Romans 7:1. Law, Bondage, and Resolutions.

Welcome back to To Live is Christ and happy new year! If you are new to this blog, this is a place where we explore what it means to live from the indwelling life of Christ. We are picking up where we left off in 2018, in Romans chapter 7.
Romans 7:1. Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?

“Or”

This little word connects us to something Paul already said back in 6:14. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. This little thesis sentence would be quite shocking, especially to the Jews reading this letter.

Isn’t law a good thing? Don’t we need law to keep us in line? To help us obey? Didn’t God rescue the Israelites in order to give them the holy law and turn them into a righteous society where everyone loved God and neighbor and joined hands and sing in perfect harmony? Why does Paul call the law bondage?

Let’s review what he’s said about the law so far just in this letter.

It condemns us: 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

It can never justify us and only reveals our sin: 3:20. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

It can never produce the boasting that we need: 3:27. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

It produces the wrath of God: 4:15. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

It increases our sinning: 5:20. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Law is a universal principle of life ever since the Garden. As long as you are alive, from the point of birth until the point of death, you are under law. And law is bondage. It is binding. It has authority over your life. This is true of God’s law for sure. But it is also true of all the laws you place yourself under each and every day. There’s only one way out from law – death (but now I’m getting ahead of myself).

Today is January 1. Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Why do we make resolutions? Because we know our life is pretty messed up. That we are very far from perfect. And we want to do better, look better, work better, parent better… If you did make a New Year’s resolution you probably just placed yourself under law. And here’s the inevitable truth – this law (the resolution) will eventually reveal your sin (failure to keep it). It will even cause you to sin (you’ll stop trying or “cheat”). It will never justify you (prove your worth as a human being). It will be something you stop boasting about (or you’ll boast in your own “realness” and “authenticity” as you talk about how you failed to keep the resolution because you’re “such a mess” ha ha). Ultimately it will condemn you. And that’s just your own resolution. Imagine how all of this goes when it comes to God’s law (it’s not pretty).

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If our New Year’s Resolutions are law (and they usually are) then their real purpose is not to make us better people, but to reveal just how lousy we actually are. If you want your New Year’s Resolution to do its job, then let it break you. Let it cause your failure. Let it reveal your sin. Let it make you more dependent on Christ.

Or you could just trust in your union with him and skip the bondage of resolutions and more law.

“To live is Christ” is a far better option than “To live is law.”

Can you identify the ways you are living under law not grace? How does union with Christ allow us to live free from the bondage of the law?

The law leaves us in bondage – Lord I surrender

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