John Calvin wrote, “The Law was, as it were our husband, under whose yoke we were kept until it became dead to us.” What did our vaunted Christian father mean by such a statement? Had he become liberal and licentious in regards to God’s standards? Should he be grouped with those labeled “Antinomian?” Was he a “Grace Boy” running fast and furious over God’s Law?
I don’t think so, for the inspired Apostle Paul, who loved God’s Law, spoke similarly. Paul said, “Likewise my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4)
So where are we going with this? God wants us to be free from obligatory, performance-based, fear-based, prosperity-based, covenant-of-works-like servitude to his Good Law, in order that as his beloved spouse, we might voluntarily desire to walk in accordance with his Good Law as his free and adoring bride.
In Romans 6:3-14, Paul teaches that as believers, we are free from the curse of death. We once were dead men walking. However, through the ministry of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we have been made alive and now we have eternal life. Jesus is the “Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Death no longer has a stinger for us. Forevermore, we are alive in Christ Jesus our Lord, and death is the gateway to glory.
In Romans 6:15-23, Paul teaches that as believers, we are free from the bondage of sin. We were born slaves to sin; this was our horrid inheritance granted to us by our wicked and accursed parents. As we grew, we found ourselves more and more like them, and increasingly influenced by our wicked flesh, our evil world, and our satanic father. Like Israel in Egypt, we were enslaved and miserable under Lucifer’s hand. And like him, we were totally depraved and progressing in our transgressions. As the years passed, we became more and more willing to act in accordance with our accursed nature. However, due only to the external and internal work of our Trinitarian Lover, we were reborn and remade. We were redeemed and rescued. And now as Christians, we have received new identities, new records, new declarations, new futures, new hearts, and new desires. We are free from the bondage of sin. We are free from all our former wicked and tyrannical masters.
Paul then continues with a conjunction – “or” – in Romans 7. And in verses 1-6, he teaches that as believers, we are free from the bondage of the Law. He writes:
Romans 7:1-6 “Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.”
Paul writes to brothers who “know the Law.” He writes to those who are very cognizant of God’s commandments and the serious blessings and curses attached to them. And he has already faithfully reminded them of the condemnation that comes to all who keep not every jot and tittle of God’s Law:
Romans 3:19-20 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 4:15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
Romans 5:13 For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.
Romans 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
Yes, Paul has been affected by the Gospel, and now he is learning to relax and rejoice in seeing himself and his believing brothers differently. You see, Paul understood subservient and slavish religion. In his former days as a Pharisee, he had become a professional at focusing upon every jot and tittle of God’s commands. He had even added many others to his list in order to perform at a higher level and keep himself more holy. But he was like a woman miserably married to God’s Law, for everyday God’s Law came home, showed him his shortcomings, and pronounced him guilty. And so it was for every individual on the planet, for God’s good Law only came home with bad news – all are sinful, all are wretched, all are guilty, there is not a righteous wife anywhere — no not one! However, for the Gospel-affected Christian, this former relationship was no more; it was dead and gone. Like Paul, we were formerly like an ancient woman under an ancient marriage contract. We were forced into a relationship, and the Law was our husband, our Sovereign, our Master, or our Lord. We had no rights, and our only duty was to obey and submit. Such was our position as long as we lived. However, upon our death in Christ Jesus, our position has changed. We have been freed of our obligation to our former master, and we are freed to enjoy a new relationship. Friends, listen again to what Paul says to you:
Romans 6:4 Likewise brothers, you have died to the law.
Romans 6:4 You belong to another.
Romans 6:4 You belong to him who has been raised from the dead.
Romans 7:6 We are released from the law.
Romans 7:6 We have died to that which held us captive.
Romans 7:6 We do not have to serve in the old way of the written code.
Paul then concludes with some more good news — a good opportunity. Paul teaches that as believers, we are free to love, worship, and bear fruit. Like a woman longs to bear children for the tender husband she so cherishes, so Christ-affected believers long to bear fruit for their glorious Bridegroom – the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is our delight to “serve” him, not under the old written code, but in the new life of the Spirit. (7:6) Yes, we have been chosen by him, redeemed by him, adopted by him, and betrothed to him. We belong to him; we walk with him; we talk with him; and we enjoy pleasuring him. We work with him, and he works through us. And together as husband and wife, we love to bear his fruit; he plants the seeds and we experience the growth. Sure, some might say this is our duty, but more than this, this is our delight!
Oh Christian friends, be affected by the Gospel. Relax, rejoice, and bear much fruit today. Be not a sorrowful legalist. Be not a pathetic antinomian. Understand the Gospel, relax, rejoice, and bear much fruit. As previously stated, God wants us to be free from obligatory, performance-based, fear-based, prosperity-based, covenant-of-works-like servitude to his Good Law, in order that as his beloved spouse, we mighty voluntarily desire to walk in accordance with his Good Law as his free and adoring bride. Therefore, let us not walk about with harsh religious burdens on our back, and let us not put them on others. We are alive, we are saints, and we are totally free from having to achieve righteousness-merit through obedience to his Law. And now that we are free spouses, let us look for wisdom, find it in his Good Law, and keep it because we want to. Today, wake up and live like a young woman freed from her harsher husband. Get up from your bed with a smile on your face, find your grace-based husband, read his Word, enjoy communion, and bear fruit with your man. Oh Christian friend, you now have a Better Husband than you used to, and he has no plans on coming home at the end of the day and beating you up again with his Good Law. Enjoy the Gospel — for freedom Christ has set you free. Never again see yourself as a slave to death, sin, or God’s Good Law. Be free … and now go enjoy and glorify Him. Be free of the Law, and go enjoy keeping his Good Law.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Ezekiel 36:24-28 – Matthew 11:19-30 – 1 Corinthians 7:19