November 23: Under the Law of Christ.

Romans 6:14. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Grace removes sin’s dominion over us. Only grace can produce holiness in the Christian life. Only grace can sanctify us. Only grace can overcome the flesh.

This seems so counter-intuitive but it is true. And yet very few Christians live as though it is. Very few actually live within the New Covenant grace that Jesus bought for us. Very few live on this side of the cross. Most, if not all of us, live our lives burdened by law without the rescuing power of grace.

Law has a job to do. Yes. THE Law is good and holy and righteous and it is meant to reveal your sin. But it can never overcome sin. It can never produce righteousness. Only condemnation. Only death. Grace alone can bring life, and righteousness. Imputed life, imputed righteousness. Not a life of your own. Not your righteousness bolstered up. Christ’s righteousness. Christ’s life. His zoe.

This is how Paul explained it in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 9:21. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law.

This verse can seem to contradict Romans 6:14. If we are not under law, why does Paul say he is under the law of Christ?

Because the law of Christ is grace. It is the person of Christ. It is his life.

The words “under law” in 1 Corinthians 9:21 are one Greek word – ennomos (a different word from what is used in Romans 6:14 – hyponommos). The idea of ennomos is not so much being “under” a law, but being “attached” to, or “positioned” in a law.

Do you see it? Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:21 is referring to his union with Christ when he says he is under the law of Christ. He is attached to Christ or positioned in Christ as his law. His head. He is “en-lawed” to Christ like the body is “en-lawed” to the head. The hand doesn’t make a decision without the head. The leg doesn’t move without the head. The head is the law for the body because the body is united to the head (William Newell).

It is not an external law that we are under in Christ. It is a relationship. It is law through union. It is an internal law not an external law.

And that internal law is the principle of love and grace. Grace is now our controlling force. It is what compels us to love and righteousness. Christ himself is our law. But his is not a law of do, do, do, earn, earn, earn, achieve, thrive, be better, get closer. His law is done, done, done. It is unconditional love and acceptance. It is an invitation into his life and his justice.

It is this imputed grace, love, and righteousness alone that bring about the law’s demands in our lives. Only a living Law (Christ) can do this. Only “to live is Christ.” Only knowing that the standard of the Law and every law is fulfilled already can free us from the fear of the Law and empower us to fulfill the Law’s demand, the demand to love, because Love is alive in us.

Are you daily living under law or are you en-lawed to Christ and his grace? How does your union with Christ unite you to perpetual grace? How could believing that you are under grace not law change how you live today?

One comment

  1. The Nike example was compelling but a difference between the example and the reality of living Christ is each person was living from a sense of what they were and what they had to work with in order to “become.” The one in the stadium seats had to learn to adapt to the new body which was more capable than that to which he was accustomed. The other had to work to train the body to become able to perform according to the skills he knew.
    In order for us to live Christ, we need to know him more (Philippians 3:8). We do pattern ourselves after him (3 John 1:11), take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), and purpose to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). However, more importantly, we must know Christ. We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). To live Christ is to live from this new mindset. Knowing him allows us to sift the thoughts which are from him and this new mindset from those of our own thinking. The deeper, richer, broader, wider, and higher our understanding of our Jesus, the greater the transformation into his likeness. We cannot love what we do not know. Living from his love comes from knowing who he was, who he is, what he did, and remembering that I am a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17). Nothing compares to knowing him.


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