"In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Chris, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God."
I'm starting to watch the much-acclaimed HBO crime drama of the mid 2000's: THE WIRE. Centering around a special police unit in Baltimore, we get to see the ups-n-downs of both life "on the street" and "on the beat." Both sides of the equation look to use the law to the full extent (either staying out of trouble, or getting folks into it!). What stands out in this series is the blurred line between the "good guys" and the "bad guys." Most characters have a mix of both. Kinda like real life.
In Romans 7, Paul is speaking to those within Judaism who feel bound to fulfill the Laws of Moses. He uses the analogy of a married relationship. The wife is "bound" to her husband as long as he lives. She can't run off and "hook up" with another man while her husband is a live (and vice versa). But if he dies, then she's free to marry another. She can transfer her loyalty without restraint.
The same is true for followers of Christ, Paul says. When we make our commitment to Jesus, we "die to ourselves." We're no longer bound to the (Mosaic) Law - to the obligation of trying to earn God's love & grace through "being a good person" (ie. our strict adherence to the rules & regs). Instead, we're free to accept the NEW RELATIONSHIP with Christ. A relationship that makes us whole not by our actions, but by our faith.
Sometimes, however, we Christians forget that we're no longer "wedded" to the law... we lapse back into trying to earn God's favor. WRONG! That's like spiritual adultery. Does that mean we don't have any moral standards to live up to anymore? Of course not. For out of the grace & forgiveness in Christ, we (hopefully) want to live as new people! It becomes a life of joy, rather than compulsion.
I'm only a few episodes into the first season of THE WIRE... but I can already see the signs of impending struggles that a life spent with "The Law" brings (both internally - within a person, and externally - in relation to others). Thanks be to God for the gift of grace & freedom from the opporession of needing to try and live under the Law... through Jesus Christ our Lord! AMEN.