Shackles of a Saved Soul - Page 2 of 6 (series: Lessons on Romans)
by John Lowe
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the Law through the body of Christ. The body of Christ is that which was nailed to the Cross as a sacrifice for our sins. He came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” and to that end He had to die. He took upon Himself flesh and blood, and assumed a human body in order to identify Himself with man—“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). In this verse, the word “body” is used instead of “death.” By the death of Christ, believers were made dead, literally, “were put to death,” to the Law, which formally, had held them as bondservants. It was essential to Paul’s argument, that we, not the Law, should be the dying party, since it was we who were crucified with Christ, and not the Law. The point made is, that just as death breaks the marriage relationship, so the death of the believer with Christ breaks the jurisdiction of the Law over him. We are no longer joined to the Law; we are now joined to the risen Christ; the Law can no longer exert power over us. One marriage has been broken by death, and a new one has been formed.
Notice that Paul does not say that the Law is dead. The Law still has the valid ministry of convicting a man of his sin. And there is something else that the Law does; the Law confirms and seals our bondage to sin. As long as we are governed by the Law, there is no possibility of being released from that bondage. The only alternative is death. But when Christ died at Calvary, we died to the Law. Sin has no more dominion over us, neither does the Law.
That you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. Paul is saying that there is a parallel between the marriage between the wife and the second husband, and the union between the believer and Christ. When he says “we” in this passage, he is thinking of those who were Jews, before they came to Christ.
The wife represents the believer in Christ. The second husband represents Christ. But who is the 3first Husband I believe he is the old state before our conversion to Christianity. In our unregenerate state (first husband), we were separated from Christ and living for self. But now, we (the wife) are identified with Christ (second Husband) in His death; we are dead to the Law and the Law is dead to us.
The purpose of our being free from the Law and married to another, the risen Lord, is so that we may produce fruit for God. The kind of fruit we are talking about is the winning of others to the Lord, and living a righteous life which is characterized by those “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10), and by certain graces—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meakness, and self-control.
Having been justified by faith, we are now set free from that which held us in bondage. Since we are now free, we are also expected to produce the fruit of freedom, which is a sanctified life. From now on, we serve God in the newness of the Holy Spirit that God has placed within us, and not in the oldness of the letter of the Law. The holy Law of God is not an external code of “do’s” and “don’ts.” Rather it is a Law of love written on our hearts. We do not obey that Law because we fear the Lord, but because we love Him. In our former marriage to sin and the Law, we attempted to do only that which would meet the minimum standard of God. Now in our marriage to Christ, we seek to be all that we can be and to do all that we can do for Him, to please Him and demonstrate our love for Him.
5 For when we were in the 4flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the Law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
For when we were in the flesh. Scripture uses the term “flesh” in a non-moral sense to describe man’s physical being—“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and in a morally evil sense to describe man’s unredeemed humanness (see Romans 8). “The flesh,” as it is used here stands for the unregenerate state of a man; which is every man’s condition when he enters the world. When we were in the flesh, we were under the control and domination of sin. The flesh was the basis of our standing before God. We depended on what we were or what we could do to win acceptance with God. The “flesh” as applied to a believer usually refers to the old nature that will stay with a man until he receives his glorified body—“Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).
Face this squarely, my friend. Are you able in your own strength to keep the Law? The Law was a straightjacket put on the flesh, to control it. The flesh rebelled and chafed under the irksome restraint of the Law. The flesh had no desire and lacked the capacity to follow the Law. The flesh broke out of the restraint imposed by the Law and therefore brought down the irrevocable penalty for breaking the Law, which is death.
The sinful passions. The meaning is the overwhelming impulse to think or do evil, which characterizes those who are “in the flesh.” Galatians 5:24 says, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
Which were aroused by the Law. When we were in the flesh, the Law served, by its prohibitions and commandments, to kindle inward desires to do the very things that were forbidden. It is not that the Law originated them, but only that by naming and then forbidding them it stirred up the strong desire to do them!
Were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. The “members” are the members of our body. “To bring forth fruit,” expresses the result of the desire (sinful passions) to sin being excited by the Law, and that leads to eternal death. These sinful passions found expression in our physical members, and when we yielded to temptation, we produced poison fruit that results in death.
Elsewhere the apostle speaks of this fruit, that is, fruit produced from sinful passions, as the works of the flesh: “adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries” (Gal. 5:19–21).
6 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.
But now we have been delivered from the Law. Among the many wonderful things that happened when we were converted is that we were delivered from the Law (discharged, annulled, released). This is a result of our having died with Christ. Since He died as our Representative, we died with Him. In His death He fulfilled all the claims of the Law by paying its awful penalty. Therefore we are free from the Law and from its inevitable curse. But we are not free to do what God’s Law forbids, but free from the spiritual liabilities and penalties of God’s Law. Because we died in Christ when He died, the Law with its condemnation and penalties no longer has jurisdiction over us.
There can be no double jeopardy.
Payment God will not twice demand—
First at my bleeding Surety’s hand
And then again at mine.
— Augustus M. Toplady
Having died to what we were held by. It is not the Law that has died; it’s the believer who has been made dead to the claims of the Law and the flesh, through the faith that saves—faith in Jesus Christ. Paul speaks of this death to the Law in Galatians 2:19: “For I through the Law died to the Law that I might live to God.”
So that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. We are now set free to serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter—not in our old way of mechanical obedience to the divine Law, as a set of rules of conduct, without giving any consideration to the state of our hearts; but in that new way of spiritual obedience, which through the Savior we have learned to give to God. Paul spoke of that in his letter to the Corinthians: “Who has indeed qualified us as ministers of a new covenant, not of letter but of spirit; for the letter brings death, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). Our slavery is no longer to the Law, but to God in the new life of the Spirit, and is therefore not slavery at all. Our service is motivated by love, not fear; it is a service of freedom, not bondage. It is no longer a question of slavishly adhering to minute details of traditions and ceremonies, but of the joyful giving of ourselves for the glory of God and the blessing of others. The believer is set free, but now in love he gives himself to the Savior as he never could do under the Law. He has a new relationship and a new attitude. The relationship is one of constantly being a slave to God. This means that we serve God, fully aware that we belong to Him. He owns us, because He redeemed us. In place of legalism that enforces statutes, there is now a spirit of love and dedication. There is a little poem that expresses this thought very well: