Summary: How to live the new life in the Spirit from Romans 7:1-6.
The Feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord
August 6, 2017
The Rev. M. Anthony Seel
Green Arrow Living
Last Sunday in worship at Landmark Church in Binghamton, Pastor Dan Little projected a storm cloud onto the screen behind and above him. He showed us what was behind the storm cloud – a number of grey arrows representing those who live by their own devices, making it up for themselves, living by their own rules, ways, and passions.
By doing so, they were moving further and further away from God.
Grey arrow people encourage others to join them with promises of fun, excitement, freedom, love, exhilaration, joy, friendship, and happiness. They’ll tell you that whatever you want is found in the direction they’re headed.
A green arrow appeared on the screen facing in the opposition direction of the grey arrows. The green arrow said to the grey arrows, “you’re going the wrong way. There is no real fun, freedom, love, joy, or happiness in that direction. That is the way to destruction and death.”
“Turn around and come with me to find true freedom, love, joy, happiness and eternal life.”
Many of those who are passing up by believe that the church is full of killjoys, intent on stripping out of this life all the fun, excitement, joy, and happiness. To them, we’re the people who live according to a rule book that deadens life, makes it dull, boring, and not worth living.
We’re the legalists, moralists, or even worse, fundamentalists.
Except that we’re not. That’s not what the Christian life is about.
Law within the domain of religion can only take us so far. In Romans, the Apostle Paul has been speaking about God’s law on and off since chapter 2. Chapter 7 begins,
v. 1 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?
Paul picks up where he left off in chapter 6 and addresses brothers in the generic sense, meaning brothers and sisters, that is, every Christian.
When Paul wrote to the church in Rome following his third missionary journey, he was writing to a mixed church of Jews and non-Jews. He addresses the entire church, even the non-Jewish converts to the Christian faith as those who had at least some knowledge of the Jewish law.
Paul states that God’s law is binding on all persons until we die. The law sets up boundaries for everyone in their sin-bound condition. Paul highlights one aspect of Jewish law in verses 2 and 3.
vv. 2-3 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.
According to Jewish law, the legal status of wives was that they were not allowed to divorce their husbands or to remarry while their husband was still living. Jewish law did permit widowed women to remarry, but otherwise, remarriage of women was forbidden.
Of course, in the grey arrow world, husbands and wives are free to divorce for many different reasons, and come reasons are certainly legitimate. Paul uses the Jewish law of marriage as an illustration for another way of life that is described in verse 4.
v.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.
Those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord have died to the law. In Paul’s illustration, the law with all its requirements died with the crucifixion of Christ. Our old selves, those selves controlled by our sinful nature died with Christ on the cross when we received Jesus as our Savior.
Once we receive Jesus as Savior, we belong to the Risen Lord who gives us the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. God’s purpose in uniting us to His Son is so that we can bear fruit.
The two apple trees in our backyard bear fruit about every other year. Last year, we had no apples. This year, it looks like we are going to have a good crop of apples. When conditions are right, we get a lot of apples; when conditions are not quite right, we get none.
The blueberry bush in our backyard bears fruit every year to the delight of birds, chipmunks, and squirrels.
If an apple tree never bore any fruit, would it really be an apple tree? If a blueberry bush never bore any blueberries, would it really be a blueberry bush?