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Until Death Do Us Part

The Apostle Paul tells about a lovely woman who found herself married to a demanding perfectionist. He laid the law down to her day after day. He made insistent demands on her behavior. There was no escaping his tyrannical guilt trips. No matter how hard she tired nothing she ever did was good enough to please him. It was impossible to live up to his standards of behavior and conduct. No matter how hard she tried, she was a failure.

Because of his insistent attitudes, her feelings altered between fear of his exacting demands and judgment to a sense of complete failure, guilt, resentment and hostility. Her situation was hopeless. He was perfect and she was just the opposite. Living with him was impossible.

How long could she go on in this situation? Secretly she wished he were dead. Nevertheless, he was in perfect health and strict moralist. He wasn't going to go away. He wasn't going to die, and for him divorce was out of the picture.

Then would you know it, she met another man. This man was everything she ever wanted. Yes, he was perfect, yet it was balanced with love. There was grace about him. Her new suitor was everything she ever wanted. She found it impossible to resist his intense love for her. Moreover, she desired a mature intimate love relationship with him!

In time, he asked her to be his. Oh, yes, he was aware of her present state. She belonged to another man. She was married. Moreover, the law was very clear about adultery. “The law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives.” When a person dies that is the end of the authority of the law. However, after he dies she is free to marry anyone she pleases. Since her husband was not going to die, and he would never consent to divorce there was only one alternative. She would have to die! Then the law could have no effect on her. She could marry whom ever she pleased and be innocent.

I know. You are asking the question, "But if she were dead, how could she possibly marry her suitor?"

There is only one way. She would have to die and rise from the dead!

The Apostle Paul tells us that is exactly what happened to us. “Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

Paul used a simple illustration of marriage law to show how Christians have been freed from law in order to be married to Jesus Christ. His antagonists had raised question, “But what about the law?” “Doesn’t salvation by grace through faith lead to immorality?” Legalists still argue the same point, “Doesn’t the gospel you are preaching annul the law or set it aside?”

Paul’s argument is that the law is fully honored and satisfied in the good news of God’s free justification of the sinner based on the atoning death of Christ. The very salvation God provides in Christ fulfills the law. Moreover, it liberates those who have been held in its bondage so they can produce righteousness.

 Remember, “we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him” (6:5–8).

This truth is so crucial to the believer's daily walk with Christ that Paul reminds us to "consider (reckon, count upon the fact) yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). God's solution to our sin problem was to crucify us with Christ. As far as God is concerned, we were there in the grave with Christ and we rose into newness of life with Him. Now we are joined in an intimate union with our Lord and Savior. Paul develops this idea and applies it to the believer in Romans chapter seven. Our understanding of this great chapter is vital to our abiding in Christ.

Please keep in mind the context of Romans chapters five and six. The believer has died to sin (6:2) and to law (7:4). He is free from sin (6:18) and from law (7:3). He is "justified from sin" (6:7) and discharged "from law" (7:6). He walks in newness of life (6:4) and serves in newness of Spirit (7:6).

The “law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good,” but it cannot save anyone. Just as the law cannot save, it also cannot sanctify. The law never produced righteousness in anyone. It can only bring condemnation because no one can live up to its holy demands. It does not empower anyone to live according to its high standards. Everyone is bound to the law as long as he or she lives. So how can we be fruitful? The answer to a holy life is not the law, but a person living within us through the power of His resurrection. That is little good, however, if we are still under bondage to the law. How can we be released from the law? Only by dying to the law. Death must terminate our old relationship in order to enter into a new, fruitful relationship with Jesus Christ. In order to produce holiness in our lives we must die to the law in order to be free for Jesus Christ. The rescuer is a person—Jesus Christ.

“You died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4). His death becomes our death. When we die in Him we die to the law, and when we rise in Him we rise to the new relationship. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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(c) 2006  Message by Wil Pounds. Anyone is free to use this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.

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