While reading the book of Romans I came across a verse that didn’t seem to make sense. Romans 7:9 says, “Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” So, I enlisted the help of the famous Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, Monsieur Hercule Poirot, to help me sleuth this verse.
I asked Monsieur Hercule Poirot, “What’re your first thoughts about this verse?” “This verse, it presents a concept most difficult, mon ami.”, he replied, “As, no doubt you know, Hercule Poirot’s methods are his own. Order and method, and ‘the little gray cells’. Nevertheless, for this adventure, the great Poirot has enlisted some help to unravel this compact, complex, codex! I have inquired about this verse’s truth from Jesus, for He is the Truth (Jn. 14:16).”
“Monsieur Hercule Poirot, may I call you Hercule?”, I queried. “No, but you may call me Monsieur Poirot.”, he replied. “Okay, Hercule.”, I said, “What is the Holy Spirit compelling Paul to communicate? What does God mean by in this verse! My head feels like it’s going to explode!”, I exclaimed. Monsieur Poirot replied, rather icily, “Surely, the meaning, it must be quite simple, N’est-ce pas?
Monsieur Poirot continued, “Having reviewed numerous Biblical commentaries I have observed that many of the authors thrust and parry amongst themselves to champion their interpretation above all others. Nevertheless, I, most humbly, am prepared to expound upon this verse. And, I, Hercule Poirot, present it with the hope that I do no injustice to God’s word while using an allegory to clarify these few words in verse Romans 7:9:
Suppose I live an active, healthy life. Suppose, I’m the picture of health, so much so I belong on the cover of a WheatiesTM box! However, during my annual physical exam, the doctor sees a mole that doesn’t look right. A biopsy is taken, melanoma is found. Upon further testing, it is determined that malignant carcinoma has spread throughout my body, to the degree that it’s useless to treat. My oncologist sadly informs me that, in essence, I am a dead man walking. It’s just a matter of time before what was already in me, unseen, is now seen.
In both my lack of knowing and in my knowing the result is the same; I am a dead man.
“So,” I posited, “God is saying that sin is in everyone and sin kills everyone. That agrees with Romans 6:23, ‘the wages of sin is death.’ But why do animals die? They have not sinned.” Hercule Poirot sighed and said, “Why? This is because when Adam sinned God’s kingdom on Earth was transferred to the enemy of God. How can this be known? I looked into this and found in Romans 8:20-21, ‘For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.’” “Oh.”, I replied.
Hercule Poirot drily declared, “So, mon ami, I may think I’m fine but, Jesus, the Great Physician, reveals the sin that’s inside me. He may do this for me if I happen to go to an Easter Sunday church service, or someone in the family prays before Thanksgiving dinner, or I hear a co-worker talk about Jesus. In God’s way, I become aware of my death sentence.”
“I’m starting to understand.”, I exclaimed! “Fantastique!”, Hercule Poirot responded. He continued, “You may rightly ask, what about people that never hear the gospel? Well, God has given everyone sufficient knowledge to know their condition which leaves them without excuse. There can be no pretense of ignorance. You can get a glimpse of this in Romans 1:20 and 2:15.”
“Thanks, Hercule.”, I said.
So, here is the good news. Jesus can save us. We all die a physical death for “…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27) Our hope, our answer, can be seen in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior so now I’m no longer a dead man, walking. That’s good news.
Photo by João Silas on Unsplash