Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Romans 7:1-4 "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? 2 For 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. 3 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. 4 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."
When I was growing up as a child, we had a dear neighbor, an older lady and her husband, that lived next door. As a child, I would often see this dear lady cultivating her small flower garden and also witness her husband cultivating his rather large vegetable garden. The husband, as we came to find out, did not like his wife's flowers getting in the way of either his yard or his garden. So, he had her grow her flowers underneath their porch. My parents, in the nicest way possible, told me that the husband limited what his wife could do, and that he was very particular about what went on with their property. Over time, as we got to the know the couple, the husband would be rather gruff and un-neighborly at times; whilst the wife would exercise hospitality and warmth toward whomever came to their door.
The time came when we got word that the lady's husband had passed away due to a long-standing illness. After mourning his passing, the lady moved to a different house - an apartment. My parents and the lady had gotten to know one another, and so we would visit her. When we went to her home, I noticed she had flowers everywhere! In her former house, conditions were such that she was restricted. But now she was enjoying her new found freedom. She had flowers in her windows, decorative flowers outside her apartment door, flowers on her end-tables - flowers everywhere! No longer was she under the thumb of her controlling husband. She was free to enjoy her love of flowers.
Sin - the Horrible Husband (Spouse)
Romans 7 explores the conflict that exists in the life of the Christian. Before getting to that main theme, Paul chooses to illustrate the reality of sin and the reality of Christ through the illustration of marriage and how its bonds are severed upon the passing of a spouse. The theme of "freedom" that we saw in the last post carries on into Romans 7:1-6. In contrast to freedom, Paul lays forth the concept of "slavery". We saw already in Romans 6:20-22 his illustration of these two concepts in the context of the world of slavery, followed by a second illustration of these contrasting principles by way of wages paid to an employee or a soldier in time of service. Paul's point in his contrasting "slavery" and "freedom" is to show the "bad news" (6:20-21) in contrast to "good news (6:22-23)". Remember: the Gospel always begins with the bad news before proceeding to the good news.
When you and I are born into this world, we are, as it were, wedded to sin. As we grew and developed, this spouse comes to more and more dominate your life. In using the analogy of marriage, Paul states that as long as unbelief operates in the human heart, the marriage to the sinful self will become more and more loveless.
Sin's chief function in the life of the unbeliever is that of dominion. By tracing the argument back to Romans 6:14, we discover that the Christian is set free from the "dominion" or the "necessity" to only sin. Like a bad marriage, sin abuses, takes over and demands. In the life of the unbeliever, self is always crying "I want" and never "I'll give". Sin shouts "mine" and never "His". Sin will gladly wear a three-piece suit and go to church and be religious, just as long as the cross is not mentioned.
Christ the Good Husband (Spouse)
Paul teaches that as long as the first "husband" of unbelief is alive in my heart, I am bound to that "bad marriage". A loveless, lifeless marriage is like a walking death. This is Paul's point - to show His readers that Good Husband - Christ. Therefore whenever the Spirit comes calling, I by grace through faith believe and the former life - the former "husband"- is declared legally dead by God. Death can only be declared at the cross.
More next time....