Sunday March 7th
A little boy went to his father with a serious look on his face.
He asked, “Daddy, what is a man?”
The father answered proudly, “Son, a man is someone who takes care of the family, who works hard to provide, who is willing to protect loved ones, who always speaks the truth and will never break a promise. That’s what a man is!”
The little boy said, “When I grow up, I want to be a man…just like Mom!”
So Pastor Josh asked us to tackle this chapter together because it addresses marriage, but it does so in a very unusual way – it points out the reality of the phrase that we hear in the classic wedding vows, “till death do us part”!
Here’s what the apostle Paul has to say about that in verses 1-3:
Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (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 as long as he is alive; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 3 So then, if while her husband is alive she gives herself to another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress if she gives herself to another man.
This is basically a no-brainer. If your spouse dies, you’re not committing adultery if you get remarried. Why not? Because the Law that bound you to that first husband was made null and void by his death. That’s simple enough, right?
Paul emphasizes this exact same point in 1st Corinthians 7:39
“A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”
So what’s that have to do with the rest of us?
Well, the reason that Paul is talking about this is really just a metaphor for us being married to sin!
In other words, we WERE married to sin, but now we are free from that marriage because our old nature, our old self, has died and we are now born again through faith in Jesus!
This is how Paul explains it in verses 4-6:
4 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you also were put to death in regard to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might belong 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 brought to light by the Law, were at work in the parts 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.
The connection being laid out here goes like this:
Before we came to faith in Jesus, we were “married” to the Law. We couldn’t give ourselves to righteousness, because our sinful “flesh” was our spouse and we were tied to its demands for life.
But thankfully, we died to our old nature when we accepted Jesus as our savior. And since death breaks the bonds of our former life, we are now free to “marry” Jesus and to serve Him fully as our only spouse, living in the Spirit instead of living in the flesh.
Paul realizes that this analogy makes the Law seem like a terrible thing, so he wants to clarify the Law’s real purpose:
7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Far from it! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
The Law isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It serves a purpose. It lets me know that the choices I am making are not pleasing to God.
Once I am aware of that situation, I am able to decide whether that’s the way I want to continue living my life, or if there’s a better path for me.
By knowing that coveting is wrong, I can assess the impact that covetousness is having on my life.
And the end result will be that I will recognize that trying to live under the Law is not a source of life and blessings, it is a source of death and struggles:
8 But sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin came to life, and I died; 10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it, killed me.
The Law brings out my sinful desires, and sin is a killer! It brings about a desire within my flesh to do the exact opposite of what God wants me to do, and that brings death to my soul. So does that make the Law a bad thing? No, Paul says just the opposite:
12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
It’s not the Law itself that’s the problem, it’s what the Law does when it triggers a response from my sinful flesh!
13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? Far from it! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by bringing about my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.
What Paul it saying is that there is nothing wrong with God’s standards. What is wrong with the whole equation is that sinful part of my old nature that rejects God’s Law because it only wants to do what IT wants to do! My flesh doesn’t want to listen to God, it doesn’t want to obey God. It wants to BE God!
Then Paul goes on to describe the battle that this causes inside of him:
14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am fleshly, sold into bondage to sin. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 However, if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, that the Law is good. 17 But now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
18 For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. 19 For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I do the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin that dwells in me.
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully agree with the law of God in the inner person, 23 but I see a different law in the parts of my body waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin, the law which is in my body’s parts. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
So let's not stay married to sin. Let's enter in to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!