Summary: Jesus did not come to lead us to the law; The law came to lead us to Jesus
Earlier this week, Ryan Fregoso shared a link on Facebook to “25 Christian Memes That Are Funny Because They’re True”. So I thought I’d share a few of them with you this morning.
This last one is particularly relevant this morning:
[But officer, I’m under grace, not law]
No matter how true that statement might be theologically. I’m pretty sure that one isn’t going to work, especially if you get pulled over in Oro Valley,
We were introduced to the idea that we’re not under the law but under grace several weeks ago in Romans 6. And this morning, we’re going to come back to that idea and look at it in some more detail.
I think we would all agree intellectually that it is true that once we commit our lives to Jesus and trust completely in Him that we no longer live under the law, but rather under grace. But I also know how easy it is for us to misunderstand exactly what that means – and does not mean. And I’ve also observed over the years just how easy it is for Christians to fall right back into the trap of living under the law and not even recognize it. I’ve certainly done that myself.
There are at least two ways we do that. One is to think of Jesus as a new “law-giver” and then attempt to earn His favor by following the “new list” of laws that He gives. The other, more common way, is to view Jesus as the means to finally be able to obey the “old list”. Often those approaches are voiced something like this: “It’s just not possible to [fill in the blank] and still be a good Christian, or its counterpart “If you want to be a good Christian you must [fill in the blank].
That mindset seem to be particularly prevalent when it comes to things that we’re really passionate about – whether that be a preferred worship style, a particular ministry that we’re involved in, personal convictions that we’ve developed or even our political preferences.
But apparently that is not anything new, since Paul had to address this very same issue in the early church nearly 2,000 years ago. So let’s see if we can’t let Paul teach us what it means to live under grace and not under the law and see if we can’t develop some practical ways to make sure we do that in our lives.
As we’ve found consistently in our study of Romans, it’s always critical to make sure we consider each passage in its proper context. So go ahead and take out your Bibles and turn to Romans chapter 6 and I’ll begin with a verse we examined several weeks ago – verse 14:
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
(Romans 6:14 ESV)
Paul then goes on to explain the first statement there - For sin will have no dominion over you… - in verses 15-23 of chapter 6. In those verses, Paul uses the word “sin” seven times and he uses the synonyms “impurity” and “lawlessness” three more times. We spent a couple weeks on those verses, developing the idea that Jesus has freed us from slavery to sin, which never delivers what it promises, and He has made it possible for us to choose to be slaves to Jesus, who always delivers what He promises.
This morning we come to chapter 7, where Paul addresses the second part of that statement from Romans 16:4 - you are not under law but under grace. So, not surprisingly we’ll find that Paul uses the word “law” 23 times in this chapter and uses the synonym “commandment” an additional 5 times. Since this is such an important chapter, as well as a difficult one to grasp, we’ll work our way through it pretty methodically over the next few weeks. This morning we’ll look at the first six verses of the chapter. You can follow along as I read.
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.