Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Introduction: Chapter 6 taught us the blessed truth that believers have died to sin. It can no longer force us to do evil. Its tyranny over us is broken. Sin can only taunt and harass us. There is power available to any believer to overcome any sin, regardless of what it might be. Believers are dead to sin.
Chapter 7 teaches that believers have died to the Law. Let me hasten to explain exactly what “dead to the Law” means. It may help if we firsst of all examine what it does not mean. Death to the Law does not mean doingd 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 nulllified. We are still expected to obey the laws ofl God, and should gladly do so.
Being dead to the Law means one no longer trusts in it for salvation, and no longer fears its condemnation. The ;believer has died to ever trusting in law for salvation. He has also died to the everlasting punishment he deserved to reap from having broken the Law.
A proper understanding of what it means to be dead to the Law will provide a deep sense of assurance in the believer’s heart. Hence we follow the reasoning of the Apostle Paul in this chapter with great enthusiasm. May God grant us understanding.
Romans 7:1 “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 sby stating a general principle that is true of all forms of law, and applies to all men: Law has jurisdiction over an individual only as long as that person lives. Death dissolves all legal obligdations.
No matter how terrible the crime, human retribution cannot reach the criminal once he dies. When a lawbreaker has died, the case is closed. You cannot sue a dead man, or exact punishment from him.
Paul now moves from the general principall to a particular illustration.
Romans 7:2-3 “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.”
Paul uses the exaple 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.
Immediately someone will ask, but what about divorce? That subject is not in Paul’s mind here. He is considering marriage only as God originally meant for it to be, dissoluble only by death. That is the way God meant for it tos be. This is marriage in its truest sense.
However, since people do so 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 your relationship before God, you have tos begin where you are. You cannot undo the past. If you are married, stay married. Ifd you are divorced and remarried, you have not committed an unpardonable sin. The second marriage may be deemed adultery, but that guilt is not ongoing and everlasting. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. All one can do is carry on from where he happens to be right now.
Now let us return to the message of Paul here. He has stated that Law has jurisdiction over a man only as long as he lives. He has illustrated this with marriage. Now he moves to the application.
Romans 7:4a “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become
dead to the law by the body of Christ;”
To analyze Paul’s thoughts here, we must begin by realizing that Paul views every lost man as married to the Law. By tdhat he means lost men are trying to earn salvation by good works, but are at the same time under the condemnation of Law because they cannot be perfect.
However, believers are set free from this marriage to bondage and hopelessness. The moment one receives Christ, he dies to the Law in that he no longer tries to live by it in order to earn salvation, and it can never condemn him to Hell if he does not live up to it.
This death is made possible by the body of lkChrist. At the moment of conversion, God scounts 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 has finished with the Law. All now hinges solely on God’s relationship to Christ. Law cannot save us, nor can it condemn us.
Remember, this is a legal transaction that God Himself reckons as so. He recksons you as having died with Jesus to the Law. And since He is the Keeper of the books, what He determines is all that matters anyway.
The Law has exacted its full penalty upon Jesus at the cross. Believers are reckoned as sharing in Christ’s death. Hence, the Law can never again condemn a believer. We are dead to the Law, and therefore beyond its jurisdiction. The realizing of this should bring great peace and victory into a believer’s life.
Romans 7:4b “. . .that ye should be married to another,”
God counts the believer as dead to the Law. But that does not mean the believer is free to live a “single” life of absolute independence under one’s 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 in order that we might be legally married to another. The moment of one’s death to the Law is also the moment of one’s being presented in marriage to Jesus.
Our union with Christ is pictured here as a second marriage. We died to the Law with Christ, but then we were buried with Jesus, and resurrected with Him to enjoy a new marriage with each other.
We are considered wives of Christ. God help us to understand whose we are, and what we are in Him. We often live as paupers, though we are married to a Prince.
This verse plainly teaches that we are married to Jesus. I must confess, much to my consternation, that I have rarely viewed myself as a wife of Jesus. I have pondered being His child, His slave, His laborer, His preacher, His teacher; but rarely His wife. Yet that is exactly what Paul is teaching here.
I am more than a child, a slave, a laborer, a preacher, a teacher. I am a “wife” beloved of the Lord. That means He voluntarily chose me as an object of love and affection. And, best of all. . . .
Romans 7:4c “. . .even to him who is raised from the dead,”
In other words, the One to whom we are married will live forever. When we couple this with the fact that we have been given eternal life (6:23), we realize that neither party in this relationship will ever die. Hence, the marriage can never be dissolved.
Christ’s life lasts forever. So does the believer’s. Hence, there can never be a divorce in this relationship. It is binding forever. The connection will be perpetual. That means I can never be severed from Him. Glory to God! That is worth shouting about. Hallelujah!
And what should be the immediate result of this union?
Romans 7:4d “. . .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 (6:22). 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 one’s 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 upco9ming marriage by consciously and constantly practicing love and submission to God. She hoped she would in that way become used to relating to her husband in the same way.
I see wisdom in her word, but not only for prospective wives. Her attitude toward Christ should be the attitude of lus all. Our new marriage is not meant for selfish indulgence. It is to be a relationship which pleases our Husband and Fatherl-in-Law. May we learn to live in wife-like submission, bearing fruit unto God.
We don’t worry about being neglect4ed We know our Husband is going to care for us well. Our only concern should be how we can please Him.