sermon: We Are Not Bound to the Law Romans 7:1-6

We Are Not Bound to the Law

Romans 7:1-6

Truth Taught- Believers have been set free from the Law of God in order to love and serve Christ wholeheartedly.

Introduction

Today, we’re continuing through Romans and find ourselves all the way to Chapter 7. As we trek onward through this amazing work of Paul we should stop a moment and look back to see where we have come from. We see as we glance backward that all mankind is sinful, all mankind has some level of truth…they know that there is a God and that God has certain righteous demands, and all mankind suppresses that truth because of sin.

We learned that Paul was eager to preach the Gospel to those in Rome because God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all sin. We saw together that Paul has something that all sinners need. He has the antidote for sin. Paul has the Gospel of God. We’ve learned that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile, all are under God’s wrath because of sin and God shows no partiality.

We have also been shown by proof that Jew and Gentile alike are justified before God, not by works of the Law but entirely by grace through faith. Even the great patriarch, Abraham was justified by faith as he believed God and God credited that to him as righteousness. We’ve learned that all people were born in Adam and that his sin becomes our sin. We are held accountable for everything Adam did and what happened to Adam, happens to us. We also, learned that for all who are called, Jesus becomes our head. When we are in Christ, we receive His blessings. Everything that happens to Jesus, happens to us. We can now live free from the eternal consequences of sin because sin and death no longer have authority over us.

To set the stage for Chapter 7 we must see the connection to Chapter 6. Paul has made a few connections but the one I want us to see today from Chapter 6 is found in…

Romans 6:1–2 (ESV)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

So, Chapter 6 has told us over and over in different ways that believers are dead to sin meaning, the eternal effects of sin. We glorified God and praised Him that He has taken away from us sin’s reproach. Sin has no hold on us, nor do we suffer the eternal effects of it. We are no longer under the power of sin but under the power of grace. This is because God views us as having died with Christ. Because of the death of Christ we who are in Christ have also died with Him. Now there is no eternal penalty for sin because Christ died and in Christ, we also died with Him.

Chapter 7 shifts from the stranglehold that sin had on us to the stranglehold God’s Law had on us. So, Chapter 6 we have died to the effects of sin and Chapter 7 we have died to the effects of the Law. If there is any confusion as to the subject matter of Chapter 7, all we have to do is realize that the word Law appears 29 times in 25 verses!

Like we learned last time, a dead person cannot sin so too, a dead person cannot break the Law. I’ve never heard of a dead person speeding down the highway and then receiving a ticket. Dead people are immune to the effects or repercussions of the Law.

Romans 8:1–4 (ESV)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Human Need

We must realize all God has done for us in Christ. We are set free from the Law’s power to condemn us. God has worked for us in Christ and we now live in the realm of Grace.

Father, You have Gathered Your people that You may let us hear Your words, so that we may learn to fear You all the days that we live on the earth, and that we may also teach our children…amen

Romans 7:1–6 (ESV)

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

  1. The Eternal Principle Stated

Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?

Very simply stated, God’s Law ceases to be binding when a person dies.

What is God’s Law?

Part of our confusion about the Law of God is caused by the simple fact that the word “law” in the New Testament has at least three different meanings when used in different contexts. It can refer to the whole Old Testament, as in Romans 3:19 (where the preceding quotations come from the psalms and prophets). It can refer to part of the OT, as when Jesus says, “I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets” (Matthew 5:17). Specifically, it can refer to that part of the OT written by Moses, the first five books, called the Torah. For example, Jesus said in Luke 24:44, “These are my words which I spoke to you . . . that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”[1]

Then there is further confusion as to how the Law functions? Does it function as a means of salvation? Does it function to prevent salvation? Does it function to reveal our sin?

Distortion #1- I can obey God’s Law in order to be saved

The Jews made the Law of God a legalistic means to work to acquire salvation. They thought that due to their status as Hebrews that they could keep God’s Law and earn salvation. Paul explains to us that there is no way possible for any human to earn salvation by keeping God’s Law. This view is a distortion of God’s Law.

Galatians 2:16 (ESV)

16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

Distortion #2- I cannot obey God’s Law so I cannot be saved

Here, some would see the requirements of God’s Law and deduce that salvation is impossible. The truth is, however, this distortion is half true. We cannot keep God’s Law because we are sinners. God’s Law is binding on us and is a set of standards that are infinitely too high for anyone to achieve. So, God shows us His supreme holiness in His Law and we are left in dire need.

True use of the Law of God

God’s Law works to expose our sin. We see God’s Law and then we assess ourselves and discover we cannot keep it. Normally that would make the second distortion true except for the fact that where the Law of God has condemned us, all who are in Christ are dead to the Law’s effects.

Romans 3:20–22 (ESV)
20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:

So, the principle Paul is presenting in Chapter 7 is that the Law while only having the power to condemn us looses its authority and potency over a believer because the believer has died with Christ. So, the condemning power of the Law of God is broken for all who believe.

Now, when we put Romans 6 and 7 together we see that having died with Christ frees us from sin’s eternal consequences the things we did that we should not have done and also frees us from the Law’s consequences the things we should have done but didn’t. Both are covered in the death of Christ.

  1. The Eternal Principle Illustrated

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. 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.

The Bible explains to us as we look to the whole counsel of God that the marriage covenant is a binding law for the husband and wife. One way the law of marriage is broken is when one spouse dies. Paul captures this principle when he says, just like when a marriage covenant is done away with at the death of either the husband or wife, so to the believer has died and so, the Law of God is no longer binding on the person. Just like when the spouse dies and is freed from the law of marriage and now she can enter into a new relationship so too we who have died with Christ and we enter into a new relationship with Jesus. We have left the burden of the Law to embrace our Savior Jesus Christ. We were married, as it were to sin and the curse of the Law and now that bond has been broken by the grace of God, we can now live bound to Jesus Christ.

To examine this further we also understand that law of marriage is also broken not only in the death of a spouse but it is broken when one commits adultery.

Matthew 19:9 (ESV)

And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The second exception clause covers the exodus of an unbelieving spouse.

1 Corinthians 7:15 (ESV)

15 But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.

So we see that in death, adultery, or the leaving of the unbeliever the remaining spouse is free from the Law of Marriage. They are free to engage into another relationship without adultery.

Looking back to our text we see the illustration of one being freed from one Law to enter into a relationship with another. This is what Paul is teaching us concerning being freed from the Law of God and now free to begin a new relationship with Jesus Christ.

  1. The Eternal Principle Applied

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.

Now, as believers, we are no longer bound to the Law and are set free to be bound to Jesus Christ.

We need to move forward now a little. All the Law could do is condemn us. As believers, we’ve been set free from the Law’s power to condemn us.

Galatians 3:13 (ESV)

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

We have also been set from the Law’s inability to change us.

Romans 8:3–4 (ESV)

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Now, in Christ we are changed into the image of Christ, the One we are now bound to. He has the ability to save us and to change us. As we live in the realm of grace we begin to do something we never could have done before…in a strange supernatural way by living in grace in the power of the Holy Spirit manifesting Himself through us, we actually begin also living more and more according to the Law of God.

The purpose for what God does in crediting Christ’s death to us is clearly stated here…in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

When we were bound to the Law we were dead in sin and fruitless is serving God. We did not honor Him or praise Him. Now, in Christ, we are able to drop the shackles of death and grab hold of Christ for life. We are able serve Him and love Him and glorify Him forever. God is also glorified because now, in Christ and by faith we can begin to uphold the requirements of the Law.

Run and Work the Law commands but gives me neither feet nor hands, a greater song the Gospel sings, it bids me fly and gives me wings– John Bunyan

  1. The Eternal Principle Demonstrated

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. 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.

Being bound to the Law meant certain eternal death for us. Our lives fulfilled our sinful desires and passions. God’s Law meant death for us.

Verse 6 explains that sin was so great that it took God through Christ to release us from the former covenant of death to be bound to a new covenant, the covenant of life.

Notice what happened to us. Before we had to adhere to a written code…do this, don’t do that. Now the Spirit of God makes us alive and we do this and don’t do that but not by a written code, which only brought death, but by the Holy Spirit who causes us to obey God from the heart. We serve in a new way.

God has brought us to life in order to love Him and love others and in so doing we are fulfilling the Law of God not as duty but as a delight.

Application

First of all then, love is a fulfilling of the law. The crucial text here is Romans 13:8–10.

Owe no one anything except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence…

Galatians 5:14 (ESV)

14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Paul was not taking a big risk when he boiled the whole law down into one command. He had the authority of Jesus for doing so. Jesus said…

Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

James said it a bit differently (2:8), “If you really fulfill the royal law according to scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well.” So we have three testimonies in the New Testament that what God is trying to do through the law is make loving people out of us. Every single commandment, says Romans 13:9, has love as its aim. So the first point in our nutshell theology of the law is that the law is fulfilled in us when we love our neighbor.

The second point is this: love is not a work that we do on our own to show ourselves meritorious to God; it is the fruit of faith in the promises of God. To be sure, genuine love will lead to great labor. But it is not synonymous with labor. It is deeper than labor and prior to labor and enables labor. There are many people laboring for God and neighbor who are not doing it out of love. Love is more than religious practices and humanitarian services. That’s why Paul can say in 1 Corinthians 13:3, “If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”[2]

 

[1] Piper

[2] John Piper

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