We go on to Romans 7:1-6
What role does the law of Moses play in our lives? Many believers will say that because we are New Testament believers the law is done away with and no longer has any relevance for us today. Is this accurate? Would the apostle Paul agree with such a statement? In this chapter Paul speaks a great deal about the law of Moses.
What we have already established in previous chapters is that salvation, the grace of G-d, is a free gift and it cannot be earned. Yeshua did the work and paid the price for our salvation. There is NOTHING we can do to earn salvation – no one is justified by the works of the law. The law is not an instrument for salvation. Salvation is not an outcome of works; it is an outcome of faith in the work of Messiah and what He did for us on the cross – Not our works, but His work. Through faith in what Yeshua has done for us is the only way that we will find forgiveness of our sins.
v1: Not know: This word, when literally translated, means ‘against knowing’. It is not that the people are ignorant, but many are against knowing the truth of what the Word of G-d truly says.
- Brethren: An inclusive term for both male and female believers, brothers and sisters.
- I speak to those who know the law: Many of the believers who were in this congregation of Rome were Jewish believers. Therefore, they knew what the law said. Because they knew what the law said, Paul’s assumption was that they would understand what he was writing to them.
- Has dominion over: Rules over. Lords over, or is the authority of.
Note: All of us are conceived in sin. We all have a problem in that we are stained with original sin. When we apply the law or truth of G-d to our lives (His expectations or standards) we fall short and are shown to be unrighteous sinners. Left to ourselves, with no help from G-d, we are going to experience condemnation or judgment.
The phrase ‘You are no longer under the law’ should not be taken to mean that the law no longer has relevance for us. It means that we are no longer going to be condemned by the law. It also means that the law no longer has authority over us. We have a new Master – our L-rd and Saviour Messiah Yeshua.
v2: The woman who has a husband: A married woman. A married woman is a wife because of a covenant.Marriage is a covenant (Mal 2:14). In the Old covenant, G-d spoke of Israel as His bride or wife (Isaiah 54:5-8, Jer 2:2). In the New covenant, Messiah speaks of believers, the church, as His bride (Eph 5:22-33; Rev 21:9). In both the Old and the New Testament this is the framework that we are given to help us to understand this relationship, this covenant, that we have with G-d through Messiah.
- Bound by the law: Legally she is in this covenant of marriage. She is obligated to this covenant from the minute this covenant is made.
- If the husband dies: The man’s death is the only condition that can break this covenant. His death brings about a different condition for her – it changes her status.
Note: In the previous chapters in Romans, ‘death’ has been the central focus (baptism etc). We need to read this chapter in light of this context – death brings about a change, but resurrection brings about a better change (Roms 6:3-11).
- Released from the law (of marriage): Being free (and this freedom is conditional – it is only relevant if her husband dies) from this law is only applicable to this woman. Although there is an end to the (law of) marriage for this couple, the law of marriage, in a general sense, is not affected – the laws of marriage are still relevant, they are still in this world, today. Just because one man dies does not mean that marriage loses all significance or is rendered null and void for everyone. Messiah’s death does not mean that the law loses significance and is rendered null and void for everyone. The law is still very relevant today.
v3: She is free from that law: When she is married, the law that governs the institution of marriage applies to her. When her husband dies, his death doesn’t cancel out the institution of marriage but, for the time that she is unmarried, she is not bound to it. However, as soon as she remarries, that law is once again applicable to her.
- She is no adulteress: The death of her husband frees her from judgment. If he has died, she can become the wife of another man without fear of being called an adulteress. Paul was writing to those who knew the law (Roms 7:1), so they would have perceived or properly understood the example that Paul was teaching them here – viz that when we have died to sin (our first master), we are no longer under the judgment of the law. The punishment for adultery was death. The punishment for sin is death.
v4: Brethren: Brothers and sisters. Believers.
- You… have become dead to the law through the body of Messiah: We are no longer susceptible to the judgment of the law (ie eternal death). When Messiah died upon the cross, we (as believers, by faith) have died with Him. Through the new covenant (of which baptism is a symbol) we are united with Messiah in His death (Roms 6:3). As such, through Messiah, we have already been punished, as He paid the penalty for our sin – the penalty being death. Messiah paid, but it was credited to our account. We are no longer candidates of G-d’s eternal judgment – death has changed our status and freed us to be united to another Master.
- You may be married to another: Our old lord or master was sin. Having died to that, we are his no longer. The new L-rd of our life is Messiah Yeshua (the One who has been raised from the dead), and we get all the benefits of being in this new covenant.
- Raised from the dead: Again, written in the passive. G-d the Father raised Yeshua from the dead. The resurrection reveals G-d’s power. When we are raised with Messiah (Roms 6:5) the Holy Spirit, with power, dwells within the believer forever. He enables us, with His power, to produce fruit to G-d.
- Bear fruit to G-d: How do we know what G-d considers good fruit? We know this through the institution of the law. We know that the law doesn’t save us, but it (like a marriage handbook) instructs us as to what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. The law gives us a framework on how to produce good fruit – legitimate fruit.
v5: The passions of sins which were aroused by the law: When we were in the flesh (in our previous condition: before we died to our first master – sin) the law aroused in us our sinful desires and rebellious natures.
- Our members: Our bodies, our parts.
- Fruit to death: Not good fruit.
v6: But now: There has been a change…a change brought about by faith ie the receiving of the grace of G-d.
- Delivered from the law: Set free as far as the judgment or punishment of the law is concerned – the wife would no longer be considered an adulteress, punishable by death, if she marries another once her first husband dies (We are not set free from the institution of marriage. In much the same way, neither are we set free from the institution of the law).
- Died to what we were held (bound) by: The punishment of the law no longer traps us. Sin provided a loveless “marriage” for us. It trapped us within its bonds.
- Newness of the Spirit: Through Messiah we enter into a new covenant ((Kingdom covenant) relationship with G-d. This new covenant brings about a new future for us, a Kingdom future or reality. We are called to live according to the truth of this Kingdom – that of righteousness.
- Not in the oldness of the letter: In the oldness of the letter the law said “Do not murder” (Ex 20:13). In the newness of the Spirit this law still exists, but Yeshua upped the ante on it….(Matt 5:21-26). From Yeshua’s perspective it was not only someone who physically murdered someone else that was guilty of transgressing this commandment. Yeshua stated that if a man even had hatred in his heart toward another then he was considered guilty of transgressing this same commandment. It is not a man’s actions alone that make him guilty before G-d, but even his thoughts (This same concept can be applied to all of the commandments – adultery the act, lust the thoughts etc). A man’s thoughts show his intent. The ’spirit of the law’ or the ‘righteous requirement of the law’ is referring to the intent of the law. As believers this is what we are called to fulfil – the righteous intent of the law (Roms 8:4)