Good Holy Spirit, grant us Christ’s freedom. Amen.
Text: Romans 7:1-6
Or do you not know, brethren (for I speak to those who know the law), that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 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.
When Christ was here in His state of humiliation, He was under the condemnation and authority of the law (Gal 4:4; 3:13). By His obedience unto death the law’s power and authority to judge are destroyed. By death He is freed from the law. But it was for us that God’s Son was born under the law and became a curse, so His freedom from the law is our freedom from the law. The believers enjoy this freedom. They are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and thereby united with Him as He died, and united with Him as He lives again. Without Christ they were under the law, obligated to keep it, eternally condemned. But now, they are one with Christ (Eph 5:30-32); by His death they are loosed from the law just as a woman is loosed from her husband when death has parted them.
This, the believers’ freedom from the law, is a very glorious thing. First, there is no obligation on them to keep the law in order to be justified. Satan cannot accuse them of any transgression of the law, for Christ has perfectly fulfilled the law, and that fulfillment belongs to the believers. Christ has perfectly suffered the punishment, and His suffering is theirs. They are completely free from the law which says: “Keep the commandments and you are justified.” They are free from it as completely as a woman is freed from her husband when death parts them. When I ask about my “right” of salvation, the law simply has nothing to do with it. I was a law-transgressor and still am imperfect in my life, but that no longer condemns me. It affects my right to salvation just as little as it would affect my Lord Christ’s right to salvation, for I am no longer in the house of the law. By Baptism I have entered the house of the precious Bridegroom of my soul, and there is a completely different economy than the law’s “do this, and you shall live.”
Secondly, the believers have a free and happy conscience and serve God and all people with joy and happiness in the new life of the Spirit. They do not flee from God, but to Him, and do His will, not as slaves, but as children. They are not yet perfect in this the way they are with Christ’s righteousness. Not all Christians are clear regarding their state of grace, so that they know the glorious freedom in which they live, and neither is it clear in the same way at all times for one and the same person. Our sins that cling to us obscure our view and give the devil occasion to afflict us. We are tempted to take on the yoke of bondage again, – but the Sun of grace shines forth again, the soul is with its Bridegroom, and the spirit of freedom is the victor. What Paul teaches here is extremely important. When a sincere person holds on to his own righteousness, he bears fruit unto death, for his good works are the forced obedience of slavery. But when you receive grace and believe that you are alive with Christ, know that you are free, and the Spirit within you cries out: “Abba, Father!”, then you bring forth fruit for God unto eternal life. Christ’s Spirit who frees us from the law writes the law in our heart.
God, teach us this through living experience by Your Holy Spirit for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
The Law that God has given
His holiness is worth,
But there no life is given,
No faith and no new birth.
And when the poison presses
To live for sinful things
And Satan us distresses,
The Law no comfort brings.
So take then for your easing
This Word into your heart;
To God it’s more than pleasing
To show a Father’s heart;
To make you pure and cleanse you
In Jesus’ precious blood;
The pow’r of life He lends you
For your eternal good.
German: Hvor lystelig og yndig L 517:2.5 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Jeg raaber fast, O Herre (LHy 218); alternate hymn: In Jesus I find rest and peace ELH 437