December 7 I Monday
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” —Romans 6:11
If we count the occurrence of the word “law” solely in the 16 chapters of the book of Romans, we find that it appears more than 75 times. Why is “the law” such a strong theme in Paul’s letter to the Romans? One word: legalism. One of the traps we easily find ourselves falling into is when we begin to measure our relationship with God by our ability to keep the law. We may also judge everybody else’s relationship with God by the same means. Legalism, however, is something contrary to the life that God intends for us to live.
Concerning the way we are to live, Paul writes, “My brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God…But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (Romans 7:4, 6). Paul makes three main points in these verses. Firstly, we have died with Christ. Secondly, we have died to the law. Thirdly, we become alive to the Spirit.
There is a lot of “dying” mentioned in Romans: Christ died for us (5:6), we died to sin (6:2) and we died to the law (7:4). But we must understand it is simply one death that Paul is talking about in all three instances. When Christ died, we died. Legally before God, we died to sin. All the just consequences of sin, the wages of sin, were paid in full because Christ was our substitute. At the same time, we also died to the law because all the law produces is a sense of failure, condemnation and death, but as we died with Christ, we also put to death the law. If the purpose of the law is to reveal the character of God and the problem with the law is it can demand but not produce, then the escape of the law’s demands can only happen through death.
There are some Christians who live under the demands of the law, which can feel like they are pushing a bus up a hill. The good news is that there is an engine in the bus—switch it on and live in the power of the Spirit. May we recognize, through the death of Christ, we are dead to sin and the law, to live fully in His Spirit.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I confess of moments when I am trying to “push the bus up a hill.” Thank You for the reminder that there is an “engine” in the bus, Your Spirit, which I can rely on to power through this life.