Dead to the Law
“…and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead…”(Revelation 1:5)
It is completely unnecessary to try and argue whether or not the Law has been abolished.
This is a popular issue that is worthy of debate, but it is not the real issue.
The question is not about what change has the Law undergone, but what change have WE undergone?
The structure of the Law was designed as a mediation that encompassed every aspect of a person’s outward life, because there was no inward mediation to subdue the inward life. Under the Law, a person’s inward nature had to be governed and subdued by something external. In Christ, the inward man is governed and subdued internally, not externally.
If the sacrifice of Jesus only forgave our sins and removed the penalties of the Law, then we would still require an external mediation to govern our inward life.
The gospel is not simply about the penalties being paid, and Christ dying in our place, its about us dying with Him.
The Law hasn’t changed, but we have changed, therefore the Law has no hold on us. The inward life of sin has died, and the need for external governing has been altered.
Scripture is not lacking in this regard so let’s look at the what the Bible says about how the gospel changes us:
“…How shall WE WHO DIED TO SIN live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ
Jesus WERE BAPTIZED INTO HIS DEATH?…
…Therefore WE WERE BURIED WITH HIM through baptism INTO DEATH, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in the NEWNESS OF LIFE…
…For if WE HAVE BEEN UNITED TOGETHER IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS DEATH, certainly we also shall be IN THE LIKENESS OF HIS RESURRECTION…
…Knowing this that OUR OLD MAN WAS CRUCIFIED WITH HIM that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin. For HE WHO HAS DIED has been FREED from sin. (Romans 6:2-8)
“For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But IF THE HUSBAND DIES, SHE IS RELEASED FROM THE LAW of her husband…
…Therefore, my brethren, YOU ALSO HAVE BECOME DEAD TO THE LAW through the body of Christ, THAT YOU MAY BE MARRIED TO ANOTHER-TO HIM who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God…
…But now WE HAVE BEEN DELIVERED FROM THE LAW having DIED TO WHAT WE WERE HELD BY, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
“For I THROUGH THE LAW, DIED TO THE LAW that I might live unto God. I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST; it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:19-20)
“And those who are Christ’s have CRUCIFIED THE FLESH with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
“Therefore, if YOU DIED WITH CHRIST from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations…?” (Colossians 2:20)
“For YOU DIED, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
“For the law of the Spirit has MADE ME FREE from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2)
“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to DEATH the deeds of the body you will live.” (Romans 8:13)
These verses address the practical and effective working of the Cross. Paul’s rejection of the Law is not based on what motive a person may have in keeping it, but because that type of life denies what has been made available through the Cross. We have died to the life that required the restraints of the Law. If we need the restraints of the Law it is because we only view the aspect of forgiveness through the Cross, not the crucifixion of ourselves.
The crucifixion of our old man with Him covers both the legal and spiritual aspects of our life.
Legally speaking; we are freed from the Law because the claims of justice have been settled concerning the transgression of Adam and the offense of our sinful nature.
Spiritually speaking; we are freed from the Law because we have been raised in the likeness of His resurrection and the crucifixion of our old man allows for a new nature and disposition that does not require the external governance. This is why the Bible says:
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Gal. 5:18)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”(Rom. 8:1)
It becomes duplicitous to claim salvation by faith, but avoid this practical aspect of the gospel that deals with the legal and spiritual.
Forgiveness of sins is easy because God did that through Christ 2000 years ago. The crucifixion of the flesh is what the Holy Spirit does, right here, right now. It is the practical working of the Cross, but who wants to die? Who wants to relinquish their consideration for themselves as Christ did? Who wants to give their will over to the will of God? Who wants to cast their nets on the other side of the boat when they have fished all night like Peter?
I won’t try to assume the motives of those who believe we are under the Law, but if our old man is crucified by faith, what do the constraints of the Law offer in regards to this redemptive and spiritual work? Does keeping the Law as a covenant crucify the flesh?
The Law restrains the flesh, that’s what it’s supposed to do, but this does not equal the crucifixion of it. A person may very well have a pure and non-legalistic motive for keeping the Law, but Paul claims that the Law cannot crucify the flesh, and that we bear fruit unto God through this redeeming process of death. Let’s look at the same verses which talk about this death and how it is related to living for God:
“For 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…(Rom. 8:3)
“…you also have become dead to the law…that you may be married to another…that WE SHOULD BEAR FRUIT TO GOD.” (Rom.7:4)
“But now we have been delivered from the law…THAT WE SHOULD SERVE IN THE NEWNESS OF THE SPIRIT…” (Rom.7:6)
“For SIN SHALL NOT HAVE DOMINION over you for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom.6:14)
“For I through the law died to the law THAT I MIGHT LIVE TO GOD.” (Gal. 2:19)
PAY CLOSE ATTENTION–
I am beginning to think that there is a movement to dismiss the idea that Jesus paid for the transgression of Adam. Coincidentally, as I began writing this article I have noticed an increasing amount of comments from the HRM that narrow the gospel down to only include the forgiveness of sins.
To believe we are under the Law as a covenant, a person has to believe that nothing has taken place significant enough to alter our need and dependence on the Law. If the gospel is reduced to nothing more than the forgiveness of sins or “clean slate”, then it would make perfect sense to still be dependent on the Law.
If Jesus did not pay for the transgression and nature of Adam,
-It is impossible for us to be born again.
-It is impossible to have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
-It is impossible for the temple veil to have been torn in two.
-It would be impossible to be new creatures in Christ Jesus.
-It would be impossible to walk in the Spirit.
In turn, all this would make us DEPENDENT on the Law; nevermind the obligation to it. This is precisely why there seems to be a dismissal of the idea of Jesus paying for the transgression of Adam revealed by the purpose of the Law. It is the only way the HRM can obligate someone to the Law as a covenant.
The HRM will fully agree that our obedience to God is not to be done on the basis of gaining salvation, or because of the legal considerations of the Law, but the only way for us to to operate from any standpoint other than the legal aspects of the Law would be due to the fact that a change has taken place. So if the HRM will agree that a change has occurred whereby we operate with different motives and considerations, then I ask:
What is this change?
It is described for us in the scriptures listed above. There is no getting around this. We do not operate simply on the basis that the penalties have been paid. We operate on the basis that our nature and disposition has changed. The whole entire curse of Adam has been nullified in the Cross. The curse of sin still resides in the body, and also in the world, but we are given the chance to walk apart from those things. It’s called the New Man (Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10)
Our old one has been crucified.
-We are crucified with Christ.
-We are born again of the Spirit, not the flesh.
-We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
-We are new creatures in Christ Jesus.
-The temple veil has been torn in two.
And once again:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”