Romans 7:4. The Body of Christ, Identification, and Hugging Porcupines.

Romans 7:4. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

This blog is all about our union with Christ. As Christians we are IN Christ and Christ is IN US. Here in Romans 7:4 we get another great statement from the Apostle Paul regarding this amazing union. We also get the answer to the question “how are we dead to the law?”

The answer: through the body of Christ (literally).

OK stay with me here. We’re gonna get a bit theological. In the first part of Romans (ch. 3-5) Paul talks about how were are justified through the blood of Jesus Christ. The blood, not the body. The blood cleanses us from all sin. The blood of Jesus brings forgiveness. It satisfies God’s wrath (propitiation).

But we don’t identify with the blood of Christ. In other words, it doesn’t change who we are. We identify with the body of Christ. It is our union with the body of Christ through the death of Christ that changes our very identity. And this was made possible by the incarnation. When Christ identified with our humanity bodily, he made it possible for us to identify with him.

Praise God that neither this letter nor our theology ends with the blood of Christ. Praise God it continues to our co-crucifixion with Christ. Our identification with the body of Christ and with his physical death (see Romans 6:6), breaks all the power of sin and law over us. The blood of Jesus alone could not do this. The blood brings forgiveness, but it doesn’t cause our old self to die. We have to be united to the body of Christ and thus the death of Christ for our old self to die. Then the new self can be resurrected in us.

How did this occur? Well Paul gave us a pretty succinct statement back in 2 Corinthians –

2 Corinthians 5:21. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

And Peter said it this way –

1 Peter 2:24. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Christ took our sin into his physical body on the cross. He became sin. Not at the incarnation. But at the crucifixion. He identified with us fully at the cross. With our sin. With our shame. With our guilt. And then he died. Physically died. Now our union with Christ allows us to identify with the bodily death of Christ to sin and law. It’s kind of like this really sweet Christmas ad.

Christ covers our sin much like the porcupine’s quills were covered. This then allows us to identify with him. To be one with him. Our identification with Christ allows us to be accepted and embraced. OK the commercial’s not theologically perfect, but it is cute, and it’s close to what Christ’s love does for us.

So what does all this mean for us? Everything. And that’s where we’re headed. But for today rest in the truth that your salvation, your freedom from the law’s condemnation, is rooted in an actual physical event. The physical, bodily death of Jesus. Not just an idea. Not just a platitude. Not just a philosophy. An event. His death. Your death. It happened.

Do you believe that you died with Christ? Do you believe that the law’s demands have been satisfied in Christ’s death and now your death with him? What keeps you from fully accepting this?

Here’s another good one from Josh White. We must embrace the bodily death of Jesus – it is foundational to our union with Christ. 

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