We no longer are slaves to a legal set of values and rules in order to gain favor with grace to freedom from sin, our study with a message titled, Dead to the Law. The law of God is indeed a glorious thing in spite of the fact that we have been set free from it.
Now let's take the first section of chapter 7 and look at it. I'm going to give you four points...the axiom, the analogy, the application and the affirmation. Here we go...the axiom.
And Paul is good at establishing self-evident axiomatic principles. Know ye not, brethren, for I speak to them that know law, how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he lives. Now that isn't any profound theological statement, that's just an axiom.
The law only applies to people that are alive. Now that's the axiom. He moves from that to the analogy. And this is a fascinating analogy in verses 2 and 3, and he uses an analogy from marriage. Verse 2, For the woman who hath a husband...you got that?
Not too hard, is it? It's a married lady. She's bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. If he's dead, she's loosed from the law of her husband, right? The marriage law doesn't apply if her husband's dead. You're not bound to the corpse the rest of your life. It's a very simple analogy.
The key thought is as long as he lives. Law binds people only while they're alive. When one dies, that law of marriage is no longer applicable. This is simply an analogy. It's very narrow.
It's very limited. It's only trying to say one thing. Death ends the rule of law in marriage and that's to illustrate the axiom in verse 1. Let's go to the application and he applies it in verses 4 and 5. Verse 4, Wherefore. Now the wherefore is the connector based on the axiom that law only applies where people are alive, which is illustrated in the marriage law.
Wherefore, my brethren... And now he's again using the affectionate term brethren and he adds the possessive pronoun my to even endear himself in a more gentle way with them. He says, ye also are become dead to the law. Better to put it in the Greek, ye were put to death. And a violent word for death is used. You were violently put to death.
And the aorist tense is used to remind them of a great historic reality that happened in a moment in time. You say, wait a minute, I'm a Christian. When was I put to death? Go back to Romans 6, verse 3, Know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His...what?...death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection knowing this that our old man is crucified with Him that the body of sin might be destroyed that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now where was our death? It was at Calvary, wasn't it? And we've been learning that when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, you are united with Christ, you die with Christ in a real spiritual death. That's what he's talking about. Now the Law...listen carefully...before you came to Christ, the Law had no ability to save you.
Did you get that? It had no ability to redeem you. By the deeds of the Law shall what? No flesh be justified. Before you were saved, the Law had no ability to redeem you. All it could do was what? Condemn you.
And that it could do. Now that you've been saved, the Law not only cannot redeem you, but now it cannot what? Condemn you either. Because all that the Law could demand was your death, right? The wages of sin is what? Death. He that sinneth, the soul that sinneth, it shall die. You break my law, God said to Adam, and set it in motion and you will die. And all the Law can demand is death.
And it so happens that we died. If I commit a crime, as we've been learning, and they take me out and they execute me and they electrocute me or hang me or shoot me or whatever, and I happen to rise from the dead, that's the Law's tough luck, it has no more jurisdiction over me, and I paid its penalty. And so in Christ we died, and the Law cannot redeem us, but it no longer can condemn us either. But before you came to Christ, the Law couldn't redeem you, but it could condemn you, and so you were under its tyranny. You were in bondage to it. And when you died, my dear friends, the Law no longer had authority over you. We're not under the condemnation of the Law.
How did this happen? Go back to verse 4. By the body of Christ.
What does that mean? By the offering of the body of Christ in crucifixion. By being crucified with Christ. Jesus in death satisfied the Law because He died to the death the Law demanded. He paid the penalty in full for all of us and freed us from the Law. That's why 2 Corinthians 5 21 puts it, "'For he hath made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.'" He redeemed us from the Law by death. He became a curse for us, Galatians 3 13, that we might be delivered from the curse of the Law.
And then the end of verse 4. Great truth. In order that we should bring forth...what?...fruit unto God.
That's the purpose. Because of Christ, we bear fruit. May I remind you that this is not a command. This is a statement of fact. It could read, in order that we bring forth fruit.
We do. There's no such thing as a no fruit Christian. Salvation has a product. Because of a transformed life, we bear fruit unto God. Now carry that back to the question at the beginning of chapter 6.
When you preach your grace salvation and you ask people to come to Christ by grace through faith and they don't have to do anything to earn it, and you're under grace and where sin abounds, grace much more abounds, does that lead to sin? No, it doesn't because chapter 6 says that if you're truly transformed, you produce holiness. And chapter 7 says if you're truly married to Jesus Christ, you will bring forth fruit unto God.
Just the opposite is true. And that's something new, folks. That's something brand new. Before we came to Christ, how was it? Verse 5. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful impulses which were by the law did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. This verse is so loaded now.
Hang on, I'm going to give it to you fast. Four key thoughts. Here they come. Flesh, sin, law, death. Circle them in your Bible in verse 5. Flesh, sin, law, death. They go together. They're all the same kind of thing.
They operate in the same sphere. The flesh produces sin which is excited by the law which results in death. It's a pathetic quartet, frankly. They are terms that describe man's fallenness, man's unregenerate state. They are a sad description.
Let me take them piece by piece. And this is a very important statement at the beginning of verse 5, very definitive. For when we were in...underline the word in...when we were in the flesh...in the flesh.
What does he mean by that? Well, we were really deep in it. It was our sphere of being. We were in the flesh. We were deeply in the flesh, profoundly in the flesh, engulfed in the flesh. So when we were in the flesh is when we were unredeemed. When our being, our real personage, that I living in us was engulfed in the flesh, was captive to the flesh. Now may I suggest to you that that's a past tense experience, I am no longer in the flesh?
That's right. Neither are you if you're a Christian. So how do you know that?
I thought you'd ask. Look at chapter 8 verse 4. Verse 4 says we're not to walk after the flesh. Then verse 5, for they that are after the flesh...now there's another phrase that's just the same as in the flesh. The in the flesh and after the flesh, folks, are the same thing. They mind the things of the flesh.
That's their world, their spirit. But they that are after the spirit, the things of the spirit. For to be fleshly minded is death, to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the fleshly mind is enmity against God for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So if you're in the flesh, after the flesh, fleshly minded, you don't know God. And then verse 8, again, here's this same phrase, so then they that are...underline the word...in the flesh can't please God.
That's an unregenerate person. Now watch verse 9. But ye are not...what? In the flesh.
Very important. You're not in the flesh. You're in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in you and the Spirit of God dwells in every Christian, right? Because if He doesn't, you don't belong to Christ.
That's what it says. And if Christ is in you, then the body is dead because of sin. The Spirit is life because of righteousness. Now listen very carefully. Go back to where we were in 7, verse 5. Unregenerate people are in the flesh. You're not in the flesh. You say, well, what's this stuff that keeps getting in the way of my holiness?
May I suggest to you that you're not in the flesh, but the flesh is in you. It no longer engulfs you. It no longer has made you its captive. You are no longer its slave. You have been freed from its bondage.
You do not ever have to yield yourself to it, do you? Galatians 5 says you don't walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. You may do fleshly things because the flesh is in you, but you're not in the flesh.
Very important. That's an unregenerate designation. Now I'm a new creation. The real me is regenerated, redeemed. It is an incorruptible new nature after the very nature of God Himself.
It is holy, pure, and undefiled. But I still have my unredeemed humanness, as we saw in Romans 8, and I wait for the redemption of this body when it gets transformed, and I lose that flesh that's still in me. So as new creatures, we're in the Spirit. We're not in the flesh, but the flesh is in us.
But unregenerate people are in the flesh. And look what happens, verse 5 again, the sinful...interesting term here...passions, impulses. The flesh generates sinful impulses, sends out impulses. It literally...if you read it this way, the sinful impulses skipping down did work in our members. And the word work is energized.
They're energized. The flesh energizes pathema, the passions, the impulses. And how interesting, he says, which were by the law. This is just incredible, a really incredible statement. How can a good law create evil passion?
Two ways. First of all, it reveals evil, right? So you wouldn't know what evil passion was.
You'd only know what passion was. You wouldn't know if it was evil if there wasn't a standard against which you sinned, right? So the law reveals sin by setting up the standard and so you know it's sin when you run against it. But secondly, the law excites evil because nothing seems more appealing to people than to do something that is forbidden. Have you noticed that?
Just tell people you can't do it and watch them rush to try. So the law excites sin. We're going to find that later in chapter 7. He says...Paul says, verse 10, the commandment which was ordained to life I found to be death, for sin taking occasion by the commandment deceived me and by it slew me. In other words, it seems as though the law of God, instead of us living up to the law of God, the law of God simply shows us evil and instead of us wanting not to do it, we then want to break the law. There's something in us that seeks to rebel.
So we're in the flesh. The flesh produces sinful impulses which are heightened and intensified by the law and the result? Fruit unto death.
Fruit unto death. These sinful impulses, it says, excited by the law, work in our members. And in the unregenerate person, that's body and soul, that's all of them. That's everything they are in all their parts to bring forth death. As you know, that verse is very closely parallel to what we studied in chapter 6.
So we see the axiom, the analogy and the application. He says, we used to be like that, verse 5. But verse 4, that's all changed. We are now dead to that and alive in the resurrected Christ and not producing fruit unto death, but fruit unto God. Now a final affirmation in verse 6. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead in which we were held, that we should serve in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of letter. Now listen carefully as we wrap this up.
This is very important. But now, great words...great words. We're not in the flesh anymore. We are delivered from the law. That's the great affirmation.
That's the sunim bonum of this brief portion. We have been literally, it says, delivered from the law, it means released. We have been discharged from any legal liability. The law said, You're guilty, you die. Jesus died, paid our death, we died in Him. The law has no claim.
We have no legal liability. The curse that was on us has been taken by Christ, Galatians 3.13. This is a great affirmation. And then it says, having died to that wherein we were held. We were held captive by the flesh, by sinful impulses, by the law and by death. They held us captive. They don't hold us anymore.
Remember what we saw in chapter 6? You don't have to sin. Sin is not your master. Its tyranny has been broken.
You've been set free from the law. It can't condemn you anymore. It can't slay you. It can't kill you. It can't require death.
That whole thing is a dead issue. What a marvelous thought. Marvelous thought. We've been set free. You say we've been set free just to do what we want. Is this what Christianity is? Man, we can just sin like gangbusters. Just go at it and know that grace is applied to us and just sin up one street and down the other. Live our life any way we want. No, no, no, watch. In order that we should serve...oh, I like that...duluo, obedient servanthood.
Now listen, here comes another thing to add to your list. If you've been justified by grace through faith, you've received chapter 5, security, chapter 6, holiness, chapter 7, liberty, chapter 7, fruit, chapter 7, service. Obedient service.
That is a product. Is a Christian going to sin? Is grace going to make him sin?
No. Grace is going to so transform him as to produce security, holiness, liberty, fruitfulness and obedient service. That's the mark of regeneration. And what kind of service is our service?
I love this. End of verse 6. It is not in the oldness of the letter. If you will, it is not in submission to an external code.
It is not the letter that kills anymore. It's not just cranking out externally some kind of ritual. It's not on the outside obeying the law of God while the heart is unresponsive. But we serve in newness of spirit, newness, kinos, new in quality, not new in chronology, a whole different kind of service, not an external service but an internal one so that we say this.
Listen very carefully. When you become a Christian, you're set free from the law. You're set free in the sense that the law can no longer condemn you. But you're set free to serve that same law.
Listen now. To serve that same law, not in a perfunctory external manner, but from deep within your heart. So when the question comes up, well, if you just tell people they're not under the law and they're free in Jesus Christ, they'll just go out and violate God's law, then you don't understand what salvation means because it plants within you a new nature and the bent of that new nature is to serve God in spirit from deep within the heart.
This of course is the work of the Holy Spirit. We still serve the law. In fact, we serve it better than we could before we were redeemed because we serve not the letter of the law but the Spirit. We no longer are slaves to a legal set of values and rules in order to gain favor with God, but we now serve God out of love because He's granted us salvation. We're free, free to serve God, not free to serve ourselves.
We did that before. We aren't legalists serving the letter, but in newness of spirit we serve Christ. Is the law important? Oh yes. Can we say with the psalmist, oh how I love Thy law?
Oh yes. Even though it can't save us, yes. Even though it would condemn us, yes. Because Jesus Christ has borne that condemnation and by planting within us the divine nature has enabled us to keep that very law.
And we don't serve it externally but out of newness of spirit. So we're dead to the law in the sense that it could save us or condemn us. But listen people, we are more alive to the law now in terms of serving it to the glory of God than we've ever been. And on that note, John MacArthur wraps up his lesson on what it means to be dead to the law, part of John's ongoing study titled Freedom from Sin on Grace to You. John teaches each day here on Grace to You.
He also serves as chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary in Southern California. John, today you talked about obeying God's law out of love, and one of the problems I struggle with is love. What I love and what I hate, is that subject to my will? Can I choose what I love and what I hate? Or is love for obedience to God something that has to be put into my heart by God's grace completely?
Well the answer to that question is yes, because it's yes to both. The love that God expects from you is love that he has poured into your heart. Romans 5 says that, that the Holy Spirit has shed love abroad in our hearts. The Bible is crystal clear about the fact that if you don't love, you're not a child of God, and if you are a child of God, you love. I mean, 1 John's all about that, right? We love because he first loved us.
Just reverse that. He first loved us, so we love. So yes, but like all the spiritual graces, and like everything that the Lord has deposited in the heart of a regenerated believer, it's all subject to our will in terms of its expression. That's why the Bible is filled with commands. The Bible has commands throughout its entire range from the beginning to the end. Every single command ever given to anybody assumes that there's an act of the will involved in that. And you know, there used to be a movement, I think it was called Keswick, people might remember that, Let Go and Let God, that if you just do nothing, if you just sort of flop and let go and let God, he'll take over and do everything. Well that's just not true, because Paul would argue with that when he said, I beat my body to bring it into submission lest in preaching to others I would be a discounted or a castaway.
Paul says, Even I, the apostle, have to pound my body into submission. That's an act of the will. So that's why I say the answer to the question, Does God give you the love? Yes.
Is it up to you to express that love? Yes, it's yes to both. And this is the wonderful mingling of the divine resource and presence of the Spirit of God in our lives, along with human will and human action. These truths are laid out all through the Scripture. And we've been looking at them right here in Romans 6 and 7, but you find the same truths all throughout the Scripture. And I would love to think that you had access to everything the Scripture teaches, and I have a good opportunity for you, and that is to get ahold of a MacArthur study Bible.
The entire Bible, 25,000 notes explaining every page, all the verses as you read. You read the verse, you go down to the bottom of the page, and it explains it. It interprets the Bible for you. The truths that are lying in the truth of the Scripture need to be unlocked and opened for you, and that's what a study Bible does.
It helps you know the truth that the Bible is actually teaching. So get a copy of the MacArthur Study Bible, the ESV, the New King James, the New American Standard. Today is the final day of our two-week sale. We discounted nearly all of our resources, including the MacArthur Study Bible. Twenty-five percent take advantage and order yours today.
That's right. And, friend, with this one resource, the MacArthur Study Bible, you will dig into Scripture's background, culture, geography, and language like never before. To pick up the MacArthur Study Bible at our special discounted price, contact us today. Call 800-55-GRACE or go to gty.org. With more than 140 maps and charts and timelines, as well as 25,000 helpful notes that John already mentioned, the Study Bible is an ideal study tool for anyone who wants to go deeper into God's Word.
We have it available in three English translations and in several non-English translations. Again, to get the MacArthur Study Bible at 25 percent off the normal price, order today. Call us at 800-55-GRACE or visit gty.org. And to download all ten messages from John's current study, Freedom from Sin, go to gty.org. There you will also find any previous study that we've aired and also hundreds of lessons that we haven't even put on the radio yet. In fact, all of John's sermons, nearly 54 years worth of preaching, are free to download in audio and transcript format.
Take advantage of everything that's available at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the staff, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to tune into Grace to You Television this Sunday and be back here Monday when John looks at why God gave us His law. Some of the reasons might surprise you. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace to You.
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