Dead to the Law
Good Morning! Lets turn in our Bibles to the Book of Romans chapter 7. One of the first things that we will see this morning is that the section of Romans 7 we are looking at, Paul directly parallels with a chunk in chapter 6. In chapter 6 he addressed sin. He addressed our need to die to sin so that we are free from sin. He used an illustration, inspired by the Holy Spirit to try to communicate Godly spiritual truths to our limited human ability to understand.
Here in Chapter 7, Paul is going to do the same thing, except instead of addressing sin, he will be addressing the law. He is going to use an illustration to communicate his point. He is going to address our need to die to the law so that we are free from the law. And he is going to show how who and what we are in Christ and what he has done for us is infinitely greater than anything the law could ever do for us.
We are only going to be covering a couple of verses this morning, but we are going to be looking at Paul at some of his clear and yet confusing best here. Before we go any further, lets look at the text this morning and then we can dive deeper. We will be reading romans chapter 7, verses 1-6, and I will be reading out of the English Standard Version.
Or do you not know, brothers[a]—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.[b] 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
So, Chapter 7 takes place in the middle of a section where, Paul’s point is kind of, The Law is there for a purpose. The purpose is not what you have all assumed for however many years, but it is there for a purpose. He has addressed the arguments that since god is good and grace will continue to exceed sin, we should continue to sin so that Gods grace will continue to grow. He has addressed that the law doesn’t matter so we don’t need to follow it. He has addressed the idea that the law is what will save us and bring us righteousness. It wont and it can’t.
And so, if we look at the law as our way to God, if we see obedience to the law as a way to earn our own righteousness, if we see the law as what we need to do in order to be saved, then we have a wrong understanding of the law. Paul points out here that when we have a wrong understanding, when we put our trust and faith in the law and when we think that we can earn anything by keeping, even when we think we can keep it, it is basically a millstone around our neck. It is bondage, it is death.
He has established that if we are justified, if we have been saved by grace through faith, if we have put our hope and trust in Christ, His righteousness and His completed and finished work on the cross, then the law has no hold on us.
The idea here breaks down like this. When we die, we will stand before God and we will be judged by his righteous and holy judgment. We will be judged on 1 of two things. If, as I just said, we are justified and trust in Christ, then we will be judged by Christs imputed righteousness, His blood covering up our unrighteousness. God will look at us and judge us by the finished work of Christ on the cross.
However, if we never did repent of our sins and believe in the Gospel, if we never did see that our works accomplish nothing, if we continued to put our hope and trust in our righteousness and our obedience to the law, then the law and the demand for perfect obedience is the standard by which we will be judged. A God sees all. He will strip everything down and we will stand before, and everything that we have done in the dark will be brought to the light.
And if there was one point that we sum up that Paul has made so far in this letter it is that none of us have any of our own righteousness. We have all broken the law. We have all failed to meet the perfect standard that God has laid out.
Yes, God is a God of love. Yes, God is a God of Mercy. Yes, God is a God of Grace. But God is also Holy. Holiness is the top of the food chain when it comes to Gods attributes. It is the only attribute of God that is repeated multiple times, in succession. Namely, in Isaiah and in Revelation, the Lord our God is referred to as Holy, Holy, Holy. He is never referred to as Love, Love, Love. He is not referred to as merciful, merciful, Merciful. He is not referred to as Jealous, Jealous, Jealous. All his other attributes he is completely and they are true. But one rises above the rest. That is his holiness. Holiness requires meeting that perfect standard and we cannot do that.
So, what ever we put our hope and our trust in, whether Christ’s righteousness or our own, that is the standard by which we will be judged. With one, we cannot succeed in reaching the standard. In the other, Christ cannot fail in meeting that standard.
And it is with that ground work laid down and established that Paul moves forward in these 6 verses. And his main point is that, just like we die to sin, we need to die to the law. Again, he is not saying that we are not to follow the law. God gave us this moral code, this Right and Wrong, this standard of behavior for a reason.
But when we are trusting in the law, when we think we can keep and therefore earn our salvation, then we are bound to the law. We are slaves to it and it keeps us captive, just like sin does. In order to be free from, just like sin, we need to die to it. We law only has that binding power so long as we are alive in it, meaning so much as we are giving our lives to it, depending on it, trusting in it, to do what only God can do. So, we must die to the law.
Here again, Paul uses an analogy here, a Holy Spirit inspired analogy, to try to communicate to our minds what God is telling us here. Last week, he used the analogy of slaves and masters. This week he uses the language and idea of marriage to bring out his point.
Lets be clear for a moment. Just as last week was not about actual slavery, especially in the way we think about, Paul is using marriage as an example, he is not teaching on marriage here. Context matters. If we are married and bound to the law, then we cannot be bound to anything else, especially and including the grace and righteousness of Jesus Christ. What releases us from that binding? Death. A spouse dies and a person is then free from the marriage covenant. The person is then free and can go and marry another person.
So it is with the law. Again, if we are married to the law, we cannot be married to grace and to Christ. Once we die to the law, through death our covenant of works is broken, then we are free to enter into another, a different covenant, the covenant that God had in store for us from the beginning.
John Calvin, in his commentary on this passage in Romans, noted this about the way Paul used this analogy. Calvin wrote, “He (Paul) might have said, in order to make the comparison complete, “a Woman after the death of her husband is loosed from the bond of marriage: the law, which is in the place of a husband to us, is to us dead; then we are free from its power.” Calvin through out his commentary also used language such as that, in death to the law, “The bond of the law was destroyed, ; not that we may live according to our own will, like a widow who lives as she pleases while single; but that we may be bound to another husband; nay, that we may pass from hand to hand, as they say, that is, from the law to Christ.”
Paul, after issuing this illustration, continues in verse 4, Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
Paul again uses language and arguments that goes back to the previous chapter, when he brings in the symbolism of baptism. Now, we didn’t really spend much time on this, so let’s go back and read Romans 6:3-5, where Paul writes, Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Jesus came down from heave, incarnated as a man, not primarily as an example, but instead as a sacrifice, as a substitute. However, he is also an example. He was baptized by John the Baptist to show that us being baptized is an important part of our spiritual relationship with Him. And we see in the act of baptism some incredible symbolism and parallels to what Jesus did here on earth. We see in the act of being baptized, death, burial and resurrection. The reason that we get baptized after we are saved is to show outwardly, symbolically, what has happened inside us. That we have died to sin, and as we see here, to the power and bondage of the law. That our old, sinful selves are buried and done with. And we are resurrected, or born again as married or bonded to Jesus Christ. We are new creations in Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
So we have died to the law, and have been brought back to life through and with Jesus Christ. And Paul gives and application. He gives a why here at the end of the verse. In order that we may bear fruit for God.
Thats our mission while we are here on Earth. Of course, if we are bearing fruit for God in our lives, that will fall under the umbrella of what our created purpose is, the reason God even created human beings, and that is to give glory to God in all that we do and in all who we are.
Paul again brings out the before and the after. He shows the only two choices. Death or life. Sin or righteousness. Christ or Law. Works or Grace. When we are in sin and bound by the law, the fruit that we bear is fruit for death. We have referenced numerous times throughout Romans the works of the flesh, which could be other wise called fruit of death, that Paul wrote down over in Galatians 5. Do you remember that? Verses 19-21:
9 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do[e] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Charles Spurgeon writes “Sin is the transgression of the law. Therfore, out of the law, by reason of our corruption, springs sin. And in our past lives, we did indeed find sin to be very fruitful. It grew very fast in our members and it brought forth much fruit unto death.”
Without dying to sin and without dying to the law, being bound to the power and consequences of the law, we are not capable of anything but sin. And being bound to the power and the consequences of the law, we will therefore be judged in accordance to the law. And as we, and more importantly and accurately, Paul has clearly established, that is a trial that will not judge in our favor.
But, look back at Galatians 5 again for a moments. The immediate verse before the works of the flesh that we just read, verse 18, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” And then back again to Romans 6, the last verse we are looking at this morning, verse 6, Paul writes, “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
We have been freed and he who is free is free indeed. We no longer serve sin, bound by the law. We now serve God, bound to Christs righteousness by the Holy Spirit. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to bear fruit of the grace that has been poured out on us by God the Father. We, again, as Paul writes in the last few verses of Galatians 5, what those fruit look like. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
You know, there is a lot going on in the world today, in the country, in our state especially and probably in our jobs or communities that are baiting us, tempting us into behaving as if we are still slaves to sin. We are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of evil. Those powers and principalities are hard at work to try to get us to bear bad fruit, to respond to those around us with the same intolerance, vileness, hatred, and lack of civility that is being thrown at us from all directions.
And yet we see here, and elsewhere, all through out the Scriptures, that we are called to rise above that. We are called to pursue righteousness, to follow the commands of God. The Holy spirit will allow us to bear the Good fruit that the Bible itself describes. Others will see this and call us pharisees. They will cry “Legalism!” But the truth is that this is evidence that we are free from the law. We are instead called to pray for our enemies and to love those who persecute us. We are called to, in many places, as so far as it is up to us, get along with everyone around us. The strength to do that is not in us, not by ourselves, but is granted to us through the Holy Spirit.
One more quote from John Calvin, as he says, “We ought carefully to remember that this is not a release from the righteousness which is taught in the law, but from its rigid requirements and the curse which thence follows.”
And that curse is what Jesus Christ has saved us from, if we have in fact believed in the gospel and put our hope and trust in his finished, completed work on the cross. That act of pure love, that god so loved us, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, that act on the cross, we will remember here this morning as we do every first Sunday of the month.
Jesus not only knew ahead of time, the Trinity planned before the creation of the World that this sacrifice, this act of perfect love would be required and how it would take place, but Jesus told his disciples that it was about to happen and instituted this sacrament as a remembrance of it.
We remember the sacrifice, the blood shed. We remember what that means to us, as those who have turned to follow Jesus Christ. It means that we have been declared righteous in his sight and we get to spend eternity with Jesus Christ and God the Father.
We often take this time somberly and soberly, because of what it cost Jesus, what he had to go through. We celebrate because Jesus is alive and we get to partake in eternal life with him if we chose to follow him.
Now, Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 11 some things about partaking in communion. First of all, this is for those that have made a commitment to Jesus. This is a celebration and remembrance for what he won, what he purchased when he paid the penalty for our sins and rose from the grave. If you have not made that commitment, out of respect, please pass the plate.
Paul also makes it clear that we need to be in the right state of mind, that we need to be honest with ourselves and with God and about our sins.
I greatly encourage you, as we are passing out the items for communion, take that time to talk to God. Make sure you are examining yourself and you are taking it for the right reasons. Again, please do not be afraid to pass the plate along. There will be no glances, no judgments. What is important is for each of us to make sure that we are in right standing with God.
Paul gives us a picture of Communion in 1 Corinthians chapter 11. In verses 23-25 he writes:
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[f] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[g] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
So, what we are going to do here, is Mike and Jim are going to come up here. One will pray for the crackers, which symbolize the broken body of Jesus on the cross. They will pass them out and when we are finished we will take the cracker together as a church family.