Dead to the Law: Romans 7: 1 – 6 Tape 6.
In chapter 6 Paul lays down the issue of our sanctification that it is on the basis of what happens at the cross. Retroactive positional truth at the instant of salvation when we put our faith alone in Christ alone, we are identified with Christ's death burial and resurrection and we are entered into union with Christ, specifically Pauline term is "in Christ". 'Therefore if any man be in Christ; he is a new creature. Old things are past away behold all things are new.' 2 Cor 5:17, so we become new creatures and with that come new relationships because we have been identified with His death burial and resurrection for the sin nature no longer reigns. So we are dead to sin. That does not mean that the sin nature does not continue, it does not mean you can not be just as reversionistic and just as much of a pervert and a reprobate after salvation as you were before salvation. That is one of the truths that is so hard for many, many Christians to understand. Just because you are a believer does not mean automatically that you are a better person and yet that seems to be the idea in so many people's minds and it is a naivety.
Now as Paul concludes that opening argument in the first 12 verses of Romans 6, he comes down to verse 12 and draws his conclusion, "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts" Because the power of sin has been broken and we are dead to sin, sin is no longer a master. This is one of the most important things for us to understand. Before we are saved we have a sin nature. The sin nature has an area of weakness that produces personal sins. These are overt sins, mental attitude sins and sins of the tongue. The sin nature also has an area of strength that produces human good. These are all the good things an unbeliever can do; all unbelievers are capable of a certain level of integrity, morality and virtue. But this is produced from the sin nature because there is no regeneration there, they do not have a human spirit, neither are they indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It is impossible for the unbeliever to produce anything that has any approbation with God because they can not produce divine good, it's impossible. Therefore all they can do is follow the dictates of the sin nature.
But the believer has that power broken and the issue for the believer is positive volition towards the word of God or negative volition towards the word and operating in the sin nature. So the believer has a level of freedom in his volitional choices that the unbeliever does not have at all. That's why Paul says that we are to think, we are to reckon, we are to consider ourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus, in verse 6:11. Now as he draws the conclusion in verses 12 – 14 of chapter 6, he lays down the principle in verse 14, "For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace."
Now he stops there and he goes back to give a parallel illustration of our freedom from sin from verses 15 – 23. We covered that last time, where instead of talking about and emphasising retroactive positional truth, he builds on it from a different perspective; whoever you obey you are a slave to whom ever you obey. Prior to salvation all you can do is obey the sin nature, so prior to salvation we are a slave to sin. But he goes onto say in verse 17, "But thanks be to God that although you were [past tense] slaves of sin, you all obeyed from the heart that category [the gospel] of teaching which was communicated to you, when you were freed from sin, you became slaves of [imputed] righteousness." So this is the issue for the believer, positionally he is no longer a slave to sin but he is in Christ, he is a new creature and positionally we are slaves to righteousness.
The problem is that we don't offer ourselves. It comes back to volition. We offer ourselves in negative volition to the scriptures, we offer ourselves to obey the sin nature and we put ourselves back under the tyranny of the sin nature. The result of that is carnal death, temporal death, it is self destruction because when you operate on the sin nature the result is always death and that's why he ends with the statement in verse 23; "For the wages of sin is death [carnal death/self destruction], but the free gift of God is eternal life [not just everlasting life but a quality of life/the abundant life] in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Introductory notes to Chapter 7
He shifts gears in chapter 7, we go back to the theme introduced in 6:14 "…For sin should not be master over you for you are not under law but under grace…"
This does not mean God did not operate on a grace principle for believers in the Old Testament. God has always operated on the basis of grace, the fact that any human being who is a sinner and who has violated the integrity of God is still alive, walking around is grace. It is just that the principle for sanctification in the Old Testament was expressed in terms of the Mosaic Law. Now what Paul is saying is that you are no longer under law but you are under grace. This is comparable to what Paul says in Galatians 3: 2 "…This is the only thing I want to find out from you, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law or by hearing with Faith?"
Paul juxtaposes the Holy Spirit's ministry in the Church age believer's life at salvation (verse 2 is dealing with salvation) to the law, either or, it can't be a little of one and a little of the other, it can't be both. He always juxtaposes the two; they are antagonistic to one another.
Then he says in verse 3, "…are you so foolish having begun by the Spirit [regeneration] are you now being perfected by the flesh…"
So here he is going to draw an analogy that the flesh operates on law and on morality as a means to try to gain the approbation of God. And while the modus operandi of the spiritual life in the Old Testament was different, in the New Testament it is based on grace and it is based on the Holy Spirit.
Now this foreshadows where his argument is headed in Romans chapter 7. He is saying we are not under law but we are under grace, by the time we get down to verse 6 we are going to see the introduction of the Holy Spirit as significant for the spiritual life. So 15 to 23 is really an aside, he gets down to verse 14 "…For sin should not be master over you for you are not under law but under grace…" then he decides 'I don't think they really got the point, its time for a bit of repetition, so I'm going to state the same point again in a slightly different analogy and then we will come back to discuss law. Now someone might easily say that 'well does that make law evil?' That is the point of verses 1 – 6 is to explain the fact that the law is still good, it is not evil it is just used to an evil end by religious people.
Outline of first 6 verses of Chapter 7:
If we were to outline these first six verses;
1. Verse 1 lays down the principle. The principle is that law only has jurisdiction over a person until death. Once a person dies they are not under law. This is a simple general principle that anyone can understand.
2. Verse's 2 – 3 gives an example from marriage. This is an illustration, it is not an analogy, and it is not an allegory. It is simply one illustration; it is not even an extended discourse on divorce and remarriage. Some people want to take it that way, but too much is left out and too little is said. It is a very restricted illustration of his point.
3. Verse 4 he draws a conclusion from the illustration.
4. Verses 5 – 6 he makes the point in terms of its application to the believer's spiritual life.
Verse 7:1 states, "...Or do you not know, brethren [believers] (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? ..."
He starts off by asking a question. The question is based on the verb AGNOEO it is a combination of the negative alpha plus the verb for knowledge and it indicates ignorance. '… Are you ignorant?' He uses this kind of a question to bring the point that he is making and emphasise the point that he is making. He used this back in Romans 6:3 when he said '…do you not know that all of us have been baptised…' he uses it frequently in 1 Corinthians 6: 1,9, 16 and 19 and the reason he uses it is to focus the reader's attention on a principle that he assumes everyone understands and believes. Once he establishes that point of common ground and we all agree that this principle is actual then he develops application from that.
The principle is just a rather general statement about law. Here it would be, "… Do you not know brethren: (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?" The word Law here is the standard word for law NOMOS but it doesn't have a definite article, NOMOS with out the article or any noun with out the article usually emphasises the quality of the noun. So when Paul says this, this is a hint that he is probably talking about the Mosaic Law.
There are three options; some people suggest that this indicates that this is just Law in general. Other people suggest that he is talking about Roman law, since he is talking to a congregation that is made up of both Jew and Gentiles and they are in the city of Rome. The third option is to discover whether or not he can be speaking of the Mosaic Law. I think that because of the illustration and certain words used in the illustration and because of the context talked about the Law in Chapter 6 and what he is going to say further on in the chapter, that it must be understood as the Mosaic Law.
Verse 1 states, "… Do you not know brethren: (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?"
So he assumes that there is a common understanding here of the Mosaic Law. When a person dies they are no longer under the law. Once you die you don't have to worry about getting arrested and thrown in jail. The law no longer applies. Now he is going to build an illustration to make sure we understand the principle in verses two and three and it's taken from marriage and divorce.
Verse 2, "...For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband..."
Verse 3, "... So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man..."
This is an interesting illustration but we will have to take a bit of time to understand it, it is simply an illustration and he is not giving an extended discourse on the doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage. He is simply using part of it as an illustration.
In verse 2, he uses a lot of unusual vocabulary here, for marriage he uses a word that is only used one time in the New Testament. HUPANDROS and it is a compound of HUPO which means under and ANER which is the word for a male or man. It has to do with being under the authority of a man. It came to be another word for wife. The normal word is GUNE, for woman or wife. But here he uses the word HUPANDROS and he is focusing on the idea that subordination and submission with authority here from a legal prospective. The writers of scripture do not choose word hap – hazardly! "For the married woman is bound by law to her husband..."
Now here we have the word that he normally uses, is the perfect active indicative of the DEO, it means to be bound, it is the normal word he uses when he is talking about marriage. It indicates the marriage bond. The married woman is bound by law because she has entered into a legal contract or covenant with the man and for as long as they live, they are bound by law in marriage. The perfect passive indicative is interesting here because the perfect tense is an intensive perfect emphasising the present reality from a past action. That is always the emphasis of the perfect. It's a past completed action, but it's always an emphasis in some sense, on a current reality. Sometimes it emphasises the past action more, sometimes it emphasises the currant reality more, when it is emphasising the present reality more, it is an intensive perfect. It is an intensive perfect emphasising she is in a present state of marriage because of a past commitment to enter into a covenant or a contract with the husband. So as long as the husband is alive she is bound by that law but in contrast if her husband dies she is released from the law concerning the husband. Now that is the whole point here, he is going to build an analogy off this and his point is back in verse one is we are under law but when death occurs, the bondage to the law/servant to the law is broken. That is all he is talking about here; death severs the subservient relationship/the authority relationship to the law.
Now he then goes onto say, "...For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if [third class condition] her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband..."
This is not the term that is normally used for divorce which is LUO, but this is the word KATARGEO and it has to do with that which is abolished, that which is nullified, that which is rendered null and void and ineffectual. So her obedience to the law is therefore now nullified concerning the law of the husband. This is another important phrase here because it has to do with something to do with the Old Testament, in the Greek it is TOUNOMOU, the OU is a genitival ending; the law of the husband; TOUANDROS, the law of the husband and this is taken to be similar to a typically Jewish way of expressing it for in Leviticus 14:2, you had all the regulations regarding the leper and that section was called the law of the leper. Then there is another section in Numbers 6:13 which describes the regulations of a Nazarite and that was called the law of the Nazarite. So by referring to the law of the husband this would then refer to a passage like Deuteronomy chapter 24, which describes certain regulations regarding divorce and remarriage and would be called the law of the husband. This indicates that this is not talking about a general law but he is using terminology that is directly related to the Mosaic Law.
Verse 3 is another conclusion, "...So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress..."
In the Greek you have the aorist active infinitive of GINOMAI plus ANER which is just an idiom to be married and it is not used anywhere else in the New Testament but it is used in several places in the Greek Septuagint of the Old Testament. "...So then if, while her husband is living, she [marries] another man, she shall be called an adulteress..." The assumption here is that a divorce has taken place for an illegitimate reason and she marries another man she shall be called an adulteress, but if her husband dies she is free from the law so she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.
Now there are a lot of folks who look at this and think that Paul is giving a discourse on marriage and divorce and they will build there entire concept of divorce and remarriage on Romans 7:3; but you have to look at the entirety of the scriptures, what Jesus teaches in Matt 5 and 19, what Paul teaches in 1 Cor 7 as well as what he says here in Romans 7, as well as some old testament concepts, in order to get the whole picture. Paul is simply taking a snapshot of one particular type of scenario that can take place in marriage.
You have the husband joined to the wife and he is saying if the husband dies then the wife becomes free, he is going to build an analogy of this but it is kind of backwards because we would think that the law is comparable to the husband and that the Christian is comparable to the wife. The illustration simply states that when you die the law is no longer in effect. Just as when a death of a spouse occurs that for the surviving spouse the law no longer applies. That's all he is saying, if you try to build anything more into that you have missed the whole point of the passage.
Doctrine of Divorce and Remarriage.
- Marriage is a divine institution – which was established in the Garden of Eden and therefore it applies to both believer and unbeliever alike. When you get into the New Testament it changes for the Christian and you have the establishment of the Christian institution of marriage, which means the standards and the principles that are outlined for the believer are a step higher for the believer than for the unbeliever. Never the less we must remember that because marriage is designed for believer and unbeliever alike the basic regulations that apply to marriage which includes divorce because that is the negative side of marriage also apply to believer and unbeliever alike.
- The Bible limits the number of reasons for ending a marriage and as well as a few reasons to permit remarriage. Divorce as we shall see from Deut 24 was clearly permitted under the Mosaic Law and remarriage was permitted under the Mosaic Law.
i. We see that marriage is dissolved under the death of a spouse,
ii. Adultery can be a legitimate reason for divorce, as well as providing a legitimate reason for remarriage for the innocent party. If the guilty party remarries then that becomes adultery.
iii. Desertion is also a legitimate reason for divorce and remarriage (1 Cor. 7).
iv. Divorce manipulation, a lot of time you can run into a situation where one spouse or the other tries to manipulate the other person into a position where eventually that person is the one who goes down and files for divorce when it's the other person who has pushed everything and manipulated and tricked so it doesn't look like their the guilty party. At that point you have to rely upon the supreme court of heaven and sometimes if you are the victim in that, that incurs the right to remarriage as well. (Duet 24)
- In American law all divorce carries with it the right to remarriage, but just because American law gives you the right to remarriage does not mean the scriptures give you the right to remarry. If you are the innocent victim in an adultery case, in a desertion case or in a manipulation case. Then you have the right to remarriage but the guilty person does not have the right to remarry.
- The scriptures are silent on many other reasons I think are legitimate reasons for divorce. The scriptures do not address situations such as brutality, child abuse, wife abuse, drunkenness, sexual abuse, drug addiction, sexual molestation, insanity, criminality, suicidal tendencies and a variety of other situations that make it impossible for two people to live together, just on a practical level. I think in those cases there is a legitimate basis for divorce but there is not the right to remarry in those situations.
- Legitimate biblical divorce becomes analogous to the death of one partner in the marriage. That's what Paul is developing here just as when there is a legitimate divorce that is as if the one partner has died and that gives the surviving person the right to remarriage.
- Divorce is not a problem solving device and marriage is not a problem solving device. Too many people get divorced because they are not happy. Well, the purpose of marriage is not happiness; the purpose of marriage is to glorify God. Divorce is not a solution to your loneliness; divorce is not a solution to the problems in your life. In fact especially if you have children divorce can just become a further way to increase the misery of your life, because the mother or father of your children will always be the mother and father of your children. They will be there when your children get married; they will be there when your grand children get married. When you have children and you get divorced you only alleviate perhaps some of the immediate problematical symptoms. The issue is that you need to, whenever possible stay in the marriage because often divorce just complicates things, and it is just another way of going through advanced testing and misery.
- Grace principles to remember when dealing with divorce.
i. Any sin or failure regarding marriage or divorce is always dealt with by grace. That means that if that has taken place in your life, whether you are the guilty party or the innocent party. If you are the guilty party then that sin is paid for at the cross and there is forgiveness and you can move forward beyond whatever failure there is. There is many different ways in which we fail in life and divorce is not a special category of sin that brands us some how worse than any body else. In our self righteous churches today that is often the case.
ii. If you are now divorced and you are remarried and perhaps you were the guilty party it's too late to resolve the problem; you confess your sin and move on. You don't divorce your currant wife. You need to realise what the biblical principles for marriage are now and start applying them and go forward in grace. Remember there is always forgiveness at the cross. Two wrongs don't make a right, so you can't correct things by doing another thing that is wrong.
iii. The solution if you are living in an adulterous marriage now, (by adulterous I mean a marriage that is illegitimate because your divorce was for illegitimate reasons), then the starting point is to simply confess your sins, realise there is forgiveness, don't get caught up in a guilt trip, it's all over with, its past, forget it and look forward to the future. If you are still alive then God still has a plan and purpose for your life and that's going to be based on his grace, just as it is in everything else.
- Some general principles for marriage:
i. People are no better in marriage then they are as singles, because people are people, they are going to fail, some are failures some are successful because of who they are. If you are going to be a success in marriage it's because you are a success as an individual. If you are going to be a failure in marriage it's because you are a failure as an individual.
ii. People who are failures in the spiritual life as a single person are going to be failure in the spiritual life in marriage. Most marriage failures boil down to spiritual failures on one side or the other.
iii. People who are successful when they are single are also going to be successful in marriage. Success is determined by your spiritual life and your relationship to God and is not determined by any other factor ultimately.
iv. It takes two successful people in the spiritual life to make a successful marriage, because each person then takes personal responsibility for there own decisions and they understand principles of confession of sin so that they can deal with the sin in there life and move forward.
But just as it takes two successful people to have a successful marriage, it only takes one failure to destroy a marriage. No matter how much one person wants that marriage to succeed and if the other person doesn't care, it doesn't matter how much the other person wants it to succeed.
v. A good marriage was not designed for happiness. God does not design marriage for happiness, he created Eve to be Adam's helper, helpmate or assistant in order that the two of them in marriage could then fulfil the divine mandate God gave the human race on the planet, that is ultimately to glorify Him in the angelic conflict. That's why when you come into the New Testament and the new mandates that God gives in Eph 5 for Christian marriage, they really show how the curse, (the curse of the man's desire to dominate and be a tyrant in the marriage and the woman's desire to usurp authority in the marriage in Genesis 3:15 – 16), that that can be rolled back only under the ministry of God the Holy Spirit and advancing to spiritual maturity.
The purpose for marriage is not personal happiness; the purpose for marriage is to glorify God. If both the husband and the wife have as their primary goal the glorification of God and they are advancing spiritually, then the by – product of that is going to be a wonderful union and tremendous happiness. It is because the happiness is the result of their spiritual life, not the result of their cohabitation. So happiness is the by – product of the spiritual life, but it is not the purpose for marriage.
- Before you get married you should take a look at how compatible you really are. There has to be a spiritual compatibility, if you have one person who is a believer and the other person is not a believer then that is clearly forbidden in scripture. It starts off with being a believer and goes onto positive volition to doctrine. There should be physical compatibility in the sense that you find the other person attractive. There should also be an economic compatibility. There should be a level of family compatibility. There should be a level of soul compatibility.
- Deuteronomy 24 – part of the Old Testament regulations regarding divorce and remarriage.
- 1 Cor. 7 – earlier in 1 Cor. 7 Paul establishes that it is legitimate to have a divorce on the basis of desertion and then when he gets down to verse 27, he is summing up his discourse on marriage.
Verse 26 "...I think then that this is good in view of the present distress that it is good for a man to remain as he is...."
In other words we are living in a tough world and living in Satan's world and Paul's opinion is that it's good for a man to stay the way he is. If you are married stay married, if you are single stay single, (that was Paul's opinion).
Then he explains this starting in verse 27, "...Are you bound [married] to a wife? Do not seek to be released [divorced – it is not a problem solving device]. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife? ..." and that would be on the basis of an illegitimate divorce probably, we have to assume that in light of the passages.
In verse 28, "...But if you should marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you..."
This makes it clear that remarriage in certain situations where there has been adultery, desertion, or somehow the husband or spouse has forced the situation to end in a divorce or even in the case of the death of a spouse, it is very legitimate to remarry.
- Now in cases where divorce occurs with out the right of remarriage, then the only thing that gives the right of remarriage is when the spouse divorces and those kinds of situations are whenever divorce occurs because of abuse, life threatening situations, brutality to children, criminality or something of that nature.
Romans Chapter 7
Verse 3, "...So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress…"
She just leaves illegitimately and gets a divorce and remarries, so that's adultery. The basic concept of adultery is unfaithfulness to a covenant, which is what's happened. "... but if her husband dies, she is free from the law…" That's the whole issue; when there's a death that's freedom. Now what he says in verse 4 is to explain what he means by this illustration.
Verse 4, "...Therefore my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ…"
The Christian is made to die to the Law just as when the husband dies the wife is set free and that occurred through the body of Christ, (Christ's substitutionary death on the cross). Christ came as an end of the law (the scriptures says) and at that point with our identification with Christ with his death, burial and resurrection then that ends the law. "…that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God."
In the analogy, instead of the law dying (you still have the law in effect) the Christian is dead to the law. Because the Christian has died in Christ, the bondage to the law is broken, so now the Christian is joined to a new master, Christ. We have a new marriage, the old one has ended because of our identification with the death, burial and resurrection and we are identified with him.
Notice what it says; "…that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, [for the purpose that we] bear fruit for God."
Now this is crucial to understand. If you understand anything about agriculture, immature plants do not produce fruit, you have a seed that is germinated and it sends forth a shoot, (that's regeneration) and then you have a seedling and then the development of the stalk of the plant and the leaves, (that is growth, but it is not fruit), fruit comes only when it reaches a certain level of growth and only a maturing plant produces fruit. So what Paul is saying is that we might bear fruit for God. You can't bear fruit for God unless you get to spiritual maturity. So the issue here is spiritual growth.
Verse 5 "…For while we were in the flesh [this is looking at the past/ under the dominion of the sin nature], the sinful passions, which were aroused by the law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death."
That's what its production was carnal death, the same principle we see back in verse 23. The Law stimulates the unbeliever to sin; it doesn't mean its purpose is that. What happens is that as soon as someone tells us to do something or not to do something, the first thing that we want to do is let me try and see if it's really that bad. By encountering a prohibition it just stimulates us to want to do what is prohibited.
Verse 6, "...But now we have been released [divorced] from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter..."
So here he introduces the fact that the Law is gone and now it's the Holy Spirit that is the issue in the Christian life, but we won't hear about the Spirit again until we get to chapter 8 because he is going to go on and explain what he means by the Law and the dangers of legal obedience, starting in verse 7.
Father, we do thank you so much for your word and for the truth of your word and for the fact that it explains so clearly to us the differences that have taken place as the result of our salvation. That we are in fact free from the bondage and dominion and reigning of the sin nature that that power has been broken and we are no longer forced to operate on the basis of the sin nature but that there is a new dynamic under the power of God the Holy Spirit to live our unique spiritual life. We pray that we would be challenged by the things which we have studied tonight and that these truths might motivate us to advance to spiritual maturity. We pray this in Jesus name, Amen.