Nov 5th, 2017
Romans 7:1-6 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? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
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.
The Bad Marriage.
As a Christian we pay attention to the law… it’s good advice and Paul isn’t saying, “look - the law won’t get you there, so dump the law.” No. In fully stepping into God’s heart for us, we have to break free of the law, without throwing the law away, or turning our back on the law. We have to escape in a way that is, in itself, lawful.
Christ, in His death and resurrection, made a way for us to do exactly that. And as we come into that amazing change, we realize that we must not be married to the law. The law is a terrible husband! He’s a dogmatic bureaucrat with a ledger, making a solemn mark every time you think, say, or do something less than perfect.
If we’re married to the law, we get our sense of self from performance. We’re trying to prove ourselves to God, to ourselves, and to other people through performance - look at my adherence to the moral law! The worst part is this: even if you win the game of “moral programming”, you still lose. You turn into something of a Pharisee, when you start comparing yourself to other people and think, “wow they are just terrible… I’m so much better than they are.”
This is a condition we can’t adjust. We can't self-improve it. And we can’t divorce the law and be in the place God wants us to be.
The only way out is death. And this is why the gospel is such good news!
The Good Marriage.
Because of what Jesus did… fulfilling the law and dying Himself, and joining us to His death… He sets us free from old marriage to the law through the mechanism of death. It is finished! So now that we’re free, we can enter into a new marriage, one filled with grace and love and great things for life. Two things in particular help us here: 1) Selflessness and 2) Encouragement.
We think that marriage is about me and getting my needs met and finding someone to help me navigate my life and my laundry. We think it is about someone helping buy a house for me to live in… but actually marriage is a master class on being less selfish.
The people who get that do very, very well. The people who don’t, will struggle. Eph 6 - lays it out and it’s not about you, it’s about your mate. Wives, look to your husband. Husband, set aside your stuff and focus on words, actions, a lifestyle that will make your wife’s day better. This works for finances, and big decisions, and physical intimacy. When both people do this, it’s amazing. Your heart is full and your needs are met and this selfless attitude towards each other just kills conflict.
God loves us just this way! Philippians says that He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant - who was He serving? Us! He didn’t demand His rights, or His due, but instead laid out everything to help us. He is so Selfless in His heart towards us. In that light it’s easy for us to respond in gratitude and be less selfish ourselves. It’s not a thing to be generous to the poor in the light of the cross and Jesus giving His whole life away.
Another thing marriage brings to us is the opportunity for real encouragement. The whole world can be down on us, but if our partner loves us, they become a real haven. Their words and heart for us matter more than the opinion of strangers. In that light, hear what your new Husband says about you… and tune out the unhealthy and destructive words of the enemy. We need to let God speak over us in encouraging ways and celebrate our new identity in Him!
You are a Child of God John 1:12
God loves you with an everlasting love Jeremiah 31:3
You are the apple of His eye – Zechariah 2:8
You are a friend of God John 15:15
You are blessed, chosen, called to declare His praise! Ephesians 1 and 1 Peter 2
You are not an accident, you are fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139
You are filled with new life in Christ: Colossians 3:3, NLT
You are redeemed, forgiven and set aside for amazing work Isaiah 1 and Ephesians 1
You are free from the law of sin and death Romans!
He gives you the power to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly Micah 6
The weight of marriage in impacting our self-image is an amazing power. And it sets us free to do amazing things… that go even beyond what the law would require. What looks like extreme generosity or sacrifice from the outside - is a natural and normal response to God’s love in our hearts!