Friday, August 27, 2010

The Covenants: Part VI - An Illustration from Marriage

Romans 7:1-6: An Illustration from Marriage

In Part V we studied a passage where Paul tackled head on the problem of the false teachers (Judaizers) in Galatia. We saw that the Bible teaches those who are under the Old Covenant given at Sinai are in slavery.  Scripture tells us in no uncertain term to cast out the Old Covenant (the bondwoman) and those who promote it (her son).  The Bible tells us that those who are under the New Covenant are free.

But what about keeping one foot in the Old Covenant and the other in the New Covenant? Should we continue to cling to the law just to be on the safe side?  Doesn’t the law still have some hold on us?  The Bible answers these questions in Romans chapter 7 using a truly apt illustration from marriage.

Romans 7:1-6 (NASB)
1 Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
2 For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
3 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
5 For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
6 But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
Reread this passage a couple of times slowly and carefully with prayer.  Meditate upon what scripture is saying here. 

If we were still under Old Covenant law, then it would be spiritual adultery to break any part of the Old Covenant or to join ourselves to a New Covenant.  It’s like a marriage.  You can only have one spouse at a time; anything else is adultery, that is, unless one of the spouses dies. 

Christ fulfilled the law completely, both the righteous requirements and the penalty for disobedience (death).  His perfect life and substitutionary death are credited to us.  Because we are in Him, we die to the law he has already fulfilled, which allows us to live for Him. 

The old marriage to the law is dissolved through Christ’s death.  We are free from the law!  We have been released from the law and joined to Christ.  We are now Christ’s bride instead of being wed to the law.  However, if we try and go back to the law, then we are committing adultery.  We can’t live as Christ’s bride and cling to the law.  If we do this we are the equivalent of spiritual prostitutes.

We are called to no longer live by the old letter that kills, but to serve in the newness of the Spirit.  We cannot keep one foot in the Old Covenant and the other in the New Covenant and still be faithful to the one who bought us.  The old marriage is dissolved.  We have a new Husband and He wants us to live completely and totally for Him, unencumbered by past lovers.  It’s time to let those lovers go and be faithful to Christ alone.

Other passages say very similar things.

Romans 8:1-2 (NASB)
1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Galatians 5:18 (NASB)
18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
So if we’re to die to law and live by the Spirit, this raises the question of why the law was ever added in the first place.  We’ll explore that question in Part VII.


  1. When you've been married to the law your entire life, the very thought of leaving it behind is terrifying!

    You don't realize how salvationally dependent you are on it, until you come to that fork in the road where you realize Scripture commands you to cast it out. Casting it out made absolutely no logical sense to me. Casting it out just felt wrong!

    I wasted a great deal of time playing that game of, "well I know that's what it says, but that can't really be what it means."

    I finally had to quit ignoring what Scripture said and just act on it in blind faith. Because quite honestly it felt like Scripture was lying to me about casting out the law.

    There's something spiritually amazing and significant that happens when you cut off that old lover (which unknowingly had actually become my savior) and cling with all your might to Jesus as your Savior instead!!!!

    You don't receive clarity on why Scripture commands you to cast it out, until you act in obedience and just do it.

    Thank God for Jesus!

  2. Great insights Ane! Thanks for that!

  3. Why can't Jesus be our former and present husband?

  4. Well, it’s Paul analogy and he clearly indicates that in this analogy the Law is the first husband who must die so that we can be released to be married to Christ. Making Jesus both the first and second husband would completely change Paul’s analogy and his meaning. The point is that you can’t cling to the Law and to Jesus at the same time, it’s a form of adultery.