Belong to Another

When I first heard the gospel I didn’t have any problem accepting my need of a Savior.  There was plenty of evidence to support that fact!  The Gospel was Good News for me.  I was told salvation was a gift to be received by grace through faith.  In 1979, I prayed the sinners prayer and trusted Christ.  Then the church went to work to get me cleaned up and straightened out.  We Catholics make good legalists because we’re taught to keep rules.  So, first in Pentecostalism and then Fundamentalism, I was taught the religion of, “Do More and Try Harder.”  My efforts were whole hearted, trying to manage my sin in a reasonable way.  The resulting problem was my sins changed to those more acceptable in Christianity.  Slowly I became a Pharisee, a separatist, a judgmental man, and secretly full of shame because I never could measure up.  When I finally came to the place where I cried out to the Lord, “I can’t do it, I’ll never measure up,” my true journey began towards real freedom and joy. It came at the end of my self-sufficiency and I experienced Christ’s sufficiency and the abundance of His grace.  The same grace that saved me, sanctified me, and set me free from the treadmill of life – trying harder and doing more.  My self-efforts showed me there is no freedom or joy under the yoke of the Law.  Jesus came to do so much more than secure me a place in heaven someday.  He wanted a relationship with me and true intimacy right now!  And, all through grace.
 
Romans 7:1–4 “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? 2 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. 3 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. 4 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.” 
 
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?  This is something we should all know.  The law only applies to those who are living.  If a criminal dies, he is no longer subject to prosecution and punishment.  If the police are hunting criminals and find them dead they don’t take them to jail – they’re dead!  If they find the criminal alive the law has power to send him to jail.  Suppose he gets a sentence of 30 years but dies in the 28th year.  What will they do to him?  Once he dies the law ceases to have any authority.  The law is binding only for the living.  This section is directly connected to Romans 6:14.  You are not under the Law but under Grace.  Even though the scripture repeats this incredible promise several times religionists can’t stand it and try to explain it away.  They protest we need the Law to live in holiness.  Now we aren’t against the Law at all, but do realize the Law has served its purpose when it drives us to our Savior.  Once we are born-again we are in a personal relationship with the Creator.  We have a new master because we have a new nature.
 
For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, Paul uses the example of marriage to illustrate the relationship between Law and Grace.  The point of the illustration isn’t to teach about divorce and remarriage but about the principle of being under the Law only as long as one is alive.  We are all born married to the law.  Because we were born in sin we needed the Law.  Consider this:  The Law is the husband of all those who are born.  Does the Law help believers handle the problem of sin in their lives?  The answer is both yes and no.  Yes, it helps define the problem; but no, the Law is no help in delivering us from the true problem.  The Law is good, perfect, holy and pure.  As far as husbands go, Mr. Law is an attractive man.  But, Mr. Law, as a husband, demands perfect, flawless obedience and isn’t empathetic when his wife can’t perform.  He does nothing to motivate her.  He doesn’t have emotions or feelings.  The Law as a husband is fine if you are equally perfect, holy and pure but no one is so all the Law can do is judge and condemn.
 
but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Death is the ends all relationships and legal obligations.  The only way out of this marriage to our perfect husband, Mr. Law, was death – our death.  Do you see why Paul talks about our death in Romans?  We needed to die.
 
Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive.  Now if a woman lives with a man other than her husband she is an adulterer under the Law.  There is no escaping Mr. Law and there is no provision for divorce from the Law.  We couldn’t be married to another without death. 
 
But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.  Even in our sinful state we still had One Who loved us.  At our worst Jesus loved us and committed Himself to our redemption.  He promised to make us His bride.  However, He couldn’t marry us because we were already married to Mr. Law. 
 
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, Notice carefully this shift; it isn’t the husband who dies but the bride!  This speaks to our new identity in Christ so that in Christ all that happened to Him happened to us as well.  We died because we needed to die.  “you also have died” could be translated “were made dead.”  The Greek word here emphasizes the completeness and finality of death.  The verb is also passive, indicating believers do not die naturally or put themselves to death but have been made to die by the divine act of God in response to faith in His Son.  We were crucified with Him, buried with Him, and rose again with Him.  Jesus was a savior, not a martyr.  He had no need to die.  He died because we needed to die on the cross.  It is more than just deserving to die we needed it.   The Law didn’t die. The Law had no need to die because the it is perfect.  In fact, the Law is alive and well!  But be careful because now – he is a widower and he’s looking for a girlfriend!  Where does he go to find a girl?  He goes to church.  He finds a new spouse whenever he walks into the church of “Do More, Try Harder.”
 
so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, Salvation brings a complete change of spiritual relationship.  All this dying wasn’t without purpose.  It was so you could be free to be married again to One who would love you!  We commit spiritual adultery trying to live with two husbands.  We come to Jesus for forgiveness and salvation because it can’t be found in our former husband, Mr. Law.  But our old husband, Mr. Law, is always enticing to return to him for sanctification and acceptance.  But the Law can’t give us what we seek.  So we find ourselves in failure needing grace. This is living with two husbands.  For the Christian to go back to the Law for acceptance is spiritual adulteryHe was raised from the dead to be our eternal husband.  He died to liberate you from Mr. Law.  The death of a martyr is an injustice.  Christ died to do justice to sin and redeem man.  Jesus died for us and we died in Him.  We died to the law so we could be in Christ, free from its guilt, and free from condemnation; free to be His bride.
 
in order that we may bear fruit for God.  All of this death and remarriage was for the purpose of bearing fruit to God.  We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to good works.  He died for us, so He could live in us, and through us.  Legalistic Christianity can’t produce fruit for God because it is centered in man.  Christianity that puts more emphasis on the Christian than the Christ ceases to be Good News.
 
So, I encourage you to give up trying to live up to the expectations and demands of Mr. Law and enjoy intimacy with your true Husband, Mr. Grace.  The end result will be a life full of fruit for God and from God’s indwelling life.  When Mr. Law comes calling just remember you belong to another.  One who loves you and has redeemed you to Himself.
 
Thursday I’ll be having surgery to take a biopsy of two nerves and surrounding tissue.  Please pray the surgeons hands and eyes will be directed by our loving Abba and they will discover the source or cause of my health problems.  I’ll be coming home the same day and will look forward to seeing all of you on Sunday.  Thank you for all your support and encouragement.
 
You are loved!
 
Pastor Tim