About Jesus - Steve Sweetman  

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Released From Law


June is a 55 year old widow.  She had been married to Brian for 35 years until a massive stroke unexpectedly struck him down and ripped him from her life.  She now sits across a table in a coffee shop from James, a 57 year old contractor and a widower of 10 years.  There's no doubt that James has been a source of recent joy, but he has complicated things.  Even after his passing 3 years ago, the memory of Brian lingers in June's heart. 


"I can't let James slip from my grasp", June tells herself.  Her 55 year old heart now pulsates as if it was 16 years old again.


As James sips his coffee he can't help but notice June's smile.  He slides his hand across the table until their fingers tips touch.  "She's just too hard to resist", he thinks.  The throbbing of his heart makes it clear that new love at the age of 57 is just as intoxicating as it was at the age of 27.  


The emotion is overwhelming.  June is lost for words.  "How can I say no?" she asks herself.   


"Well June", James nervously inserts after a prolonged period of silence.  "Do you need more time?"


"No James", June replies with a sigh of resignation.  "I don't need more time.  I've rehearsed this moment over a million times."


Six weeks, 5 days, 4 hours, and 38 minutes later,
the pastor's voice is heard saying, "You may now kiss your bride."  Things could not be better for June and James.  


The decision was made for James to move into June's house upon returning from their honeymoon.  James soon realized that it was no easy task for June to get 35 years with Brian out of her heart.  It didn't help that Brian was plastered all over the place.  He was above the fireplace in a wedding picture.  His tools were in the basement.  His prized 57 Chevy was parked in the two car garage.  His fishing trophies were on the mantel in the family room.  James couldn't escape Brian.  Even though he was dead, he was everywhere.   


Things came to a head when James finds himself struggling to fix a leaky bathroom faucet.  "That's not how Brian fixed it", June sheepishly insisted.  


Sheepishly spoken or not, that did it for James.  In total frustration he snapped.  "Our relationship suffers because of your inability to let go of Brian.  Brian is dead.  He's long gone.  I'm alive.  I stand right in front of you.  You can't have us both."     


This story helps explain the Apostle Paul's teaching concerning how a New Testament Christian should relate to the Old Testament Law of Moses, something that most Evangelicals don't seem to understand. 


Paul says "by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6 NIV).  Paul says we have died in relation to the law (Law of Moses - the written code) that once bound us.  He says that we have been set free from the Law to serve God in the new way of the Spirit.  Let's backtrack to verse 1 to see why Paul makes this assertion.     


In verse 1 Paul says that "The law has authority over a man as long as he lives.  That's easy to understand.  A law can't be applied to a dead man.  In Paul's terminology, the dead man has died to the Law.


In verse 2 Paul says that "By law (Law of Moses) 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."  Paul uses the law of marriage found in the Law of Moses to support what he is about to say.  This too is easy to understand.  When a husband dies, the widow is released from the laws that once bound her to her husband.  She is free to marry another.  As Paul puts it, she has died to the Law.    


Verse 4 reads.  "You also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another."  Just like the dead man in verse 1 and the widow in verse 2 who have died to the Law, so the Christian has died to the Law of Moses.  In all 3 cases the relationship to the Law has ended, or died.  For this reason, in verse 6, the verse we began with, Paul says that "we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, not the old way of the written code.     


Here's my point.  The dead man in Romans 7:1, the widow in Romans 7:2, and June in my story, were free from the Law because death provided the means by which they could escape the Law's bondage.  Like the dead man, the widow, and June, a Christian is free to be united with Jesus because of the death of his sinful nature that took place on the cross of Christ.   See Romans 6 for a further explanation of the death of our sinful nature.  In other words, our relationship to the Law has died.  We have died to the Law, as Paul puts it.  I know this is hard to grasp, but our lack of persistence to understand these things has led to our misunderstanding concerning how Christians should relate to the Law of Moses.        


James' and June's relationship suffered because of June's inability to let go of her dead husband.  A Christian's relationship with Jesus suffers because of his inability to let go of the Law of Moses.  It's sad to see a Christian not enjoying his relationship with Jesus because he is bound by the Law that no longer applies to him.      


One example of how Evangelicals have been unable to let go of the Law of Moses is seen in their insistence on tithing.  If the Law of Moses no longer applies to the believer, we have no obligation to the laws of tithing, which by the way, Evangelicals don't obey as they are specifically stated in the Law.  We are, however, obligated to follow the new way of the Spirit concerning the issue of giving.  


I believe that as James was frustrated with June's inability to let go of Brian, so Jesus is frustrated with the Christian's inability to let go of the Law of Moses.  When we're in bondage to the Law, we can't appreciate Jesus to whom we are now united, or so I believe. 



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