Monday, February 2, 2015

Set free!

"Do you not know, brothers & sisters - for I am speaking to those who know the law - that the law is binding on a person only during that person's lifetime?"
(Romans 7:1)

One of Paul's more memorable statements in the book of Romans (and there are many memorable ones!) is "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin & alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).  I've heard that many times.  I thought I had a decent grip on that.  Just as Jesus died & rose again, when we put our faith & trust in him, we share in that death & resurrection.  It's a metaphor, right?  But today, while reading through chapters 5-8, I discovered something new that challenged the depth of my thinking.

At the start of chapter 7, Paul reminds folks that the law only applies while one is alive.  Like the law of marriage... a husband who decides to live with another woman (while still married) is committing adultery.  The law of marriage still applies (even if he doesn't like it or think it fair).  But if is wife dies, then he's release from his marriage bond & is free to marry someone else.  (Okay, so far there's nothing new here...)

So now apply that same line of thinking to faith.  The Old Testament "law" (contained in the first 5 books, the Torah) is a good law.  Like marriage, it has its place & purpose.  It helps maintain right living, justice, compassion, devotion, & equality (amongst other things).  But once we share in Christ's death & resurrection, we're no longer bound to that law.  Why? We've died.  Our old life is gone.  We've risen anew with Jesus!  Faith sets us free..  We're no longer responsible for the past sin in our life.  We're no longer bound to the death sentence that our actions had incurred on us.  Jesus has willingly taken over that responsibility for our lives.  We are set free.  We have new life.  New hope.  God's grace!  What a gift!!!

Wow.  That's a huge "game changer," isn't it?  It's not that we don't have to "obey the laws" found in Scripture anymore.  The admonitions about love, faithfulness, compassion, mercy, righteousness, etc.... they all still are great laws set up to help us live well with each other.  But we're not limited by our inability to fully keep those laws, either!  Grace has set us free!  Wow.  Praise God.

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