“Do you not know, brothers and sisters-for I am speaking to those who know the law-that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man.” (Rom 7:1-3, NIV2)
This is so explicit that it doesn’t need any clarifications. However what comes next is quite a revelation:
“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.” (Rom 7:4, NIV2)
We died to the law through the death of Jesus. After all, fruit was quite ineffective during the time when the Law was in charge. Infractions were on the rise, as everyone had their own interest at heart. Too often the Law was accepted with wrong motives. “Let’s keep the Law by creating more laws–human ones this time, to protect the very essence of the Law.” People were secondary, the law was everything. Law had become more important than mercy, and it resulted in making people more selfish and more geared to their own interests. The Law that was supposed to lead us to our Savior was turned into a mockery, something to justify our own selfishness.
People living in the Old Testament might have said, “I didn’t commit adultery, my wife did! She is the one who deserves stoning! No one will know how I distanced myself from my wife. She has become ugly anyway. I need a more attractive woman. Case closed!” But is this truly following the Law?
All hypocrisy has been set aside now that Jesus paid the price for us, the ones who broke the Law. We were condemned, but He paid the price. Now we belong to another, not the Law, but to our Savior. No more selfishness! We have fallen deeply in love with the One who sacrificed Himself for our sake, and now we live by love, pure love, where the interest of others becomes way more important than our own agendas, where the fruit of the Spirit abounds!
Some of us will wonder, however: “What fruit?”
This is a good question, one that is answered in Gal 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Let me illustrate this with an example.
Freezing rain was predicted in our area on December 22, 2013. I was fast asleep when the electricity went down. Normally I sleep through this, but not this time. I woke up with a start and went straight to the phone. Unfortunately I was unable to connect with the electricity company, no matter how many times I tried. All I got was a busy signal.
Sometimes we put ourselves under the law by our own volition. In my former days, for example, I would have been greatly upset. Without electricity to run the sump pump, our basement would flood the moment the ground waters rose higher than our home. I knew this could happen, for we have had this problem many times in the past, and in the past I would have woken up anyone in the house: “Wake up, we have no electricity! We need to move anything from the basement!” I would have panicked, and I would have been a nervous, unapproachable wreck. Instead I went by myself in the basement and moved anything that could be damaged. Somehow I had fun doing it. I didn’t worry, for that, too, was a thing of the past.
After these endeavors I called the electricity company again. After the fifth try I was able to connect, but I had to wait for the next clerk. After nearly half an hour, I heard a strange noise on my phone. It was the sound of someone calling. But that was not possible! I was on hold!
Finally I heard the sound of a living being.
“My electricity is down,” said the voice.
“Mine too!” I responded.
“Aren’t you Hydro Electric?” Was his response.
Immediately I heard another sound of someone calling. This time I was able to comfort a poor customer who was concerned about her food spoiling in her fridge. By the end of the call we were laughing. I didn’t even know her name!
Somehow there were so many calls to the electricity company that a mishap happened on the phone lines, and I started receiving their calls. I had a good time, but wished I could have been able to better help them. All they needed, however, was a reassuring voice. They simply needed to know they weren’t alone, and this assurance I was able to give them.
When we belong to Christ, we have nothing to worry about. Relying on Him will make us blossom fruit for eternity. No more “Grrrs” or “Oh no!”
(To access the entire “Radical Grace From the Book of Romans” devotional series, please click here.)