Allegiances Matter | Romans 7: 1-6

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Allegiances Matter | Romans 7: 1-6

 

Introduction

 

I have a healthy respect of high places.  Some might say that I am afraid of heights.  I don’t like standing too close to the edge of the Grand Canyon.  I hate rock climbing, I detest high rope courses and I don’t even like going up on my roof.  The idea of jumping out of a plane is particularly terrifying to me.  Sky-diving stirs up some pretty strong feelings for a guy who doesn’t even like standing on a ladder.  So…as a result, I like sky-diving illustrations.  To help explain our text, consider this illustration:

Imagine you went up in the skydiving plane.  You got to altitude, they strapped an altimeter to your wrist and pushed you out of the plane without a parachute.  Now the altimeter is a very helpful instrument.  It can tell you some useful information during your descent.  A good altimeter is very accurate and can rightly indicate your height from the ground within a few feet.  Without an altimeter, you wouldn’t know how high up you were.  An altimeter is not a bad thing to have while you are skydiving, but it won’t save your life.

It will tell you useful and accurate data.  It will accurately assess your current situation. It will even point out when you should deploy your parachute.  BUT… an altimeter is not a life saving device.  It just reveals truth while you are falling to your death.

To a skydiver who finds himself falling without a parachute, he would GLADLY give up all the accuracy and details and data the altimeter provides for access to a parachute.

God’s law is like the altimeter.

·        God’s law is a very good thing.

·        It correctly divides right from wrong.

·         It is extremely valuable and without it, we would have a difficult time understanding how God would like us to behave.

Listen to what the great King David has to say about God’s law in Psalm 19:7-10:

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
    enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
    and drippings of the honeycomb.

God’s law is perfect and wise and clean.  It is more valuable than gold.  It is accurate and it endures and it enlightens.  The law is a very good thing.  But for the person who finds themselves condemned to an eternity of separation from God in a dark place called Hell, they would gladly give up all the details the law provides for access to a Savior.  What is more valuable than God’s law is God’s grace!

The Law is good, but it does not save – Isaiah 29:13-14

God’s law accurately show us God’s expectations and then it accurately shows us that we were totally unable to meet God’s expectation on our own.  Many religious people in Paul’s day (as well as many religious people today) wrongly believed that they can achieve salvation by a strict adherence to the Law.

Believing that rule-keeping will earn salvation is an error called legalism.  Rule-following was so dominant in the Jewish culture during Paul’s time that many people loved God’s law more than they loved God Himself.  They even added some of their own rules to God’s law and made this massive list of rules into an idol!  Some observed all the rules, but they didn’t love God.  It prompted Isaiah to say,

“…this people draw near with their mouth
    and honor me with their lips,
    while their hearts are far from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” Isaiah 29:13b-14

They were inauthentic.  By the time Jesus came onto the scene, many Jews were legalists.  They live by this equation: obedience to God’s law plus obedience to their own made up rules equaled salvation.  They only honored God because someone told them to, not because it was the overflow of a changed life. That’s why it says, “their fear of me is a commandment taught by men

Determination to follow the law replaced faith in the God who gave the Law.  In fact, some people were so focused on law-following that they missed the Savior all together when He came.  When Jesus did not observe their made-up rules, they even accused Jesus of breaking the Law.  Does that mean that the law is bad?  NO… but it does mean that legalism doesn’t save and it means that loving the Savior is better than loving the Law.

The Law is good, but the gospel is better – Matthew 5:17-19, Philippians 6:6, Romans 3:31

Jesus has a high regard for the Law.  To make His high view of the God’s law clear, Jesus made this declaration early in His earthly ministry:

“17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:17-19

Paul also had a high regard for the law.  Before his conversion, Paul was a Pharisee. Paul was the epitome of Jewish law keeping.  In Philippians 6:lb, Paul says that before he met Jesus, his “righteousness under the law,

[was] blameless.”  After Paul’s conversion, he never encouraged us to see the law as irrelevant.  Earlier in our study of Romans chapter 3, Paul said, “31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31) 

Paul proclaims that the law is holy, righteous and good.  If anyone could have been saved by law-keeping, it would have been Paul.  But Paul makes it clear that law keeping is insufficient for salvation.  We are incapable of keeping the law perfectly – not because we aren’t disciplined enough, but because we are fundamentally sinful. We are law breakers by nature and no amount of law keeping is going to change what we are under the surface.  The rules aren’t bad but our sin problem isn’t solved by keeping more rules.  (The altimeter isn’t bad, but we don’t need more instruments when we are falling to our death.  We need something that will save us.) 

Without Jesus, we are bound to the truth the law reveals with no hope of salvation – v. 1, Romans 6:4, 22

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? Romans 7:1

Paul is painting the picture that without Jesus we have an allegiance with sin.  We are bound to it.  We are a slave to it and as a result, destruction is inevitable.  The law is an instrument strapped to our lives, telling us the truth that we are not right with God.  The law is warning us of imminent danger.  The Law is good and right and accurate and true, but (like an altimeter) it does not save.  It only reveals truth and the truth it reveals is binding until something dies…  It indicates: We need to die to our old sinful nature and we need to be given a new life in Christ.

It is helpful to understand that when Paul wrote Romans 7 he did not divide the letter into verse and chapter.  It was all written as one unified document.  We have added verse numbers and chapter divisions to help with our study of the Bible.  Those divisions are helpful, but are uninspired. 

The disadvantage of having chapter and verse designations is that it can make chapter 7 look disconnected from chapter 6.  The truth is that there is no great break between chapter 6 and 7.  Chapter 7 is, in fact, another illustration of what it means to die to sin.  The life-changing work of the Holy Spirit can’t be easily summed up in just one illustration, so Paul is using several illustrations to show various elements of our new life in Christ.  Turn back in your Bible 1 page to Romans 6…

·        In the first half of Chapter 6, Paul began by using the illustration of baptism.  The disciple was buried with Christ and resurrected with Christ.  The old life was put to death so that we can live new lives that glorify God.  Romans 6:4 says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

·         In the second half of Chapter 6, he used the illustration of slavery.  He explained that before we came to Christ, we were slaves to sin.  Then, Jesus paid our debt, purchased our lives from the slave master called sin and employed us in His kingdom. Romans 6:22 says, “22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Now we have a third illustration.  Paul is making an analogy to marriage in order to illustrate that God’s law does not condemn a person after they are dead to sin.

Death annuls laws – v. 2-3

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.

It is helpful to understand that Paul is not giving a teaching on marriage and divorce here.  Paul is using marriage as a simple illustration.  He is simply pointing out that in both Roman and Jewish law, a marriage is terminated when a person dies.  Physical death annuls the law (and vows) of marriage. 

He is using that law to illustrate the fact that our allegiance or marriage to sin died the day that we were saved.  When we died to sin, we are relieved of the consequences of the law.  The law that once pointed out that we were heading to our destruction is no longer making that indication. 

·        If we read the law before we were saved, it would indicate that we were spiritually dead and in a lot of trouble.  We had made an allegiance with sin that was leading to our death

·        If we read the law after we make an allegiance to or a union with Jesus, then the law indicates that we are saved by the grace of God.
We died to the law that pointed out our imminent destruction.  We were raised from the dead and made alive in a new union with Jesus.

·        Becoming a Christian is a complete change in relationship and allegiance.  The old life with it’s rotten fruit and the law that condemned us died and a new, fruitful life of faith in Jesus began.

Our allegiances determine our fruit – v. 4-5

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

The Bible often uses marriage to illustrate Jesus’ relationship with the church.  It’s an incredible metaphor that I want to briefly unpack this morning.

To be a Christian means that you enter into a covenant relationship with Jesus.  It is a relationship that is personal, legally binding and completely comprehensive.  Just like in a marriage, every part of your life is affected by this relationship.  A Christian is no longer be under the curse of the law.  The law is not screaming out “Condemned!” because our lives have been transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus fundamentally changes who we are.

The fact that we “belong to another,” (v.4) tells us how to interact with the law.  First of all, the ceremonial law is no longer binding.  The ceremonial law pointed forward to the coming Messiah.  It was a sign that pointed to Jesus.  Now that Jesus is here, we no longer need the sign when we can have the Savior himself!

The moral law is a different story.  God never changed his standard for right and wrong between the Old and New Testaments.  In fact, nine of the ten commandments were repeatedly and explicitly described in the New Testament.  (The only one that was not mentioned again was the Sabbath.  You and I know that it is wise to still set aside one day every week for rest and for the worship of the King.)  So… can the Christian, who is united to Jesus, live however he chooses?

That question can be answered with this question: can a man, who is united to a woman in marriage, live however he chooses?  I’ve been married over 15 years.  There are some things that make my wife very happy (like when I do the dishes) and some that make her sad (like when I stay out late and don’t tell her where I am).  Love is acting in the best interest of other people.  If I really love my wife, I try to do the things that make her happy.  I would not try to make her pleased out of obligation, but because I care for her.  Loving my wife means doing more dishes, coming home earlier and calling more often.

So if I am united to Jesus in a relationship, the way I show love for Him is by doing the things that make Him pleased.  It is not because I’m obligated to follow the rules.  It is because I value my relationship with Jesus.  We are not doing good works in order to be accepted.  Good works are the natural fruit of someone who has been transformed by Jesus and who sincerely wants to please Him.

In order for a marriage to be healthy, a certain amount of sacrifice is required.  A married person can’t just live as they choose.  They are always considering the needs of their spouse.  There is a loss of independence, but the tradeoff is love and acceptance and family.  In a good marriage, the loss is not a burden.  It is a joy to serve the wishes and desires of your spouse.  In these ways, marriage is a good illustration for our relationship with Jesus.

In order for our spiritual lives to be healthy, a certain amount of sacrifice is also required.  Living a godly life is never easy and it’s always intentional.  The grace that is received by the disciple of Jesus is not a license to sin.  A disciple is always considering the glory of their King.  Whatever pleasure was once derived from sin is lost but that loss is not a burden.  It is a joy to serve the King of King and Lord of Lord and to fulfill the desires of His heart.

So does the Christian ignore the moral law of God?  Not at all.  Freedom from the Laws condemnation is not freedom to do what the law forbids.  We look to God’s law as an expression of His desires.  He loves honesty, purity, generosity, truth, integrity, kindness and so on.  We are not under the law… that means the law is no longer condemning us.  We have a new relationship with the law.  The Child of God uses the law to please the One who saved us.

Disciples are led by the Spirit and no longer condemned by Law – v. 6. Romans 6:3, Ephesians 2:8-10

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.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the assassination of JFK.  He was never brought to trial because he himself was assassinated before the trial began.  The law is not binding on a man who is no longer alive.

In the same way, the condemnation of God’s law can no longer be binding to a person who was crucified with Christ.  Romans 6:3 says, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?”  That old, condemned man is gone.  He died.  When we were saved, we were raised to new life with Jesus.  The old way of the written code no longer applies. 

Being raised from spiritual death changed everything.  We are no longer slaves to sin but servants of the most High God.  Christ purchased us from that evil slave master called sin and then united us with himself in a close, personal and intimate relationship. Why wouldn’t we want to please Him?

Our new relationship with Christ compels us to say:

·        I’m no longer a slave to sin

·        I’m no longer condemned by the law

·        I am a new creation made alive in Christ Jesus

Paul expresses our new position with Christ in Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Life Application

There are three attitudes we can have in regard to the law.  The first two Paul rejected in today’s passage and the third one Paul commends.  We could label them legalism, antinomianism and law-fulfilling freedom.

Legalists are under the law.  They are in bondage to it.  They imagine their relationship with God depends solely on their obedience to the law.  They are seeking to be saved strictly by obedience to the law and that will never work.

Antinomians go to the opposite extreme.  They blame the law for all their problems and reject it altogether.  They claim liberty not only from the ceremonial law but from the moral law as well.  They abuse God’s grace and use is as a license to sin.

Paul reject both of these extreme positions. In this passage, he is encouraging us to be part of a third camp:

Law fulfilling free people preserve the balance.  They rejoice that their salvation is not dependent on their perfect observation of the law and at the same time they rejoice that every time they follow the law, it is in line with God’s will.  They love to please God and that love for God works itself out in how they love other people.  Following God’s commands and loving other people are closely connected in God’s word.  Consider this verse:

1 John 5:2 says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”

You can sum up the entire life of a disciple in these two commands:  Love God and Love others.  Listen to what Jesus said:

Luke 10:27, “And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

A disciple of Christ’s recognizes that the power to obey God’s commands rest not in their willpower, but in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Here’s how we can sum up these three positions:

·        Legalists fear the law and are in bondage to it.

·        Antinomians hate the law and rebel against it.

·        Law abiding free people love the law and want to follow it in order to please their King.

Teaching Outline

The Law is good, but it does not save – Isaiah 29:13-14

The Law is good, but the gospel is better – Matthew 5:17-19, Philippians 6:6, Romans 3:31

“17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:17-19

31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31) 

Without Jesus, we are bound to the truth the law reveals with no hope of salvation – v. 1, Romans 6:4, 22

Death annuls laws – v. 2-3

Our allegiances determine our fruit – v. 4-5

Disciples are led by the Spirit and no longer condemned by Law – v. 6. Romans 6:3, Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

Application

Law abiding free people love the law and want to follow it in order to please their King.

By | 2016-11-07T20:10:44+00:00 January 25th, 2015|New Testament, Romans, Romans - New Life In Christ, Sermons|0 Comments

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