Romansby David Cook
Paul has used the image of our solidarity with Jesus—we died, we were buried, and we were raised with Him (6:1–14). He has used the image of the master and slave relationship (6:15–23). Now, he uses the image of death (7:1–6).
The point Paul makes is that death frees a person from the binding of the law (v. 3). If a woman’s husband dies, she is free to remarry. But if she marries while her husband is still alive, she becomes an adulteress. The difference is that death legitimately terminates marriage.
By dying to the law, the believer is legitimately free to “marry” (that is, to be united with) Christ and thus to serve in the new way of the Spirit (vv. 4–6).
What, then, is our relationship to the law? Do we fear it like the legalist does? Do we hate it like the person who sees the law as the source of his problems? No, we love the law. We do so because it represents the will of God and because Christ kept it. The law is holy and good (v. 13), though it cannot save us. The problem is not the law but our sin (vv. 8–9, 11). The law’s role is to identify sin (vv. 7–8) and to show us our condemnation as sinners (vv. 9–11).
When was Paul “alive apart from the law” (v. 9)? It was probably when he believed he had lived consistently with the law (see Philippians 3:6). But when he realised the true jurisdiction of the law, not only over outward actions but also over inner attitudes, he realised how lost he was.
So Paul summarises: The good law identified sin and condemned him as a sinner (v. 13). In that way, it prepared him for the Saviour to come (7:24–25).
The law gets us ready for the coming of Christ by bringing conviction of sin (see Galatians 3:24–25). As law-abiding believers, we love the law yet we recognise its limitation. It cannot save or sanctify us. The problem lies with us. To blame the law, according to Bible commentator F. F. Bruce, is like a prisoner in jail blaming the law which put him there as though it were the law’s fault and not his own.
Do you seek to honour the law as did our Lord Jesus Christ?
It is only in the light of conviction of our sinfulness that we realise the greatness of the rescue we have in Jesus. How often do you search your life in the light of the law, so as to realise the extent of your sinfulness?