Tuesday, 4 June 2013
Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? Romans 7:1
It has been made abundantly clear in Chapter 6 that we are no longer slaves to sin, but to righteousness; we have died with Christ and shall also live with Him; death has no dominion over Him and therefore it no longer has dominion over us. Can I get an amen?
Now in chapter 7, we will be shown our relationship to the law. If we get this chapter wrong, we will have a confused idea about what we can and cannot do. Churches all over the world levy requirements from the Law of Moses onto their congregants because they fail to grasp and adhere to the precepts found in this chapter (and which are explained elsewhere in Paul’s writings).
Chapter 6 explicitly said that in Christ we “are not under law but under grace.” (v14) Chapter 7 will show us how this happened and will demonstrate that the law has no authority over, or claim on us. Pay heed to Paul’s words because the law is “all or nothing.” If we are under the law, we are obligated to the whole law, every precept of it (James 2:10). If we are not under the law, then no part of it has a claim on us. We cannot “pick and choose” which part of the law is still required and which isn’t as so many within the church attempt to do.
And so to set the tone for his argument, today he begins with “Or do you not know?” This is a rhetorical question to be taken as a statement of fact – “Surely you realize this truth.” After this he explains his position to his “brethren.” Although he is writing to all within the church and his words are doctrine for all, he is directing his comments to those who “know the law.” This would be the Jewish brethren who have an understanding of what the law is clear about.
“Surely you realize this truth from within the law itself…” And then he brings up a precept from the law which is as obvious as it could be, “that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives.” A person born under the law is obligated to that law; the law has dominion over you.
The term “has dominion” is the Greek kyrieuei. The word is one of ruling. Paul has personified the Law to show a comparison to what he already demonstrated in chapter 6 when he personified Sin and Righteousness. The term “as long as he lives” can also rightly be translated “as long as it lives.” The ambiguity is certainly to show the truth from either direction. As long as a man is alive, the law has ruling authority over him. Or, as long as the law is in effect, it has ruling authority over the man, but if it is abrogated, it no longer applies. However, based on the comparison he will make in the coming verses, the translation “as long as he lives” is the intent of the passage.
Life application: If you are under the law, it has dominion over you. If you die, you are free from the constraint of the law. Likewise, if the law is abrogated, you are free from its constraint. Think on this and apply it to your Christian walk. Either a law applies or it doesn’t. If it does, it does so entirely. If it doesn’t then it is of no effect.
Heavenly Father, let me not be one to “pick and choose” what I will comply with from Your word. Rather, let me be obedient to Your precepts as they apply to me. If they are set aside, then I am free from them. If they are enacted and in force, then let me be obedient to them. Lord, what You determine, so help me to do in order that I may be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.