Monday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time

Romans 7:1-6

Released from the Law

Yesterday, Paul used the ancient institution of slavery to show us that we are slaves to the master we serve—there being only two possible masters: Either sin and self which leads to death or Christ Jesus which leads to liberty and life.  Today we see how Paul uses the institution of marriage, returning to the topic of law and how the believer has been freed from servitude to it that he may be wed to a new spouse, the Lord.

Using the analogy of married life, Paul shows that the law, which is binding, is only so as long as a person lives.  Thus, a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives (and vice-verse, naturally).  But when her husband dies, she is free to remarry; this is because she is free from the law that bound her to her now deceased husband.  Likewise, believers have “died to the law through the body of Christ” that they may belong to another spouse—the one who was raised from the dead, the purpose being to “bear fruit for God.”  So whether we call him our Lord and Master or our husband, he has set us free from the law.

And it is at this place that Paul introduces another role of the law.  Until now, he has discussed the law as that standard which no one can fulfill, which condemns us before God, and which is the reason that if we shall be justified (made right) before God at all, it can only be so by faith in Christ and not by works of the law.  Now Paul turns to the role that the law plays in driving us to Christ.  You see, before coming to Christ, the law works in our “flesh” (our sinful nature) to arouse our sinful passions (e.g., lust, greed, jealousy, etc.) which bears “fruit for death.”  In other words, the law excites our sinful nature by forbidding or commanding us to do something (just put a sign on the wall saying, “Don’t touch—Wet paint,” and watch people touch a wall they would have walked past before—simply because the “law” said, “Don’t”).  We will see later that this is the fault of our sinful nature, not the fault of the law.  But you can see why the believer in Christ Jesus must be freed from the law since it only arouses his sinful passions.  In this way, Paul places law, sin, and death, on one side, and Spirit, righteousness, and life, on the other.  He will speak more about the Holy Spirit in chapter eight but for now, we see why we must be set free from the law—it is a sin-arousing slave-driver that only makes us more culpable for our sin.  But here is the good news: The law works in us to drive us to the cross as people who are desperate for forgiveness and a new husband, to the One who conquered sin, death, and hell—and sets us free to serve Him.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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