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Dead to the Law - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Romans 7:1-6

  • 2017-11-12 AM
  • Romans
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Today we come in our study of Paul's letter to the Romans to Chapter 7. Chapter 7 of Romans is one of the most helpful and the most comforting passages in all of Scripture. If you have been a Christian any time at all, you have found great comfort in the second half of Romans 7. But it is, at the same time, one of the most controversial chapters in the Bible, as well. Thousands of pages have been written arguing about exactly who it is that Paul is describing in this chapter, especially the second half of the chapter. Is the struggle with sin described in those verses that of an unbeliever or in fact is it Paul describing his own struggle with sin and the struggle of every true child of God – our struggle, as well? Well, these are important questions, and ones that we will deal with as we work our way through this chapter. But today, as we begin, we need to make sure first of all that we understand how this chapter fits into the flow of Paul's argument. We're looking at a section that begins in Romans 5 and runs through Romans 8, 5 through 8, and the theme of that section is this: the security and confidence of the believer who has been justified. If you're in Christ, you have been declared right with God through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, and these chapters are there to give you a greater sense of your security, your confidence in Christ, and I know that it will have that effect as we work our way through. We began to look at this section in chapter 5 verses 1 through 11, by studying the immediate benefits of our justification. Paul explains justification in the first four chapters. He gets to chapter 5 verse 1, and he says "therefore, having been justified by faith." If that's your reality, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We stand in grace, chapter 5 verse 2, and he goes on to outline a number of immediate benefits that are ours because we have been justified by faith in Christ. You come to the middle of chapter 5, beginning in verse 12 and running through the rest of chapter 5, and Paul explains the legal basis for our justification. Now at first glance you may say, "Why is that important"? Well, God is just, so how can a just God look at you and look at me and say righteous when we're anything but? Well, the answer to that question comes in the second half of Romans 5 and it's because God made Jesus Christ our legal representative, just as He had previously made Adam our legal representative. And legally, when someone acts on my behalf, I get the benefits or the consequences of his actions, and that's how it is with Christ. He can stand in my place, and I can be declared righteous with his righteousness because He acted for me.

Now at the end of that section, I want you to glance back at chapter 5, verses 20 and 21, because at the end of that section, as Paul explains the legal basis of our justification, he mentions two things in passing that raise some serious questions. Chapter 5 verse 20. He says "the Law came in so that the transgression would increase." Wait a minute, Paul, are you saying there's something wrong with God's law? And then he says, "and where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so" now grace reigns in our lives "through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Those two verses raise two questions that Paul will answer in chapters 6 and 7. The first question is, does the grace that comes to us in justification, does it encourage Christians to sin? This was an accusation his opponents were constantly throwing at him, and he answers that question in chapter 6 by explaining the believer's new relationship to sin. He says absolutely not. It doesn't encourage us to sin, because we have a new relationship to sin. In the first 14 verses of chapter 6, we've seen that we are no longer slaves to sin because of the radical transformation called regeneration. And in verses 15 to 23, he says not only are we no longer slaves to sin, we are now slaves of God and of righteousness. Now at the end of chapter 5 in verse 20, Paul raised another question. It's about the purpose of the law, because he seems to imply that the law is outdated and useless, maybe even harmful, because it causes sin, he says, to increase. And so this question is, what is the purpose of the law? What was the purpose of God's law for unbelievers, and does God's law serve any continuing purpose in our lives as Christians?

Paul raises this same question in the middle of chapter 6. Look at verse 14. He says, "for sin shall not be master over you," and then he makes this profound but controversial statement. He says, "you are not under law, but under grace." Wait a minute, Paul, what do you mean, we are no longer under law? What are you saying? Well, in chapter 7, Paul answers that question, and he answers that question by explaining the believer's new relationship to the law. Just as in chapter 6 we have a new relationship to sin, in chapter 7 we have a new relationship to the law. In one sense, then, chapters 6 and 7 are a kind of parenthesis, but they also fit well into the overall section of chapters 5 through 8. Remember the theme of this section? It's God's desire to give you confidence and security as a justified believer. Well, I promise you this: by the time we're done with this section, if you stay with us through this chapter and the early part of the eighth chapter, you will have a much greater sense of confidence and security in Christ.

Now, the theme of chapter 7 is very clear. It has to do with God's law. We can see this just by the frequency. The word law itself appears some 27 times, beginning in chapter 7 verse 1 and running through chapter 8 verse 4, which is really the section we're looking at. Twenty-seven times the word law appears. And he refers to the law in some way, either with the word law or some other way, 35 times in the same section. So clearly, it's about God's law. Specifically, this section outlines the purpose and function of the law, both before we came to Christ and now that we're Christians.

Now let me give you a preliminary outline of this section, so you have a kind of road map; you see where we're going. But notice the word preliminary? I do reserve the right to tweak this as we go along, so don't like write this in ink in your Bible or something, because this may not be where I end, but it gives us at least a road map to follow. In verses 1 through 6, Paul explains our death, as Christians, to the law. He explains what that means and why that's important. In chapter 7, verses 7 to 13, we have Paul's defense of the law, because his comments could appear to imply that the law is somehow flawed, that there is some problem with the law. He says no, no, no, the problem is not with the law, the problem is with us. The law does exactly what God intended for it to do.

Beginning in verse 14 of chapter 7, this is the familiar portion beginning in verse 14 and running through verse 25. I've called this section the weakness of the law. While the law accomplishes certain things, there are other things the law cannot do. And then in chapter 8, verses 1 to 4, we have the fulfillment of the law, because in us who walk by the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit, we can actually fulfill the law, and that's the message of those verses. So, that's the preliminary outline and sort of road map to what Paul does in this section.

Today, we just want to begin the first section of this chapter, verses 1 through 6, our death to the law. Let's read it together, Romans chapter 7, beginning in verse 1:

Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by the law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we [may] serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Now the point of those six verses is fairly straightforward, and that is that, as Christians, we have died with Christ to God's law. You are dead to God's law if you're in Christ. But what does that mean, and what are the ramifications of that in everyday Christian living? Well, Paul's going to explain that. Let's look at it together. Paul begins in verses 1 through 3 with the basic legal principle. Just a basic legal principle. We see the principle itself in verse 1: "Or do you not know, brethren?" You know, as Paul so often does, he begins this section with a question, a question that implies that his readers do know the truth he is about to explain, or ought to know the truth he's about to explain. This question, by the way, in this section again goes back to the middle of chapter 6, when Paul says "you are not under law but under grace." Paul, what do you mean by that? And he answers that question here. He goes on in verse 1 to say, "or do you not know, brethren." I love that – brothers – don't you know brothers and sisters, this is a term of affection. Paul addressed people he'd never met as his brothers; reminds us that we are part of a family, we are part of the family of God. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. And he says, then, don't you know, "for I am speaking to those who know the law." Paul says to all of the believers in the Roman churches, both Jews and Gentiles, you all understand this basic principle of law. You say, what law is he talking about in verse 1? It doesn't matter. He might be talking about the law in general, he might be talking about Roman law, which they'd have been very familiar with, or he might be talking about the Old Testament law, which both Jews and Gentile believers would have had. That was their scripture. The Hebrew Scriptures. But it doesn't matter. What he is about to say is true of all law. Notice what he says in verse 1: "the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives." Literally, the Greek text says this: "The law is lord over a man during whatever time he lives." The word translated has jurisdiction is actually translated in Matthew 20 verse 25 that way. You remember Jesus said the Gentiles lorded over them. That's this word. The law lords it over us the entire time we live. We understand this is a basic principle of law, right? Whatever law you live under, it's only valid while you live. You live in the U.S. Well, guess what? The laws of the U.S. are only valid in your life as long as you're alive. Once you die, those laws are no longer valid for you. Last Sunday, we all watched in horror the aftermath of that horrific, senseless murder of innocent worshippers down in Sutherland Springs. But you know what's interesting about that? In spite of the fact that that man, who had set himself against God, who declared himself to be an atheist, whose life reflected a life without God, in spite of the fact that he killed 26 people and wounded 20 more, there will be no trial, there will be no verdict, there will be no punishment. Instead, we entrust him to the eternal justice of God. Why? Because regardless of how serious the crime is, a criminal cannot be prosecuted, convicted and punished after he dies. That's Paul's point in verse 1. The law's jurisdiction ends with death.

Now, he goes on in verses 2 and 3 to illustrate that. He chooses a specific kind of law, a law pertaining to marriage, to illustrate that point. Now, when I was reading through those verses, verses 2 and 3, you may have been asking yourself "Paul, what are you doing? What is that about? Why did you insert that there?" Well, let me make sure you understand the purpose that these two verses serve. Verses 2 and 3 are not intended, first of all, to be a comprehensive explanation of the basis on which a marriage can end. In other words, Paul isn't teaching here when it is proper to end a marriage and to marry someone else. That's not his primary point. Some people have used this passage to argue that there are no legitimate biblical grounds for divorce. Because only death ends a marriage. That's not what Paul is teaching here. That's not his point. In fact, there are other passages that make it clear that there are biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage. Our Lord himself in Matthew 5, Matthew 19, says that where there is adultery there is an exception to the permanence of marriage. A marriage can be ended, and even remarriage can take place. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul adds abandonment by an unbeliever as a second legitimate grounds for a believer's divorce and remarriage. So Paul isn't dealing with, sort of, the laws concerning marriage and remarriage in total. He is simply saying, as a rule this is true. He is not dealing with any exceptions, which are dealt with elsewhere. It's also important to understand that this is a simple illustration, not an allegory. A lot of people in the history of the church have tried to read a deeper meaning into, you know, who's the wife and who's the husband in verses 2 and 3. For example, you go back to the early church fathers. Origen said that the wife in this illustration is the church. Augustine said nope, nope, it's not the church; instead, the wife is our old nature. And then they allegorize from that the meaning that Paul intends. But there is no indication here in the context that Paul intends this to be an allegory. This is a basic law of interpretation. You don't read the newspaper or one of the news sites that you go to and assume there is an allegory unless what? There are clues in the context that it's intended to be an allegory. There's none of that here. No. These verses are simply illustrating the legal principle of verse 1: that death ends the law's jurisdiction. And they're making one simple point: apart from the two biblical exceptions, marriage is permanent and can only end with death. This is why in the marriage vows we say, what, 'til – 'til what – 'til death do us part. Because that is God's intention.

Now with that background, look at verse 2 and let's see what he does with this illustration. Remember, it's illustrating verse 1. "For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living." The word for obviously connects this illustration with the point he made in verse 1. Having stated the point in the form of a general principle, he now chooses one specific law, the law of marriage, to illustrate the law's jurisdiction. It has limits, and that limit is death.

Now, notice in verse 2, the married woman. That expression literally means "the under a man woman." It's saying that in the context of marriage, she is under the authority of her husband. That that's how God designed marriage in the home. It is an important point for what Paul's going to say because he's going to say we are under the authority of the law. That's the point of comparison. So he uses this expression. And notice not only is she under the authority of her husband, but Paul adds that the married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives. So she's under the authority of her husband and she's bound by law to that relationship as long as he lives. Both of those points are important. Paul's going to apply them shortly.

Now why is it that the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living? Well, it's because that's God's design. God designed marriage to be permanent. And, in fact, Jesus makes this point in Mark 10 when he is teaching about marriage and divorce. This was the divine intention. There are exceptions, but they are exceptions not the rule. And, she made legal vows in front of God and witnesses, 'til death do us part. So, look at the second half of verse 2. But, if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning her husband. The law that has to do with continuing to live with her husband. The Greek word for released by the way there, in the second part of verse 2, is a powerful word. We've already met this word in Romans. Back in chapter 3 verse 31, Paul says, "Do we then nullify" – that's our word. "Do we then nullify the Law through faith?" This is a strong word. It means to render void, even to destroy. Paul is saying that if this woman's husband dies, the law that bound her to that marriage is nullified, rendered void, and even destroyed. Now having made that point in verse 3, Paul draws out two conclusions from this illustration. Notice verse 3: "So then." Here are the conclusions I want to make, he says. "So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress." Now the key word in that sentence is the word called. That word is not the typical word for when some people sort of talk about somebody else. No, this word called was often used to describe judicial decisions, even decrees of state. In other words, this isn't just that some people around her may call this woman guilty of adultery, may call her an adulteress. No, what Paul is saying, she is legally, authoritatively identified by the law as an adulteress, as guilty of adultery. She is guilty of breaking the seventh commandment, she deserves the appropriate punishment, and under the Old Testament law, that would have been death. Verse 3 goes on to say, here's the other part of the conclusion, "but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man." Now here's Paul's point in verse 3: before her husband's death, if she is joined to another man, she is labeled legally guilty of adultery. She is condemned by the law, she is subject to punishment for breaking this basic law of marriage. But on the other hand, if after her husband's death she is joined to someone else, she is what, notice what he says in verse 3, "she is free from the law." Free in what sense? How is she free from the law? She is no longer condemned by the law, nor is she subject to its punishment. That's very important to store away, because Paul's going to make that point in a moment about us. Now, why exactly does Paul use this illustration of marriage? Well, for several reasons, and I'll just point them out before we move on to the application. Why does Paul use this illustration of marriage? Well, first if all, to show that we are permanently bound to God's law and under its authority. In the illustration, we're the wife and we are under the authority of the law, and we are bound to be under that authority as long as we live. 'Til death do us part. Secondly, Paul uses this illustration to show that only death can end our relationship to the law. And then finally, it shows that death makes a new relationship possible, just as in the illustration. So keep all of those in mind, and let's move on then to verse 4 and to Paul's point.

Here is the theological application. So far, all Paul has done is make a basic legal principle and illustrate it. He hasn't yet talked about us at all. Now he's going to. He's going to bring it home to us. Let's take this apart because it's really a profound verse. Paul begins by explaining what has happened to you. What has happened to you. The what. This is where he begins. Notice verse 4. "Therefore." In other words, you're about to get – that's familiar territory for Paul – you're about to get his conclusion. His application of the truth that he just explained in the first three verses. "Therefore, my brethren." This was for all the saints in Rome. This is for all genuine Christians. If you're in Christ this morning, what Paul's about to teach is for you, and it will increase your assurance and security as a justified believer in Christ. Now notice verse 4: "Therefore, my brethren, you also [just like the woman in the illustration], you also were made to die to the Law." Now, commentators, particularly liberal commentators, love to give Paul a hard time here because he seems to be switching the illustration around, sort of changing the elements. Well, he has to. Notice what he does not say. He does not say the law died. If he stuck exactly with the illustration you might expect him to say that, but he doesn't say that. Why? Because the law isn't dead. The law is very much alive. It still lives. God still uses it to bring conviction to sinners. He still uses it as a pattern for believers' obedience. Instead, notice what he says. He says, "You … were made to die to the law." Now that's a very strange expression, even awkward. Awkward both in English and in Greek. "You … were made to die to the law." Why does he use that form of the verb? Well, because it makes two crucial points.

First of all, it shows us that your death to the law was not a process. It was an event that has already happened in the past. "You were made" in the past. It's not a process. It's something that already has happened. When did it happen? Well, it had to happen at the moment of your salvation. Why do I say that? Because he's writing to all the Christians in Rome. Some of them were, perhaps, days old in Christ. Some of them had been believers for decades. And he says to all of them, "You … were made to die to the law." So, for it to apply to every Christian without exception, when did this have to happen? At the moment of their salvation. And it happened to you at the moment of your salvation. Every believer. But he also uses this form of the verb "you were made to die" to tell us that this is not something you did, but this is something that God did. This is something that God has done to you. You were made to die to the law. It's like what we learned back in chapter 6 verse 22, where Paul says, in our translation it says you were "enslaved to God" but literally, the Greek verb is "you were made a slave of God." This is something somebody else did. Obviously, God. God Himself made you to die to the law. At the moment of your salvation, God intentionally acted in order to ensure a complete and final break between you and the law. That's what Paul is saying. Now, this is his explanation of what was back in chapter 6 verse 14. You are no longer under law. You are under grace.

But that simple statement, we have been made to die to the law, is filled with great complexity. In fact, it invites two key questions that we have to answer. Question number one is what law, exactly, have we died to? What law did we die to? You died to the law, but as you know, the word law can be used in a variety of ways in the New Testament. For example, the word law can refer to the entire Old Testament. The Hebrew Scriptures. It can refer to the Mosaic law given at Mt. Sinai, so essentially Exodus 19 on through the rest of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. It's used, this word law, to refer to just the ceremonial aspect of the Mosaic law. It's used to refer to the moral aspect of the Mosaic law. So what does Paul mean here? You died to the law. What law? Well, the answer is always found in the context, and it's found here in the context. Let me show you. Let's just see what law he's talking about. Let me walk you through this chapter. Look at verse 3. He talks about the law pertaining to what? Adultery. The seventh commandment. Verse 6. He says whatever this law is, it's a law Christians still serve, but in a new way. In the "newness of the Spirit." Verse 7. He quotes "You shall not covet," the tenth commandment. Verse 16. As he gets into the second section of this chapter, he says whatever this law is, Christians confess that it is good. Verse 22. Christians joyfully agree with this law in their inner man. But then verse 25 is even more specific. Notice what he says. Christians serve this law with their minds. If you're a Christian, whatever this law is, you serve it with your mind, you pursue it, you pursue obedience to it. Look at chapter 8, verse 4. Here he says that this law, the requirement of this law, is fulfilled in our obedience as Christians. Now that tells us a lot. That means that back in verse 4, Paul is not talking about the entire Mosaic law with all of its ceremonial aspects and all of its civil aspects, because we don't still keep those things. We are not commanded to continue to fulfill those things. Instead, he is referring, as we've seen in this chapter, to God's timeless moral law. The moral law of God as incorporated into the Mosaic law, but is outlined and summarized in the Ten Commandments.

I think you understand that the Ten Commandments are not everything God commanded. Think of the Ten Commandments as hooks to remind us of categories that God has regulated in our lives. For example, taking verse 3, the command about adultery, the seventh command, you shall not commit adultery. Is that all that God cares about sexually in our lives? No, that command is just there to remind us that God made us sexual beings, that He created that for a particular purpose in marriage, and that He has every right to regulate how that's used, and He does. So that's just like a hook to remind us of a whole category of life, and that's how it is with all the Ten Commandments. They summarize, they outline, the moral law of God. That's what Paul is talking about here. We are dead to the moral law.

Now that brings us to a second question: In what sense, then, have we died to the moral law of God? If that's what he's talking about, what does he mean we died to it? Well, let me first of all make very clear what Paul does not mean. Paul does not mean that the moral law of God has been completely abolished. How do we know that? I'm going to show you several ways in a moment, but nine out of the ten commandments are repeated and reaffirmed in the New Testament. The only one of the ten commandments that isn't repeated and reaffirmed in the New Testament is the command about the Sabbath, and that's because both the day and the requirements of the day of worship have been altered and changed, but the concept that our time belongs to God and He has required that a day be set aside for worship hasn't changed. That's why John calls Sunday the Lord's Day in Revelation 1, but nine of the ten are repeated and reaffirmed in the New Testament. Paul also does not mean, therefore, that Christians are no longer required to obey God's moral law. That's what called antinomianism. There are people – I don't know if you know this, but there are people in the Christian church today who would say that if you bring up one of the New Testament commands, any one of them, and you say "we ought" to do that, they would immediately say you're a legalist. You're not living under the power of the gospel. But that is truly antinomianism. It is contrary to the spirit and the imperatives of the New Testament. Paul makes that clear here. Look at chapter 8 verse 4. No, let's start at verse 3. He says,

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, [now watch this, verse 4. Here's why Christ did all that He did:] so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, …

It was God's intention that we would obey the moral law. He's not destroying it by the work of Christ, He's making it possible for us to fulfill it. In fact, Paul argues on the basis of the Ten Commandments for Christian living. Go over to chapter 13. Romans 13 verse 8. As he gets to the application of the gospel to life, he says in verse 8, "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; [in other words, let your debt be love;] for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law." You see, he's concerned that we fulfill the law. And then he says for these commands and he quotes from the Ten Commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet" and the other commands. They're summed up, all the commands about human beings and our response to human beings is summed up in this saying, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no wrong to a neighbor; [now notice what he says at the end of verse 10] therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law." What, Paul, you're concerned about my fulfilling the moral law? Yes. Absolutely. So you did not die to the law in the sense that you are no longer obligated to pursue obedience to God's moral law. The law still provides a pattern for our obedience to God. This is what the reformers called the third use of the law. They said the law is, first of all, first use, is a mirror to show us ourselves. We look in it, we see our sinfulness. Secondly, they said the law is a restraint on evil, even for unbelievers. The law keeps them from doing everything they might do because of the rebuke of conscience. And thirdly, they said the law is a pattern for showing us what is pleasing to God.

So what does Paul mean? If he doesn't mean those things, what does he mean when he says we were made to die to the moral law. He meant two things. Number one, he meant that we no longer seek to be made right with God by keeping the law. We no longer seek to be made right with God, or to be justified, by keeping the law. Go over to chapter 10. I wish I had time to walk you through this entire section, but he contrasts here two different methods for trying to be right with God. Verse 3. He says, "For not knowing about God's righteousness" – he's talking about his ethnic Jewish brothers. Not Christians, but those who are Jewish like he but have not yet come to faith in Christ. He says, not knowing about God's gift of righteousness that he described in the first few chapters here, they have sought to "establish their own" righteousness. So you have these two different mechanisms: being righteous by the gift of righteousness; being righteous by establishing your own. And because of that "they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." And then he talks about the first kind again: "For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law [the righteousness, literally, which is out of law] shall live by that righteousness." In other words, you've got to keep the law perfectly if you want to meet that standard. If you want the righteousness that comes from keeping the law, then you have to live by it, you have to keep it all. But, verse 6, the righteousness which is out of faith, the righteousness which is received by faith as he describes it earlier in this book, this is the righteousness you need. What is this message? Verse 8. Here is the message of faith "which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." Paul is saying, if you have died to the moral law in the proper sense, you are no longer seeking like the Jews did to be made right with God by keeping the law. To die to the law means that you stop trying to justify yourself to earn a right standing before God. It means you stop trying to establish your own righteousness on the basis of your own efforts, your own works, your own merit, because the law will never deliver us from the guilt and power of sin. That's why Paul says in Galatians 4, Christ was born under the law that he might redeem us who are under the law. So that we could be under grace. So, dead to the law means, first of all, that we no longer seek to be made right with God by keeping the law. Secondly, it means we are no longer under the condemnation and prescribed punishment that the moral law calls for. What does the law say? If you break the law, you are condemned. And if you are condemned, you deserve the punishment that that law brings. But what do we enjoy? What does chapter 8 verse 1 say, one of our favorite verses, right? "There is therefore now no condemnation" to those that are in Christ Jesus. What's condemnation? A verdict of guilty and the punishment that verdict deserves. There is no guilty verdict, and there is no punishment for you, Christian. It's done. It's gone. It's over. These points, both of them really, are underscored in one passage. Turn with me to Galatians chapter 3. Again, you see this contrast in verse 9, there are "those who are of faith." In verse 10, there are those who are "of the works of the law," those who rely on the works of the law. And he says in verse 10, "as many as are of works of the Law [who are trying to be made right by keeping the law, they] are under a curse." Why? Well, because the law says, "Cursed is everyone [without exception] who does not abide by [what? By what?] all things [that are] written in the book of the law, to perform them." In other words, you want to seek to be made right with God by your own efforts? Okay, here's the standard. Keep them all. Perfectly. And if you don't, you're cursed. Verse 11. "Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident." That was never God's intention, because the Old Testament says the righteous man shall live by faith. However, the law is not of faith, on the contrary, he who practices them shall live by them. It's doing. So there in those verses, verses 10 through 12, Paul proves that we no longer seek to be made right with God by keeping the law. And then verse 13 proves that we are no longer under the law's condemnation and punishment. Why? Notice verse 13: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.'" Listen, the reason that you are no longer cursed by the law for not abiding by everything that's in it is that Christ kept the law perfectly for you in your place, and He satisfied the justice of God. That's what happened. Do you understand this, Christian? We have been made to die to the law in those two ways.

Now go back to chapter 7 of Romans, and let's look at how it happened. Verse 4, "Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ." Through the body of Christ. That's a reference to Jesus' physical death on the cross. Do you understand what Paul is saying? There is a relationship between Jesus and the law. He came to have to do with the law. What is the relationship? What did the life and death of Jesus have to do with the law? I wish I had time to take you through this in far more detail. Let me just give you a brief outline.

•   Christ was born as a man under the law.  Galatians 4:4-5:  "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that he might redeem those who were under the Law."

•   Christ perfectly kept the law.  Not only was he born under the law, but he perfectly kept it.  Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15 says he was without sin.  He kept it perfectly.  

•   Christ then, who kept the law perfectly, died for our violations of God's law, perfectly satisfying God's justice on our behalf.  Romans 3 verse 25 says God publicly displayed Jesus [he's talking about the cross] as a propitiation [as the satisfaction] of God's justice for us. Christ then, having satisfied the justice of God, was raised to new life.  And in his resurrection, listen carefully, once He was raised from the dead, He was no longer under the law.  Why?  Because He had met its demands, He had paid all of its penalties.  He was dead to the law.  And Paul says we died with Him to the law.  It's the same point he made back in chapter 6, right?  Verses 3 and 4: when Christ died, believer, you died.  When Christ was buried, you were buried.  When Christ was raised, you were raised.  That's what he is saying here.  He's saying in Christ, your legal representative - listen carefully, Christian, this is you.   In Christ, your legal representative, you lived under the law, and you have kept it perfectly, and you have met all of its demands, and you have received the condemnation that your sins deserve, and you, in Christ, have paid in full the punishment the law required.  Why?  Because you paid it?  No.  Because He paid it, and He's your legal representative.  You were made to die to the law through the body of Christ.   

Back in verse 4, Paul explains why this happened to you, and he explains it in two levels. First of all there is an immediate purpose. Notice verse 4, "so that you might be joined to another." Now it becomes clear why Paul used the analogy of marriage. The wife in the illustration was freed from her relationship with her husband by his death, and then she was joined to another, legally, could be. Paul is saying here in verse 4 in the same way, our death with Christ to the law freed us to enter a new relationship. With whom? To be joined to, or to be married to, Christ. Christian, you are part of the bride of Christ. You have been joined to Him. But Paul is saying the only way that could happen is if you were first made to die to the law, if you stopped trying to be made right with God by keeping the law, and if by Christ's death you were freed from the condemnation and punishment of the law. And He did all of that so that you could be joined to, married to, Jesus Christ.

What I love about what Paul says next is that this relationship with Christ is an eternal one. Notice how he describes Christ. He says, "so that you may be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead." Now what has Paul just said about what ends a marriage relationship? What's the only thing that ends a marriage relationship in verses 2 and 3? Death. So to end our relationship with Christ, somebody in the relationship has to die. Okay. What about Christ, can he die again? No. Chapter 6 makes this clear. Chapter 6 verse 9 says Christ was raised from the dead, never to die again. He's not going to die - what about us? Well, there is going to be physical death if Christ delays His coming, but we will never truly die because we are in Him, we are connected to Christ. Our life is as eternal as His. So we're not going to die, either. You know what Paul is saying here? He's saying that our relationship with Christ is permanent throughout this life, but more than that, it is eternal. You are married to Jesus Christ and you're not going to really die, and Christ can never die, so it is forever. Nothing can change or sever your relationship to Jesus Christ. You, believer, are eternally secure in Christ. You were made to die to the law so that you could forever be married to Jesus Christ. Part of His bride. But that's not the ultimate purpose behind all of this. Notice verse 4. He says, "you were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, [now here's another, an ultimate purpose,] in order that we might bear fruit for God." The purpose of our union with Christ is that we would bear fruit for God, that is, to God's glory, that's the idea. What fruit? Well, I wish I had time to take you to these passages, but the fruit of holiness. First Peter 1:16 and 17. The fruit of righteousness. Philippians 1:11. The fruit of good works. Colossians 1:10. The fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22 and 23. Listen, do you understand, Christian, that you have been married to Jesus Christ and God did that for a reason? It's so that you would produce good works through the work of His spirit in you. Your life isn't your own to live however you want. It belongs to Him. So, Christian, do you understand that you were made to die to the law? Do you understand what that means? Your death with Christ has ended your bondage to the law. What that means, practically, is never again do you have to try to earn your way into the favor of God. Never again do you have to try to somehow make yourself acceptable to God. No, it's not by law keeping, it's by what Christ has done. It also means that you are no longer under condemnation, for there is therefore "now no condemnation." No. N - O. "No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." You know what that means? You will never, ever get a verdict of guilty, and you will never get the punishment that comes with that verdict you deserve. Why? Because He took the verdict, the condemnation, and He paid the demands of the law in full. Christian, you are no longer under law, you are under grace. What a Savior. Let's pray together.

Father, our hearts are deeply moved by what we've discovered this morning. We're so grateful that we don't have to earn our way into your favor. That we don't have to try to earn our acceptance with you. To make ourselves righteous enough for you to receive us, because that would truly be hopeless, because cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the law to perform them. Father, we are cursed on our own, but we thank you and bless you that Christ became a curse for us. Removed the curse. There is no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus, no guilty verdict. Lord, we don't have to live in fear of a guilty verdict someday. We don't have to live in fear of eternal punishment, because of Christ. Because of what He has done. We bless you, we praise you with all of our hearts. I pray, as well, Father, for those here this morning who may not know Him. Who still are desperately trying to make themselves acceptable before you. Father, help them to see the hopelessness of that and even today, to cry out for Christ to become their righteousness. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.