Law-keeping doesn’t set us free from slavery to sin, nor does it empower us to keep from sinning after being set free. This brings us to Chapter 7 where Paul shows the necessity of being released from under the law in order to overcome our “sin problem.” Because as it turns out, law-keeping does not make us righteous, but more apt to sin.
In Romans 7:1-6, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that their new way of life was not about law-keeping, but loving and serving the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. We can understand why our new way of life is not about law-keeping, but loving and serving the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:All right, good morning, church. We’re continuing our series through the book of Romans. We’re in Romans, chapter seven today; we will be picking up those 1st 6 verses in Romans. We’ve entitled this message, Living by God’s Spirit.
In chapter seven, the apostle Paul continues his answer to the question that he posed back in chapter six, verse 15. He’s already given an answer in chapter six that we talked about last week. And now this week, he continues in his response. The question was this: “What then are we to sin, because we’re not under law but under grace?” And so he’s basically saying this; now that we’ve believed Jesus as our Lord and Savior and we’ve been saved by grace apart from many works of our own, can we still sin ? Further, he’s implying in this question, the concern that people might have: if we’re not under law, won’t that release us to sin more? Won’t that cause a sin problem for us? In a sense, he’s anticipating the person who says something like this: Isn’t it better that we stay under law because isn’t that better than being under grace, which might set us free to sin more?
So last week, Paul used an illustration to answer this question, and the illustration he used was slavery. As Americans, I talked about this last week, this triggers us a little bit, especially if we’re from an African American background. That word, slavery, is a very negative word, but Paul uses it to talk about how, when we’re born, were enslaved to sin or to the sin nature. We can’t get free of it unless we bow our knee to a new master, namely the Lord Jesus, so that we become servants of him and in doing so are set free from sin’s slavery. So that was last week, chapter 6, 15-23 and he used that illustration.
He’s going to give us an even better illustration in chapter seven. I would say this, that the illustration of slavery was the best illustration he could give to describe what it was like to be under sin with sin as our master. The one he’s going to give today is even better. We will talk about what it’s like to be under Christ as our lord and master.
What is the sin problem that the questioner is concerned about? Shouldn’t we stand under law? What’s this sin problem? Here’s basically the question. If you are a new believer, you encounter this question. “Okay, I’m saved now; I’ve received the gospel. How many of my sins are paid for by Christ?” All of my past sins and I could possibly sin today, my present sins are paid for by Christ. What about tomorrow and the future? Did he die for all of that sin? Yes, his payment on the cross was sufficient to cover the sin of all mankind. Yet, it’s a gift offered that must be received. Okay, so if that’s true and I’m a believer, now all my sins are forgiven. So what happens if I sin again? Shouldn’t I lose the appetite for sinning?
Here’s Paul’s answer. Get ready. You might want to write this down. It really helps a lot. I’m being sarcastic. Will we keep sinning or can we still sin after we are a believer? Here’s his answer: Yes and no. That’s his answer. Yes, you can sin after you’re a believer. No, you can’t keep doing it. You won’t continue in a lifestyle of sin because you have a new nature and your new nature will convict you. You will be convicted so that you’re so miserable that you won’t be able to stand it. So it’s yes and no. Yes, you can sin, but you can’t continue in it because a radical transformation is going on inside of you because you’ve received Jesus as lord and savior, and it’s changing you. You can’t continue in it.
If you’re here this morning and you came on a thin thread; maybe somebody invited you and you wanted them to stop asking you, so you told them, “Ok, ok, I’ll go.” You know you’re here and you’re not really a Christ follower. I don’t know where you’re at with the Lord today, You might be thinking, “You know what? I’m better than most of the people in this room.” You’re right. You’re probably better than most of us. If that’s the way you’re thinking right now, you’re still under law. You’re still keeping score and you’re thinking that God’s up in heaven with a weighing scale. If your good works out way your bad works, he lets you in. If you’re bad works outweigh your good works, you go to the other place. Maybe you’ve got that kind of theology going on in your head. You’re may be thinking that the church is full of hypocrites; they claim to be better than everybody. That’s a church that’s still living under the law because a true born again congregation of people understand who they are in Christ. They know this. “I’m not better than anybody. I’m forgiven. I’m living by grace, no longer under law.”
If that’s you this morning, here’s what I want you to get clear in your mind. You no longer have to keep a list of rules and regulations. You now can live by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s the new way. And that’s what we’re talking about today.
That brings us to chapter seven. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that there was a new way of life available to them, that they no longer had to live under the law, but they could live by loving and serving the risen Lord Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I believe today that believers don’t have to live under the law, keeping the rules, anymore. You can live, instead of law, according to love. You can love and serve the risen Lord Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to give you three reasons from the text why this is so. Paul is making an argument against the question that says, “Which is better; being under law or under grace?” He says that it’s way better to be under grace.
Let’s look at the text. Romans 7:1-6 (ESV) “1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, 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. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. This is God’s word.
We’re looking today at three reasons why our new way of life is by God’s spirit and no longer under law. Here’s the first reason (1) It’s because we have died to the law with Christ. In verse one, “Or do you not know?” You can tell that he’s still in that conversation, answering the question back in chapter 6, verse 15, which is better to help you with your sin problem being under law or under grace. And he’s already told you; listen, it’s better to be under grace because only grace can set you free from sin slavery. And now he’s going to give a new illustration. It’s the illustration of marriage, so it’s illustration of love is better than law, and so that’s where he’s going now. But just that triggers us to look back and say okay what he means in contrast. I gave you one illustration; it was slavery.
Paul was from Tarsus, we know, but he had a Southern accent. He had to. He would fit so well here because he keeps talking like this to us, “don’t you know?” Every time he wants to give you another answer, he tries to remind you you should know this. “Don’t you know?” And so he says, “Or do you not know brothers?” And so when he says brothers, he’s not excluding sisters, he’s talking to believers. He’s saying that you should know believers something about the law because I’m speaking to those who know the law. So you should know this.
Here’s the principal; this is the important principle that he will illustrate and then describe and apply. The law is binding on a person only as long as he lives. So here’s the principal. And so the law is not for the dead. The law is for the living. That’s the principle. And so now he gives the illustration in verses two and following that, when he talks about the law, he could be talking about capital L Law, which would be the mosaic law. All the 10 Commandments, right, that you should have no other god before the Lord, that you should not make any graven images or idols of the Lord, that you should remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, honor your father and mother, do not kill, do not steal. Do not hang around with anybody who doesn’t know. I think I made that one up. But anyway, the top ten, right? The top ten . God stopped at ten. That’s certainly in view here. You should know that because you are believers, but not only the written law, which is what he calls it down at verse six. He calls it the written code. He’s still talking about the law when he gets there. He’s talking about the law that’s written, but he’s also talking about that unwritten law that everybody kind of has inside of him. He refers to that Roman’s chapter to that even the Gentiles have a way of living that has a certain law.
We all kind of know this. We’re all born with a conscience. All you have to do is have a couple of kids and just test this. Just give one of them a fudge around and don’t give one to the other. That other child will say, “That’s not fair.” Based on what it’s inside of them, they have a fairness meter. They have a law meter inside of them, right? So everybody, whether it’s the written code, the written law, which is given through God’s word or it’s just cultural laws which, by the way, are shifting so quickly that they’re becoming very contrary to God’s law. You’ll notice that in our culture. There’s these new unwritten laws , but that’s human nature. We all prefer to live under law, and then we can find out how far we can go and get by with it. And so this law is where we’re born under it, and we love law. If you take a look through these six verses, you count the word law is in there eight times. It’s in there eight times. And then if you count the word, the phrase, written code, it’s in there nine times. As I’ve been helping you study God’s word, this is a beginning place.
Many times, if you’re studying God’s word, you’re asking, “What’s this about?” And so sometimes counting significant words is helpful. This is certainly about the law, and it’s also illustrating why we’re no longer under the law. He uses this imagery of marriage in verses two through four. There are three players in this illustration. One is the woman. One is the law. One is the husband. Do you see it? You see the three players; now, the woman is us.
When I say us , I mean the church. I mean believers. The woman is us. We, humanity, not just believers. In the earlier part, in this illustration, it could also be who we are before we become believers. More on that in a minute. But it’s us; the woman is us. The law is the law. And the husband, well, it depends. There’s a dead husband, there’s a living husband, and we need to talk about who they are now.
First of all, let me admit something to you. In your studies, some of you are very serious bible students and I commend you. I’m thankful, because I wouldn’t be able to be a pastor of a church and preach like I do if it weren’t for you, because you love God’s word. I heard about somebody earlier this week. They didn’t tell me directly. They were talking to one of our staff and they said, “we started visiting your church, and at first we thought it of strange, because the church we used to go to before we moved here had a lot of worship and a twenty-minute sermon at the end, and then they closed. But your church has a little bit of worship and that preacher gets up there and just stays up there. Well, thanks for encouraging feedback, staff. But they said, “Oh, no, wait a minute, let me finish,” this person said. “And I like it because I’ve never been somewhere where they take the word of God so seriously. They just get down in it and dig into it.” I know we’re not the only church like that, but we are a church where we get serious about this digging in. That’s what we’re doing right now. For those of you that love digging in, you’re going to get into some commentaries. I have a stack of Romans commentaries like this, and they’re all laid out all over my house. I was studying this week, and a lot of them got confused on this illustration, which is rare because I have very conservative commentaries. But they got very, very confused, and they felt Paul had what’s called a mixed metaphor. And they thought the husband was the law. They’re wrong. The reason they got confused and thought Paul had a mixed metaphor is because they misunderstood the story, in my opinion. I think it’s very simple. The law’s the law not the husband. The husband, the husband. The wife, the wife.
If the woman is us, who’s the husband? Let’s keep going back to six and five contextually. In the book of Romans, he’s already said that you sinned when Adam sinned. You were born into sin. And so you are in Adam’s race. All of us are red and yellow, black and white. Racism is a lie. We’re all human race. We’re all children of Adam. We’re just different colors because God likes variety and so we’re all under Adam. And here’s the bad news about being under Adam. He and Eve were born and slaves to sin and we were born with Adam.
This is the new illustration. Marriage as our husband. I know it’s weird, but he’s using this illustration. Remember how I told you this illustration works better towards Christ, whereas the prior illustration of slavery works better towards slavery or towards sin. I think that’s what Paul, under the inspiration, whispered to give us two illustrations to help us really get this spiritual truth.
Okay, so the husband that we are born under we are bound to him. Look at it verse two, “2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.” A married woman is bound, tied. Have you ever seen where, in the marriage ceremony, they take the husband and wife and they tie like a ribbon or something around them, symbolically saying they’re joined together. So here, that we are bound, kind of goes back to chapter six. This idea of being tied together seems almost like slavery, like the law binds you to one another. The law of marriage says you’re bound like that. And so, for a married woman, she is bound by law to her husband while he lives. But if her husband dies, she’s released and the cord is cut. Then, she’s a single woman, as the law says. She’s free to marry who she wants to now, according to the law. A married woman is bound by law. The law says, as long as your husband’s alive, you need to stay with them. But if your husband dies, you are released from the law of marriage accordingly. Now, Paul is going to start working it out. She will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man. So if she goes and moves in with another man while her husband’s still alive, the law calls her a name . What name? Adulteress. That’s how the law works, because the law cannot encourage. It cannot empower. It can only condemn, and so it calls her an adulteress because she’s living with another man.
Let me back up for a second and tell you about the law again. Don’t you know about the law, brothers and sisters?Don’t you know? But let me tell you about the law. So you are driving down the road and the state speed limit says 70. When you’re driving down the road, does it reach into your car and control your car so that it doesn’t exceed 70? No, it does not. Does it encourage you, coming over the radio, and as you drive by at 69 miles an hour, it announces, “way to go, brothers and sisters. I encourage you now in the name of the law that you’re not exceeding the speed limit.” No, it doesn’t encourage . It doesn’t empower. But here’s what it does do. It will turn on blue lights and pull you over. If you exceed 70 it will condemn you with a speeding ticket. That’s what the law is really good at. It does not empower. It does not encourage, but will call your name. It will condemn you with the name of sinner. That’s what the law does.
And so all of us once were under Adam. We were all once adulterers, fornicators, thieves, dirty trash mouths… you just go through the list. We’re no longer under law because the law is good at keeping boundaries. It’s good at catching you when you’re wrong, but it can’t empower and it can’t encourage. It calls you an adulteress or an adulterer if you break the marriage law, that’s just what law does. But if her husband dies, I’m still in verse three, she is free from the law. If she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. This is an illustration not for marriage, necessarily. Let’s apply it to spiritual things. Verse four says, “4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, 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.” Don’t you know the law? Let me give you an example of a law. Here’s the law of marriage. And then here’s how the law of marriage works. He’s just reminded us because you should know this. This is how the law of marriage works. Likewise, and he’s coming back in a little. Let me apply it to spirituals things. Let’s go back to the under grace or under law, which is better. And he’s going to apply it now . He says for you to listen to this, you believers, you, my brothers and sisters. You believe it and you also have died to the law through the body of Christ.
Okay, so if we’re the woman and the laws the law with a written or conscience, the law’s the law. The husband was Adam because we’re born under Adam. But when Christ died on the cross, he took a body. He took a body. He was born to the Virgin Mary. He came down from heaven. He took a body. John, chapter one, verse 14, “ And the word became flesh…” He took a body. He took a body just like Adam and Eve. He became Adam the Bible says. He, who knew no sin, became sin. He became Adam. He’s the second Adam on the cross. Adam died in Christ, and so did you by faith? If you believe in the Lord Jesus, you died. And so when you died with Christ by faith, you died from under the law. So the law is no longer over you.
Here’s what Paul is saying; it’s a spiritual truth. He says, because this is a spiritual truth. Back in chapter 6, verse 19 he way trying to use natural things to help us understand spirituals things. He told us about slavery. He’s using marriage as an illustration that the old nature, the Adam nature died with Christ on the cross . Now that law was there over that. But it’s no longer over you because you have a new husband. You have a new husband, and so Christ died in your place.
Paul is talking about it in Galatians 2:19-20 (NLT) “19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Paul is describing a mystery, a difficult thing to understand, perhaps as a concept, but by faith we accept this. When Christ came, the reason, he says in verse four, “4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ.” He died a physical death because that was required. He was physically abused, tortured and murdered, executed on a cross, the body of Christ.
Last Sunday, we had a baptism service. We say, “do you confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? The person being baptized says, ”I do.” Why do we have them say, “I do?” It reflects back to this imagery that we now are married to Christ, that we have a new head. And so the person says, “I do.” And then we say, “on the basis of that confession, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Symbolically, the old life dies and is buried. And then, as we raise them out of the water, we say, “risen to new life in Christ, Jesus, our Lord.” This is a picture of this reality that Paul’s describing that we die now.
We understand the three players, the woman is us. The law’s the law. The husband is either the former husband who died or the new husband who’s risen. Adam or Christ. Here’s an even deeper thing to get a hold of that we’ve been talking about: when the old man died by faith, we died. So Christianity is not a self help movement. It’s not a rehab. We can’t paint some things and fix up a few things and turn it over. We can’t tear the whole thing down and start over. The old life dies with Christ in the new life, which leads us to the second reason that Paul begins to talk about. We are raised with Christ so that we belong to him.
Let’s look at the second reason. We’ve said (1) because we have died to the law with Christ. And now, as we’re looking in the latter part of verse four, we can say, (2) we now belong to the Risen Christ. We were bound; as we saw back in verse two, by the law to Adam. We were tied to him, born under him. So we’re born with a sin nature. We’ve got the bends; we are bent towards sin. Instead of being bent towards righteousness, we tend to do the wrong things. the Even if we want to do the right thing, we often do the wrong thing. We’re on that next week; Paul gets into that in chapter seven. But here he uses the word “belong” in verse four, “4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, 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.” Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ. That’s called a purpose clause in the Greek. You died so that you can have life; you had to die to sin. And you had to identify with Christ’s death as your death so that you may belong to another husband. Who’s the other husband? That’s Christ! So you died with the one who died. But you live with the one who has raised; you have a new husband. It’s the risen Lord Jesus. This is imagery. This is an illustration. The lady’s are all about this right now that we get married to Jesus. Amen. The guys are thinking it’s a little strange. Gary, it’s stretching me a little bit with this illustration. Hopefully it’s helpful to you. He’s given us a metaphor that says the oneness that we are invited into is that the two shall become one. Paul tells us this in Ephesians, chapter five, and it’s a mystery. I’m talking about Christ and the church when he was talking about husband and wives, that the two shall become one all the way back from Genesis, because wait a minute, this is a mystery. I’m actually also talking about Christ in the church, and we’re the church where the bride, he’s the groom, He’s the husband, we are the bride, we are the wife. And so there’s so much imagery in the Bible that the men love, l right ladies? So, guys, you’ve got to get over this one because the women love this one. And that’s why the Bible gives us so many different images to help us understand. Because here’s what he’s trying to say: Christ in me and me in Christ. This is a new way of living; this is a new way of life. It is not about external stone tablets or an external speed limit sign on the side of the road. It’s about Christ lives in me and I belong to him.
Which word sounds better to you, bound or belong? Which one do you like better? I like belong; it’s better. The law binds you, but Jesus says you belong to me. You see that in verse four? You belong to another. Who’s the other to him? Who’s him? The one who has been raised from the debt. That’s who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the Risen Lord Jesus who says, “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” You belong to me and I belong to you. That’s better. That’s better than law. That’s grace. Paul’s proving a point. It’s better to be under grace than it is to be under law .
My wife and I celebrated 40 years on June 2nd of this year. We were married on June 2, 1979. I didn’t get to do the big thing I planned. I didn’t know if it was gonna be a cruise or some exotic location. Instead, the only time we could go on the mission trip to Uganda just happened to be in early June. And I said, “Honey, are you gonna leave me or stay with me if I take you on a mission trip and just wear both of us out in an African country.” She says, “Honey, I promised to follow you and go wherever you go.” Now I have a big, “I owe you” to her. But we celebrated the way we said, We’re serving the Lord. That’s how we celebrated. But I still owe her because I love her. If she were sitting here , she’d say he doesn’t owe me. But let me just say I feel the debt of love and it’s better than law now we haven’t stayed together because of any law. There’s marriage laws that hasn’t kept us together for 40 years. I love her and she loves me. She belongs to me. Don’t even test that or you’ll get hurt. I know I look old. I still got a good right arm. The rest of me is falling apart, but don’t mess with this booger over here. She belongs to me, and I belong to her.
In the picture of marriage, from the Book of Genesis through the Book of Revelation, it is often pointed to as this deeper mystery that God loves us. He loves us so much that Jesus would surrender his body for us so he could buy us back. And yet, we sit here and sometimes wonder if he’s against us or somehow he’s making our lives miserable. He has held nothing back. He loves us. He loves us and he wants us to belong to him.
I like belong a lot better than bound. We were bound to sin and to Adam. Now, if you believe in Jesus, you’ve been set free and that old husband is dead and you are alive with the Risen Lord Jesus and you belong to him and he belongs to you. The two have become one. As Jesus told us, in a hint of his prayer in John, chapter 17, he prayed to the father, “21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” That’s his prayer. I believe the father is going to answer Christ’s prayer. Don’t you believe that? That we would be one with God and God one with us through Jesus? We belong.
Ray Stedman talks about this. He also talks about this prayer and this fruit because it says we’re raised from that in order that we may bear fruit for God. And so what’s that fruit look like? He kind of touches on it. When I hear that word fruit, I kind of think of John, chapter 15, where Jesus said that He is the vine. You’re the branches are the father’s the vine dresser. If you abide in me, you’ll bear fruit. You will bear much fruit. If you don’t abide in me, you can’t do anything . You won’t bear any fruit. So it’s kind of like if you belong to me and I belong to you, you’ll bear spiritual fruit. Listen to Ray Stedman talk about this. “The Law has nothing to say to us anymore. We are free to be married to another. Who is this? It is Christ risen. Our first husband is Christ crucified; our second husband is Christ risen from the dead. We now share his name. We share his power. We share his experiences. We share his position, his glory, his hope, his dreams––all that he is, we now share! We are married to Christ, risen from the dead. The Law, therefore, has nothing to say to us. Isn’t that clear?” Thanks. Stedman gets it. He nails it. We are no longer under the law. We don’t need to be judgmental because we’re not rule keepers anymore. We’re lovers of Christ and we share the gospel out of love for others that he desires to belong to him as well.
The invitation is to come. It’s not to fix, to work, to clean it up. The invitation is to come just as you are and be forever changed by the love of Jesus. And so we invite people into this relationship. The beauty of this illustration is that we are called into a love relationship. You see in first Corinthians, chapter 15, Paul works this out again. We once belonged to Adam, but now we belong to Christ! 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 (NLT) “ 21 So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. 22 Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life.”
This is the best way to study the Bible, by the way, to let the Bible speak for itself. Look for context. If you get stuck in a passage, look at the surrounding area and let it inform you. Okay, who’s that first husband? Who’s that second husband? Well, here he is in first Corinthians, explaining it to us and then in Ephesians, as I’ve referred to before, I would remind you Here’s what he says, Ephesians 5:23 (ESV) “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” So Christ is our new head. We belong to him and he belongs to us. We used to have a name in the law; it was a sin name. Do you remember it? It was liar, thief, homosexual, adulterer, ? fornicator , lover of pornography, alcoholic, drug addict. What’s the name the law gave you? But you have a new name now if you belong to Jesus. You’re no longer under that name anymore because the law no longer has the power to name you anything because you’re dead to the law now and you’re alive in Christ. He has a new name for you. Do you know it? Lean in and listen. Here’s a new name for you: beloved, child of God, saint, holy one, righteousness of God, bride of Christ. Oh, he loves you. He’s got a new name for you. Find the one that fits; all of it belongs to you. Which one do you like the best? You belong to him. Have you said I do not out of law but out of love to Jesus?
Here’s the third reason. (3) Because we are indwelled by the spirit of Christ. It means the spirit lives in us. When we receive Jesus, he comes and lives in us. We are on verses five and six. Now, in verse five, he backtracks a little bit and reminds us that he’s still answering this question about law or grace, which is better. And he goes back in verse five and he works out a little bit, reminding us why the law is actually counterproductive to stopping the sin problem. Listen, you that think you need to be a law keeper now is it not helpful? It’s actually making your sin problem worse. Look at verse five, “5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” For while we were living in the flesh, that means under the old nature you’re still under. Adam was still your husband. Sin nature, “flesh,” is a symbol word. It’s a word that describes the sin nature while we were still living in the flesh. Our sinful passions, in other words, those desires that started out God given but now they’re twisted by sin and aroused by the law.
In other words, you already had some simple desires and passions. And then you see the law and it makes it worse, not better. How is that? Come on now, Gary, it seems like the speed limit law would keep me from speeding. No, what happens is people like me, who know police officers, say, “Now, tell me the truth; how fast can I actually go before I actually get hit for a ticket?” Here’s what the law actually does. It invites us to see how much we can get by without getting caught. There is a number that they will let you get away with over a speed limit. I’m not going to share it because I will then be lending myself, as a preacher, to your sin. So I’m not gonna tell you. Some of you are gonna line up later to ask. I’m not telling you, but I have a sin problem. I’m a safe person, but I still can occasionally sin. I don’t know what it is about my right foot. It’s much heavier than my left foot. I need to work on that. I confess it’s a confessional moment for me. There’s something about the law.
Have you ever seen a three year old; have you ever raised one at your house? Or maybe you’ve been near a three year old. You say to them, “Do not touch.” The minute you say, “Do not touch,” the child goes to that because the law now arouses in them a desire they may not have even had. They were just going towards something you said but were told, “Don’t touch that.” Now they must touch it. They must, because there’s a sin nature inside.
If you’ve been coming here for a while , you know, I like to throw my family members under the bridge. I’ll start with Stephen, my eldest. He was about three or four years old. I had a thing called a turntable. I understand that they’re coming back. I read recently that that vinyl sales outdid CD sales in 2018. Can you believe it? The millennials are all retro now. They all want a turntable. Anyways, I had a very expensive turntable. The young people are wondering what’s he talking about. This was cool. Trust me. It was balanced. You could dance in the room and it would not skip the record, because it was balanced and it was had a weight on the back of the of the needle. I had a very expensive turntable. I had albums that I would clean with a disc cleaner. Then I had a three year old who’s got peanut butter all over him and just waddling through the house and his footy pajamas. His name was Stephen. You know him? He could not keep his hands off the needle. He would see it moving across and he could just barely reach it. I would say, “Don’t you touch it.” He would look at me; I would walk out of the room for a minute to get something. I would hear where the needle would go across the record; he would break the needle. He broke so many needles. I started buying them in bulk. But Stephen couldn’t help himself. That was Combs child, #1. Then, we had #2; this was Jonathan. I had just bought a Mitsubishi four track VHS player. It had a little door that opened. Jonathan comes in with an old sloppy peanut butter and jelly sandwich and he looks at the door. Then, he looks at the sandwich. That was the end of the Mitsubishi four track. You just can’t get peanut butter and jelly out of there.
This is what Paul is talking about. I don’t need to argue with you about this. I hope you’re convinced the law does not keep you from sinning . It actually arouses the desire to the law’s good. Paul’s gonna talk about that later. The law is not bad. It just can’t do what you think it can do. It can’t save you, and it can’t keep you from sinning. Only grace can save you. And only belonging to Christ by grace gives you a desire to stop sinning. You get a new desire.
John Stott says, as he was studying this passage, “Why do we serve? Not because the law is our master and we have to, but because Christ is our husband and we want to. Not because obedience leads to salvation, but because salvation leads to obedience. And how do we serve? We serve in the new way of the Spirit (6). For the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the distinguishing characteristic of the new life in Christ.” This is what he’s talking about now in verse six. Verse 1 through 5 took us backwards a little bit and reminded us that the law leads to death because it can’t save us from sin. Sin brings death and the law arouses our sinful passions, which just causes us to be condemned. The law condemns us to death in verse six.
I like, however, how verse six starts. “But now;” I’m glad verse six is here. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” We are released from the law, set free the bonds, the bound is cut free and now we belong. We have died, having died to that which held us captive, the former nature, the old nature. We’re no longer under that nature, and we’re no longer under law so that (here comes another purpose clause) we are set free so that we serve now. He’s kind of going back to his earliest illustration. He’s combining their slavery and the marriage illustrations. He’s bringing them all to a point down in verse six. We serve in the new way, not as slaves, but as belonging in Oneness with Christ. We serve in the new way of the spirit. This is the spirit of Christ; the Holy Spirit. Christ in you and you in Christ. You serve in a new way; that Greek word ( ), which means serve. It often implies worship. You worship in a new way, not according to the written code, which is the old way, which is the Old Testament. You now live by the new way the new covenant, which is the way of the spirit. The spirit lives in you because you’ve said “I do” to Christ. The new way of the spirit was prophesied in many places. The prophet Jeremiah announced it like this, He said, Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” He says that there’s coming a day, told through Jeremiah, where I will write it on their hearts. It’ll be internalized. He has prophesied that this will come.
Then, Paul talks about this in second Corinthians, and says that Christ is the fulfillment of this Old Testament prophecy. He says, in 2 Corinthians 3:3,6 (NLT) “3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. … 6 He has enabled us to be ministers of his new covenant. This is a covenant not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.” Not stone tablets, but this, the word of God lives in us because Christ is the living word of God and by his spirit he lives in us and we live in him and we have new desires.
Do we still sin as believers? Yes. But we will not live in it. We will not. A pig returns to the pigpen. But we have been changed. We have a new name. It was the the prodigal son, who said, “ I’m going to my father’s house. I don’t have to live down here with the pigs. I’ll just be a servant of his.” And so the father gives back. He’s his father. “I’m not worthy. I’m not worthy to be a son. Let me be a servant.” And the father runs to him, he puts a robe around him, he kisses him, he hugs him, he puts a ring on his finger and he declares a banquet.” That’s God who is waiting for you. He’s waiting for you to say, “I want to belong to you. I want to come to you. I want to trust you with my life in this new way of living.” This new way, called Christianity, is Christ in you. It’s not about rules and regulations. It’s about a new you; Christ in you and you in Christ.
Now, remember when I was talking to you when we opened. Are you still trying to be a good person? Are you still trying to live under some rules and regulations? It’s not gonna work. Some of you want to come to God but you want to get some things right first. You’re not ready yet because you are a mess. Trust me, you’ll never fix it. You’ll never get it right. The minute you get that sort of arranged, it will fly apart on you. So just invite Jesus to come over and let him in every room of your house and just say, “I need help. Help me. Help me, Lord.” He’s ready. He wants you to belong to him. He died for you. And if so, if you’re that person, just surrender and say “I do.”
If you’re the person who said “I do,” don’t try going back to your old husband. Don’t try going back to under the law living. It’s not as good. It’s not even close. Live by grace; live free, set free. You belong to Jesus and he belongs to you. All he has is yours and be ready to say, “ All I have is his. Every area of my life I turn over to him because I love him. He loves me.”
Let’s pray. Lord, I pray, first of all, for the one that’s here today that would surrender their life to you as Lord and Savior. Is that you, my friend? The Holy Spirit is stirring hearts now; that’s what is happening. You’re feeling that now. That’s the Lord; he desires to save you. Stop running. Stop trying to live by your own power. Right where you are, you can pray with me. Prayer is a way of expressing your faith. Dear Lord Jesus,right where you are. Dear Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. You’re just admitting that the law’s called you some bad names. I’m a sinner, but I believe you died on the cross. You died for my sins. I believe that. And I believe that after three days you were raised from the dead and that you live today. Come and live in me. Forgive me of my sin. Make me a child of God. I say, “I do,” to you. Jesus. If you’re doing that right now. The Lord is ready and willing. He died for you. He loves you. It’s time to start a new way of life. Others are here today. And you’ve given your life to Jesus. But then you started rule keeping, and it’s just beating you down. It’s causing you to be judgmental of others. You’re comparing yourself to others. This is not the new way. This is the old way of death and condemnation. Would you confess that right now and say, Lord, thank you for saving me. And now, Lord, help me to live under grace and not under rule keeping not under law. I want to live by your spirit. Fill me afresh, holy spirit that I would live by you in Jesus name. Amen.