Monday, April 19, 2010

WINNING THE WAR WITHIN: Freedom from Legalism

Death to the law defines the spiritual man. He is directed by the Spirit and free from legalism. Consider these words of the Apostle Paul:

1 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?

2 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

3 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.

4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through
the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised
from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.

5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused
by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.

6 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.
(Romans 7:1-6)

Paul uses marriage as an illustration of the important spiritual truth that he has presented in chapter six. He has taught that the Christian is in vital union with Christ so that in His crucifixion, we died to sin and in His resurrection, we are raised to new life. Adrian Rogers presents Paul’s analogy this way:

There is a young single woman who finds a perfect man, Mr. Law, and marries him. David said in Psalm 19, “The law of the Lord is perfect.” Mr. Law is very demanding, however. Each day he goes to work and leaves a list of expectations. She really tries, but fails repeatedly. Mr. Law is merciless and never satisfied. It would not be easy to live with a spouse like that.

There was a woman married to a man she couldn’t please, but she tried anyway. One morning she asked him what he wanted for breakfast. “Two eggs, one scrambled and one fried,” he snarled. “Okay, darling,” his wife smiled in return. She did, but he pouted, “You scrambled the wrong egg.”

It’s hard to live with someone so hard to please. Now, let’s go back to the difficult plight of Mrs. Law. She knows she can’t biblically get out of marriage. She has promised “till death do us part.” Mr. Law isn’t dying. Jesus said, “till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law” (Matt.5:19). But what if she dies? She would be free to marry another. You’d argue that a dead person couldn’t get married. But what if they were raised from the dead as a new person?

That’s what Paul says happened to the believer. We died to the law, and were raised to be one with Christ. Now, she’s no longer married to Mr. Law, but to Mr. Love! Do you recall the day, the Holy Spirit told you about Jesus? He asked, “Will you have this Man to be your Lord and Savior? Do you promise to love, honor, trust and serve Him from this day forward to all eternity?” Then everything changed.

The woman married to Mr. Love no longer wants to please him out of duty, but devotion—not from external pressure but internal passion. Christianity isn’t about rules but relationship. The spiritual person understands. What’s more, all the assets of the Bridegroom are available to the Bride. We aren’t saved by self-effort and we aren’t sanctified by it. We bear spiritual fruit through reliance on the Spirit of Christ who indwells us. Paul had not always understood this. Do you get the picture. Don’t miss this point: we cannot be saved by our own efforts and we cannot be sanctified by our own efforts. It is a work of grace from start to finish.

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