Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 6. Experiencing the power of the cross . No 23:- Dead to the Law (Part 2)

. No 23:- Dead to the Law (Part 2)



Now the previous sermon left more questions than answers. We ended last time asking the question. What does Paul mean when he says we are dead to the Law and what is the position of the Christian to the Law today? I believe that Romans 7 really helps us to understand all of that.

We are not doing a book study, so we have not covered chapter 6 in full, but if we were to backtrack to Chapter we will see that from verse 15 to 23 Paul says that in one sense we are not under the Law as a dominating master, but under grace which we're all grateful for, for when Law is our dominating master, it will destroy us, it will render us guilty before God and bring us to damnation. We are under grace as an operative principle through the work of Christ and our faith in Him. We have a new relationship to sin, he goes on to say in verses 15 to 23 that we used to be the slaves of sin, now we're the slaves of righteousness. So in that sense he is saying that the Law we were saved from was one of condemnation. Our relation to the Law now is obedience. We used to be the slaves of sin, living lives that endlessly violated the Law. We've now become slaves of righteousness, we live lives of obedience to the Law. That's what being a slave of righteousness means because the only way we know what is righteous is by revelation of God in His Law. So chapter 6 tells us that we have a new relationship to the Law. Listen carefully now. The Law did not change, we changed because we died.

So we know we have a new relationship to the Law. Before we lived in violation of it, now we live in submission to it. But what about the statement that we are not under Law, what does it mean, and how far can we take it?  That's a very important question for us to answer. And let's look at the answer that really unfolds at the beginning of chapter 7.

There are four things I want you to think about in the time we have this morning. We will look at common knowledge, and then we will look at a valid comparison, and then an application, of the comparison and then an affirmation.

1. Common knowledge.

Romans 7:1 (ESV) “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?”

Paul makes an interesting remark to his dear brothers that was critical for them in those days and it is critical for us today. This is something they knew, something they understood, something they were not ignorant about. These members of the church family had exposure to the Law and they understood it based on an Old Testament mentality. What they knew is very simple. The Law only had power over you as long as you were alive. When you're dead, the Law has no power over you. Isn’t that obvious. It is a true statement and hard to argue against. They all should have known this, which is why he can say “or do you not know, brother.’  Now, while this thought is so simple, it will become very critical in our sermon as we go on. That is our first thought, and it is plain and simple.

2. A valid comparison.

Now just in case they miss the point still, as the thought Paul wants to convey is serious, he gives them a comparison or an illustration. He picks one Law out of many to illustrate his point that he has just made to show that the Law is only applicable to the living.

Romans 7:2-3 (ESV)2 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. 3 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.”

Now the concepts that Paul brings forth here have even made its way into our wedding formulas. All the married people here will recognise it immediately ‘until death us do part’, and no you cannot add ‘and that can be arranged’. It is simple. Marriage is for life, it is one man, one woman-for life. That is what the covenant of marriage is and the Law is binding.

Now look at Paul’s comment; “But if her husband dies, she is free from that Law”. So, how free is she? She is completely free, she has no further obligation to that marriage, because there was death. The point here is that death ends the Law that binds two people permanently together in marriage. Everybody understands this. The key thoughts are found here in verse 2, "Bound by Law to her husband," and then "released from the Law concerning her husband." Now these are key thoughts as well with regards to us and the Law.  Now, please remember that what Paul is not doing here is to discuss marriage, re-marriage and divorce. This isn't the text where you go to get your picture of what God tolerates in terms of marriage and divorce and whether there are exceptions to the rule or not. All Paul is doing is to use the issue of marriage as an example to say one simple thing, and that is: DEATH ENDS THE RULE OF LAW. This brings us to the next thought.

3. The application of the comparison.

Romans 7:4 (ESV) 4 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.”

This is rich stuff, so listen carefully. The word ‘likewise’ applies the comparison to us.

Again, Paul is clearly addressing Christians on the basis of the usage of the word ‘brothers’. The reason they are brothers is because they belong to Christ. Previously though they had a contract with the Law, they were bound to the Law, they had an obligation to the Law, but something changed, they also have died to the Law. This idea now fits smack bang into our sermon series ‘Experiencing the Power of the Cross’ over Law.

So again, we have not only died to sin, Satan, the flesh, the world and racism, but here we died to the Law. Church family, due to the cross of Jesus Christ, Law has no more power over you as the curse of Law has ended and it can make no claim on you, because you died. There is a sense, or let me put it differently to make it clearer, there is one sense in which the Law has no authority over us.

Now, why do I say in one sense?  Because in my last sermon we realised just how important the Law is, and that Paul valued the Law, and that Christ clearly said that not one jot or tittle of the Law will pass away. Let me remind you of Paul’s words in Romans 7:22 (ESV) “22 For I delight in the Law of God, in my inner being,” Why will you delight in something that you are dead to? So again, what is the one sense that the Law has no power over us? It is simply in the sense of its condemning power. Our moral responsibility to the Law will always remain, because without the Law we will never understand of sin. Look at Romans 7:7-8 (ESV) 7 What then shall we say? That the Law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the Law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the Law, sin lies dead.

I believe that what Paul is teaching us here is that the Law will kill you. But once you have died, it has no more power. Now it's going to do that to everyone, either you're going to die under the condemnation of the Law yourself, or a much better alternative, Christ is going to die under the condemnation of the Law for you and you therefore in Him. So according to verse 4, Christ died under the Law, He paid the penalty of our sins, and now I have died in Christ and I am free from the condemnation of Law. Now, let me just say this. You did not put yourself to death, you were put to death by the death of Christ on the cross. Hebrews 10:10 (ESV) 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Because of the death of Christ we can now truly proclaim with Paul: “1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the Law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the Law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,…” Romans 8:1-3 (ESV)

So, we are dead to the Law of condemnation, because Christ Jesus was condemned in our place.

The problem was not with the Law. Romans 7:12 (ESV)12 …the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” But the problem is that I cannot be justified by the Law because I cannot keep the Law. The Law by the way has a right to hold every human to the standard and the Law has a right to punish every violation of the standard because that's consistent with God's absolute holiness. God cannot overlook any sin, He cannot overlook any iniquity. And I remind you, every sin ever committed by every person who has ever lived will be punished. The punishment will either be on your shoulders or it will be on the shoulders of a substitute. It is the death of Christ that has satisfied the demands of the Law. The wages of our sin is death and Christ paid it. How do we know what sin is? The Law tells us what sin is.

So, Christ did not redeem us from the moral element of the Law, but from the curse of the Law by being made a curse for us. Galatians 3:10-13 (ESV) 10 For all who rely on works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the Law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the Law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us (Hallelujah)for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—“ So Christ died on the cross and we know that we have been crucified with Christ, and therefore our righteousness is in Christ and not in the Law.

So, let’s put what we have learnt so far into practical terms.

Back to verse 4. Romans 7:4 (ESV) 4 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.”

So, previously we were bound to the Law, we had an obligation to the Law, in keeping the Law we had reward, in failure we had death. But now that we have died in Christ, the Law has no longer any hold on us, it cannot condemn us, it has been satisfied, the punishment has been rendered in full and we now have a whole new covenant relationship. Christian, you have a new bridegroom, to stay with the analogy, you are now joined to somebody else, you are united with Him in His death, you are a new creation and you now belong to Him.  You are now dead to the Law and a slave to righteousness in this new marriage.

Church family, we will never know the joy of being in Christ if you did not understand what it was to be under Law. You had to know sin and its power to know grace and its love. The Law was given to cause our sin to be revealed. Romans 7:9 (ESV) “9 I was once alive apart from the Law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” What does Paul mean by that? What he means by that is as long as I didn't know the Law of God, I had no real definition of sin. But when the Law arrived and I understood it, I suddenly realised that as much as an onion is layer for layer onion, I was layer for layer a sinner.  Sin was deceiving me and destroying me, but without the Law, I did not even realise that it was happening. The problem now is that because you are under condemnation you just cannot bear fruit.


But now in Christ, I understand the Law, I realise I am dead to it, I know my sinfulness, I know that it is paid, but now I have a new bridegroom, a new master, a new life, a new capacity to bear fruit for God because I belong to another. Paul says in Philippians 1:11 (ESV) that we are: “11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

So what we're saying is this, that justification does not lead to sin, it leads to holiness. It leads to a new kind of slavery. You're not justified and given saving grace in order that you can run amok so that grace may abound. It doesn't happen, it can't happen because you are transformed, your old life is dead, you have risen to a new kind of life and you now love holiness. You are no longer under the tyranny of the Law, but you can now do for the first time what you never could do in the past and that is you can obey the Law and bear fruit unto God. Another way to say this is – that because you died in Christ and the tyranny of the Law is broken, you now live in Christ and for the first time you can fulfil the Law.

Look at Romans 7:5 (ESV) 5 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.”

Notice something that Paul is saying here. He says that our sinful passions were aroused by the Law. Why, because that is the nature of man. That is the very reason we say that Laws are made to be broken. It's almost like finding out what sin is so that you can do it, since you can't restrain yourself. For all the Law of God does is stir up sin. All the Law of God does is exacerbate sin. You have such sinful impulses, it's like putting a sign out in front of your children that says, "Don't touch this," they probably wouldn't if the sign wasn't there, but if the sign is there, you can be certain they will touch it. Along comes the glory of the gospel and justification and justification doesn't lead to more sin that grace may abound, quite the contrary, it leads you away from sin. Because you died you have a whole new life that loves righteousness and holiness and expresses its freedom in obedience, not disobedience. You now have a capability to keep the Law for the first time ever and to bear fruit unto God instead of fruit unto death. Well, on to our last point.

4. The affirmation of what took place.

Romans 7:6 (ESV) 6 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.”

That's the heart of everything. The Law is still holy, it's just and good. In the past when we were bound to the Law, we tried to serve in what Paul calls the old way of the written code, or the letter of the Law. People who are legalistic as far as the Law is concerned are people who try and draft a code of conduct for religious moral behaviour apart for the Spirit. It is superficial and it has no power to make us righteous. But as I said, the Law is still holy, just and good, but now in Christ for the first time you can keep the Law from your heart because you are walking in a new way which is the way of the Spirit. What happened and what has the Spirit got to do with it. Is this not what was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV)? 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my Law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

That's what it means to be saved. It doesn't mean that you're free from the Law, it means that you are no longer under the condemnation of the Law, you're no longer stuck being bound to the Law and guilty of its violation and only capable of serving the letter of the Law, that is the superficial aspect of the Law, you now have the Law of God inside of you, written on your heart.

The same kind of prophecy as found in Jeremiah is found in Ezekiel 36:25-26 (ESV) 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” That is why Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 3:6 (ESV) 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

In my last sermon I said that today we will answer the question. What does Paul mean when he says we are dead to the Law and what is the believer's relationship to the Law? Well, I tried to answer that, but let’s answer it again in summary to make it clear.


We're not under Law, we're under grace in terms of the Law's condemnation. The Law cannot condemn us. We're no longer alive to the Law in the sense that we have any covenant with the Law that binds us to suffer the consequence of violating it. We have died. The Law has done its deed to us, justice has been rendered, and the Law has been satisfied. The Law, remember, is holy, just and good. It has been satisfied. It had a right to call for our death. We died in Christ. We are now free from that relationship, married to another, namely to Christ. We now are no longer under condemnation by the Law but we are still under obligation to the Law and for the first time not trying to keep it in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit that comes from a transformed heart. The word newness is kainos, new in quality, not neos, new in chronology. And so we can say with David, "O how I love Your Law." We can say with the Apostle Paul, "The Law is holy, the commandment is holy, righteous and good and spiritual."

To be free from the Law is to be free from its penalty, not free from its morality, its spirituality, its holiness, its righteousness, nor its goodness. The Law is still binding on us and sanctification comes as we hear, understand, and obey the Law. Any believer who doesn't know the Law of God, doesn't know the Word of God is seriously hindered in that sanctification process. We can now for the first time since our salvation serve the Law of God and therefore serve God Himself for the Law is a reflection of God. We can serve from the heart in the newness of Spirit and produce fruit that pleases God. We serve not because the Law is our master and we have to or be damned, but we can't. We serve and we can because Christ is our husband and we have the power by the Spirit within us to do what we love to do and what we know pleases the one we love. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (1 John 2:3 (ESV))

Everything has changed. God's Law is still holy, righteous and good. The Law will still condemn people, as it always has and will continue to do, into an eternal hell because they deserve its punishment for violating it. Or that Law will be the delight and the joy of the believer's life, because we have been delivered from its condemnation. So we seek to honour its reflection of our own God, the God we love.


Logos Community Church: - 15 September 2013