The Law - Part III

Excerpted from What I Hate, That Do I, by Jimmy Swaggart
March 2022

The believer must understand that all victory and all righteousness come exclusively by and through the cross of Christ. In other words, no believer, no matter how zealous he or she might be, is going to find victory outside of the cross of Christ. The things that are done may bless the person greatly, but it won’t give him victory. As well, righteousness comes to us again only because of our faith in Christ and what He did for us at the cross. Once again, it’s the cross.

Let us say it again: victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil, can come only by the cross of Christ, which demands that our faith be exclusively in Christ and the cross, and maintained exclusively in Christ and the cross. As well, we are given righteousness simply because of our faith in Christ and the cross and by no other means.

Yet, whether they realize it or not, most believers do what they do—fasting, witnessing to souls, giving money, or whatever it might be—thinking that it brings about righteousness. It doesn’t. One can gain righteousness only by one’s faith in Christ and the cross. Listen to what is said about Abraham: “And he believed in the LORD and he (the Lord) counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6).

Only Christ
What makes this scenario somewhat confusing is that most of the time the believer is not deliberately trying to find victory from other sources. He thinks he is depending solely upon Christ, while all the time depending on his own strength or even on the strength of others. His efforts are probably very spiritual and, he thinks, even scriptural, but these efforts are made mostly in ignorance. Irrespective of good intentions or scriptural ignorance, the result is the same: failure. Having good motives, being sincere, and having good intentions, while good, never compensate for error. Wrong direction is wrong direction, regardless of the reasons.

A Second Benefit
As stated, most of the problem, at least as it pertains to personal victory over sin for a child of God—and the problem is sin—is an ignorance of the teaching given in Romans 6.

We have all been taught greatly and grandly of the price paid by Christ at Calvary regarding the terrible sin debt, which makes it possible for the believing sinner to be saved. But most of us have heard very little about the second benefit of Calvary, which is the victory won by Christ in destroying the dominion of sin over the believer.

Coming to salvation is wonderful and great, but the believer—even in the face of the powers of darkness with all of its attendant wickedness—must walk straight and clean before the Lord thereafter. Even though Jesus did pay the terrible sin debt, and paid it in totality, sin as a fact was not eradicated or dissolved at that time. It is still very much real, and its bite causes just as many problems as it always did. What Jesus did in respect to breaking its dominion was to literally build a spiritual shield between the sin nature and the believer, effectively isolating that monster. Even though that was done at Calvary and the resurrection—and done in totality—most believers little understand it, and even fewer know how to appropriate this great benefit.

Continuing Faith
The second difficulty is that there must be a continuing faith, which should not present a problem but sometimes does. Christians love to make everything final; however, while there is finality to what Jesus did respecting the destruction of the dominion of sin over the believer, in another sense of the word, it is not final. By that I mean the believer must continue to exercise faith even on a moment by moment basis. To be sure, this is all done for our benefit, but at times it seems like anything but a benefit.

Once again, we come back to the foundation of the Word of God, which demands that man go God’s way, and nothing must be taken or added from that way. This is man’s great problem. Even believers—they either do not know the way, which is the way of the cross, or else they try to change the way. Perhaps this is done in ignorance, but again the end result is the same: failure.

But If Her Husband Be Dead, She Is Free From That Law
This presents Paul proclaiming the situation as it ought to be. The husband being dead represents the law being dead; or one might say fulfilled, in effect, by Christ. As a result, the believer is no longer obligated to the law. He is free from its demands simply because Christ has fulfilled those demands on his behalf. The law within itself is not dead, but as we shall see in a later verse, we are to be dead to the law. This means that we are to treat the law as though it is dead. The law is dead only to believers and not to the world at large.

Actually, the law died with Christ. Paul said, “Blotting out the handwriting of Ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Col. 2:14).

So That She Is No Adulteress, Though She Be Married To Another Man The heading presents the believer as now married to Christ and no longer under obligation to the law because the power of the law is dead, at least as Paul draws the analogy. Israel was obligated under the law because Christ had not yet come, but when Christ came, He took the place of the law and is to be the only husband. With Christ as the only husband, the believer is not looked at by God as committing spiritual adultery as He did when the believer was attempting to exert loyalty to both.

Married To Christ
Pursuing the matter of the Christian’s relation to law as a method of divine dealing, Paul returns to the substance of his statement in Romans 6:14: “Ye are not under the law, but under grace,” (married to Christ).

To be under law is to be in the state of an unsaved person, obligated to obey God’s law; however, the law gives neither the desire nor the power to obey its precepts. Instead it brings out sin all the more, because that’s what it was designed to do. Its very presence incites rebellion in the totally depraved nature of the individual (Rom. 5:20).

Conversely, to be under grace is to be a Christian who has had the power of the evil nature broken in his life so that he does not need to obey it anymore. A Christian has been given the divine nature, which gives him both the desire and the power to do God’s will. Consequently, we can now see how deadly it is to resort to any other method of victory other than Christ and the cross. Jesus is not only our Savior from sin (the sin debt), but He is also our Savior respecting the dominion of sin. It no longer rules us and in fact, cannot rule us, that is, as long as we look to Christ and the cross.

Wherefore, My Brethren, You Also Are Become Dead To The Law By The Body Of Christ
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Rom. 7:4).

The Christian has the choice: it’s either law or grace. For the believer to operate in grace, which is God’s intention, the believer only has to make the cross the object of his faith and maintain the cross as the object of his faith.

Romans 7:4 presents the passage that causes some confusion about Paul’s analogy regarding the husband who died. Continuing that analogy, Paul would have said that the law died, inasmuch as the dead husband represented the law, but he doesn’t say that. He said the believer has become dead to the law—instead of the law being dead to the believer—even though in truth the law is dead to the believer, or should be.

The real point that Paul is making in this symbolism is about the woman—a type of the believer—who attempts to be married to two husbands: the law and Christ. Of course, such cannot be.

Also, when Paul uses the statement, “are become dead to the law,” he is referring to fellowship with Christ in His death. As well, Paul is using another analogy, which in a sense turns the entire scenario around. He is saying that when the husband (law) dies, the wife also dies as far as that particular marriage relationship is concerned, and she is free to marry another. So, when Jesus died on Calvary, the believer (continuing the analogy, the wife) died with Him (Rom. 6:6). Therefore, the believer is now free to marry Christ, which he does at conversion.

The phrase, “are become dead” in the Greek is thanatoo, which means “you were made dead, put to death,” and speaks of great violence. Henry Alford said, “The more violent word is used instead of ‘apethanete (you died),’ to recall the violent death of Christ, in which, and after the manner of believers have been put to death to the law and sin. In other words, there is absolutely no doubt that the believer is dead to the law and sin.”1

The Structure Of The Law
Now why did Paul change the structure of the analogy and make the believer dead to the law instead of the law dead to the believer, as was originally typified by the dead husband? As we have already stated, the original intent was to portray the impossibility of the believer attempting to be married to two husbands—law and Christ. But the reason Paul did not say that the law is dead to the believer, but rather that the believer is dead to the law is because the law is not dead; it is very much alive, even now.

All human beings in the world who are not saved, if they do not give their hearts to Christ, will answer to the law, which will be done at the great white throne judgment.

The reason the believer does not have to answer to the law, is because Jesus satisfied the law in every respect and kept its precepts completely. Whenever we accept Christ, we are given His perfection, with the law having no more hold over us. That can be only if the person accepts Christ, otherwise they will answer to the law, and that judgment is death—eternal separation from God, eternal hell.

1 Alford, Henry. “I Corinthians.” The New Testament for English Readers, Part I ed., II. Gilbert and Rivington Printers, 1865, pg. 54. Romans.


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