Romans Study #22
The Frontier of Religion
Believers United to Christ
1Or 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?
2For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
3So 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.
4Therefore, 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.
5For 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.
6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. NASB
Torn Between One Way and Another
1-3 You shouldn't have any trouble understanding this, friends, for you know all the ins and outs of the law—how it works and how its power touches only the living. For instance, a wife is legally tied to her husband while he lives, but if he dies, she's free. If she lives with another man while her husband is living, she's obviously an adulteress. But if he dies, she is quite free to marry another man in good conscience, with no one's disapproval.
4-6So, my friends, this is something like what has taken place with you. When Christ died he took that entire rule-dominated way of life down with him and left it in the tomb, leaving you free to "marry" a resurrection life and bear "offspring" of faith for God. For as long as we lived that old way of life, doing whatever we felt we could get away with, sin was calling most of the shots as the old law code hemmed us in. And this made us all the more rebellious. In the end, all we had to show for it was miscarriages and stillbirths. But now that we're no longer shackled to that domineering mate of sin, and out from under all those oppressive regulations and fine print, we're free to live a new life in the freedom of God. The Message
We need to “get” this analogy, because of what comes next. There is a reason, from the mind of God, why this particular section is right before the next section of scripture. We are blessed to be able to stop, pause and ponder this section, and see what we it means. If you had told me before starting this Romans study that I would be excited about this section of scripture and how deep it is, I could not have comprehended that. This little section has really turned on some lights for me. We will look at it from every angle possible to get the most out of it.
Religion is a human and limited possibility. The new man in Christ Jesus is no human possibility. Endowed with attributes which are not mine, have not been mine, and never will be mine; in God I am what I am, I am not working my way to something. I am changed, and the process flows from the foundation, a new man, with the grace to obey and live for God. Religion can be pictured as the human being longing for and knowing that he no longer has a direct connection to God. Giving up on that direct connection, he attempts many and varied indirect methods to get reconnected. “Daddy, daddy, look over here, look at me, look at what I can do, do you love me now?”
“I fast, I pray, I bow three times a day toward Mecca, I meditate, I, I, I”
We cannot look at Genesis with all its imperfect people or the human origins of Jesus Christ displayed in the Matthew lineage at the start of the New Testament and come to the conclusion that Christianity is a perfect people religion. It is a one-sided love relationship that calls us to look up when we fall, that works around our failures and sins and redeems and heals. We do not ‘get’ to God, He came down to us.
We are dead to the law to the possibility and necessity of religion, dead to every human possibility; we are removed, set free, unfettered.
All men were “joined” to the law. A woman is joined to her husband. Being joined to the law we were defined by it, we broke the law, we are ‘law-breakers.’ Being joined to her husband, if she marries another she is rightly labeled “faithless,” “an adulterer.”
If, however the husband should die, his wife has been set free. By virtue of his death she is no longer his wedded wife. If she then gives herself to another man, she is neither ‘faithless’ nor an ‘adulteress.’ Thus in marriage we are bound by the life of our partner and freed by the death of our partner. Well thanks be to God our miserable, worthless partner has died and we are free to hook up with a new, loving, filled with grace and forgiveness partner!!!
So long as we are under the religion of law-keeping we are limited, enclosed, and fettered by it. It has dominion over you. You are inevitably under it. But now your husband is dead, you are loosed, unlocked, freed unto the possibility of God, which lies beyond the entire ambiguity of religion. You are therefore not under law. Law is dead, you are not still married to the dead man, if you decide to go get married again, that is okay because you are freed from the dead man.
Get this --- “All human possibilities, including the possibility of religion, have been offered and surrendered to God on Golgotha.” Barth
Christ fulfilled the law but gave glory to God, He did not claim that he was starting a race of super-humans who would fulfill the law. All the glory for His life was given to God.
Colossians 2:14 “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross."
An amazing Old Testament picture is Nabal, Abigail and David.
Nabal was Abigail’s worthless husband. (His name actually means worthless.) The law was our worthless husband. We needed to be married to another, God’s beloved which is what David means. So Nabal dies rather quickly and Abigail and David get married.
John Piper added this.
It is not that we don’t do certain laws, it is that we hate the law. “Good people” are simply people who have not been confronted by law, by another’s will at cross purposes with their will.
A spouse, friend, child, God, any other being can be the trigger, (even the dog wanting out to pee) what they do is show that the law brings death. The fruit of the Spirit is love, the fruit of the law is death. So when we are not loving to another person, we do not need to go to law and see that it says “love one another” we need to fix our eyes on Jesus and His Spirit within us, both to be and to do the work. It is not law but relationship with God that we need. Galatians 5:1 “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”
1 Cor. 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;
Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.The law is fulfilled not by law keeping but by Christ loving.
Keeping the law is not the goal, Christ is the goal, and in Christ,
who fulfilled the law, we can fulfill the law, but the law is not the goal
that Christ takes us to, Christ is the goal the center of everything.
This similar section in 2 Corinthians, makes it a little more clear.
2 Corin. 3:6-18 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was,
8how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory?
9For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory.
10For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. 11For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. 12Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart;
16but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
The key to the Christian life is not rule-keeping but Christ loving. It is so easy to get the cart before the horse.
Oswald Chambers to examine another angle. Being so grateful to, in love with, overwhelmed by the love of God, that we choose, not my will but Yours be done moment to moment.
THE ABANDONMENT OF GOD
"God so loved the world that He gave. . ." John 3:16
Salvation is not merely deliverance from sin, nor the experience of personal holiness; the salvation of God is deliverance out of self entirely into union with Himself. My experimental knowledge of salvation will be along the line of deliverance from sin and of personal holiness; but salvation means that the Spirit of God has brought me into touch with God's personality, and I am thrilled with something infinitely greater than myself, I am caught up into the abandonment of God.
To say that we are called to preach holiness or sanctification, is to get into a side eddy. We are called to proclaim Jesus Christ. The fact that He saves from sin and makes us holy is part of the effect of the wonderful abandonment of God.
Abandonment never produces the consciousness of its own effort, because the whole life is taken up with the One to Whom we abandon. Beware of talking about abandonment if you know nothing about it, and you will never know anything about it until you have realized that John 3:16 means that God gave Himself absolutely. In our abandonment we give ourselves over to God just as God gave Himself for us, without any calculation. The consequence of abandonment never enters into our outlook because our life is taken up with Him.
This study is about ultimate things, eternal things - because that is what the Bible is about, so the bottom line of tonight’s lesson is; God will look you in the face at the end of time (and today) and say, either, “lawbreaker” or “beloved!”