The purpose of the law

Romans 7Because you know the law, you know obviously that it only matters to those who are alive! As an example,

a married woman is bound to her husband only while they both live. If he dies, she is no longer bound to him, she is free to marry. While he was alive, if she chose to be with another, we’d call her an adulteress. But, once her husband has passed, she is free to re-marry, she is released from the law.

In this same way, you have died to the law through Christ’s death. You may, and do, belong to an other. You are free to bear fruit to God. When you were slaves to sin, you did what you were told because sin owned you. That fruit led to death. But now, you’ve died to the law, you’ve died to sin. You are free. Free to serve in the Spirit. Free to serve the Spirit. You are no longer bound to the law and the death that it brings.

What about the law, then? Is it sin? Is the law wrong? Are we to avoid it? Must we keep it? Are those questions the point? No! Without the law, we’d have no idea of what sin was. For example, the law, “Do not covet” tells us what coveting is! The sign marked “55 MPH” tells us that driving 60 MPH is wrong, illegal. The law is merely a guide, it’s not a savior. But…

Sin crept in behind the law, producing in us a desire for disobedience. It also produced the ability to sin. Without the law, sin has no power, it is dead. Once, we had no law- man lived apart from it, separate from it. But, this was not a blissful ignorance, we did not know what right was, what wrong was. When the law appeared, sin came to life and we died. The very commands that were our guides, that were intended to help us, brought death. Sin deceived me because I tried to live in accordance with them. This was to my deception and I was killed. The law and commands are holy. Righteous. Good. But, they are just guides, revealing to me my need to be kept under control. Because of my sin. The law proves to me just how bad I really am. I lack even the ability to determine a safe speed to drive!

The law is God’s.  I once was not His. I was a slave to the law. Still I bounce back and forth, confused about who and whose I am. One day enslaved and another day freed.

The things I desire to do, I do not do. I do what I hate.

And, when I do what I do not want to do, I’m confronted with the law because I see its value in restraining me.

But, this is not who I really am as one who is His. It’s the sin that still resides within- just as our consciences are the last and final vestiges of the very imago dei from Genesis 2 present in all man, there are vestiges of sin that remain deeply entrenched in my heart and mind- my sinful nature so so deeply rooted that no law can save or deliver me. This is why, despite really wanting to do what is good, I cannot. This is why I continue in evil. But, hope of hopes, there is a true me, rooted even deeper than my sin!

There is a new law: when I want to do good, sin calls me to do something different. My “want” is my heart, desiring obedience- on the inside I love God’s law, but on the outside, a battle is raging, my parts fighting over my very existence and identity. This reveals to me the reality; I willfully subject myself to prison and chains, again and again, constantly revealing my need for something beyond me. The solution is not a better me. It is not found in trying harder. Being better or moral or upright or keeping a code. Because I can not. And, as I’ve proven, over and over and over again, I simply will not. I need more than me.

And then, along comes Jesus. The Rescuer.


This Jesus runs right past my exterior and doesn’t just attack my inner-self, but methodically up-roots the old me, grasping at not just the fruit but pulling on the plant itself. He thrusts his fingers deeply, tearing and ripping. He scrapes and scratches. And then, hands dirty and bloody, he plants something new. And slowly, patiently, gracefully…I become His.
– Romans 7

 

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