If you are a believer in Christ, you are not only not under the law, but you are free from it. It no longer has authority over you, it is not your master, and it has no right to influence you. Yet too many of us still live in relation to the law. We choose to give it power over us, and live by a set of rules. We say to ourselves and often to one another:
- Do not listen to that music
- Do not eat this or drink that
- Do not dance
- Do not say this list of words
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
That means we are free from the law, delivered from its dominion over us. Romans 7 verses 1-6 uses the symbol of marriage to describe our present relationship to law and sin.
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? 2 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.3 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.
4 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. 5 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. 6 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.
It is the law which accuses us of sin and calls us sinners. Believer, you are not a sinner any more. The Lord forgave all your sins, past, present, and future 1 Peter 3:18-19 says it this way,
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,
Why do we keep resuscitating the law that Jesus put to death? Why do we feed the law and make it so strong in our lives, when we have God Himself ingrained into our souls to give us life and make us whole and righteous? We are released from the law; it does not have any power over us, except what we give it. We can trust God. He will not lead us to displease Him. Sin is a choice we make when we try and live by the law, the flesh (our basal desires) and the world’s standards. The law has its purposes but its purpose is not to rule you. Verses 7-12 read,
What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
This passage might be a bit difficult to understand for some of us. I can try to elucidate by using a baby as an example. A baby has not learned any rules or morals. He can’t do something wrong. A father would not punish his six month old son for crying in anger. A six month doesn’t know what anger is or of any laws against anger, there is no law against anger for him. For a baby, sin does not exist, because the law doesn’t exist. As he grows, he will learn the laws, rules, and morals of the world. When he is a toddler, his father will teach him that temper tantrums are not permitted. When he has one at three or four years old after he has learned that they are not allowed, he will be subject to punishment for it.
Now imagine another scenario, a child is placed in a room filled with hundreds of wonderful toys. He goes into the room and he plays with whatever toys suit him and he is not doing anything wrong. Now imagine the same child, room, and toys but this time there is a rule. The child may not play with the train set in the corner, he can play with any of the other hundreds of toys, just not the train set. Two things will happen. The first is that the moment he touches the train set, he has sinned. Before the rule, he could touch the train and it wouldn’t have been a sin but with the rule, it is a sin. Second, try as he might, knowing he is not allowed to touch the train will make him think about the train and want to touch it. The rule for not touching the train will awaken a desire to touch it. The harder the child works to follow the rule, the more he thinks about it and wants to. Verses 13-20 say it this way,
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
The law is there to reveal God’s righteousness to the world. It is there to reveal our disparity with God’s holiness and show us our need of Him. When we keep trying to follow it after we have become believers, we are constantly presenting ourselves with temptation to satisfy our flesh rather than please the Lord follow His Spirit.
No matter how hard a person tries to be good apart from God, he cannot be because under the law, righteousness is impossible. There is no virtue in any of us without God because the law doesn’t bring righteousness it reveals sin. Philippians 3:7-11 reads,
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Following the law, leads to temptation and sin. There will be a constant war within us as we try to be good and please God through obedience to the law rather than obedience to God. Verses 21-25 read,
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
Who will deliver us from the body of death? It is the Lord our God Jesus Christ! He delivered us when He laid down His life to destroy sin and resurrected to give us new life. Our flesh will tend toward trying to keep the law, but we have the mind of Christ, the Spirit of God, and a new heart. We do not follow the Law of Moses now, we follow the law of God. The law of God is not rules and rituals. The law of God is love, truth, and freedom. We are told to fulfill it by loving one another, caring about one another, and submitting to one another (John 15:12, Ephesians 5:21, Galatians 6:2). We fulfill it by living out the fruit of the Spirit as He makes us into the image of Jesus. 1 John 4:7-12 encourages us to live the law of God which is love.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.