Consequences for our Salvation by Faith – In Our new relationship with God we are no Longer Under the Law God gave to Israel ROMANS 7 – Part 2
Transitioning to this latest post we need to back up and review the end of Part 1. As the context continues about covenants. When Israel entered into the Old Covenant and future generations of Israel were to follow the Law given through that covenant. But in the case of a covenant, the terms are binding until death. Covenants do not expire and cannot be canceled. You cannot quit a covenant, because Biblical covenants by Biblical definition are for life. So in order for a covenant to end, a death is required. And Paul builds on this principle to explain our relationship change to the Law when we became believing. He is using the example of a covenant of marriage in this case.
In verse 2 Paul says that if while a woman’s husband is living she is joined to another man (i.e., remarries), then she shall be called an adulteress. A marriage is a covenant,
and like all covenants, it can only be broken by death. Because nothing else ends a covenant. Not even the breaking of the covenant by someone else. It just brings the penalty of breaking the covenant on that individual. So the penalties of breaking the covenant become the necessary response, it doesn’t end the covenant. And the penalty of breaking the covenant is death. So literally, a death one way or the other is the only way you end the covenant. So if while a spouse is living we marry another, we are
committing adultery. That’s why Jesus said this, in speaking of marriage and divorce: under the law
Luke 16:18 (NKJV)
18 “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.
So Paul has to build on this principle. Keep in mind, if the principle Paul is embracing has any exceptions then the application he is making to our relationship to Christ would seem to have a suggestion of exceptions as well. This principle, he would not have used this analogy if the analogy had exceptions because the point he is trying to make by it is that there are no exceptions. Paul goes on to say that if a husband dies, the woman is free to remarry. His death has ended their covenant and makes possible a new covenant without worry of adultery. This is why marriage ceremonies still include the declaration that what God has joined no one may separate. Society may prescribe legal ways to dissolve a marriage but God doesn’t submit to the decisions of our local county judge. That marriage didn’t end until death.
Working from that principle, Paul now makes his application to the Jewish
relationship to the Law through that covenant given by Moses. The Jewish people are bound to God in the terms of the Mosaic Covenant, particularly keeping the Law and all its requirements. That covenant remains in effect until there is a death. And for as long as that covenant is in place, it acts to condemn anyone who couldn’t keep it perfectly. It was a ministry of death, Paul says in 2 Corinthians. To free someone from the condemnation of God’s Law, God had to act in our place to produce a death, thereby putting an end to the covenant for any who are in Christ Jesus. So Jesus died and when He died, we were seen to die with Him spiritually. By grace through our faith in Jesus, God put us to death spiritually in Christ and a new living spirit came to us in its place. At that moment we are a different person. You’ve literally died and something new has come. At that point, our old person was gone, dead. And because your old self died, you are no longer a part of the Mosaic Covenant. And as you died with Christ you were released from any covenants you had prior to that death. At least in terms of spiritual covenants. That death put an end to your relationship to the Law. That’s like the military recruit ending his enlistment… the military laws and regulations no longer apply. under the law
Remember, Paul, prefaced this whole analogy, this explanation by saying he is speaking to those who know the law. That is to the Jew within the church. And for the Jew who comes to faith in Christ, they would have naturally started to wonder if they could dispense with the Law or why they could dispense with the Law. If they’ve been told by Paul or others they don’t have to keep the Law anymore now that they have come to Christ. A Jew would have naturally asked, how could that be? How can I no longer do the Law? Aren’t I still a Jew? Isn’t this still a covenant God made with Jewish people? What changed that relationship? Paul says it’s because you died. They had literally escaped the covenant that was formed by their forefathers on their behalf. The covenant has been ended for their sake through their faith in Jesus. He has completed all the terms of the Law and His death puts an end to the covenant for the sake of those for whom He died.
What about the Gentiles in the church? Gentiles are equally free from the Law because we were never under that covenant in the first place. No Gentile was party to the Mosaic covenant. But we are held to God’s standard for holiness. In other words, you don’t need to be party to the Mosaic covenant to be accountable to God for your sin.
Remember what Paul wrote in Romans 2 –
Romans 2:11-12 (NKJV)
11 For there is no partiality with God.
12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
Having the Law and being bound to the Mosaic Covenant never offered anyone any advantages in terms of righteousness. Because that law only served to convict us for our unrighteousness. It lacked the power to compel us in a righteous life. So on that day of eternal judgment, Gentiles and Jews alike will be convicted for their sin, regardless of how much of God’s law they ever knew. under the law
But for the Jew, the issue of their relationship to the Mosaic Law was important, because the Mosaic Law defined literally every aspect of Jewish life. So Paul is explaining at the outset of this chapter that your life in Christ, having died with Him and having come to life in a new way through His Spirit. That now opens the door for a Jew to live an entirely new life of freedom from the Mosaic Law. And that’s a huge deal for any Jew. It’s also a big deal to those Gentiles who were entering the church at that time because there were those in the church who were teaching them that they had to become Jewish, convert, get circumcised and submit to the Law before they could then be Christian. That you had to go through Judaism to get to Christianity. That was the teaching of the Judaizers. So what Paul is teaching here of course also takes that burden off the Gentile. To the Gentile, this mattered only in the sense that it prevents us from getting pulled back into a trap that we had no part, to begin with. And by the way, I am sure you may know this, it’s still going on today. Whether it’s going on from a sort of hyper messianic perspective where they really want us to pretend we are Jewish, romanticizing Judaism. Or it’s merely legalism trumped-up as good old fashion southern religion where we want to make sure you don’t do any of those nasty things we don’t want Christians to do so we create our own law. Sort of our own version of the Law. Or those who say you are still under the Ten Commandments or those who still want you to repeat some aspect of the Law because they deem it necessary. All of this is ignoring the theology of Romans 7. When you died with Christ you died to a Law that is no longer of any use to anyone in that regard. Once you’ve come to Christ you’ve met its terms through Him.
So Paul is saying all that the Law is no longer in effect because our death in Christ frees us from that covenant that established the Law. Notice in verse 4 Paul says we were made to die to the Law through Christ. That is, our separation from the covenant of Law isn’t optional, we were made to die to this covenant. It’s not something you had to agree to be separated from. The covenant has ended because you have been made to die to it. Like a woman who has been widowed by her husband’s death. Her marriage ended the moment of her husband’s death because the covenant ended at that moment. We could say she has been made to be single again. Now, that woman could continue to live as if she were married. She could continue to wear a wedding band. She could call herself “Mrs….” She could refuse to seek a new husband. But all these things are merely pretending. Fond memories. But it doesn’t change the reality. She’s not married.
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
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