Freedom From The Law
“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.” — Romans 7:4
Paul Separates Believers From The Mosaic Law
There is no doubt that the apostle Paul did all that he could do to separate the first century Christian church from the Mosaic law. Paul understood that the law had been fulfilled in Christ and that mankind was encountering a brand-new covenant with new guidelines and responsibilities. Paul understood the devastating results that would occur when a Christian attempted to add the law of Moses—or any law for that matter—to the new covenant, offered by God in Christ. In Romans 7:1-6, Paul teaches the basics of this truth; that the new covenant believer is to be separated from the unbearable codes of law and joined instead to the person of Christ.
Dead To The Law By The Body Of Christ
The believer is set free from the law of Moses when he or she is joined spiritually to Christ. Paul says we become dead to the law by the body of Christ. This speaks of our spiritual union with Christ that takes place at redemption, the moment we get saved. “Dead” indicates a change in relationship. It does not mean that the law is dead nor that the believer is dead. Both continue to exist. It indicates that the former relationship between the law and the new believer has ended. The Christian is no longer held accountable to the law. He cannot be judged by the law. He cannot be blessed by the law. He belongs exclusively to Christ and is called to “learn of Him.” The Holy Spirit has been given to the new covenant believer at salvation as a means of guiding him into righteousness. This relationship was not available under the law. A person who tries to live out his Christian experience by Mosaic law (or any laws) does damage to his vital relationship with the Holy Spirit. Through developing a sensitivity to the indwelling Spirit, God teaches every believer (who is willing to enter the process) the principles, actions, and attitudes that should be exhibited in the life of the Christian. The believer is “dead” to the law when he is joined with Christ.
The Marriage Example
Earlier, Paul had given an analogy of a marriage (Rom. 7:2-3). In Romans 7:2, he declares that a woman is bound by the laws of marriage to her husband as long as they live. He makes the point that if either spouse should die, neither party continues to be bound to that specific covenant of marriage. The point is that death changes relationships. In Romans 7:3, Paul shows that a woman who marries a second partner while still being married to the first partner becomes an adulterer. In order to be totally free from the first marriage contract, a death had to occur. At that case, the woman would be free to marry a second partner but not before. Paul is teaching that the authority the law had over us and the responsibility and accountability that we had to the law has been ended as a result of our union with Christ. We are crucified with Christ and raised up a new creation. In the mind of God, we have died and are no longer accountable to our old partner or Lord—the Mosaic law. This legally frees us to be bound in contract to a second partner, which is Christ.
The problem with Christians occurs when they fail to understand that they truly are complete in Christ. Christ has totally fulfilled the law on our behalf. By being united with Him God declares and views us as righteous. This is true in respect to our initial justification, but what many believers fail to see is that this also is true in respect to our progressive sanctification. No laws of men, rules of religion, or attempts to keep selected portions of the Mosaic law are necessary. In fact, they are a great hindrance and hurt to the believer. For the believer is actually attempting to be married to both law (any law) as well as to Christ. We have been freed from the law so that we might be married singularly, exclusively, marvelously, to Christ alone. In Him is our freedom, our joy, our peace, and our blessings (both physical and spiritual). We were freed from the law that we might be joined to Christ. There can be nothing better!
Bringing Forth Fruit
So, what are the responsibilities of the new believer once freed from the authority and responsibility of the Mosaic law? We are responsible to follow Christ. The most outstanding feature of the new covenant is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within us to guide, empower, instruct, and construct us into the image of Christ. We can still learn what God is like and what God approves of from the Old Testament law. But we are not to attempt to enter into covenant with the Mosaic law. To do so is a slap in the face of Christ, who died to free us from the righteous demands of the law. Jesus told us that all the law falls into two specific categories: The first—to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. The second—to love your neighbor as yourself. All of the Mosaic law is fulfilled in these two commandments. This is the responsibility of every Christian. We are to bring forth fruit under God by faith in Christ and what He has done for us at Calvary. As we center our faith on Christ and His finished work, the Holy Spirit is free to equip us to love God supremely and to cause us to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves.