This particular Chapter in Romans talks about law and how living by sheer legalism we are perpetually driven into the sin. My point of clarification here is how we as Christians understand the law (as Apostle talks about law as a mirror) and yet not live entirely on legalistic assumptions? And how law in certain scenario isn’t a sin?
Thank you for your question!
I am sure there are others who will give much more in-depth and qualified answers. But, I have a few thoughts you might find helpful.
First, a great resource is The Finished Works of Christ by Francis Schaeffer. It is basically a commentary on Romans 1-8.
The law certainly acts as a mirror revealing to us the sin nature that is in our hearts. However, just as you look in the mirror at home to see something which is on your face, you do not use the mirror to clean yourself. On the Grace of Christ can do that.
Also, there are multiple facets to our relationship with God. There is Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification. Justification is what they tried to use the law for in the Old Testament. It was found to not be sufficient because it involved man. Justification has come through Grace and faith in Christ.
Sanctification, our being set aside, being in the world not of the world, comes through following Christ’s Law. This why we do not use Grace as an occasion to sin, we still have a standard to live up to.
Being legalistic is trying to use the law to obtain Justification, using the law to obtain Salvation. It is also the thought that if we break the law we are no longer justified or saved. While we have been redeemed from the curse of the law, we now follow God out of a sense of gratitude for what Christ as already done.
Brennan Manning in his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel says, “The Law is Grace, ethic is gratitude.” Further, in John Lennox and David Goodings book, Being Truly Human says, “As the proper motivation for moral living: it is the fact that initial salvation and acceptance with God is altogether by God’s unearned grace that puts a person’s subsequent life of spiritual discipline and progress on the right motivational basis.” We do not follow the law in order to obtain something from God. We have already received the gift of salvation and walk out our moral and ethical life from there.
If I didn’t fully answer your question or you have follow-ups I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Hope it helps.