Married to Christ

Read: Romans 7:1-13

Last Sunday, Dr. Chuck Lawless preached from John 4 and considered what happens when we encounter Jesus Christ. Specifically, our encounter with him brings healing to our hearts and leads us to tell others about him. This Sunday, Pastor Ken will continue our Romans series with a message from Romans 7:1-13. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from Tim Keller spur you on to live out your love for Jesus Christ through obedience to him.

Heart Preparation

Being “married to Christ” is the final answer to the question: Can a Christian live as he or she chooses? No, because we are in love with Christ!

Marriage does entail a significant loss of freedom and independence. You cannot simply live as you choose. A single person can make decisions unilaterally but a married person cannot. There is duty and obligation. But, on the other hand, there is now the possibility of an experience of love, intimacy, acceptance and security that you could not have as a single person. Because of this love and intimacy, our loss of freedom is a joy, not a burden. In a good marriage, your whole life is affected and changed by the wishes and desires of the person you love. You get pleasure from giving pleasure. You seek to discover the wishes of your beloved and are happy to make changes in accord with those wishes.

So now Paul has given us the ultimate answer to how Christians live. We are not “under law,” in that we don’t obey the law out of fear of rejection. In other words, we aren’t using the law as a system of salvation, a way of acceptance or access to God, a ladder up to him. No! Jesus’ perfect life and death are the ladder up to God, and we are accepted in him.

Verses 5 and 6 are the parallel verses in Paul’s marriage imagery to 6:19-22 in his slavery metaphor. Married to the law and dominated by our old sinful nature, our sinfulness was “aroused by the law” (7:5— an idea which we will see Paul expanding on later in Romans 7). And so, with our sinful desires inflamed we “bore fruit” which . . . led to both a present and an eternal “death.” Conversely— “but now”— we have been released from our old marriage, through our own death in Christ (v 6). Married to Christ and indwelled by his Spirit, we “serve in [his] new way” . . . .

So does the Christian ignore the moral law of God? Not at all. We now look at it as an expression of God’s desires. He loves honesty, purity, generosity, truth, integrity, kindness, and so on. We now use the law to please the One who saved us. So we are not “under the law.” We are not married to it. We are married to Christ; we are seeking to please him, and so the law’s precepts are ways to honor the One we love. They are now not a burden— we have a new motivation (love for our Husband) and obey in a new framework (acceptance on the basis of Christ, not us, fulfilling the law).

Someone might say: If I thought I was saved totally by grace and could not be rejected, I’d lose all incentive to lead a holy life. The answer is: Well then, all the incentive you have now is fear of rejection. You are under the law. If you understand that you are accepted, the new incentive is grateful joy and love. That is the right incentive.

We obey who we offer our service to. We live to please who we are married to. We were once slaves to sin— we obeyed it. We were once married to the law; controlled by our sinful natures— whether pursuing self-righteous religion or self-centered license— we lived to please it. But our death in “the body of Christ” (v 4) has changed everything, totally and eternally. We are slaves to God— how could we, and why would we, sin?! We belong to Christ as his bride, knowing he died for us— how could we, and why would we, not live to please him, out of loving gratitude toward him? It is the Christian’s identity— the Christian’s relationship to God— that is ultimately the answer to Paul’s question in 6:15. It is knowing who you are in Christ that causes you to say, deep in your heart: Will I live in this moment as though I’m a slave to sin, married to the law? By no means!

Excerpt from Romans 1-7 For You, by Tim Keller

Song List for Sunday
1. “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder, by Daniel Renstrom
2. “Praise the King,” Arr. by Shane & Shane
3. “Scandal of Grace,” Arr. by Shane & Shane
4. “Reign in Us,” Arr. by Shane & Shane

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We will be going to ONE service at 10am starting Dec 17 and we'll resume TWO services at 9&11am on Jan 14.
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