FREEDOM FROM LAW
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Eagle Point, Or. June 30,1985)
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was written,
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor:
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovering of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty them that are bruised,
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down: and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say to them, "Today has this scripture been fulfilled in your ears."
Jesus is our savior - but that also carries the idea of a deliverer to those in captivity, and a liberator to those in bondage to slavery. In my last lesson we dealt with one aspect of the freedom that we have in Christ - Freedom from Sin. Today, I would like to continue on this course and deal with the aspect of the
Freedom from Law that we enjoy, and if not, then the freedom we can enjoy by our faith in Jesus Christ.
Last time we saw that sin does not have dominion over the Christian.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law, but under grace.
But what does the fact of sin not having dominion over us have to do with our not being under law?
According to Paul, "freedom from sin" and "freedom from law" are two closely connected facts - one is the compliment of the other. So in that respect this lesson is going to resemble the last one in a lot of points.
In being made free from law, Christ has made us free from the condemnation of law.
The cross of Christ is central in all of the history of the world and especially in the history of redemption in God's plan to save man. And central to the cross is man's response of Faith in the efficacy of Christ's sacrificial blood from that cross.
We already saw in our last lesson, that before Christ made us free from sin, that Sin Reigned and had dominion over man. This was remedied by the grace of God brought to us in the death of his only begotten son on our behalf. We by faith accept God's grace (Christ's sacrifice for us) and are made free from guilt.
But how did sin reign over man?
Last time we saw that sin produced the guilt of condemnation in man that prevents him from coming to God for reconciliation. The way or means by which sin did that was through the Law.
The Law was given to expose sin for what it was.
(Rom.3:20) "...for by law is the knowledge of sin"
(Rom.5:20) "...moreover the Law entered so that the offence might abound."
(Rom.7:7) "I had not known sin but by the Law, for I had not know lust, except the Law had said, You shall not covet."
So, the Law was given so that man might understand what sin is. Now, to expose sin, and to make it appear in all its heinousness, sin took the good commandment and by the Law worked Death in man. Because the Law not only exposed sin but it also condemned the sinner. Sin took the Law which was ordained for life and by it killed man.
Did then that which is good become death unto me? May it not be. But sin, that it might be shown to be sin, by working death to me through that which is good; --that through the commandment sin might become exceedingly sinful.
So, sin reigned over man by bringing him into condemnation of the Law - and even though the Law was good in and of itself, it was weak because it could not justify the sinner. It only worked through man's human nature in the flesh.
The error of the Jews was that they used the Law as a way to justify themselves. They made that attempt by the works of the Law - i.e. the deeds that a man can do when he has no other help than the Law itself, and so ultimately in his own strength in the flesh.
But the Law was given not to justify, but to expose and condemn sin - the Jew thought he would take the Law and propagate it by teaching it to the Gentiles and try to justify and purify the world through their legal dispensation given by Moses. What we can see from the writings of Paul, is that when you do that, when you give the world the Law, you don't give the world the means to justify itself - but the means to better see its real corruption.
So the Law was unable to justify us.
...because by works of law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through law comes the knowledge of sin.
But now through the Grace of God, through faith in the Cross of Christ, we can now be justified and God can give us or account to us the Righteousness of faith without the Law. And instead of death we have Life through faith in Jesus Christ.
Rom.3:21-28 (We read this last time, but not we apply it to the Law)
"But now apart from law a righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no difference; for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to demonstrate his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins previously committed, in the forbearance of God; for the demonstration, I say, of his righteousness at this present time: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that has faith in Jesus. Where then is the boasting? It is excluded. By what principle? of works? No: but through a principle of faith. We reckon therefore that a man is justified by faith without works of law."
Now this concludes the justification of man without the Law, and Paul shows us the rejoicing we can have in our faith in Christ and the heartfelt peace and comfort that is ours in our reconciliation with God.
Being therefore justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and we boast on hope of the glory of God.
He goes on in Rom.5 and shows the exceeding victory of what Christ did for us over all the effects of the fall of man, in Adam. And he concludes the chapter by saying this in:
And the law came in, so that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace abounded even more: in order that, as sin reigned in death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (see chart)
The salvation and the liberation of Jesus Christ over compensated, and went far beyond the effects of sin and death in Adam.
Not only are we free from the condemnation of the Law but we are also free from the dominion of law.
Last time I introduced the concept of sanctification (or the process of perfecting the believer into a life of holiness.) (1Thes.4:3) "...for this is the will of God, even your sanctification."
Paul showed in Romans 6 that our faith in Christ crucified and risen, not only is sufficient to justify us, but that the same system of faith is sufficient also to sanctify us to a reign of holiness, and therefore the believer can renounce the yoke of the Law as a moral governor without any danger.
You do not need it to justify you - it cannot justify you.
You do not need it to make you moral or holy - it cannot do that either.
To show this he gives an example drawn from the Law itself.
1. Or are you ignorant, brethren (for I speak to the ones knowing law), that the law has dominion over a man during such time as he lives?
So, he is saying that if you are so afraid to dispense with the Law in your service to God and in your developing holiness, and feel timid to yield yourselves completely to Christ without having the Law, don't you know that the Law rules over a man only while he is in this life?
2. For the woman that has a husband is bound by law to the husband while he lives; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband.
When a woman is married she is bound to her husband by his legal power according to the Law, but this only applies while he is living. If he dies, then she as a wife is "loosed" (the Greek term is annulled or ceases to be, or is done away - as a wife) from that legal power of her husband. When he died as her husband, she "ceased to be" [as a wife] to the legal binding authority of her husband.
3. Therefore, while the husband lives, if she becomes wife to a different husband, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is released from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she becomes wife to a different husband.
So, if her husband dies, she can legitimately be married to another man. Now he makes the application.
4. So, my brethren, you also were put to death to the law through the body of Christ; that you should become wife to a different man, even to him who was raised from the dead, so that we might bear fruit unto God.
Just like this wife who is dead (as a wife) to the law of her husband, we also are dead to the Law by the body of Christ.
When Jesus died on the cross, he died to the Law under which he was born. ("...born of a woman, born under law") and he also died to his Jewish nationality. (He wasn't a Jew anymore.)
Therefore, like in Romans 6, when the Christian appropriates Christ's death to himself by faith (when we die with Christ) then we also appropriate the freedom from the Law and from Jewish and Gentile distinctions to ourselves just like Christ has now. That is in agreement with the nature of the spiritual realm where there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond or free, male nor female. When Jesus died he was not under law anymore, or a Jew anymore, or a male. All the earthly distinctions of his life were gone.
Just like this widow, when we die to the Law we can be married to someone else. And in this case we are not married to the Messiah who died, but to the risen and glorified Christ. When Christ died, he began an existence set free from every legal statute and an existence determined by the life of God alone. So, we, when we died to sin, we entered into this same life with Christ. We live now the life that he lives now. ("...as he is so are we in this world." 1Jno.4:17) And like the remarried widow, we have no other master than our New husband and his Spirit. The Law has no more dominion over us.
Now we can "bring forth fruit", i.e. have the product of our lives unto God. The offspring, as it were, of this new marriage is holiness and works in service to God.
Now Paul tells us what was wrong with being under a law.
5. For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins, which were through the law, worked in our members to bear fruit unto death.
The main problem in being under law is that it works through the flesh. When we were in the flesh, the passions of lusts were excited by the Law, because the Law said to a carnal man, "Do not do that." And what that did was to work on us in our members, like fermentation, until it produced death in us. The Law could condemn me and expose the sin in me, but it could not keep me from sinning, it could not sanctify me and make me holy - it could not free me from sin and change and renew my heart.
6. But now we have been released from the law, having died to that in which we were held; so that we serve in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of letter.
In Christ we are made free from the Law because we died to it when we died with Christ in immersion (Baptism). And since we were raised with Christ and born again in regeneration to a new spiritual life, (i.e. we are not carnal anymore) we can now serve God IN the capacity of our spiritual life, without any need for a moral law or a set of regulating statutes and precepts. We serve in Newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the Letter.
Our position in grace, our reconciliation to God, our enjoyment of his Spirit, gives us the ability to have victory over sin that was not possible or available under the legal dispensation. Under law we had the condemnation of sin and sin holding us slaves, reigning by its power dwelling in our carnal selves in the flesh. But sin can be overcome under grace. The righteousness of the Law can be fulfilled in us through the spirit.
Paul shows in Romans 6 that freedom or emancipation from the Law is not for the believer to yield himself even more to sin, but to serve God better than he could ever have done under law. His freedom in relation to law, therefore is legitimate, and even more than that, it is spiritually and morally beneficial, and more than that, it is necessary in order to serve God.
Paul shows in Romans 7 that to be under law is to function in the realm of the flesh, i.e. to make an attempt at keeping the righteousness of the Law through your own human resources and will power. He shows that when you are in the flesh, carnal, sold under sin, that there is a war going on inside you between your flesh and your spirit and you are essentially out of control, so that you cannot do the things you want. That is why a person in the flesh, functioning religiously through the flesh, cannot please God. He is carnal. He is not subject to the Law of God, even though, like the Pharisee, he may profess that he is.
Paul shows in Romans 8 that the only way to serve God and be pleasing to him is to function in the realm of the spirit. The Christian is able to function in that realm because he has been born of the Spirit. The Spirit has enabled us and given us the freedom of choice to serve God in the spirit. He has done this through the governing principle of life - in the spirit.
2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.
Who we are in Christ and the life that has been given us in the spirit must govern or rule our actions now. We put on the New Man, and live the life that we have in Christ. As new creatures in Christ, we walk as the resurrected children of God.
3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God [did], sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4. that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Law was weak through the flesh in that it only condemned sin in writing. It tried to control carnal man's conduct by an external command that always met up with the flesh of man and man's helplessness to control it.
What the Law could not do was to condemn sin in man's flesh, it could do it in writing - but not in the very seat of its stronghold, in human flesh. But Jesus did do it. He came as a man in the likeness of sinful flesh, and condemned sin in the flesh, in the human life that he had in the flesh.
In other words, what the Law could never realize in man, Jesus realized as a man and accomplished by living a life as a man that was subject to temptation in the flesh, but never once allowing sin an entrance into his being. He condemned sin in the flesh, and now lives a victorious spiritual life unto God.
We now, who have been born again and raised up to a new life with Christ, can have the righteous requirement of the Law fulfilled in us when we walk according to the spirit and not according to the flesh.
In Romans 7:14-ff, Paul said he could not keep the righteousness in the Law because the Law is spiritual, but he was carnal. The law was spiritual in that it was given by God, a spiritual being, and its dictates run parallel to the righteousness that this spiritual God requires out of a spiritual man. The weakness of the Law is that is required this out of a fleshly carnal man.
But now we Christians are not in the flesh but in the spirit - because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Christ, in that way has given us the ability to walk in the spirit.
- 5. For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
6.For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace:
7.because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be:
8.and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9.But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
We are now the New Creation, the New Man, the spiritual man, we can have that righteousness of the Law fulfilled in us when we walk in the spirit.
To walk in the spirit and be led of the Spirit means that I accept by faith the life of Christ within me and I put on and walk as the new man, the new divine nature and life that I have in Christ, that he has created in me by being born of the Spirit.
Paul asks, "Do we then nullify law through faith? May it never be! Rather, we establish law." (Rom.3:31)
I think what he means is that those who are of faith, in the end, will be the only ones who keep the law.
Why? Because those that are of faith in Christ, have been born of the Spirit - they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them and they are realizing the fruit of the Spirit in their lives - which is chiefly and primarily love. (Gal.5:22) And love, according to Paul in Rom.13:10 is the fulfilling of the Law.
So there you have the relationship between the spirit and the Law. If you are led of the Spirit you are not under law, (Gal.5:18) because if you walk in love, you have fulfilled the Law. And the way to walk in love is to first, walk in the spirit.
If we walk in the spirit, we don't need the Law. We can now grow up into Christ, sharing his life in an intimate communion with him, rejoicing in his love, resting in his peace.
This can only come when we are free from law because - my next point...
We are freed from the effects of law.
The effect of law was fear, the fear of a slave who is trying to please his master when he knows he will never measure up. The Law left a servile fear of reward and punishment.
But this is all gone when we serve God as his sons in the spirit.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but you received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
He is not a spirit that has to do with bondage to fear - like under the Law, but he is a spirit that has to do with adoption as sons. Please look at Gal.4:1-7 carefully.
But I say that, so long as the heir is a child, he differs nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father. So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world: but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under law, that he might redeem them that were under law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. So that you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
We had to be freed from law in order to receive the adoption as sons. To be under law is to be under bondage to the elementary things of the world - i.e. to function in the realm of the flesh. To be under law is to be a minor child who has not as yet grown up. Remember, "if you are led by the Spirit you are not under law." and "...as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."
Because of our faith in Christ we have become sons of God, and because of that, God has restore the normal relations with us as sons and sent the Spirit of his son into our hearts, to insure to us the adoption and the grown-up liberty and freedom from law, and to insure to us the inheritance of sons, being himself the earnest or down-payment of that inheritance. (Eph.1:14)
God has written his law on our hearts, (Heb.8:10) and if we walk in love like Christ, then we will "naturally" keep the law - we have it fulfilled in ourselves.
"Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2Cor.3:17)
Therefore, we are free from law.
*** Free from the Condemnation of law - We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ.
*** Free from the Dominion of law - We are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.
*** Free from the Effect of law - We are sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Are you free? If the son makes you free you will be free indeed.
~ Invitation ~