You and the Law

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?

Romans 7:1


Paul assumes that we should know this truth: "Or do you not know, brothers?" What we should know is that the law is binding upon us only as long as we live. When we die we are no longer bound by the law.

He follows this statement with an illustration from marriage:

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 (7:2-3).

Paul's point in this section is not marriage. Rather, his point involves the law. If two people are married they are bound to one another. The wife cannot go live with another man. But if her husband dies, then she is released from her bond and she is free to remarry. Here is Paul's point about the law: Death severs the relationship.

Paul then applies this to the Mosaic law: "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" (7:4). This is a little confusing because in the illustration your spouse dies and so the relationship ends and you can marry again. But with the law it is not your partner who dies but you who die. This severs the relationship between you and the law and now you can belong to another, to Christ. However, the basic point is the same for the law and for marriage: Death severs the bond so that you are free to be joined to another.

Exactly how did we die? We died in Christ. When Christ died, we died with him because we are in Christ, joined to Christ. Because we died when Christ died, then we are no longer bound to the Mosaic law. We don't belong to the law anymore, for we now belong to Christ.

This is good news! We can get off the religious treadmill. Our life now is all about Jesus: knowing Jesus, loving Jesus, enjoying Jesus, trusting Jesus, obeying Jesus, pleasing Jesus.

In Galatians 2:20 Paul underscores that his life is all about Jesus: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." Or as Martin Luther once wrote: "Should anyone knock at my heart and say, 'Who lives here?' I should reply, 'Not Martin Luther, but the Lord Jesus Christ.'"

Our life is not about the law. Our life is not about religion. Our life is not about rule-keeping. Our life is all about Jesus.

Lord, help me to know that my life is all about you.