Dead To The Law
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Chapter 6 taught us a blessed truth believers are dead to sin. It can no longer force us to do evil. Its tyranny over us is broken. It can only harass us. Power is available to any believer to overcome any sin, regardless of what it might be.
Chapter 7 teaches us believers have died to the Law. Let me hasten to explain exactly what dead to the Law means. It may help if we first of all examine what it does not mean. Death to the Law does not mean doing away with the Law of God.
Nowhere do the Scriptures release us from reverence and submission to the laws of God. As a standard of conduct, the Law has never been nullified or improved on. We are still expected to obey the laws of God, and should gladly do so.
Being dead to the Law means we no longer trust in it for salvation, nor fear its condemnation. Believers have died to trusting in law for salvation, and have died to fearing the everlasting punishment we deserved to reap from having broken the Law.
Properly understanding what it means to be dead to the Law will provide a deep sense of assurance in the believers heart. Hence we follow the reasoning of the Apostle Paul in this chapter with huge enthusiasm. May God grant us understanding.
Romans 71 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
Paul begins his case by stating a general principle that is true of all forms of law, and applies to all people Law has jurisdiction over an individual only as long as that person lives. Death dissolves all legal obligations. However terrible the crime, human retribution cannot reach a criminal after death. If a lawbreaker dies, the case is closed. We cannot sue a dead man directly, or exact punishment from him.
Romans 72-3 For the woman which hath a 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.
In these verses Paul moved from a general principal to a particular illustration. He used the image of marriage for it is an excellent example to illustrate that law can bind only until death. Husbands and wives are bound to each other for as long as both are alive. But marital obligations cease immediately upon the death of either spouse.
Death alone ends all obligations with regard to the marriage vow. And once death comes, the living spouse is free to contract a new relationship.
Some ask, what about divorce This subject is not in Pauls mind here. He is considering marriage as God originally meant for it to be, dissoluble only by death.
However, since people do often turn to this verse to discuss the issue of divorce, it may be wise simply to share a couple of thoughts on that subject.
In our relationship before God, we have to begin where we are. We cannot undo the past. If you are married, stay married. If you are divorced and remarried, you have not committed an unpardonable sin. The second marriage is called adultery, but its guilt is not ongoing and everlasting. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. All we can do is carry on from where we are right now.
Now we return to our text. Paul stated that Law has jurisdiction over us only as long as we live. He illustrated this with marriage. Now he moves to the application.
Romans 74a Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become
dead to the law by the body of Christ
To analyze Pauls thoughts here, we must realize Paul viewed every lost person as married to the Law. By this he meant the lost are trying to earn salvation by good works, yet fear the condemnation of Law because they cannot be perfect.
Believers are set free from this marriage to bondage and hopelessness. The moment we receive Christ, we die to the Law we no longer try to live by it in order to earn salvation, and know it can never condemn us to Hell if we do not live up to it.
The body of Christ makes this death possible. At conversion, God counts us as having shared in the death of Jesus at Calvary. There He paid the sin debt, and endured our deserved penalty. The demands of the Law have been satisfied.
As far as everlasting destinies are concerned, God is finished with the Law. All hinges solely on our relationship to Christ. Law cannot save or condemn us.
This legal transaction God reckons as so. He reckons us as having died with Jesus to the Law. Since He keeps the books, what He determines is all that matters.
The Law exacted its full penalty on Jesus at the cross. Believers are reckoned as sharing in Christs death. Hence, the Law can never again condemn a believer. We are dead to the Law, and therefore beyond its jurisdiction. Realizing this should bring great peace and victory into a believers life.
Romans 74b . . .that ye should be married to another,. . .
God counts the believer as dead to the Law. But this does not mean the believer is free to live a single life of absolute independence under ones own authority. No, the purpose of reckoning us dead is that we may be married to another husband, that we may pass from hand to hand (Calvin).
We are declared dead to the Law that we might be legally married to another. The moment of our death to the Law is the moment we become married to Jesus.
Our union with Christ is a second marriage. We died to the Law with Christ, were buried with Jesus, and resurrected with Him to enjoy a new marriage with Him.
We are considered wives of Christ. God help us understand whose we are, and what we are in Him. We often live as paupers, though we are married to a Prince.
We are married to Jesus. I confess, much to my dismay, I have rarely viewed myself as a wife of Jesus. I have pondered being His child, slave, laborer, preacher, and teacher but rarely His wife. Yet this is exactly what Paul was teaching here.
I am more than a child, slave, laborer, preacher, or teacher. I am a wife beloved of the Lord. He voluntarily chose me as an object of love, and, best of all. . . .
Romans 74c . . .even to him who is raised from the dead,. . .
The One to whom we are married will live forever. When we couple this with the fact we have been given eternal life (623), we realize neither party in this relationship will ever die. Hence, the marriage can never be dissolved.
Christs life lasts forever, as does the believers. Hence, there can never be a divorce in this relationship. It is binding forever. The connection will be perpetual. This means I can never be severed from Him. Glory to God This is worth shouting about. Hallelujah And what should be the immediate result of this union
Romans 74d . . .that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
Even as human marriages produce children, even so our union with Christ produces offspring. As the wife of Christ, we are to bring forth fruit unto God.
What kind of fruit Fruit unto holiness (622). The purpose of our marriage to Jesus is not merely to receive forgiveness, happiness, or healing. Rather, its end is to be holiness, the setting apart of ones self wholly to the Beloved.
We should not look upon our marriage to Christ with eyes of selfishness. Rather, it should be our desire to commit ourselves to serving only Him forever. I once heard a young Christian lady say she was preparing herself for her upcoming marriage by consciously and constantly practicing love to God. She hoped she would in this way become used to relating to her husband in the same way.
Her words are wise, and not only for prospective wives. Her attitude toward Christ should be the attitude of us all. Our new marriage is not meant for selfish indulgence. It is to be a relationship that pleases our Husband and Father-in-Law.
We dont worry about being neglected. We know our Husband is going to care for us well. Our only concern should be how we can please Him.