The Law and No Profit?
Father, as I worship You today, may I be alive to the stirrings of Your Spirit in my heart and mind.
Read Romans 7:1-6
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“By God’s grace I will strive mightily against sin and will do deeds of love and mercy that lead to righteousness” (Richard Foster).
In response to Paul’s bold description of two kinds of humanity, his Jewish listeners (“those who know the law,” v. 1) are left with questions: how does the Law of Moses in the Old Testament fit in with all this? Wasn’t the Law supposed to be God’s instrument to create a new humanity, and shouldn’t we go on obeying it?
It is possible to read Paul’s illustration of marriage in vs. 2 and 3 allegorically: in our humanity we were “married” to the Law; through death we have been released from this commitment; and in our new humanity we now are the bride of Christ. His illustration does not really serve this purpose, however. It is the husband, not the wife, who has died, and it is not possible to illustrate in human terms the idea that someone who has died is now free to marry again! No, Paul’s point is simply that death nullifies previous commitments; through death we are set free.
He will go on in this chapter to explore the positive value of the Law, but he is also clear (8:3) that the Law could not do what God has done for us in Jesus. When I tell my children to do what is right, and not what is wrong, this in itself does not make them obey me, however loudly and frequently I tell them! It is only when they see that I am concerned for their best, and they desire to please me, that they can follow this good pattern of life (assuming, that is, that I’ve got it right). We do serve God and live our life for him, not because we are told to by the Law, but because we are empowered to by the Spirit (6).
How do you see the commands of Scripture? Do you see them as obligation, or as a good pattern to joyfully live out by the Spirit?
Spirit of God, do Your work through me as I present myself to You. I will attempt to do Your work in gratitude for Your mercy.
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