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Dead to the Law, Fruitful for God, Part 1 (Romans Sermon 41 of 120)

Dead to the Law, Fruitful for God, Part 1 (Romans Sermon 41 of 120)

September 23, 2001 | Andrew Davis
The Law of God, Fullness in Christ

I. Sinai’s Bondage, Calvary’s Freedom

I would like to ask, if you would, that you take your Bibles and open to Romans chapter 7. You've already heard it read earlier, but now we have a chance to look at it a little more carefully. As we turn to Romans 7, we're turning to a most remarkable chapter in the Book of Romans, a chapter that is, in some cases, greatly controverted. People have different opinions and views about what it's teaching. But the topic is clear, and the topic is the relationship of the law to the Christian. The limits and the purpose of the law in the Christian life, and that's what we're facing. But what is this law, the Law of Moses that we are facing? It was given on a dreadful day so long ago at Mount Sinai. The description's given in Exodus 19.

It says there, "On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain, and so Moses went up."

That is the description of the day that the law was given, and what a dreadful scene it was. It says in Hebrews chapter 12 that Moses was so afraid that he shook with fear. He trembled with fear though he was a righteous man. And the thing that's so difficult perhaps for us to understand in redemptive history is we see God moving His people out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm out of Egypt, out of bondage, an act of grace and goodness, and brings them through the Red Sea and destroys all their enemies and then gently and carefully provides for them in the desert. God moving and saving His people… Why this? Why does He bring them to Sinai and give them this law? What is the purpose of the Law of Moses? We know that God doesn't speak lightly, He doesn't revoke His words.

And so, how does the law relate to us today as Christians? Jesus said, "Heaven and earth would pass away, but not the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen would, by any means, pass away from the law until everything was fulfilled." That's how serious the law was to Jesus Christ. And so, it really is in the Cross of Jesus Christ, in the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that we as Christians come to understand the law. Because there was another dreadful day, not just that one at Sinai, but another one, the one at Mount Calvary, where Jesus gave His life for us. It was the law that killed Him. It was the Law of God that put Him to death. Jesus died under the penalty, under the curse of the law that we might have eternal life.

II. Context: A Very Famous Chapter!

How Are We to Understand the Law?

Now, as we come to Romans, we're trying to understand this teaching of justification by faith, apart from the law. We are made right with God. We stand before God holy and blameless in His sight, simply because of faith in Jesus Christ and the righteousness that has been given us through that faith. An accomplishment of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, completely apart from works of the law. It's a free gift of God's grace. It says at the end of Romans chapter 5 that the law came in alongside, or the law was added, "so that the trespass might increase, but where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." So we have the triumph, the ultimate triumph of grace in the life of a believer in Jesus Christ. But what is this law that was brought in alongside? What is the purpose of the law? What are the limits of the law for a Christian? How shall we understand this timeless law that was given to us?

Now, as we look at Romans 7 and look across it, we're going to come into some rough waters. It's going to be difficult to understand. The whole second half of Romans 7 is one of the most controversial texts in all the Bible. When Paul as the apostle speaking there and saying, "I don't understand what I do. I'm a slave to this law of sin inside me, and I wrestle, and I struggle, and I fight with sin." Every one of us as a true Christian, can resonate with that, can't we? We can say, "Yes, I feel that struggle within me. My reach exceeds my grasp. I see more clearly the holiness of God that He expects in my life, but I just can't live up to it, and so I wrestle with it. And in my mind, I delight in the law of God, but I can't seem to live up to it."

We can say that, but what did Paul mean by saying it? Was Paul speaking as an unbeliever before he was a Christian, or was he speaking as a believer? And we are not even going to settle that or even touch on it today; I'm just telling you what's coming. But it's the topic of how the law relates to the Christian. How shall we understand these things? And then even deeper, the question is, if the law produces death in us, is the law evil? Is it an enemy? Is it something vicious? Or is it good and holy and righteous? How shall we understand the law itself, and why did God give it, and how shall we live accordingly?

So Paul is dealing with this struggle. He's dealing with this issue, and he's dealing with it very personally from self, because everywhere he went, there were zealous Jews that pursued him and attacked him saying he was overthrowing the Law of Moses. That he was teaching false doctrines, because God had given us this law and as Jews, we had constantly gotten into trouble by disobeying the law. That's why we were exiled to Babylon in the first place, and now we've come back, and we're trying our best to follow this law. We're trying to walk in it and we're trying to live according to it. We know we don't do it the way we should, but we're supposed to try and walk, aren't we? And along comes this apostle, Paul, telling us of this whole new, it seems, faith that doesn't line up with our understanding of the law. Paul is uprooting and overturning the Law of Moses.

Now, this was a very big issue, wasn't it? If you look at the life of Jesus Christ, were there not many attacks made on Him in the line of what is lawful and what is not? They would come and they would ask Jesus, "Is it lawful for you to heal on the Sabbath?" And Jesus would have to answer this question. "Is it lawful for your disciples to not wash their hands before they eat?" And Jesus would have to answer that question. "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" And Jesus would have to answer that question. Jesus was dealing with people, the Jews who were very concerned about the laws, specifically the Scribes and the Pharisees, very concerned about matters of the law to the point that they would give a tenth of their spices, counting out the mint and the dill and the cumin, the leaves, and count them out. That's how careful they were about the law. And along comes Jesus, and He's got to say in the Sermon on the Mount, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the law. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill. Until Heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter or least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished." Jesus had to say that, because they were misunderstanding Him. And so they also misunderstood Paul.

Attacks on Paul and His Doctrine

In Acts 21:27-28, it says, "Some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, 'Men of Israel, help us. This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against our people and against our law and against this place,'" the temple. So that was the charge against Paul, that he was overthrowing the law, and it was on that charge that he was arrested and eventually brought to Rome. And so Paul has to deal with this. And as you look at his doctrine, it almost seems that he's open to that charge, isn't it? If you look through the first five chapters of Romans, you begin to see a certain pattern in the way that Paul deals with the law. I already mentioned Romans 5:20 in which he says that the law was laid on aside, it was added so that the trespass might increase.  So, it seems almost like he's saying it's some additional thing. Seems to be undermining the law there.

In Romans 3:28, he says very plainly, "We maintain that a man is justified by faith, apart from observing the law." So the law doesn't do anything to get you saved. When it comes to justification, it's not works of the law that justifies you. Earlier, he said, "By the law will no one be justified." Nobody is going to be justified by the law. And then in Romans 4, Paul proves that Abraham was justified while he was still uncircumcised. His circumcision, the symbol of law-keeping, represented in Abraham a submission to the law, but it came later. But Paul proves that Abraham was justified while he was still uncircumcised. The law literally had nothing to do with his justification.

And yet Paul says in Romans 3:31, "Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all, rather, we uphold the law." How can this be? How, Paul, can you say that you uphold the law when you're saying all of these other things about it? And that is the question that Paul is seeking to address in Romans 7. Now, we've already seen in Romans chapter 6 that he's dealing with the question about justification by faith, remember that. The idea is if we're saved by grace, if works of the law have nothing to do with our justification, then doesn't it logically follow that we can live any way we want?

This past week, I had the opportunity to speak with a church member and somebody that he knew who needed salvation. And as we had a discussion and we were talking about things and explaining the Gospel, and this is a person who is well familiar with Christianity, but as we had that opportunity, he came to understand justification by grace, through faith and Jesus Christ alone, apart from works of the law. And you know what said? He said to me, "Well, if what you're saying is true, doesn't that mean we can live any way we want?" I felt such happiness in my heart, I said, "I know we're on the right track! We're not teaching a morality here. We're not teaching a bunch of good works. We're teaching something we receive humbly by faith as a gift." So we're on the right track, but it needs to be answered, doesn't it? We've all seen people who claim things and they claim to be Christians and they live any way they please, and our nation is rife with it. We're struggling with it, aren't we? We're supposed to be a Christian nation and look. So we're wrestling with it, and so Paul has to be deal with it.

Not Under the Law, Not Lawless Lives Either

And the beauty of the Gospel is that, yes, the question is raised naturally from the doctrine, but the doctrine also answers the question, too. Because it's not simply forgiveness of sins that we receive from God, isn't it? Is it not eternal life we get from Him? And as we receive this full-blooded gift of eternal life, it really is a complete union with Jesus Christ by faith. We are united with Him in His death. We are also united with Him in his resurrection. And that answers everything, doesn't it? He says, "We can't go on sinning, we died to sin. How can we live in it any longer?" And he says also, most provocatively in 6:14, you can look at there. He says, "Sin shall not be your master, because you're not under law but under grace." Wow, what a statement. We're not under law? We're not under law anymore? Doesn't that lead to the same conclusion? We can run amok. There's no law over us anymore, we can live any way we choose.

Well, the answer is in the second half, say, "No, actually you're going to show who your master is by how you live," and he talks about this, "Wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life," but there's still the question about the law hanging out there, isn't it? How can it be that if we're not under law, we're not going to live lawless lives? It doesn't seem to make any sense.

III. ‘Till Death Do You Part: The Law’s Jurisdiction Limited By Death (verses 1-3)

And so he needs to explain that, and that's what he's doing here in Romans 7. And he does it initially here with this analogy of marriage. He brings up this analogy of marriage. In effect, he's saying, the principle is this, that you are under law only as long as you live. But the moment you die, you're free from the requirements or the jurisdiction of the law. And he uses the marriage analogy to teach that. In effect, he's saying, "'til death do you part," right? And so we're kind of united to the law until we die. And when we die, we're free from the jurisdiction of the law. Look at verse 1, Romans 7:1. He says, "Do you not know, brothers, from speaking to men who know the law, that the law has authority over men only as long as he lives?"

It's beautiful how he continues to teach sanctification the same way. Look at the first few words of this chapter, what does it say? "Do you not know?" How does Paul work on sanctification? Through the mind, through doctrine, applied by the power of the Holy Spirit. He's changing, he's working on your thinking. And he's drawing, in this case, something that we all know, that the law has jurisdiction over living people, not dead people. Makes sense, doesn't it? It has jurisdiction over the living, not over the dead. So he's speaking to an audience who knows the law, we don't know whether at this point, he's saying, "Now you as Romans, you're famous throughout the world for your knowledge of the law. You are law-keepers, you are law-abiders, and you know Roman law," or he could be speaking to Roman Jewish Christians at this point, and he's speaking of the Law of Moses, we don't really know. But he's speaking of a general principle about law that only has authority or jurisdiction over the living, not over the dead.

The Jurisdiction of the Law

Now the Greek here says... Or the original language says, "to lord it over," The law has jurisdiction over, or "lords it over, "only the living, not the dead." What is the nature of the laws lording it over? What is the nature of its jurisdiction? Well, there is maybe two senses of it. One is the authority to rule behavior, to guide you in your daily life, the way you live your life every day. And also the authority to condemn misbehavior. In other words, it enjoins that you should do these things and not do these things. And then there are penalties, there are covenant curses that come for disobedience. It has an authority to condemn misbehavior. James 2:10 says, "Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." So the law has the authority to stand over us and judge us. And ultimately, if you take that out to its extreme, the law has the authority to condemn you eternally and send you to Hell. It is the law that stands on Judgment Day against us. If its precepts and if our transgressions in reference to the law are not dealt with, we will be condemned by the law. And so the law stands opposed to us, it seems, and against us and threatens us with eternal harm.

Now, the principle that the law stands in jurisdiction over only living makes sense. You remember at the time of the assassination of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended for that and all the signs of law pointed toward him, that he's the one that did it, right? But you remember what happened in the intervening days, he was being held for trial and Jack Ruby came in and shot him dead. And that explains why there was never a trial in the case of the assassination of President Kennedy. Because the law stands over and judges only the living. Once the person's dead, there's nothing more a law can do. Case closed, he's dead. But why does Paul reach for marriage as an illustration of this point? Well, marriage is a legally binding covenant. Look what he says in verse 2 and 3, "For example," and that's what he's giving us, an example, the illustration of marriage, "by law, a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man."

Now, Paul is not, here, giving us a treatise on marriage per se, but he does hold up marriage as a lasting, 'til-death-do-you-part, binding covenant. Other than death, the only way to get out of marriage is sin. You look in all the scriptures and you find that that's true, the only way to end a marriage is sin. A partner abandons one or commits adultery or something like... But that's the only way to end a marriage other than death. But death is a sinless way to end a marriage. And so, the two, the couple, are bound together as long as they're alive, but as soon as they die, that covenant is ended. And that's what he's getting at, death terminates the relationship to the law. Prior to death, there was a certain restriction by the law. After death, no restriction in this matter, and the woman is free to remarry.

IV. The Principle Applied Spiritually: Death to Law, Marriage to Christ (verses 4)

So then he applies the principle spiritually in verse 4. Look at it, it says, "So also," or in the same way, "my brothers, you die to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who is raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God." This is an amazing thing. And this is only the first week we're going to be looking at these verses. Beause in effect, he brings over the marriage analogy and applies it to us spiritually.

We were, in effect, married to the law. There was a convenantly binding relationship between us and the law. In reference to the Jews, certainly. The Jews were convenantly bound together to that law. They had promised that they would obey. They had covenant submission ceremonies in which they promised they would submit and they would obey. They're bound to the law. Okay. But one of those partners has died, and it isn't the law, is it? It's very interesting how he changes it. In the one sense, you've got the woman and the husband. If the husband dies, she's free to remarry. But we can't say that the law died, can we? The law is going to last to the end. To Judgment Day, the law will stand. So who is it that died? We did. We died. And we rose again. So we're able to remarry. It's the law, isn't it? There's nothing like it in all history. We can never say a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if she dies, she's free to remarry if she's resurrected from the dead. But that's in effect what's going on here. We were bound to the law until we died. And when did we die? When we had faith in Jesus Christ. We trusted in Jesus Christ, and at that moment, we died to the law. Isn't that wonderful? Through the body of Jesus Christ.

You Died to the Law

Now what does this mean, that we died to the law? Well, you look at the historical doctrines. "We died to the law through the body of Christ in order that we might belong to another, to Him who is raised from the dead." Look at all the doctrine there. Where did Christ's body come from? From the incarnation. He took on a human body that He might walk under the law. We'll talk about that more in a minute. But then He died. The crucifixion is in view here, and also His resurrection in view. These historical doctrines are the foundation of the way we live our lives now, and they answer the question of how we will relate to the law. Our union with Christ means that we're dead to the law. Free forever from its condemnation.

Now, how does Christ's body produce our death to the law? Let's try to understand this. One of the things I fear, as we are explaining the Gospel, that we see in the cross of Jesus Christ the love of God, but not the justice of God. But both the love of God and the justice of God are equally displayed in the cross of Jesus Christ. We could say God loved us in such a way or to such an extent that He did not want us to go to Hell but sent His son to die in our place, and all of that would be true. God, therefore, was displaying His love and that He was saving us from going to Hell and bringing us into Heaven. And that is true. But we could also say God loved His law so much that He had His son die under His wrath rather than simply to allow sinners into Heaven with the laws just as undealt with. That's how much He loved his law. He would rather have His son die under His wrath than let us sin and the law's demands not being met.

Our God is a good judge, is He not? Think, if you will, of a judge in some district court somewhere, who is known far and wide as a good man. He's a very good man, very kindly, kind of like a kindly grandfather type. And every criminal brought to the bar of his justice, he sends them home free with a bag of cookies, because he's a loving man, and he does not want them to have to suffer in prison. They have families. They have, well, friends at least, who will love them. And so every criminal, every murderer, every rapist, every thief who's brought before him, he sends them home with a gift and with love. Now we might call him a good man, but would we call him a good judge? How long do you think he'd last as a judge? Longer now than 50 years ago, maybe.

I think he'd be pulled because he's not a good judge. Isn't it shocking how we think of God that way on Judgment Day? Isn't that scary? That God is that kind of a judge? All of the law's demands unmet and yet, "Come on in. Enjoy the feast, have a good time in Heaven." How can this be? No, He must uphold His law. And so He sends His son. And what does it say of Jesus? He was born under the law. Galatians 4:4 and 5, "When the time had fully come, God sent His son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." Jesus, born under the law, and He perfectly obeyed the law. Every jot and tittle, every little command and every big one, He obeyed it all perfectly. Perfect righteousness rendered. Active righteousness rendered to God. And by the way, it's that active righteousness of Jesus Christ that saves you. Because all of that righteousness is put together in a beautiful robe of righteousness and laid on your shoulders the moment you trust in Christ. And on the basis of that, you're justified, declared not guilty. But that active righteousness is a submission to the law, wasn't it?

Did He not submit to the law every day of His life? He's a law-abiding Jew. But then finally, He received the guilt of the sins of all of His people, for everyone from all history who'd ever trust in Him in faith.  He became, it says, "a curse for us." It says in Galatians 3, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. For it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" This was the very stumbling block that Paul could not get past. He said, "How can somebody under a curse be God's anointed Messiah? It's impossible." But then he understood substitution, that Jesus was under a curse for us, because we're the ones that broke the law. And so the same curse, namely, cursed is everyone who does not continue to do every single little thing in the law. We're under a curse, too, aren't we? And Jesus came and took our curse away. You can't be saved by law-abiding. Your righteousness will not save you. You cannot perfectly obey the law of God. Have any of you ever coveted? Really wanted something that wasn't yours? Have any of you dishonored your parents? Maybe you're through with that phase and now you render perfect honor and obedience to your parents.

But we cannot stand up before the law of God, can we? And Jesus came and took our curse away from us. And all of this so that God could be just and also justify of those who have faith in Jesus. It says in Colossians 2, "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code with its regulations that was against us and that stood opposed to us. He took it away, nailing it to the cross." Praise God for that. The law of God, with all of its regulations, stood opposed to us, and He dealt with the wrath of God, the penalty that we deserve for breaking that law, by dying on a cross. Oh, the goodness and the love and the mercy of Jesus Christ. And God did it, it says in Romans 3, "that He might be both at the same time just and also justifier of those who have faith in Jesus Christ." He is fair, He is just and you go to Heaven. Isn't that beautiful? Praise God for that. God is absolutely zealous that not one word of His law fall to the ground undealt with, but He dealt with it through His son. The value, the infinite value, of the blood of Jesus Christ, and that all of the regulations were met there.

So What Does “Dead to the Law” Mean?

So then, brothers and sisters, what then does dead to the law mean? What does it mean that we die to the law? Well, first, what it does not mean is that we don't care anymore about the law. Jesus said in Matthew 5:19, "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven." So we're not just dispensing with the law, we don't think about it anymore. Paul upholds the law. Romans 3:31, he says, "Do we nullify the law by this faith? Not at all. Rather, we uphold the law." And in Romans 13, he's going to say this, "Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another. For he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not covet,' and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no harm to its neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law." And he's writing that to Christians. He expects that you will walk in that way.

And so what happens is legality is removed, and what gets put in its place? Love. Love for God, and love for neighbor, and love perfectly fulfills the law. So, dead to the law doesn't mean we have no concern whatsoever about the law. Think about the 10 Commandments, can we have as many gods as we like now? Are we free to make idols now? Can we dishonor our parents now? Can we murder and steal now? Can we lie under oath now? Can we covet as much as we like? That's negative. How about positively? We don't have to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, do we? We don't have to love our neighbor as ourself, do we? Obviously, dead to the law doesn't mean that the law has evaporated. Well, what does it mean, then? Well, what it means is that what was once external, a demand, is now a desire. What was an external demand is now the desire of our heart. We want to do these things. God has written His laws on our heart.

Hebrews 8:10, "'This is the covenant I'll make with the house of Israel after that time,' declares the Lord. 'I'll put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people.'" God has written His law on your heart if you're a Christian. That's what it means to be united with Christ, dead to sin and alive to God. He's written His law in your heart, He's given you a new heart. We're going to talk more about that in future weeks. But what does it mean to be dead to the law? Well, it means that we're dead to the law as condemner. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law will not condemn you and send you to Hell, because all of its righteous requirements have been fully met through Jesus Christ.

It also means that we're dead to the law as a manner and way of life and a way of serving God. Look at chapter 7 verse 6, the same section we're in right now. It says in 7:6, "We serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code."

V. A New Life: Married to Christ (verse 4)

We're in a whole new way of relating to God now. It's the life of the Spirit, and the best analogy that Paul can think of right here at this moment is the same one he was using a minute ago, the analogy of marriage. Marriage. Look again at verse 4, he says, "So my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ that you might belong to another, to Him who is raised from the dead in order that we might bear fruit for God." What does that say? That you might belong to Jesus. That He is the lover of your soul. He's your heavenly spouse. We're part of the bride of Christ. We're going to talk about this fully next time, it's such a huge theme that we can't just deal with it quickly. But we have a whole new way of relating to God. We're alive to God now. And marriage is a great analogy but a love relationship, a binding covenant to a living Savior, Jesus Christ. And the fruit of that union is good works for God, a whole new way of serving God by the power of the Spirit. It's a whole new life, a whole new way of obeying the law. Verse 6, "We serve, [that is, we bring forth good fruit], in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code."

VI. Application: Has This Happened to You??

What kind of application can we take out of this? I just want to ask you a simple question. Has this happened to you? This is Christianity, this is what it means to be a Christian. Has this happened to you? Do you know yourself to be dead to the law, dead to sin, but alive to God in a whole new way in Jesus Christ by the power of the Spirit? Not merely brushing up on some rough spots in your character, improving some morality in your life, or adding some good habits like church attendance or committee service? And those are good habits, by the way. But not merely removing some bad habits and adding some good things? Not at all, but a death and a resurrection. A radical transformation so stunning could only be likened to dying and being raised to new life. Have you died and then resurrected through faith in Jesus Christ? And do you have a new relationship to God and to the law?

Perhaps you previously saw God as a stern taskmaster who could never forgive you of all your sins. You've done too much to be forgiven. But now you understand that all of the law's requirements have been met through the blood of Christ. Or perhaps, you underestimated the law and never really thought about it that much, didn't matter to you, now you see that God upholds His law perfectly and fulfills it in Jesus Christ. A whole new relationship to the law. Now you feel like it's written on your heart, and you yearn to do God's will, you want to love Him every moment of your life. And you yearn to love your neighbor as yourself. It's a whole new relationship to the law. Has this happened to you?

And do you also see in yourself a whole new purpose in life, bearing fruit for God? Previously, you lived perhaps for yourself, for your lust and your own evil pleasures, your own desire. You orchestrated your life around your own things and your own desires and drives. And now you realize that God has a purpose for your life, and that is that you bear fruit for God, every day. And do you see also a new power in your life? Previously, you were powerless before the sins of your life, but now you realize you're dead to sin, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can say no to ungodliness. Do you see a new power in your life? Has this happened to you?

And if so, rejoice and be glad. And yes, we're going to struggle with sin. We'll get to that second half of Roman 7, it's coming. Yes, we struggle with sin, but rejoice that you're dead to the law. You're not under the law anymore; you're serving in a whole new way. But if this has not happened to you, don't let today pass. Don't let the sun go down today. Don't harden your heart if today you hear His voice. Come to faith in Jesus Christ. Let Him be the husband of your soul, let Him be the lover of your soul. Let His blood stand in the place at judgment and take away all of the wrath that you deserve for your sin, and let Him give you His righteousness, sufficient for all the law's demands. Won't you close with me in prayer? I'd like to ask that you just take a moment and reflect on the things we've talked about, and then we'll pray.

Oh, heavenly Father, if we had been at the foot of Mount Sinai and saw all that You did there that day, we would certainly have trembled with fear. God, You gave us the law that day, and because of who we naturally are, we die under that law. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. And so what was good and holy and righteous became death for us. And there's nothing wrong with Your law, it couldn't have been written better; it's just that we needed a savior, and you gave Him to us in Jesus Christ. Oh, what a perfect man He was. How He lived in beautiful righteousness every day, loving You, heavenly Father, with every fiber of His being. He would rather die than disobey You. He loved You so much and loved You every moment. All of His thoughts and passions only directed at every moment toward Your pleasure and toward Your will.

And He loved His neighbors as Himself. Every moment, other sinners... Someone would come and say, "My servant is sick," and He would stand up and say, "I will go and heal him." He loved His neighbor fully as Himself, ultimately, to the point of dying and laying down His life that His neighbors, His brothers and sisters, those who were one flesh with Him through faith, Lord, that they would have eternal life. Perfect obedience. In the name of that obedience, I can even address You now as a "Father." Father, I pray for any in this room here today who have not trusted in You, who have no living principle of the Holy Spirit within them, are not bearing fruit for life but rather only for death, that they would repent today and trust in You, Lord Jesus. And for those of us who know that we are saved, that we have eternal life but still grieve over the sin in our lives, that we might understand how full and complete and free we are in reference to the law, and that we might "serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code." We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

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