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Married to "Another"
By David A. DePra
Know you not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives? For the woman which has an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he lives; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. (Rom. 7:1-4)
In this passage from Romans, Paul gives a wonderful illustration as to the relationship between a Christian, the law, and Jesus Christ. He compares our relationship to the law as being equal to a personís relationship to a spouse that has died. And he compares our relationship to Jesus to that of a new husband.
Married to the Law
First, letís look at the relationship between a Christian and the law. Paul notes that if you are married to a husband, that you are bound to him as long as both spouses are alive. This, he says, is like our relationship with Godís law BEFORE we are saved. We are bound to Godís law. There is no escape from this binding relationship as long as both spouses Ė us and the law -- are alive.
It is of vital importance that we see that Paul is talking here, not about SAVED people being married to the law. No. He canít be talking about SAVED people. Indeed, his whole point is that if you are still married to the law, you are NOT SAVED. That is why you are still married to the law. You have not yet died and been raised to a new marriage to Jesus Ė which is what being saved is all about.
Paul is clearly saying that UNSAVED people are married to the law. The reason we know this is that if they are married to the law, they are NOT married to Christ, and therefore are not yet saved. They certainly cannot be saved BEFORE they marry Christ, can they? Thus, in the first part of this passage, when Paul is describing a marriage between people and the law, but BEFORE their marriage to Christ, he is talking about people who are still UNSAVED. Unless we see this, we will understand nothing that follows.
Despite the words of Paul, Christians by the thousands continue to think that they are married to the law. But letís ask: What does it mean to be married to the law? Well, it seems clear that, "being married to the law," equals, "being UNDER the law." Paul is simply using the marriage example to bring out some deeper points of Truth.
To be married to the law means that you are ONE with it, belong to it, and that your life Ė even your religious life Ė is defined by it. You are married to the law Ė that is Ė your life is defined by your relationship with Godís law. But the law, in fact, will make impossible demands of holiness upon you. And then the law will condemn you for not meeting those demands. The law IS holy, just, and good. But that is precisely why you are condemned as long as you continue to be married to the law.
As long as you are not married to Christ, you are going to be married to Godís law. Even if you, "divorce," the law, you will be condemned by it. From this relationship with the law there is no escape. It is Godís standard of righteousness upon all.
Married to Christ
There is a point which Paul makes in this passage which is easy to miss, yet which may be the most important point of all. Paul not only says that the unsaved are married to the law, and that believers are married to Christ -- BUT-- he warns against an, "in-between," condition. He says, "So then if, while her husband lives, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress." Paulís illustration is clear: We cannot be married to BOTH the law and Christ. We cannot say we are married to the law if we are married to Christ. And if we are married to Christ, we can no longer be married to the law.
Yet this, "spiritual adultery," was THE SIN of the Galatians! Sure. And it is the plight of many a Christian today. Paul is telling us that if we are IN CHRIST, our marriage to the law is as dissolved in everyway that the death of a spouse dissolves a marriage. But some of us donít believe this. We continue to think that we can have two living, "husbands," at once.
The key here is DEATH and RESURRECTION. We are freed from the law by DEATH Ė just like a marriage ends when one of the spouses dies. But notice WHO it is that Paul says dies, bringing an end to our marriage to the law: WE DIE. Not the law.
This is important to see. It shows that nothing is changed about the law. It has not been abolished Ė it has not died, passed away, or ceased to exist. No. The law is still alive Ė and is in full effect in the realm to which it applies: The unsaved. The old creation. Never is it said that the law is dead to the Christian. Rather, it is always said that the Christian is dead to the law.
The Christian is as dead to the law as much as a dead spouse is dead to the living one. Our relationship to the law is just that severed. In other words, if we are in Christ, we no longer have any relationship with the law at all. Our relationship with the law died when we died. Now, we are married to another.
Ok. Now comes the important question. If we no longer have any relationship with the law through our death in Christ, does this mean that we are free to sin? If you are even asking that question, you may not grasp the Truth of the new birth. Notice what Paul says here, and what the Bible teaches a thousand other places: We are no longer married to the law. But we are NOW married to Christ! Does that sound like we are free to sin?
You see, all of the contention over law vs. grace will never be resolved until we bring Christ into the picture. The question is not how much law, or this or that law. No. The question is, "Are we married to another, Jesus Christ?" If we are married to Christ, then by definition, we are not going to, "sin because grace abounds." (Romans 6:1) We wonít, because we are married to Christ Ė love Him -- have a relationship to Him.
Read what Paul says: "You also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." We are DEAD to the law if we have DIED IN CHRIST. But if we have died in Christ, we are also raised in Him. Our union with Him in death and resurrection is likened to a NEW marriage.
And what is to be the result of this, "new marriage?" Paul says, "That we bring forth fruit unto God." Not disobedience. Anyone who has died to the law, through death and resurrection in Christ, and been raised married to Christ, is going to want to obey God.
Why? Why will anyone IN CHRIST want to obey God? Because if you are truly IN CHRIST, you GOT THAT WAY by first repenting of sin. Repentance is a change of mind toward God, and thus, towards sin. So if you have changed your mind towards God, you arenít going to act in accordance with your old mind. Or, to put it another way, you are in a NEW marriage. You arenít going to act like you are in the old one.
Being married to Christ is the result of me first DYING Ė to everything of the old creation. That marriage must be severed. And when I am planted in the death of Jesus Christ, everything IS severed -- including the law which governs that old creation. But that is not the end of the story. For if we are planted in the likeness of His death, we are also in His resurrection Ė married to another, to Him that was raised from the death. The result is that we will bear fruit unto God.
Have we recognized that our relationship with the law is severed by death and resurrection in Jesus Christ Ė who is now our righteousness? Yet not unto license and disregard for Christ. No. We are married to Christ! Thus, because of this new marriage, obedience is now the outcome of faith and love, rather than the means thereunto.
Christ is not our righteousness in merely the legal sense Ė although He is that as well. But God does not merely IMPUTE to us the legal righteousness of Jesus Christ. He also literally IMPARTS to us the very life of Christ which IS righteous! A legal imputation is not much of a marriage. It would be like being married to someone, but not living with them. But a living impartation speaks of everything that befits a God-ordained marriage, including the, "fruit unto God," which results from it.
We are no longer married to the law. Rather, we are, "married to another," Jesus Christ. The Christian life stems from this relationship Ė and it will last for eternity.
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