4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. 7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” 8But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead.9And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment, sin became alive10and I died. So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!11For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.
Date: 55-58 C.E. (based on scholarly estimates)
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And this is the Torah which Moses put [sam] before the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 4:44)? The word sam is written with the letter sin and means put; it is phonetically similar to the word sam written with the letter samekh, meaning a drug. This use of this word therefore alludes to the following: If one is deserving, the Torah becomes a potion [sam] of life for him. If one is not deserving, the Torah becomes a potion of death for him. And this idea is what Rava said: For one who is skillful in his study of Torah and immerses himself in it with love, it is a potion of life; but for one who is not skillful in his studies, it is a potion of death.