Romans 7:1, 4-6 - 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? ... 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. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the Law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the Law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
There's a silly thing my family will say sometimes when we are just not up to another chore: we say, "Sorry, I'm dead today. I can't do it." This usually makes the other people laugh, and then we work out a compromise, but the underlying idea is true, isn't it? If you're dead, you're free. Nobody can expect you to do anything.
Paul uses this idea in a rather complicated argument he's laying out in Romans 7. He's talking about human sin, and why just trying harder to keep God's Law is never going to get us anywhere. You probably realize that from your own life, right? Because the weird thing about sin is, as soon as somebody says, "Don't do this thing," suddenly everybody wants to do it. If you tell the children not to put beans up their noses, ten minutes later you have five kids with beans up their noses. If God's Law orders us, "Don't lie" or "Don't steal," suddenly lying and stealing become huge temptations to us. The more we try to keep the Law, the more we fall into sin. What a horrible trap!
But Paul says that God has provided a way out of the trap through Jesus our Savior. He is the One who kept the Law perfectly, a thing we could never do. And then He took all our sins on Himself and carried them to the cross, where He put an end to them forever. He died our death, and rose from the dead so that we could live forever with Him.
But notice this: Because Jesus died for us, His death is our death, and in a very real sense, we are dead now. Oh, we still walk around and breathe, but when it comes to sin and the Law, we are dead people in God's eyes. Jesus has set us free. The obligation no longer applies. Jesus has taken care of that for us. And that means that, when temptation comes calling, we can answer seriously, "Sorry, not interested, I'm dead now."
If you like, read through Romans 7 with that in mind. Think about the difference between where we once were—slaves to the Law, never able to carry it out properly—and where we are now, imitating Jesus freely, out of love. Then enjoy the wonderful freedom Jesus has given you—because you are dead to the Law, but alive to God.
WE PRAY: Dear Savior, thank You for setting me free from the trap of sin. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
1. When in your life has a prohibition made something more attractive to you?
2. Think of the most Jesus-like person you know. Does that person worry a lot about keeping the Law?
3. If not, what do you think motivates them to do what is good anyway?
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