Summary: What’s the difference between living under law and living released from law in a relationship with Jesus? I obey the law of God not because I’m afraid, but because I love Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Many people think these verses in Romans 7 are confusing and very hard to understand. In fact, some people say, “You ought to just go from Chapter 6 on into Chapter 8, because Chapter 8 is so great!” But I don’t believe you ought to do that, I think every verse and every word in the Bible is inspired of God and is there to teach us something.
Paul has been comparing and contrasting in the previous six chapters. He has been comparing a non-Christian (or a person before Christ) to what it means to be a Christian. He has used a lot of different analogies. He has said, “Well, a person who is not a Christian is associated with Adam (as in the Garden of Eden). But now that you are a Christian, you’re not ‘in Adam,’ you are ‘in Christ.’” He has used the analogy of a king ruling over. He said before you became a Christian, sin was like a tyrannical king who reigned over you–now, however, you have a new king–king Jesus. He has already used the example of a master and a slave. He said before you were a Christian it was like sin was your master and you were a slave to sin, but you now have a new master and you are a servant to Jesus Christ.
Well, he’s going to use this analogy again. He’s going to compare a person who is not a Christian–like someone who is married and it’s a bad marriage–to someone we’re going to call today “Mr. Law.” When I say someone is married to “Mr. Law” I mean they are still bound up in the concept they can appease God, they can get God’s acceptance by what they do. By keeping the rules, “Thou shalt,” “Thou shalt not,” “Do this, don’t do that.” Some people are married to Mr. Law and they think that’s how they can relate to God. Well, the Bible says that’s a bad marriage.
Instead, we’re going to see today where the Bible says there is another marriage! You can be married to Jesus Christ. You can have the relationship with Jesus that is like a marriage and that’s the one you should strive for. Now, you have to understand he’s using an analogy here, and if you miss the point of the analogy, you’ve missed it all. In other words, he’s not necessarily saying something about marriage; rather he’s saying something about the Christian life.
Paul uses the word “law” 28 times in this chapter and as we read through it I’m going to use this analogy of a marriage.
Romans 7:1-6. “Do you not know, brothers–for I am speaking to men who know the law.” Let’s back up now, verse 1, Do you not know, brothers, for I am speaking to men who know Mr. Law. Mr. Law has authority over a person for as long as he lives. For example. By law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an “adulteress.” But, if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. Now, before you think verses 2 and 3 are the doctrine about divorce and re-marriage (which they aren’t), note he only uses that as an example. So keep reading verse 4. So my brothers, you also died to Mr. Law through the body of Christ that you might belong (that means in the sense of being married) to another. Now who is this ‘other?’ To him who was raised from the dead, (we know that to be Jesus) in order that we might bear fruit to God. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passion aroused by Mr. Law, they were at work in our bodies so we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from Mr. Law so we serve in the new say of the spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
I think about everyone in this room has studied English grammar and you understand different expressions and uses of speech. Do you understand what a metaphor is? A metaphor is when you’re taking one thing and compare it to another to make a point. And you make a mistake if you pay attention to the metaphor itself instead of the meaning. Perhaps one of the most famous metaphors in all of English literature is when the English poet John Donne wrote these words, “No man is an island.” Now, do you get the meaning of that? You’ll miss the meaning if you pay much attention to “an island.” If you hear “No man is an island,” and you say, “Oh yes, I know what an island is, and you begin thinking of islands, where they are, what makes up an island,” and you spend all of your time thinking about that, you’ve missed the meaning. The meaning of the metaphor is that no person can live in isolation. All right, here’s another metaphor. Actually it’s a simile (they say it’s a simile if you use the word “like”). Some of you are familiar with this one: “Like sand through the hourglass go the days of our lives.” Now there’s a meaning there, but you make a mistake if you pay too much attention to an hourglass, to the point of the metaphor. You miss the meaning. That’s not a metaphor about hourglasses and sand; it’s a statement about how our lives just keep on moving on. All right, I’ve said all of that to say this. If you read Romans, Chapter 7, and you pay all your attention to what it says about marriage, you’re missing the point about what it’s saying about the Christian life.