1 Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.
4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. – Romans 7:1-6
Something in human nature makes us want to go to extremes, a weakness from which Christians are not wholly free. “Since we are saved by grace,” some argue, “we are free to live as we please,” which is the extreme of license.
“But we cannot ignore God’s law,” others argue. “We are saved by grace, to be sure; but we must live under law if we are to please God.” This is the extreme expression of legalism.
What really is “legalism”? It is the belief that I can become holy and please God by obeying laws. It is measuring spirituality by a list of dos and don’ts. The weakness of legalism is that it sees sins (plural) but not sin (the root of the trouble). It judges by the outward and not the inward. Furthermore, the legalist fails to understand the real purpose of God’s law and the relationship between law and grace.
Do you ever feel the need to follow “the rules” to get the love God freely pours out?
When these times are on your heart, how do you escape them?
So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. Nothing but the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus can make any sinner free from the law of sin and death. Believers are delivered from that power of the law, which condemns for the sins committed by them. And they are delivered from that power of the law which stirs up and provokes the sin that dwells in them. Understand this not of the law as a rule, but as a covenant of works. In profession and privilege, we are under a covenant of grace, and not under a covenant of works; under the gospel of Christ, not under the Law of Moses. The difference is spoken of under the similitude or figure of being married to a new husband.
The second marriage is to Christ. By death we are freed from obligation to the law as a covenant, as the wife is from her vows to her husband. In our believing powerfully and effectually, we are dead to the law, and have no more to do with it than the dead servant, who is freed from his master, have to do with his master’s yoke. The day of our believing, is the day of being united to the Lord Jesus. We enter upon a life of dependence on him, and duty to him. Good works are from union with Christ; as the fruitfulness of the vine is the product of its being united to its roots; there is no fruit to God, till we are united to Christ. The law, and the greatest efforts of one under the law, still in the flesh, under the power of corrupt principles, cannot set the heart right with regard to the love of God, overcome worldly lusts, or give truth and sincerity in the inward parts, or anything that comes by the special sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. Nothing more than a formal obedience to the outward letter of any precept, can be performed by us, without the renewing, new-creating grace of the new covenant.
Paul next proceeds plainly to show what might be inferred from the preceding chapter. Although he had there described believers as dead to the guilt of sin, he had, notwithstanding, by his earnest exhortations to watchfulness and holiness, clearly intimated that they were still exposed to its seductions. He now exhibits this fact, by relating his own experience since he became dead to the law and was united to Christ By thus describing his inward conflict with sin, and showing how far short he came of the demands of the law, he proves the necessity of being dead to the law as a covenant, since, in the highest attainments of grace during this mortal life, the old nature, which he calls flesh, still remains in believers.
At the same time he represents himself as delighting in the law of God, as hating sin, and looking forward with confidence to future deliverance from its power. In this manner he illustrates not only the believer’s real character, but the important fact that the obedience of the most eminent Christian, which is always imperfect, cannot have the smallest influence in procuring his justification. He had proved that men cannot be justified by their works in their natural state. He now shows, by a reference to himself, that as little can they be justified by their works in their regenerated state.
And thus he confirms his assertion in the 3rd chapter, that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified. He might have described more generally the incessant combat between the old and new natures in the believer; but he does this more practically, as well as more efficiently, by laying open the secrets of his own heart, and exhibiting it in his own person.
It appears that Paul has confused his illustration, but he has not. When we were unsaved (“in the flesh,” Rom. 7:5), we were under the authority of God’s law. We were condemned by that law. When we trusted Christ and were united to Him, we died to the law just as we died to the flesh (Rom. 6:1–10). The law did not die; we died.
But in Paul’s illustration from marriage, it was the husband who died and the wife who married again. If you and I are represented by the wife, and the law is represented by the husband, then the application does not follow the illustration. If the wife died in the illus- tration, the only way she could marry again would be to come back from the dead. But that is exactly what Paul wants to teach! When we trusted Christ, we died to the law; but in Christ, we arose from the dead and now are “married” (united) to Christ to live a new kind of life!
The law did not die, because God’s law still rules over men. We died to the law, and it no longer has dominion over us. But we are not “lawless”; we are united to Christ, sharing His life, and thus walking “in newness of life.” Romans 8:4 climaxes the argument: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” In the old life of sin, we brought forth fruit “unto death,” but in the new life of grace, we “bring forth fruit unto God.” To be “dead to the law” does not mean that we lead lawless lives. It simply means that the motivation and dynamic of our lives does not come from the law: it comes from God’s grace through our union with Christ.
What things in your life are you still a slave to? (Even if you know you are free by the price paid for you by God)
We know this is a tough question, but we are here together and accountable. There is no comdemnation, just an opportunity to get something holding yoiu back from joy into the light.
Search yourself and commit yourself to the marriage you are in with the most perfect lover there is. Don’t get down when you find things, be happy that you are forgiven and that God is right here waiting for the opportunity to reconcile.