The Law - Part II
Excerpted from What I Hate, That Do I, by Jimmy Swaggart
Satan And The Law
The Evil One is quite content to allow us to struggle and strive in efforts of our own making instead of trusting Christ. He knows that not only are we not going to get victory in that manner, but also that our situation is going to become progressively worse. All attempts to bring about victory in this way can only lead to defeat, with each defeat becoming worse than the previous one.
Satan is very content for man to be religious—even very religious—for the simple reason that he knows there is no victory or salvation in that sector. He even encourages these efforts. But the moment the believer begins to depend totally on Christ, that’s when the war begins. Strangely enough, most of the opposition will come from fellow Christians. That is sad, but true!
In this chapter, Paul is going to open his soul as few preachers ever have. He is going to portray his own failures and the reason for those failures. While we are studying this, do not forget that the reason for his failures is the reason for our failures as well. If the great apostle could not bring about victory by his own efforts, do any of us seriously think that we can succeed where he failed?
How Is It That The Law Has Dominion Over A Man As Long As He Lives?
The heading addresses the individual who attempts to live for God by the means of law, whether the law of Moses or laws devised by us or by our churches. Any person who seeks such a direction—and virtually the entirety of modern Christendom does—is going to find law dominating him, which destroys grace and brings with it a curse
Paul said, “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse” (Gal. 3:10).
Actually, this is a far cry from Bible Christianity and is, in fact, a miserable existence, as should be obvious.
If a person attempts to gain victory by using law (in his own strength and power), he will find that the law has dominion over him. He will not obtain that for which he is seeking—victory over the flesh—but rather the very opposite. So Paul is now going to press home the point that the believer is no longer under law and the Christian who puts himself under law and fails to avail himself of the resources of grace is a defeated Christian. This was Paul’s own experience after his conversion before he came into the knowledge given to him by Christ, which he gave us in Romans 6 (and in all of his writings).
However, the law will incite the Christian to more sin, which is the very opposite of what he wants. Yet the law is not responsible for that sin, but rather the sin nature that is in the believer. It is the sin nature that the law incites, which it is intended to do.
The Corruption Of Man’s Nature
The idea is that as good as the law of Moses was, in itself and the divine intention, instead of it helping to make man good, it actually did the very opposite. This is because of the corruption of man’s nature, which God knew all along. That sounds strange to the Bible student, doesn’t it?
One might ask, “If the law of Moses stimulated sin in God’s people, how could it be called good?”
Once again, the problem was not in the law, but in the corrupt nature of man. The Lord desired to show man just how corrupt he really was, and this was the best way to portray that fact.
It is somewhat like placing a certain type of medicine over a boil on the human body; the medicine draws the corruption to the surface. The medicine did not cause the boil, nor is it the reason for the corruption; it just merely portrays the fact that the corruption is already there by drawing it to the surface. So it is if man tries to gain victory by attempting to keep the law; he will have no more success than all who preceded him. The reason is simple: man has no power or ability to keep the law.
Then we must understand that Jesus has already kept the law for us, and He did it in every respect. In other words, He never sinned—not even one time in word, thought, or deed. He did it all as our representative man, keeping the law perfectly, which He did for us. This means that when we come to Christ, we step away from the position of lawbreaker into the position of law keeper—all because of Christ and what He did for us at the cross.
If God Demanded That The Law Be Kept, Which He Did, Why Did He Not Give Man The Power To Do So?
To the natural mind it seems unfair that God would give a law and demand that man keep it, all the time knowing that he could not. It becomes even more serious when we realize that there is a severe penalty attached to not keeping the law. Of course, for the law to truly be law, there must be a penalty attached for disobedience.
While it is true that God did not give man any power to keep the law, He did this for a purpose and reason.
Man’s problem has always been pride, which was actually the cause of the fall in the garden of Eden. If God had given man the power to keep the law, he would have been lifted up further in his pride and seen less need of God instead of more, which was the intention to begin with. The law was intended to show man his inability, his weakness, and his efforts to be woefully insufficient, not increase his problem with more pride.
Did God Not Know That Israel Would Respond To The Law Wrongly?>
Of course He did! But the law did exactly what it was intended to do:
So, even though the law of Moses must be addressed in what seems to be a negative way, the law was, in fact, not negative at all but the very opposite. As stated, the problem was on the part of man and not the law. In fact, some few Israelites down through the centuries treated the law of God as it was intended, and they were blessed abundantly.
- The law gave man a correct pattern for living.
- The law pointed out sin and defined what it was.
- The law showed man his gross inadequacy to keep or obey the simplest of commandments
- The law pointed to the ideal.
- The law addressed every single thing that pertained to man—economically, physically, socially, and above all, spiritually.
- The law portrayed man’s obligations to his fellow man and his obligations to God
For The Woman Which Has An Husband Is Bound By The Law To Her Husband So Long As She Lives
“For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband” (Rom. 7:2).
Let me say this again: if the believer doesn’t understand the cross of Christ relative to sanctification, no matter the instruction, he will not properly understand the great doctrines of the Bible, at least as he ought to.
Let’s say it in another way: to understand the great work of the cross relative to our everyday living for God also opens up to us the understanding of the great doctrines of the Word of God. The statement of this particular Scripture presents the first statement of an analogy used by Paul to describe the law and believers under the new covenant. First, the Bible student must understand that Paul is not teaching here on the subject of divorce and remarriage, but rather using this as an analogy or comparison. Even though it seems somewhat confusing at first, as we go along it becomes clearer as to why the Holy Spirit chose this particular illustration.
The husband is here likened to the law, and the woman (wife) is likened to the believer. As long as her husband (law) is alive, then she (the believer) is bound to him (bound to the law, which was the state of Israel before Christ).
But If The Husband Be Dead, She Is Loosed From The Law Of Her Husband
The heading simply means that she is now free in the eyes of God and man to marry again, if she so desires.
Continuing with that analogy, the law is now dead—fulfilled by Christ—at least dead to the child of God. Consequently, the believer is no longer bound by the law simply because it no longer exists (in Rom. 7:4, Paul changes this analogy a little bit, which tends to confuse the reader, but which is done with purpose).
The argument here is, just as death is the only force that could liberate from the demands of sin (the death of Jesus), so is it the only force that can liberate from the demands of the law.
The cross of Christ satisfied the law in every respect (Rom. 10:4). However, it satisfied the law only as the believing sinner places his or her faith exclusively in Christ and what He did for us at the cross, and maintains it accordingly.
So Then If, While Her Husband Lives, She Be Married To Another Man, She Shall Be Called An Adulteress
“So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Rom. 7: 3).
This presents the very opposite of Romans 7:2. Here, Paul uses the analogy of the husband not dying, but rather his wife leaving him and marrying another man. Divorce is not actually mentioned, so in a sense this means she now has two husbands—the law and Christ. Really, this the gist of the entire analogy.
Paul is using this to portray the believer attempting to serve two husbands—the law and Christ— which is a literal impossibility, but where most believers find themselves.
Paul is also saying that irrespective of what man may say of the woman (the believer), God calls her an adulteress. That means if the believer attempts to serve Christ, and at the same time tries to hold on to some type of law, the believer is, in effect, committing spiritual adultery. Please understand, anything in which we place our faith, irrespective as to how scriptural it might be in its own right, God looks at it as spiritual adultery; we are in effect serving two masters. The believer is to look exclusively to Christ and the cross and nothing else.
Some time back I looked at a book written by a particular brother, and in no way did I question his love for God. But he was telling people that if they fast so many days, they will have victory over sin. While fasting is definitely scriptural and will bless the person, it will not give one victory over sin. As somebody has said, after a while we’re going to have to start eating again.
Let me say it again: anything other than our faith in Christ and the cross is looked at by God as spiritual adultery. That means that if the believer attempts to serve Christ, but at the same time tries to hold on to some type of law, then that believer is committing spiritual adultery. The believer has pledged himself in totality to Christ, but as well is playing footsie with another effort or law, attempting to obtain results that only Christ can give. The believer won’t gain anything by this action, and he will greatly hurt himself—not only in the results but also in his relationship with Christ.