Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.(Romans 7:1-4)
Picture a mismatched marriage. One the one hand is a good but highly demanding man, (it so happens that all of his demands are right and true!). The man is exacting in every detail of life, and cannot overlook any flaw. He himself has none, he is perfect.
On the other hand, a very flawed woman, prone to error,weak, forgetful, and with rebellious tendencies. She comes short in every detail of her life, and is loaded with guilt about it. Living with a perfect man only further reveals her flaws, highlighting them in stark relief.
One more detail though , the man is sterile, therefore the union cannot possibly bare fruit!
Obviously such a marriage is going to have a lot of tension, unhappiness and very little joy. Marriage is for life, so ideally there would be no getting out of it. Only if the man dies, would the woman be free… or perhaps if the woman dies, that also,would free her from the demands of the marriage.
This is the allegory Paul gives us of the relationship of every man to the law. All of mankind is under the law, accountable to it, and even bound to it whether they know it or not. The law is right, it is demanding, it is exacting also, but we are all ‘under it’, in a sense, married to it.
How to come out from under it? The Law will never die, “heaven and earth shall pass away ” before one jot or tittle will in any wise pass away, the Law is forever! But it is we who are in Christ who have died, and when we died in Christ, we died also ‘to the law’, as well as to the ‘reign of sin’.
“In Christ” we have died to our former relationship to the Law. It’s not that anything was wrong to the law, the problem was with you and I.. Ironically, it is only now, that I am a Christian, and out from under the condemnation of the law, that I can truly appreciate and even love the Law of God.
The seventh chapter of Romans is very important, and oft misunderstood. Paul is neither denigrating the Law , nor teaching “lawlessness”.In fact Paul, and Jesus and all true christians magnify the Law of God.
Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.(Romans 7:12)
The problem is found in us. The Law could never justify anyone, in spite of it’s rightness, and it’s Divine function as a Revelation of God. The Law could only condemn, in fat that is a major reason for it. The Law shows us that we are sinners in need of a Saviour.
Even so, neither can the Law be a means of sanctification, in fact it works the other way, for wrongly used the law only exacerbates our sinful tendencies, it brings out all that is wrong with us, our innate lusts, rebellion, fallen nature inherited from Adam.
The only way out of a bad marriage, in the allegory is death, but the Law, that perfect , exacting and maddeningly right husband, shall never die. But we have died, when Jesus died on the cross, and our death is to the law of God.
When Jesus died, under the law and answering to the claims of the law that were against us, He died to the law. There will be no double jeapordy,He died under the just penalty of the law, and is now out from under it. And so are we.
We have been raised also, and in keeping with the allegory, we are married now to another, the Messiah is our husband! He is Holy and Good and true also, but he is not barren, He gives us more than demands, scrutiny, and sanctions, He gives us Life! Now we can bear fruit unto God, which was always the goal in the first place, Hallelujah!