Romans 7:1-12: What About the Law?
March 10, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Here Paul answers a potential objection to what he is arguing. As a recap, Paul is arguing that we are saved by grace, through faith, by the work of Christ on the cross in our place. This then means that we now live for him in joy and freedom. But, says someone, what does that mean for our commitment to holiness? Doesn’t it mean we can sin as much as we like? No! Says Paul—and he has argued how actually the gospel that he preaches causes a greater (indeed the only real) commitment to godliness and holiness that is possible. But now there is another objection: what about the law? If we are saved by the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus, what is the point of the law? Is the law sinful? Again, he will say, no!
He basically makes two points. First, that we have died to the law. He uses the analogy of marriage. If your spouse dies, then you are legally no longer married to your spouse. In a similar way, we, though Christ, have died to the law, and now “serve in the new way of the Spirit.” In Christ, and by his Spirit, we now have power to live the life that God commands! What the law commands, the Spirit enables us to do!
Second, though, he argues that the purpose of the law is therefore to bring conviction of our need of Christ and his saving work. We are all naturally sinful. But until someone comes along and tells us to do something—and we find that we don’t want to do that thing that God commands (like not coveting)—until that happens, we are less likely to be aware of the extent to which we are sinful. For instance, if you see a sign that says, “Keep off the grass,” while beforehand we had no desire to walk on the grass, something within us naturally now desires to walk on the grass just because we are being told not to do so! What that command does is it shows the extent to which we are by nature rebels. Thus the law does for us: it prepares us to receive the saving work of Christ, for it shows us just how necessary it is that we are saved!
From these two arguments we may, then, conclude that it is important to use the law in evangelism—to show people what the moral standards are—so that people can understand just how much they need Christ. And also we can understand that when it comes to calling people to holiness, what we need is the work of Christ within us by his Spirit that changes our desires and gives us the power to serve him. Let us then seek that work of Christ by his Spirit this morning to enable us to serve him in newness of life!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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