Romans Bible Study Lesson 18

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Dead to the Law

Romans 7:1—6

Verses 1—4

In this section Paul turns to those who knew what was contained in the law. There is a little ambiguity as to whether he is talking about the Mosaic Law or the current Roman law. Stam says this is not the Mosaic Law while Campbell says it is. We do know the Mosaic Law defines marriage and what is to be done in the case of infidelity. Jesus even addressed the issue in Matthew 5:31—32 saying if a wife is divorced it causes her to become an adulteress and the person who remarries her commits adultery. Since Paul cites this same principle, it seems that the reference here is to the Mosaic Law.

With this in mind we can see that Paul is using marriage as an example of how the Law has control of a person until they die. At death, the Law can no longer control that person. Even when the woman is given a certificate of divorce, she is still tied to her husband through the Law. She is not free to remarry even with a divorce. Only when the man dies is she free to remarry because he and she are no longer bound by the law.

One reason for this (if not the only reason) was to create a picture of God’s relationship to Israel. God calls Israel His bride. She was never to go out and find another “husband” but she did by worshiping other gods (Hosea 2:1—13). In fact, Hosea is a picture of God and Israel. He was told to marry a prostitute to show God’s relationship with Israel. Even though Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea during their marriage, Hosea always took her back, just as God did and will do with Israel.

Hosea 2:19—20 19“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, 20And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.

Although there are many who claim the Church, the Body of Christ is the bride of Christ it is Israel who is actually called a bride with Christ as the Bridegroom. This analogy is consistently used in the Old Testament and the Gospels but is never applied to us.  The confusion arises when the Church is substituted for Israel and when Scripture is misapplied. The following Scripture is often used to prove that the Church is the bride of Christ when in reality this passage is merely showing a hierarchy of authority but in no way equating the Church with the bride of Christ.

Ephesians 5:22—23 22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

Often this confusion comes about because most people do not distinguish between a simile and a metaphor. In general, a simile compares two unlike things with the word like while a metaphor compares two dissimilar things with is. Israel IS the bride of Christ while the Church is like a bride.

Verses 4—6

The whole point of the first three verses is to show the power and authority the Law holds over us throughout our life. We have no way of freeing ourselves of God’s Law except through death. Fortunately we do not need to die a physical death to free us because by being “in Christ” we have died with Him and therefore are free of the Law. It has no hold or jurisdiction on us because we are considered dead. It is impossible to be joined to the Law and to Christ simultaneously.

Ephesians 2:14—16 14For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace,16and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

The reason God did all of this is so that we could bear fruit for God. In the flesh we could only bear fruit unto death. There was no good work we could do that would be pleasing to God. God needs to energize us through the Holy Spirit in order for us to do anything that can please Him. When we try to do good things outside of His power, we produce nothing more than wood, hay and straw.

1 Corinthians 3:10—15 10According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

As a side note, notice Paul is laying his foundation on Christ and we are to build on Paul’s foundation. Paul did not want to build on another man’s foundation. We see this principle at work in Peter and Paul agreeing to separate their ministry so as not to overlap. Peter went to the Jews with the Gospel of the Kingdom while Paul went to the Gentiles with the Gospel of the Grace of God.

Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

Romans 15:20 And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;

Now that we are slaves unto righteousness we are able to bear fruit pleasing to God because it is Him who gives us the ability to do so. Instead of serving the oldness of the letter we can now serve God in a new a fresh way in the power of the Holy Spirit.