Sunday, December 12, 2004

BIBLE STUDY NOTES FOR ROMANS 7.

7:1-3 (An Analogy From Marriage: Your Relationship To The Law)

Paul continues his discussion of the believer’s relationship to the law. The believer’s position is freedom from the law because he or she died to the law in Christ. Paul also uses the analogy of the marriage bond to explain it.

In verse 1, Paul states that the law only has authority over a person while that person lives. Death brings a release from the obligations of the law.

As an example, Paul holds up the married woman. (He probably used the woman rather than the man, because men were able to obtain divorces in Jewish law and women were not. See Matthew 5:31-32.) If she marries, she is bound to that man as long as he is alive. If she marries another man, she violates the law and commits adultery.

However, if her husband dies, she is freed from the law of marriage. She can marry again without transgressing the law.

7:4-6 (Freedom Through Death)

Just as the woman was freed from the law of marriage by death, so believers are freed from the law, and the sin it produces in us, by death. We die to one husband, sin, to live to another, Christ.

Verse 4 tells us we died to the law through the body of Christ. When we were baptized into his death, we died to sin. It no longer controls us. We died, not to live to ourselves, but to live to God. Remember how often the Bible talks of Christ as the Bridegroom of the church.

Paul says the purpose of our dying to sin is that we will bear fruit to God. I think this needs to be part of our evangelistic message. God does not offer us grace and freedom from slavery to sin so that we may live for ourselves. You might not know that if you got your preaching from television and a lot of popular books. His primary goal here is not your personal fulfillment, or the release of your negative feelings, or your physical health, or the accumulation of earthly treasure.

No, he offers you freedom from slavery to sin so you will bear fruit to God. Bearing fruit will bring glory to God. Jesus said, in John 15:8, “this is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” In verse 16, he said “you did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 1:12 and 14 says we were redeemed so that we might be for the praise of his glory.

You exist as a new creation is Christ in order to bear fruit that will bring glory to God. That fruit is the transformed life lived under the dominion of the Holy Spirit, which manifests itself in your personality, in your character, in your speech, in your work, in your good deeds, and in your personal holiness.

Galatians 5:22-24 says the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Matthew 5:16 says to let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

The first question of the Westminister Shorter Cathechism is: what is the chief end of man? The answer is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Verse 5 tells us that, before we were saved, we bore fruit for death. We were controlled by the sinful nature and the law aroused our sinful passions, and we bore fruit for death. We are now free from that.

Verse 6 tells us that we still serve. Before salvation, we served as under a written code. But now we serve in a new way of the Spirit.

Let’s go back to the bride thing for a minute. Just as Christ’s death frees the individual believer from sin, and as he works to sanctify each believer, he is sanctifying the whole church. Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us that Christ gave himself for the church, as a husband for a wife, to make the church holy, cleansing her, and presenting her, the church, to himself holy and blameless. He prepared us to be prepared for him.

We long for his return, as a bride would long for the return of her groom, her husband. Revelation 22:17, when the prophecy of his return is complete, tells us the Spirit and the bride say “come”.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus warned us that the bridegroom would not return for a long time, and may would fall asleep. But, we should rather keep watch, for we do not know the day or the hour of his return. We want to be ready for him.

Revelation 19 tells us that, when the wedding of the Lamb has come, the bride will have made herself ready. She will be dressed in fine linen, bright and clean, that was given her to wear. That is a symbol of the righteous acts of the saints.

Revelation 21 uses the same image, showing the Holy City, the new Jerusalem (is this a picture of the church?) coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

Isaiah 62:5 tells us God will rejoice over us as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.


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