened to sin’s reality and consequences..

          That the corruption of nature might not just be seen and known to be sinful, but exceeding sinful;  not simply contrary to the pure and holy nature of God, but as taking occasion by the pure and holy Law of God to exert itself the more, and so appear to be as the words, may be rendered, "exceedingly a sinner," or "an exceeding great sinner;"  Being the source and parent of all actual sins and transgressions.  Therefore, it was not the Law, but sin that was the cause of death which is discovered by the Law to be so very sinful.

So much for the Law in relation to the unregenerate man, of whom Paul is using himself as the example;
1.      In his ignorant, self-satisfied condition;
2.      Under humbling discoveries of his inability to keep the law,
3.      Through inward contrariety to it; finally
4.      As self-condemned, and already, in Law, a
death man.
We really are not sure as to what period of Paul’s history these circumstances relate. 

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.”
The remainder of this chapter (verses 14-25) has been the subject of no small degree of controversy. The question has been whether it describes the state of Paul before his conversion, or afterwards.

   “For we know”–We admit. It is a conceded, well-understood point.

“that the law is spiritual”– This does not mean that the law is designed to control the spirit, in contradistinction from the body, but Paul is showing that the evils of which he was speaking were not the fault of the law. The effect described was not the fault of the Law, but of the man who was sold under sin.

                        SPIRITUAL:  (Grk.–pneumatikos)–That is, is divine and adapted to our spiritual nature. Spirit-caused and Spirit given, and like the Holy Spirit.

            The word spiritual is often thus used in the Bible to denote that which is pure and holy, in opposition to that which is fleshly or carnal (cf. 8:5-6; Gal. 5:16-23). The flesh is described as the source of evil passions and desires; the spirit as the source of purity, or as that which is   agreeable to the proper influences of the Holy Spirit.

            Paul continues to show that it is not the Law, but sin is the source of death. The law is not to be considered to be just a system of external rites and ceremonies, nor even as a rule of moral action.  It is a spiritual system; it reaches to the most hidden purposes, thoughts, dispositions, and desires of the heart and soul; and it reproves and condemns everything, without hope of reprieve or pardon, that is contrary to eternal truth and rectitude.

“but I am carnal”–The present tense “I am” (Grk.-ego) shows that Paul is describing    himself as he was before the time of writing. This is the natural and obvious construction; and if this be not the meaning, it is impossible to account for his having changed the past tense (v. 7) to the present.

          EGO is a very interesting little word, with a powerful meaning.  It is used in both Latin and Greek, and in both languages it means the same thing,  In both those languages it means,  “I Am.”  It is interesting because this is the same Name that God told Moses was His own Name (Exodus 3:14).  In the KJV we read Moses asking whom should he tell the Children of Israel had sent him to lead them out of Egypt.  The reply that he got from God was: “I AM THAT I AM…”  Then God continued and said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.”
        Regarding this word EGO:  when we look at Exodus 3:14 in the LXX (Grk.-Septuagint) we see that it says,“And God spoke to Moses. Translated into English this reads,  “And God spoke to Moses saying, ‘I AM THE BEING.’”  and He said, ‘Thus shall you say to the Children of Israel, THE BEING  has sent me to you.’” Thus, we can almost conclude that man’s use of this word, EGO, is his attempt to make himself to be like God, like the great I AM Himself.  This can further be seen when we look back at what happened in the Garden of Eden as is recorded in Genesis 3:5.  In the KJV we read, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”  When we look at the LXX we see this  passage, if translated literally into English, would say, “For God knew that in whatever day you should eat of it your eyes would be opened, and you should be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
     “That you should be as gods”—that you should be as the I AMi.e., that you should be as the EGO.  And ever since then people have been striving toward that same end:  to be to be like, “I Am.,”  to be  like the great EGO.   Another interesting fact about this word EGO is that it makes a very interesting (and most telling) acrostic:

Isn’t that the truth!


CARNAL: (Grk.–sarkinos)–fleshly; sensual; opposed to spiritual. 


In the Scriptures the flesh is spoken of as the source of sensual passions and propensities (Gal. 5:19-21).  The sense is, that these corrupt passions still retained a strong, and withering, and distressing influence over the mind. The renewed man is exposed to temptations from his strong native appetites; and the power of these passions, strengthened by long habit before he was converted, has traveled over into religion, and they continue still to influence and distress him. It does not mean that he is wholly under their influence; but that the tendency of his natural inclinations is to indulgence.

“sold under sin”
Literally:  “Having been sold under sin.”   Hence, in a state of slavery to sin.  Sin has closed the mortgage and owns its slave. Although Paul here uses the present tense, in order to make the description more vivid, he is really describing his condition before he became a Christian.

The emphasis is not on the word “sold,” as if any act of selling had taken place, but the effect was as if he had been sold; i.e., he was subject to it, and under its control; and it means that sin, contrary to the prevailing inclination of his mind, (vv. 15-17), had such an influence over him as to lead him to commit it. The verses which follow this are an explanation of the sense, and of the manner in which he was “sold under sin.”

“For that which I do I allow not; for what I would do, that I do not; but what I hate, that do I.”

            “For that which I do”
            Literally: “For what I work out.”  In violation of the
Law of God.  That is, the evil which I do, the sin of which I am conscious, and which troubles me.

A general assertion concerning the employment of the person in question in the state which the apostle calls carnal, and sold under sin.   In obeying the impulses of my carnal nature I act more like the slave of another will than my own as a renewed man?  Here we have the conflict of the two natures, the old nature and the new nature. 

             WHICH I DO:  (Grk.–katergazomai)–Literally:  “I work out.”  This Greek word (katergazomai)-means a work which the agent continues to perform till it is finished, and is used by Paul (Phil. 2:12), to denote the continued employment of God's saints in his service to the end of their lives.

            “I allow not”

            Literally: “I do not know”–I do not approve; I do not wish it; the prevailing bent of my    inclinations and purposes is against it.

                        I ALLOW NOT:  (Grk.-ou ginosko) “I know not.”  I do not approve; I do not wish  it; the prevailing bent of my inclinations and purposes is against it.

 The word “allow” or “know,” however, is sometimes used in the sense of approving. (Rev. 2:24), “Which have not known {approved} the depths of Satan.”   (Comp. Psa. 101:4), “I will not know a wicked person” (Jer. 1:5). I do not love it, delight in it, or approve of it.  What the man “does” he knows not.  I do not approve; I do not wish it; the prevailing  bent of my inclinations and purposes is against it.

“for what I would”
Literally: “For what I do not will.”–That which I approve, and which is my prevailing and established desire. What I would wish always to do.  To obey perfectly the Law of God.  

“but what I hate”
Literally: But what I do not will.” What I do not approve of.  What is contrary to my judgment; my prevailing inclination; my established principles of conduct. 

To act in violation of it, or in any respect to fail of perfectly obeying it, The “I” he speaks of here is opposed to indwelling or governing sin; and therefore plainly denotes the principle of reason, the inward man, or law of the mind; in which, I add, a measure of the light of the Spirit of God shines, in order to show the sinfulness of sin.  These two different principles he calls, one flesh, and the other spirit (Gal. 5:17); where he speaks of their contrariety in the same manner that he does here.

“that do I” Literally:  “This I do.”  Under the influence of sinful desires, and carnal inclinations and desires. This represents the strong native propensity to sin; and even the      power of corrupt propensity under the restraining influence of the Gospel.

On this remarkable and important passage we may observe:
1.      That the prevailing inclination–the habitual fixed inclination of the mind of the Christian–is to do right. The evil course is hated; the right course is loved.

         This is the characteristic of a pious mind. It distinguishes a holy man from a sinner.
2.      The evil which is done is disapproved; is a source of grief; and the habitual desire of the mind is to avoid it, and be pure.
         This also distinguishes the Christian from the sinner.

It killed off all his hopes in himself, in his “flesh.”  Many earnest Christians make “resolutions” honest resolution to be “better,” to “quit” this sin or that bad habit—and we know what failures and despair comes as the result of our relying on our own wills.