Unlimited: Released from the Law
Nov 8, 2022 409
Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law has authority over someone only as long as that person lives? 2 For example, 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 that binds her to him. 3 So then, if she has sexual relations with 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 if she marries another man (Romans 7:1–3).
The essential point that Paul is making here is that the law only has authority over someone while that person is alive. The apostle uses the example of marriage, in which in Paul’s culture, a husband had authority over his wife only while he was alive. If he died, then she was no longer bound to his will. The principle is that death ends all obligations and contracts.
In Christ we are released from the law and are instead obligated to grace.
Because we died in Christ at the Cross, and we have risen again in him as part of a new creation, the previous relationship we had with the law no longer applies. We are no longer under its condemnation. In this way, the law has no authority over us. Not only that, but we are no longer obligated to human performance as the ruling principle in our lives, but instead we are obligated to grace (v.14.)
We should note that Paul isn’t teaching about marriage here, so we shouldn’t necessarily use this passage for moral teachings about marriage. He is using a legal principle from his own culture and time to help his contemporary readers understand a spiritual point he is making. It is important to understand that Paul sees marriage as a loving and mutual submission of one person to the other (Eph. 5:21–22).
Are you harsh, demanding, and judgmental of others? Does the way you treat others show that you are under the law or under grace? How about the way you treat yourself? What does it show?
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