Friday, May 30, 2014

“Christ, the Law and the Gospel”

Insights #9 May 31, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ, the Law and the Gospel"
For the week of May 31, 2014
The enemy of God and man attempts to separate the grace from law, justice from mercy and obedience from faith. At times he appears to be successful, but appearance is not reality. His efforts have been an utter failure. God's grace brings us into harmony with His holy law. The law reveals how crooked we are; grace comes in and straitens us out. Grace teaches us to say "No" to transgression of the law and "Yes" to the righteousness of the law. Read this in Titus 2:12, 13, NIV – Grace "teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope…"

Likewise faith and obedience are inseparable. Faith always obeys. Paul begins and ends his letter to the Church in Rome with "the obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; 16:26). In the Greek the words are exactly the same and in the same word order: "obedience of faith." And to the Galatians he wrote faith through love works (Gal 5:6). Faith comes to effective expression through love. There is no creature merit in either faith or work, not even in faith which works. Friday's lesson states succinctly:

"Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit. Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature."Faith and Works, pp 19-20. (Read the rest of the paragraph).

Justice and mercy have been under attack by the enemy as well as the law and the gospel, and faith and obedience. There is nothing in the universe by which finite minds can compare the ripping of the divine attributes within God Himself. Lucifer, in heaven, drove a wedge between God's sovereign attributes of justice and mercy. He thought the gulf separating justice and mercy could not be spanned. Notice what happened: "Justice and Mercy stood apart, in opposition to each other, separated by a wide gulf." (General Conference Bulletin, October 1, 1899).

Col 1:20 states that on the cross Christ's death reconciled things in heaven as well as on earth. It was on the cross that Justice and Mercy kissed each other (Psa 85:10) or in other words, they were reconciled.
"He [Jesus] planted his cross midway between heaven and earth, and made it the object of attraction which reached both ways, drawing both Justice and Mercy across the gulf. Justice moved from its exalted throne, and with all the armies of heaven approached the cross. There it saw One equal with God bearing the penalty for all injustice and sin. With perfect satisfaction Justice bowed in reverence at the cross, saying, 'It is enough.'….
His object was to reconcile the prerogatives of justice and mercy, and let each stand separate in its dignity, yet united. His mercy was not weakness, but a terrible power to punish sin because it is sin; yet a power to draw to it the love of humanity. Through Christ Justice is enabled to forgive without sacrificing one jot of its exalted holiness." (General Conference Bulletin, October 1, 1899).

Both the law and the gospel have also been viciously attacked by the devil. He convinces many to believe that anyone who obeys God's law is under the "old Jewish law." Some will state that they are "New Testament Christians" and not under the Old Testament law of ten commandments. However, Jesus said that the "Scriptures" testified of Him (John 5:39). (At that time the only Scriptures in existence were the Old Testament writings). Jesus continued: "If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46–47). From these verses in John 5 we may safely conclude that if a person is not an "Old Testament Christian" it is impossible to be a "New Testament Christian."

Both gospel and grace are proclaimed in the Old Testament. (Gal 3:8; Gen 6:8). As soon as there was sin, there was grace. Grace was waiting to take Adam by the hand as soon as he fell. "Grace … was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Tim 1:9). This is the gospel.

    It was at Calvary, in Jesus, that everything which seemed opposite and contradictory came together in union as one, never to be separated again. Eternity will unfold, and reveal to us the oneness between the gospel of grace and the law, justice and mercy, and obedience and faith.

Consider why the Cross makes no change in the Law or obedience or justice. The law uttered amid the terrors of Sinai was spoken by the lips of Jesus whose life the law was and is. And from Him came the stream which was at that moment flowing—His own life given for, and to, the people. He was the Rock that was struck and from Him came the law and the stream of life that poured forth its life to all who drank. We will close with Waggoner's words:

"The Cross, with its healing, life-giving stream was at Sinai, and hence the Cross cannot possibly make any change in the law. The life proceeding from Christ at Sinai as at Calvary, shows that the righteousness which is revealed in the Gospel is none other than that of the ten commandments. Not one jot nor one tittle could pass away. The awfulness of Sinai was at Calvary, in the thick darkness, the earthquake, and the great voice of the Son of God. The smitten rock and the flowing stream at Sinai represented Calvary; Calvary was there; so that it is an actual fact that from Calvary the ten commandments are proclaimed in the identical words that were heard from Sinai. Calvary, not less than Sinai, reveals the terrible and unchanging holiness of the law of God, so terrible and so unchangeable that it spared not even the Son of God when "He was reckoned among the transgressors." But however great the terror inspired by the law, the hope by grace is even greater; for "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Back of all stands the oath of God's covenant of grace, assuring the perfect righteousness and life of the law in Christ; so that although the law spoke death, it only showed what great things God had promised to do for those who believe. It teaches us to have no confidence in the flesh, but to worship God in the Spirit, and to rejoice in Christ Jesus. Thus God was proving His people, that they might know that "man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live." E. J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant (1900) 310-311.
-Jerry Finneman

Raul Diaz

Friday, May 23, 2014

“The Law of God and the Law of Christ”

Insights #8 May 24, 2014

Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“The Law of God and the Law of Christ”

For the week of May 24, 2014

Our lesson this week rightly reminds us that there is no difference between the Law of God and the Law of Christ.  Wednesday’s lesson draws our attention to what it means to “fulfill the law of Christ.”  E. J. Waggoner, one of the Lord’s appointed messengers that Ellen White identified as bringing a “most precious message,” had a powerful passage in the book, The Glad Tidings, his commentary on the book of Galatians.  This passage from The Glad Tidings is commenting on Galatians 6:1-2.  I’ve never read a better commentary on this passage.  May we strive, under the truth and power of the Holy Spirit to live up to this ideal.

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Gal.6:1-2 (NKJV)

-Bob Hunsaker

"The Law of Christ." Glad Tidings, p.124-128, by E. J. Waggoner

When men set out to make themselves righteous, pride, boasting, and criticism lead to open quarrels.  So it was with the Galatians, and so it will always be.  It cannot be otherwise.  Each individual has his own conception of the law.  Having determined to be justified by the law, he reduces it to the level of his own mind as well as himself to see if they are up to his measure.  If his critical eye detects one who is not walking according to his rule, he at once proceeds to deal with the offender.  The self-righteous ones constitute themselves their brother's keeper to the extent of keeping him out of their company lest they should be defiled by contact with him.  In marked contrast with this spirit, which is all too common in the church, is the exhortation with which this chapter opens.  Instead of hunting for faults that we may condemn them, we are to hunt for sinners that we may save them.
To Cain, God said, "If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."  Genesis 4:7.  Sin is a ravenous beast, lurking in secret, watching every opportunity to spring upon and overcome the unwary.  Its desire is to us, but power has been given us to master it.  "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies."  Romans 6:12.  Nevertheless it is possible (not necessary) for the most zealous ones to be overtaken.  "I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."  1 John 2:1,2.  So, even though one may stumble, he is to be restored and not thrust farther away.
The Lord represents His work by the case of the shepherd who seeks after the one sheep that has gone astray.  The work of the gospel is an individual work.  Even though under the preaching of the gospel thousands accept it in one day as the result of one discourse, the success is because of its effect on each individual heart.  When the preacher in speaking to thousands addresses each one individually, he is doing the work of Christ.  So if a man be overtaken in a fault, restore him in the spirit of meekness.  No man's time is so precious that it is wasted when devoted to the salvation of one single person.  Some of the most important and glorious truths that we have on record as uttered by Christ were addressed to only one listener.  He who looks after and cares for the single lambs of the flock is a good shepherd.
"God was in Christ reconciling he world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."  2 Corinthians 5:19.  "He Himself bore our sins in His body."  1 Peter 2:24.  He did not impute our trespasses to us, but took them all on Himself.  "A soft answer turns away wrath."  Proverbs 15:1.  Christ comes to us with gentle words, not harshly chiding us, in order that He may win us.  He calls us to come to Him and find rest, to exchange our galling yoke of bondage and heavy burden for His easy yoke and light burden.
All Christians are one in Christ, the Representative Man.  Therefore "as He is so are we in this world."  1 John 4:17.  Christ was in this world as an example of what men ought to be and of what His true followers will be when wholly consecrated to Him.  To His disciples He says, "As the Father has sent Me, even so I send you."  John 20:21.  To this end He clothes them with His own power through the Spirit.  "God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him."  John 3:17.  Therefore we are not sent to condemn, but to save.  Hence the injunction, "If a man be overtaken in any trespass . . . restore him."  This is not to be limited to those who are associated with us in church capacity.  We are sent as ambassadors for Christ to beseech men to be reconciled to God.  2 Corinthians 5:20.  No higher office can be found in heaven or earth than that of ambassador for Christ, which is also the office of even the lowliest and most despised soul that is reconciled to God.
Only such ones are called upon to restore the erring.  None others can do it.  The Holy Spirit alone must speak through those who would reprove and rebuke.  It is Christ's own work that is to be done, and only by the power of the Spirit can anybody be a witness to Him.
But would it then not be great presumption for anybody to go to restore a brother?  Would it not be as much as claiming that he himself is spiritual?
It is indeed no light matter to stand in Christ's place to any fallen man.  The design of God is that each one should take heed to himself:  "Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted."  The rule here laid down is calculated to work a revival in the church.  As soon as a man is overtaken in a fault, the duty of each one is not straightway to talk to somebody about him, nor even to go directly to the erring one himself, but to ask himself, "How do I stand?  Am I not guilty if not of the same thing of something equally bad?  May it not even be that some fault in me has led to his fall?  Am I walking in the spirit, so that I could restore him and not drive him farther away?"  This would result in a complete reformation in the church, and it might well be that by the time the others had got into condition to go to the faulty one he might also have recovered himself from the snare of the devil.
In giving directions how to deal with one who has committed a trespass (Matthew 18:5-18), the Saviour said, "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Verse 18.  Does this mean that God pledges Himself to be bound by any decision that any company of men calling themselves His church may make?  Certainly not.  Nothing that is done on earth can change God's will.  The history of the church as we have it for nearly two thousand years is a record of mistakes and errors, of self-aggrandizement and of putting self in the place of God.
What, then, did Christ mean?  He meant just what He said.  His instruction shows that He meant that the church should be spiritual, filled with their spirit of meekness, and that everyone who spoke should "speak as the oracles of God."  Only the word of Christ should be in the heart and mouth of all who deal with a trespasser.  When this is the case, it follows (since God's word is settled forever in heaven) that whatever is bound on earth must necessarily be bound in heaven.  But this will not be the case unless the Scriptures are strictly followed in letter and in spirit.
"The law of Christ" is fulfilled by bearing one another's burdens, because the law of Christ's life is to bear burdens.  "Surely He has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows."  Whoever would fulfill His law must still do the same work for the strayed and fallen.
"In all things it behooved Him to be made like unto His brethren . . . .  For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted."  Hebrews 2:17, 18, KJV.  He knows what it is to be sorely tempted, and He knows how to overcome.  Although He "knew no sin," He was made even to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."  2 Corinthians 5:21.  He took every one of our sins and confessed them before God as His own.
Even so He comes to us.  Instead of upbraiding us for our sin, He opens His heart to us and tells us how He has suffered with the same hardship, pain, sorrow and shame.  Thus He wins our confidence.  Knowing that He has passed through the same experience, that he has been down to the very depths, we are ready to listen to Him when He talks about the way of escape.  We know that He is talking from experience.
The greatest part therefore of the work of saving sinners is to show ourselves one with them.  It is in the confession of our own faults that we save others.  The man who feels himself without sin is not the man to restore the sinful.  If you say to one who is overtaken in any trespass, "How in the world could you ever do such a thing?  I never did a thing like that in my life!  I can't see how anybody with any sense of self-respect could do so," you might far better stay at home.  God chose one Pharisee, and only one, to be an apostle.  And he was not sent forth until he could acknowledge himself to be the chief of sinners.
It is humiliating to confess sin, but the way of salvation is the way of the cross.  It was only by the cross that Christ could be the Saviour of sinners.  Therefore, if we would share His joy, we must with Him endure the cross, despising the same.  Remember this fact:  It is only by confessing our own sins that we can save others from their sins.  Only thus can we show them the way of salvation; for it is he who confesses his sins that obtains cleansing from them and so can lead others to the fountain.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

“Christ, the End of the Law”

Insights #7 May 17, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ, the End of the Law"
For the week of May 17, 2014
In Psalm 119:172 we read: "All Your commandments are righteousness." God's righteousness is mirrored in the Ten Commandments. It is this law of righteousness that is the standard by which all doctrines, including justification by faith, must be tested. In Romans 3:20 Paul wrote that no one can be justified by the deeds of the law. However, he goes on to say, in the next two verses that the same law testifies in behalf of God's righteousness which we receive through the faith of Jesus. The law witnesses to that righteousness, showing that it is the righteousness of the law. Any teaching of justification by faith that does not line up with the righteousness of the law is false. Justification by faith carries the law up front. It establishes the law (Romans 3:31). Isaiah said the Lord would "magnify the law, and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). This is what justification by faith does – it magnifies the law and reveals its honorableness.

The law of God was in Christ's own heart as He Himself prophesied: "Then I said, 'Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.' " (Psalm 40:7, 8). So our lesson for this week is most certainly not about doing away with the law as some opine.

The title of our lesson for this week: "Christ, the End of the Law" is not complete. He "is the end of the law for righteousness." The context reveals Jews were attempting to gain righteousness by the deeds of the law, in opposition to Christ over whom they stumbled (See Romans 9:31-10:3).

The law is righteousness and that is its exact demand. But it cannot give the righteousness it demands. This is because man sinned and continues to fall short of the requirements of the law. Christ is the only one who met the demands of the law by living a perfect life of righteousness and then died in order to exhaust the penalty of the transgressed law which rightly belongs to the human race. In behalf of mankind Jesus both lived and died, thus fulfilling the just requirements of the law.

The word "end" does not necessarily mean "termination." It is often used in the sense of design, object, or purpose as in 1 Tim 1:5 where the NKJV translates the same word "end" as "purpose": "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith." So, in our lesson for this week, the purpose of the law is the righteousness of God in Christ. Christ as our righteousness is the object of the law. He is the One to whom the law points. In Galatians 3:22-24 (KJV) Paul uses strong language regarding the law's purpose:

"But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before [lit.:the] faith [of Jesus] came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith [of Jesus] which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith [of Jesus]."

The law captures us, hems us in, imprisons and confines us to the prison house of sin and guards us from escaping. When the end, or purpose, of the law is met through the faith of Christ, the sinner is released from the prison of sin. The "object" the "end," the "purpose" of the law as it is written by Paul in his letter to the Galatians is to "bring us to Christ" in order for Him to "justify [us] by faith." So, in perfect agreement with Galatians 3:22-24, Romans 10:4 means exactly what it says: "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." The necessary implication is that Jesus is not the end of the law to those who refuse to believe. They remain condemned, in prison and under guard because of sin.

Nevertheless, unknown to the sinner even while in prison, grace abounds. And it abounds much more than the abounding sin that holds the sinner captive. The three English words – "abounded much more" – in Romans 5:20, referring to grace, is only one word in the original language. Its meaning is to "superabound" "to supply lavishly." God's grace is always present in much greater abundance "on a scale of amount…in great excess" to the sin that abounds. (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, under the word: huperperisseuo).

In contrasting the results of the accomplishments of the two Adams, regarding sin and grace, Paul in Romans 5:15 reveals that grace is so out of proportion to sin that it cannot be measured. The New English Bible sets forth this truth in the following way:

"God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many, its effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ."

Grace is against sin; never against the law. Grace does not abolish the law of God nor diminish its claims. The law tells us how crooked we are, but grace straitens us out. Grace always brings the believer into harmony with His moral law. Grace never frees the believer from the obligation to keep the law. If this were the case grace would make Christ the minister of sin and not one who administers righteousness. This is what Paul warned the Galatians against (Galatians 2:17-18). It is only by God's grace, through faith in Christ alone, that the law can be obeyed.

Grace frees us from the prison house of sin where we were held under the penalty of the law. Sin is not to have dominion over us. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace" (Romans 6:14). To be under the law here means to be under its jurisdiction in the prison of sin. Grace releases us from sin to the righteousness of Christ when we believe in Him alone for salvation. When we are freed or justified we are brought into harmony with the law. The law then testifies, in the court in heaven, to this fact.
Romans 8:3-4 puts the law and its righteousness in proper perspective to Christ and to man:

"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."
The law is not weak; sinful human nature is. Because the law cannot give righteousness to us, God did by sending Jesus to condemn sin in our sinful flesh. Jesus condemned sin in that He never gave in to it. Had He yielded to sin He would have justified it. Because He condemned sin in the flesh, the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer. In Christ the purpose of the law is fulfilled. Righteousness by faith is the object of the law.

Righteousness by faith is not a formula. It is a Person. Righteousness can never be separated from Christ. Receiving Him we receive the righteousness of God and consequently the righteousness of the law testifies, in the court of the universe, to this fact (Romans 3:21).
Contrary to what some professing Christians think, the law has never been abolished. These Christians advocate the view that God's law has been abolished and consequently its claims are no longer binding upon mankind, especially upon the believer! They profess to find Scriptural warrant for their belief. In reading that we "are not under the law, but under grace," and also that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Romans 6:14; 10:4), and from similar texts they draw the inference that the Ten Commandments are no longer the standard of righteous living. Because of this we observe the degradation that is not only in the world, but within Christianity itself.

It is evident that these texts cannot be pressed into antinomian service except by mutilating them. To be "under grace" and thus "not under the law" clearly means to be controlled by grace and not by sin. Sin brings a person under the law's condemnation. Christ came to redeem us because we were under the condemnation of the law. Never does Scripture say that He came to abolish His eternal law of righteousness.
To the extent of leaving out, from Romans 10:4, the statement that Christ is the end of the law "to everyone who believes" Christ is denied as the fulfillment of the righteousness of the law for the believer which is its purpose or object.

In closing: the message God commanded to be given (and must be taken) to the world regarding justification by faith, the righteousness of Christ and consequent manifested obedience to the law is reveled in the following communication by Mrs White:

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family. All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world.  It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure." (Testimonies to Ministers, 91-92).
-Jerry Finneman

Raul Diaz

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

1888 Insight: “Christ's Death and the Law”

Insights #6 May 10, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ's Death and the Law"
For the week of May 10, 2014
She Needs a Savior

After a shipwreck, a lone female survivor was stranded, treading water in the sea with neither food nor drinking water at hand. As far as she could see, there was no dry land in sight. Not wanting to waste her precious energy by swimming in the wrong direction, she considered her options. Even though a distress signal was sent before the ship sank, anxiety arose as she realized that several hours had passed and help had not arrived. Immersed in salty water, exposed to the harsh heat of the sun, and without food or water, she knew her chances of survival weren't good. Yet she determined not to dwell on the likelihood of her fate if she wasn't rescued soon. Fighting despondency, she thought, "My only hope is that the ship's distress signal was heard and that help is on the way." However, adding to her predicament was the gnawing fearful thought that, "even if I am rescued, will I have the courage to get on board another ship? What if it malfunctions and sinks again? What should I do? "

Lost in her thoughts, she suddenly realized that a strange fish-like creature had been swimming around her, and to her surprise, it seemed to have been protecting her by warding off advancing predators. Cautious but curious, and with waning energy, she began to watch the creature. Eventually, as if sensing her exhaustion, the creature positioned itself under her, so she could take a break from treading. Amazed, by this turn of events, yet still somewhat afraid, she decided that the creature was not there to harm her, and gratefully allowed herself to rest.

After a few moments, the creature unexpectedly brought its torso out of the water so it could face her. To her astonishment, the creature looked like a man, not a fish! Bewildered, she didn't know what to think. It was then that he spoke to her. "You need to go back to dry land, but you have a dilemma; you no longer trust sea-going vessels, so if one should come, you may not get onboard, neither can you stay in the water and survive, unless you are like me."  Slow to respond to his words due to her confusion, she eventually asked the creature, "What are you?"  To which he replied, "I am a merman."  "Well," the woman, having regained her composure somewhat, replied, "unless you have some kind of magic to turn me into a mermaid, death is certain" (implying that she wouldn't get into a rescue vessel). "There is a way," affirmed the creature.  "If I swallow you, our bodies will rest in a cocoon. After three days, we will be released from the cocoon as a newly formed me and a newly formed you."  In gratitude, she consents.

Notice, although the woman's survival in the water was impossible, the solution did not involve getting rid of the water; they found a way to live with and in the water. In this story, the woman is the individual, the water is the law, and the merman is Christ. The story is given to illustrate how we relate to the Law in our sinful condition and in contrast how we relate to the Law once we choose to die and be resurrected in Christ. Paul's use of the woman in the beginning of Romans 7 (verses 1-3) is similar to our story above. Take note, however, that this survivor story represents the subjective truth of the Gospel. The objective truth, in a nutshell, is that without man's consent, Christ saved the entire world from sin.

What Paul is doing in Chapter 7, is using a story, just as we are using a story, to illustrate an event that occurred in the past, so that we can make a decision in the present to allow Christ's objective history to be ours subjectively. 

The married woman in Romans 7 finds herself attracted to a single man, for whom she wants to leave her husband. In fact, she wants to marry this man instead, but knows she cannot for she is already married. Perhaps we can infer from the verses that follow Romans 7:3 that her current husband is a cruel man whose intent is to kill her. But no, that would not be accurate, for in fact, he is a loving husband. It is just that he can neither sympathize with her weaknesses in not carrying out his commands, nor can he help her carry them out.
Similarly, her new love interest is a sweet, kind and loving man who not only wants her to be His, but unlike her husband, he sympathizes with her regarding all of her weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). This man is also able to help her do what she is incapable of doing on her own (Hebrews 2:17, 18). Unfortunately, our woman of Romans 7 has a dilemma.  She cannot leave her husband, and she cannot stay. Daily she is suffering a tortured existence. She cannot leave her current husband and marry her new found love without breaking the law of marriage which says "until death do you part."

The only way out is through death; but, it cannot be through murder. She cannot murder her husband, for that is illegal. And of course, if he kills her, she will not be free to marry, as she would be dead, deceased, gone, and non-existent!  So, going to her new love interest, she presents her dilemma. It's true that neither of them can do away with her husband, which represents the law, for it is "just and holy and good" (Romans 7:12).  Thus, the new love interest cannot nail her spouse (the law) to the cross. But He and she can die together, thereby freeing her from her first marriage. In effect, He tells her He will nail her (mankind) to the cross in Himself, and when He dies, she will die and when He is resurrected, she will be resurrected in Him. This solution fills her with hope. In gratitude, she consents.  As Paul has said, "Therefore my brethren, you (the wife) also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ." It is not the law (former spouse) that dies on the cross. It is us (the entire human race) that died in the second Adam, Jesus Christ (cf. I Corinthians 15: 21, 22; 44-47).

In Romans 5:17, we (mankind) are represented both individually and corporately in Adam and in Christ.  So, we were in Christ when He died and therefore, in Christ when He was resurrected (Romans 6:3–7). Accordingly, we had no say in what Adam did to plunge us into sin. We also had no say in what Christ, our Divine Lover, did to rescue us from sin.  Like our survivor story illustrates, the choice we do have, however, is whether or not to individually receive that gift by grace through faith.  In essence, when we acknowledge that we are part of Christ's body, one with Him, we begin to function in harmony with Him as the head (Ephesians 4:12–16).

You see, love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). Christ as the divine lover has fulfilled all of that law. When our woman of Romans 7 died and was resurrected with Him (Christ), she also began to fulfill the law through Him. So, while we can neither obey the law in our weakness, nor can the law itself help us to obey, yet, when we accept Christ's history of obedience, His obedience becomes ours.

In sum, when by faith we accept our death in Christ, recognized through the symbol of baptism, we are liberated from the "dominion and jurisdiction‟ of the law. It is not abolished (as the water in our story couldn't be gotten rid of), but is placed in the mind and on the heart as promised by God (Jeremiah 31: 33; Ezekiel 11:19; Hebrews 8:10). This is what it means to be under grace, in Christ. We can now bear the fruit of our union together. Glory be to God!
-Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz