Pastor’s Class Notes
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Romans 7:4a “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become
dead to the law by the body of Christ;”
Being dead to the Law means we no longer look to it for salvation or condemnation. The Law never was meant to save us. And at the same time, we cannot suffer the punishment Law would normally require of us. We have escaped what we deserved.
The original intention of Law was to define sin, to point out its true nature, and to convince men of their need for a Savior. The Law still exists for these purposes. It has not died. Its Justice has been satisfied, but Law is not dead.
The believer is still expected to live according to God’s Law. We are dead to it as a means of salvation, but not as evidence of salvation. Believers obey out of gratitude for salvation received, not as a requirement to receive salvation.
Romans 7:4b “. . .that ye should be married to another,
even to him who is raised from the dead,”
Lost men are married to the Law. Believers, however, are counted as dead to their first husband, and as married to a second husband, Jesus. The very purpose of Law is to serve as a schoolmaster which leads us to Jesus. The Law should present us in marriage to Christ, but as a lost man prefers the schoolmaster to the God-intended Groom.
Believers, however, have accepted the God-given Groom. And since we have a new husband, we ought to change our ways. Our first marriage was a slavery to sin, but we should view our service to God as that of a wife to her beloved husband. The service of even the most faithful servant cannot be compared to the loving devotion of a wife to her husband.
When we offend the Lord, we should sense the shame of an embarrassed wife rather than the terrors of a slave. We should not feel condemned, but rather be conscious of having offended love. Our reaction to sin should be absolute heartbreak.
The believer should never consider for even a moment that condemnation might be a possibility in his life. Whenever the Law, your first husband, seems to threaten you with condemnation, refer your feelings at once to your new husband.
Do not let that first husband harass you and condemn you. To be afraid of him is tantamount to doubting the security provided by your new husband. Being fearful and doubtful regarding your security is evidence of disloyalty to God.
You have a new husband. He is loyal and true and strong. Trust him. Quit worrying about your first husband so much. Dwell on your new mate.
Your marriage to Christ cannot be destroyed. Christ can never die; the believer can never die. Hence, the marriage bond will never be broken. We are married to Jesus forever. Neither sin, hell, the Law, nor all the demons of Satan can ever break our union with Christ.
Romans 7:4c “. . .that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
Marriage is intended to result in offspring, and our union with Christ is no exception. Our new marriage produces fruit unto God. Good works are the children of this new union. The believer seeks to live totally unto the Lord. Our whole focus should be on trying to please the Lord.
What a contrast to the first marriage. It produces only fruitlessness, shame, and death (6:21). The lost man lives for self. No matter how good he appears to be, his activities and thoughts swirl about his own needs and desires.
He wants to be moral to impress others or to be at peace with his own conscience. Much of what he does is solely because of a desire for social acceptability. He desires to please himself, and worst of all, he thinks he can be good enough to save himself.
The two spiritual marriages are worlds apart in their results. The first is self-centered, the second God-centered. The first is a life which tries to pry salvation from God; the second is a life of gratitude and thankfulness. The first brings death, the second eternal life. This last thought leads us into the next verse.
Romans 7:5 “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sin,
which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
The introductory “For” tells us that this verse will explain why we have to be joined in union with Christ. Our bond to the Law must be dissolved because it cannot help us produce fruit pleasing to God.
A life pleasing to God is impossible apart from union with Christ. Until the Son is accepted and loved, the Father cannot be pleased. No matter how good a lost man is, he still is flagrantly rejecting the Crucified Christ. No good can ever counterbalance a deed as dastardly as that.
Also, the lost man’s whole life is lived “in the flesh” apart from life in the Spirit. Hence,
the unbeliever is at the mercy of his “motions of sin.” The word “motions” refers to the passions, affections, desires, lusts, excitements, and impulses that flow from within a man.
In a lost man these impulses are sinful. There is an unbridled inward commotion always brewing. One result of the Fall is that it takes natural God-given desires and perverts them into “motions of sin.”
Fruit unto God cannot come out of such sinful chaos as this. Only through Jesus Christ can there be found the kind of life principle which produces the right kind of fruit.
The worst result of the lost life is that it leads to death. Everything about it points to destruction. Its end result is unspeakably horrible. In the great and dreadful day of the Lord (ML 4:5) the righteous “shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet” (ML 4:3).
Ashes! No word better describes the futility of lostness. That life will eventually burn out, leaving as its only result ashes.
Lost friend, please leave that life. It is insanity to clutch it as near and dear. I ask you the question that Philip Doddridge asks in one of his hymns: “With ashes who would grudge to part?” Please forsake your first husband and flee to the God-intended Groom, Jesus.