What should we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! On the contrary, 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. And sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind. For apart from the law sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me. So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
Imagine yourself lost in late winter near a rocky and mountainous region. You are cold and need to find shelter out of the wind. You come across a cave that has a light dusting of snow covering the floor. It is still cold but a shelter out of the wind. You crawl inside the cave exhausted and near the edge of death as you have come down with a fever. You curl up in a ball and fall into a deep sleep for 3 days.
You are woken suddenly by the sound of hissing and rattling. You open your eyes to see that the floor of the cave no longer is covered with snow but with thousands of large and poisonous snakes. Vibrant and warm sun beams that fill the cave with light, however you are paralyzed with fear as the entire floor of the cave crawls with death.
What happened? The snakes were there when you crawled in the cave 3 days earlier. A light dusting of snow hid them from your sight as they lay dormant from the winter air. But when the sunbeams of light melted the snow and warmed the snakes, they came to life and now seek your destruction.
If you are bitten and death overtakes you, will you fault the sun or the snakes?
Sin is like the poisonous snakes living in the cave. It lies dormant in our hearts until the sunbeams of the law warm their bodies. Paul said that before he knew the law he was free. Then when the commandment came (do not covet), sin came to life and produced a world of covetousness in his breast. This is the intention of the law. The law is holy, just and good; as is the Lawgiver. The law reveals to us that we are filled with sin and need someone to cleanse us. The light of the law shows us that we need a snake catcher to come and rescue us while we lay helpless in our cave. One that can wipe out the entire body of snakes by taking every bit of poison in our place.