Lesson 21

The Epistle to the Romans

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

7:1 Or donít you know, brothers (for I speak to men who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man for as long as he lives? 7:2 For the woman that has a husband is bound by law to the husband while he lives, but if the husband dies, she is discharged from the law of the husband. 7:3 So then if, while the husband lives, she is joined to another man, she would be called an adulteress. But if the husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she is joined to another man. 7:4 Therefore, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit to God. 7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were through the law, worked in our members to bring forth fruit to death. 7:6 But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.

 Today's Lesson 

Paul gives an example from everyday life that demonstrates what he has been writing about. First he reminds his readers that he has said that the law has dominion over a man for as long as he lives. Paul is asserting that once a man has died, the law has no claim on him. So he gives an example that helps to explain his case.


While a woman is married to a man she is bound to her husband by law. If she were to marry another man while she is married to the first she becomes an adulteress and he an adulterer. But if the husband dies she is discharged from the law of the husband. She is free to marry another or to remain single after she becomes a widow. The death of the husband has brought an end to the claim of that law on her life.


In the same sense we "were made dead to the law through the body of Christ." When we were crucified with Christ the law was pronounced and executed. When we died with Christ the law fulfilled its function. Sin was judged and the punishment was death.


Now we have been "joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit to God." We have, in effect, entered another marriage. We were wed to the flesh but the flesh was crucified at the cross. Now we are wed to the Lord as part of the bride of Christ, which is the Church. The law and the flesh are dead to us now. We legally belong to another.


Paul also contrasts two things in verse 6. He writes that "we serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of the letter." Paul had written earlier in a similar vein to the Corinthian church in the letter we call II Corinthians (Chapter 3). The way of law was written on tablets and scrolls and is fixed. But in the new covenant we are led by the presence of God living within us. The new way of the Spirit is superior to the old way of the letter because while the law can only condemn and slay the Spirit can give life because the Spirit is part of the creative life of God.


From this example Paul demonstrates that we already recognize that the restrictions of law have limits. We know that there are times when we are under the requirements the laws of the society in which we live and there are times when we are freed from these laws. Paul declares that the death of Christ and His subsequent resurrection are just such an event for all that participate in it with Christ. The death of Christ satisfied the legal requirements of the Law of Moses and the resurrection of Christ placed Him beyond the limits of the law. And those who are joined with him are in the same relationship to the law as is Christ himself.


What would we say of a widow who were to marry a man and then attempt to live as though she were still the wife of her dead husband? What if she still wanted to be called by his name or still talked to people as though he were alive? We would think that such a woman was not thinking straight and that she did not have much affection for her new husband. This is the same situation as Christians who try to live in the flesh and do not wish their relationship with God effected their lives dramatically.


When we are bound to God our lives are changed dramatically. We are a completely new creation. Our old lives are over. It is time to live a new life. It is a life of endless possibility spent in service toward a loving Creator. Are you ready to live a new life? Are you ready to move on to a new existence?


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