THE NEW WAY
My God, in my busy, cluttered world, I long to see Your face and be touched by Your healing grace.
Read ROMANS 7:1–6
Released From the Law, Bound to Christ
7 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? 2 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. 3 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.
4 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. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh,[a] the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
- Romans 7:5 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit.
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Reflect today on what it means to ‘die with Christ.’1
We enter a challenging chapter in this book, revolving around the concept of ‘law’. Paul stresses that believers have died a death and experienced a resurrection in Christ (v 4). He uses an illustration from marriage (vs 2,3): when a spouse dies, the surviving spouse is set free from the bonds and obligations of marriage. In the same way, the believer who was previously bound to the Law has died to the Law through the death of Christ and has entered a new reality. We are in the new realm of the Spirit (v 6), bound to the one who is risen from the dead (v 4) and so able, because of his life, to bear fruit. We now serve in a new way (v 6) – but we do still serve. We do not live without direction and constraints, but these come not from the Law but from Christ himself who fulfills and completes the Law.
The Law, contained in the ‘old way of the written code’ (v 6) – i.e. written in the Hebrew Scriptures – is here viewed negatively, reflecting Paul’s own experience. For him, to die to the Law was a form of joyful release from a bondage (v 6). Other Jewish believers would say (then and now) that the Law should not be seen so negatively but should be celebrated. For them, the Law is not burdensome but a delight and a joy providing a framework for the good life: ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul’.2 Paul has more to say on this, but here he points to the power of written laws to bring us into condemnation, exposing our moral inability to overcome our sinful passions, making things worse (v 5).
God’s saving work in Christ marks a new beginning, a new reality, and a new way.
‘I have come that they may have life’.3
Father God, help me turn my eyes away from my performance and rather, turn them towards Jesus. As I look upon Him, I know the Spirit will transform me.
1 Rom 6:8 2 Ps 19:7 3 John 10:10