Sunday, 9 June 2013
But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. Romans 7:6
“But now”… We are introduced to a contrast from the preceding verse which said – “For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.”
The law, which aroused in us sinful passions, is behind us. We “have been delivered from” it. The law should no longer arouse these things because we are dead to it. As it says, “having died.” There is a dispute as to the meaning of “having died.” Is it the law that died to us, or we who died to the law? Some manuscripts imply one and some the other. The answer is that the law is in full effect for those who have not come to Christ. Therefore, those who have received Christ have died to it. We have died with Christ and are raised with Him – free from the law.
The law held us captive and we were slaves to it, but when we died with Christ – as Paul has so precisely detailed in the previous chapters – we were released from its bonds “so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.” This theme will be reintroduced by Paul on several occasions in his epistles. The “oldness of the letter” is speaking of that which was written down; the law. It was received on tablets of stone and it bound the people of Israel to sin by showing them their utterly sinful nature. Now that we have died to the law through Jesus (because Jesus fulfilled the law, including His death which was in fulfillment of it) we should serve in newness of the Spirit.
In 2 Corinthians 3:1-18, a detail of the difference between the “letter” and the “Spirit” is given. Paul says there that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” As a real, tangible example of this, it was noted in Exodus at the giving of the law that 3000 who disobeyed received the wages of their sin and died (Exodus 32:28). However, at the giving of the Spirit on Pentecost, 3000 received the gift and were saved (Acts 2:41). This wasn’t an arbitrary pattern, but one set in the pages of the Bible specifically to show the difference – death from the law, or death to the law and life through the Spirit.
We who have called on Jesus now have the Spirit and we may walk in that new state. There is an eternal hope which cannot be taken away and the evidence is our placement in Christ; free from the bondage of the law, and thus free to serve our new Master.
Life application: We have died to the law, so heed the words of Paul from Colossians 2:20-22 –
“Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?'”
What the law bound you to is gone. Live for Christ, and do not reintroduce the law to which you have died.
Oh most glorious Heavenly Father! You have given us freedom through Christ. He fulfilled the law which was contrary to us and then He gave His life as our Substitute. Now, we are set free from its bonds. We have died to it through His death and so we can now walk in newness of the Spirit. Because this is so, help our walk to be one which is pleasing to You. Lead us and guide us all our days. Amen.