An illustration from marriage. 7:1-6
Having just explained how a believer is free from the slavery of sin, Paul now explains how we are free from the oppressive dominion of the law. In our passage for study, Paul reminds us that the function of the law is to expose sin, make sin more sinful, and thus drive us into God's merciful arms. A believer, having found forgiveness in Christ, is released from the law's dominion. Freed from the law, a believer is free to bring forth the fruit of Godly living in the power of the indwelling compelling Spirit of Christ.
v1. As far as a believer is concerned, the law is like a marriage partner. When our marriage partner dies, we are free to marry another. The point Paul is making is that God's law properly serves to expose sin and drive the sinner to God for mercy. Given that a believer has found mercy in Christ, has found forgiveness and thus, eternal life, the law's "authority" is superseded; it is like a deceased marriage partner. A believer is no longer bound by the law.
v2-3. Paul now develops his point using his marriage analogy. The focus of the analogy is upon the complete cessation of the authority of the marriage partner upon the death of that partner, and of the right of the living partner to form a new relationship. A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives; once he dies, she is no longer bound to him.
v4. Paul now draws out his principle. There is a sense where, like a marriage partner, the law of God has died. In fact, one could say, God has put it to death. This occurred because we found the grace of God's forgiveness in the cross of Christ, in his body offered as a sacrifice for us. As a consequence, we are free to "belong" to another, to marry another, namely, Christ, our risen Lord. Because of this union with the risen Christ we begin to live the life that Christ lives, we begin to be like him, we begin to "bear fruit for God's glory."
v5. In our natural fallen state, driven by our sinful cravings, the law served only to arouse our sinful nature to even greater disobedience; it served to expose our sinfulness, stirring us to even greater sin, so confirming our ultimate condemnation.
v6. Yet, a believer, "in Christ", is "released from" the "authority" of the law; we are no longer oppressed by "the old way of the written code"; it is dead to us. Rather, through the indwelling compelling of the Spirit of Christ we begin to "serve in the new way of the Spirit." Through faith in the renewing work of the indwelling Spirit of Christ we "bear fruit for God's glory". Christ's love compels us to begin to live as Christ lives. We begin to fulfill in our lives the righteous requirements of the law.
Free from the law|
When I was a little bloke, our neighbor had a wonderful selection of old batteries in his backyard. I was convinced that my tricycle would somehow go better with a battery tied to the back. Our neighbor read my longing eyes and kindly gave me one, but only one. Of course, the tricycle didn't perform as well as I thought it would and so I concluded that an extra battery was needed. Having climbed the fence and strapped on a second battery, I was soon given a very important lesson about theft.
It's an interesting fact of life, that the "don't do it" seems to promote the doing of it. We may not demolish our moral code, but we will certainly test the boundaries. We may not climb the fence and steal all the batteries, but we may steal one. And why is this so? Our passage for study gives us the answer. We are "controlled by the sinful nature" and its passions are "aroused by the law."
The ten commandments are displayed in quite a number of churches and I have always wondered what the intention was in placing them there. Was it to make me a better citizen, a more worthy follower of Christ, or at least, to help restrain my excesses? I have to confess to you, that if that was the intention, it has failed, failed miserably. I have regularly broken most of them, and certainly in spirit, broken all of them. The law but reminds me of my corruption, even making me more corrupt.
Thankfully, the intention of the law to make sin more sinful has a high purpose. Many years ago the law drove me to the foot of the cross to find mercy, to find a righteousness that is given rather than earned, a righteousness that not only makes me right in the presence of God, but impels me to do right.
These days, when I look upon those marble tablets with the commandments so beautifully carved on them, I am reminded of God's mercy, of his abounding grace. For me, the law has performed its divine task and so I am "released from the law."
Consider and discuss v6. What once bound us? How is it dead? In what sense are we released from the law? Explain the "new way of the Spirit."
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