Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
As we closed Romans 6 in the last study, the Apostle Paul exhorted believers to choose to serve the Lord and to cease from serving sin. Romans 6 teaches the Christian the way in which he should order his life. Romans 7, broadly speaking, teaches us that the law is no help to us, and is in fact a hindrance.
The law is a governor to control the old man, the man that we were in Adam. But the old man is crucified with Christ. The Christian is risen with Christ, and as we will learn in Ephesians, seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). This is not the law’s jurisdiction. To put ourselves back under the law is to live in Christ as though “old Adam” is not crucified with Christ. We do not need a corrections officer. We need a savior. In Christ we are to walk as alive from the dead, not as on parole, as putting ourselves back under the law will inevitably do. The Lord Jesus Christ is not our parole officer. He is our Savior.
The law was not made to make righteous people better. In 1 Timothy, the Apostle tells his son in the faith this:
1 Timothy 1:8–11 — “But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
The law will not make a man righteous, and its office is not for those that are righteous. Protestant Christianity generally understands the first part of this, but many will think of the law as the Christian’s sanctification. This is typical of very conservative Reformed doctrine. But for the Christian, the law is not sanctification. Our sanctification is Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:30–31 — “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”
There is a dispensational aspect that must be addressed. Israel, as a matter of covenant, was to keep the law as sanctification:
Exodus 19:5–6 — “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
But they failed in that covenant, for had they kept the law, they would have been the holy nation that they were called to be. But Paul had this to say about the law’s sanctifying work for Israel:
Hebrews 7:19 — “For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.”
Often, to argue the point, some will go back to Israel and say that the law was not their redemption, it was for a redeemed people. We are a redeemed people, so therefore the law does now apply to us. But this is not the case. The entire epistle to the Galatians is to a redeemed people to warn them against law-keeping for sanctification. The apostle tells them in no uncertain terms:
Galatians 3:1–3 — “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
That was the opening of Galatians chapter 3. The second to last verse of Galatians 2 is a very well known an famous verse, as it should be, as a “life verse” for many Christians:
Galatians 2:20 — “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
It should, however, be understood that the context of this “life verse” is this:
Galatians 2:16–3:3 — “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
The “I” that is crucified with Christ is the “I” that seeks for perfection or holiness (sanctification) by the works of the law. The law cannot sanctify anyone. It only proves unrighteousness.
But Christ is crucified to the law, and we are dead to law in Him. I am not saying this. The Apostle Paul, by inspiration of God, is saying this. He likens the law to a typical marriage law, an example that we should all be able to understand. A marriage is a legal relationship. One of those legal requirements is that, in this case, the wife in the relationship, is not to be married to another man. Pretty obvious, right? One of the vows taken in a marriage ceremony is “till death do us part”.
This example shows what happens at that death. The marriage, legally, is no longer binding this woman to this man. She is free from the vow because of that death.
The legal relationship to the law has also been abolished for the Christian in the death of Christ. “I through the law” (Christ was crucified under law, Galatians 4:4), “am dead to the law. I am crucified with Christ”
Galatians 3:13 — “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree…”
Some do argue that yes, we are not under the curse of the law, but we are under obligation to the law because it is God’s law so it is everlasting. But that is not what Paul tells the Romans or the Galatians. He doesn’t tell anyone else that either. He says plainly that we are dead to the law through the body of Christ. We bring fruit unto God, not under law, but under grace.
As we proceed to chapter 8, we will learn what serving God in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter looks like. Until then, Christian, rejoice in your freedom from sin by the death of Christ, and your freedom from the law by the death of Christ. He is to us, our righteousness, and our sanctification.
Now before I’m accused of lawlessness, or antinomianism, understand this: The Apostle Paul does not preach lawlessness. He preaches a much higher life than law keeping. Under grace, we don’t live in lawlessness. We live as alive from the dead.
If you are not saved, you are under judgment. God has declared you guilty, and your only hope is the righteousness that He gives you in Jesus Christ. You cannot and will not be saved by making yourself better, or more religious. You are guilty and cannot change that. But God has taken it upon Himself to give His righteousness as a gift to any and all that believe on Jesus Christ to life everlasting:
Romans 3:19–26 — “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
“But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
Accept this gift of righteousness today and be free from the guilt and burden of sin and God’s condemnation.
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 — “…Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures…”
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