DEAD TO THE LAW
The question does arise, how is the new believer in Christ to know how to walk? Is he to use the law of Moses (especially the 10 commandments) as his "rule book?" The shocking answer is "no." But keep reading before you cry 'Antinomian!' (meaning Lawless)
Romans 7:4 says three interesting things: "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another—to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God."
1. dead to the law (what law?)
2. "married to" another (to whom?)
3. bear fruit to God (by implication this is the only way to do so)
1. dead to the law. To answer the question "which law" one simply has to look in the text down to Romans 7:7 which says: What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, “You shall not covet.” The "law" that the believer is "dead to" is that law which includes the prohibition against coveting. This is the 10 commandments. It may be a striking and startling thing to learn that the believer is not under this set of laws. And the question may arise, does this mean we are free to covet and be lawless? At first glance it may seem so, but let us return to Romans 7 for more information that well help.
2. married to another There is a contrast here between the prior relationship, particularly the Jew, who was under the law versus the new relationship in Christ. In the context of Romans 7, what is being discussed is the believer and the law, but what is used to explain this relationship is marriage. The permanence of marriage is the background for this illustration. Paul is thinking here of a person "married to the law" and a person "married to Christ." And just as it is only DEATH that breaks the marriage bond (in God's will), it is also a DEATH taking place that breaks a persons relationship with the law of Moses. The believer died with Christ, and since a death took place, he is now in a new relationship with Another...ie...Christ, instead of law. For a believer to seek to return to the law principle (for his way of life) is therefore a kind of spiritual adultery or even spiritual polygamy. The believer is now "married to another".
3. bear fruit to God A most interesting statement. Here is the implication that under the law principle, man cannot bear fruit to God, whereas when in relationship to Christ as a born again soul, he can and should "bear fruit to God."
It is astonishing for many people to learn this principle, that the believer is not under the law (of Moses). After all, if an unregenerate church-goer hears this, he may like the freedom it seems to give him to "do as he pleases." But this is not a license for a saved person to walk carnally, or to do as HE pleases, on the contrary, a new relationship is entered into with the Lord. It is one of higher privilege and enablement. It is one based on having life. Before conversion he was a spiritually dead person walking around in a living body, and if a Jew particularly, he was told what to do and not to do by the Torah, and could not measure up to that law which condemned him. James 2:10 later tells this man (under law) that if he keeps the whole law and stumbles in ONE point, he is guilty of all. This is a ministry of condemnation. The good and holy and just law of God, doing its thorough work. Man before Moses time also had commandments from God, the forbidden fruit being an example. So while our emphasis here is on the Law of Moses, there is an underlying teaching here that the saved man is not under the "law principle" (whether the laws of Moses or is own set of rules a man may make-that he usually can measure up to or so he thinks). Yet the saved man is not under the law principle, since the law principle was not made for a righteous man (1 Tim 1:9), and the believer is constituted righteous, in Christ...and he is not under law, his principle is life in Christ, the indwelling Spirit, and the word of God, and he CAN bear fruit unto God.
It is objected that to not be under the law/10 commandments...that this leads to lawless behavior and that it contradicts the Lord Jesus and Johanine (and even Pauline) teaching. Let us examine.
1. 1 John 5:2 says: "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments." At first glance the "keeping of his commandments" makes our minds think immediately of the 10 commandments. But is this valid? Notice 1 John 3:23: "And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment." Here we find that the commandment of the Lord for believers is summarized as 1) believe on the Son, and 2) love one another. We should be careful in 1st John of reading "10 commandments" in our thinking when we see the word "commandment." Here the Torah is not in view, but rather, the law of belief and love. The law of Christ. Remember Galatians 6:2 "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." The "law of Christ" is not synonymous with the "law of Moses".
2. Matthew 5:19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Here we must pay attention to context. To whom is the Lord speaking and when? He speaks here to his disciples, who are under the law, and before the cross and before the church began in Acts 2. The Lord is speaking to men who are under the law of Moses. The Sermon on the Mount is not written to Christians, though they can and should and do benefit from its teaching-it was not taught to Christians, but disciples in Israel under the law before the cross. There is a good article on the Sermon on the Mount and how Christians relate to that Sermon at:
Remember too the following: Galatians 4:4-5 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." The principle of adoption is very different than that of lawkeeping, for this the reader is referred to:
3. It is objected by some, that we confuse justification with sanctification. Meaning of course, that they agree with us that the law could not justify people. But the question becomes what about AFTER JUSTIFICATION ... is the believer to live under the Torah or 10 commandments after conversion? To put it another way, we are justified by grace through faith alone apart from law, but then they say we then still must have a guideline for our walk, and the Law is that guideline. Here we disagree with the objector. Their principle fails by one simple passage: Galatians 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Paul is teaching in Galatians 3 that the believer is under a curse when he is "under the works of the law." The phrase "having begun in the Spirit" refers to his conversion to Christ, his justification. The phrase "are you now being made perfect by the flesh" speaks to his walk, his sanctification-after justification ...in other words, Paul says it is just as wrong to seek sanctification by the law as it is to seek to justification by the law. Sanctification is in view when we read "made perfect (or complete) by the flesh". We must remember that the sphere in which the law does its good and holy work of condemnation is...the flesh. Neither justification nor sanctification are by the law principle. Ye are DEAD to the law.
What we learn from this teaching is not that a new believer in Christ is set free to "do as he pleases" and to "be lawless." On the contrary, he is set free in Christ to "walk in the Spirit" and to walk in the principle of an adopted son- to walk with God responsibly as an adult son, and this is in great contrast to the minor child who is still under the law principle or as a slave.
Dead to the law? Yes... and alive unto God, walking under a new principle.
Romans 8:2-4 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Notice here that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled, how? By the believer being under that law? No. It is by having LIFE in Christ and walking in the Spirit that the believer can and should walk worthily ... and we might say.... as a "by-product" of that "walking in the Spirit", the believer meets even what the law required, but what that law principle couldn't bring to pass - though the law demands it. This does not mean the believer walks on a cloud and needs no admonition or correction - he does. Nor does it put the law on a pedestal as the the final arbiter and final judge that tests everything, the believer is DEAD to it. (by the way the believer died, not the law) Yet IF he were to compare its (law) requirements to His holy walk, he can and should see that he measures up to the measuring stick (the law) that he is NOT UNDER. Don't put yourself under that measuring stick though you believers who read this- that is spiritual adultery, instead, walk in the Spirit. This is a higher plane of living.
This is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
(scripture quotations from NKJV/Nelson)