“Wrestling With Romans”
The Just and the Justifier (Chapter 7 Verses 1-6)
This chapter is written for those who are genuine Christians, who know, and understand what contrition is (Psalm 51.17; Isaiah 66.2), and are experiencing it. Paul testifies to his own inner struggles. The Apostle’s declaration that we are not under law (Romans 6.15), a definite and basic fruit of justification by faith, is most certainly not a licence to sin, to live without reference to, or contrary to God’s law. The law was given to reveal the awesome damage that the fall, sin, has caused (Romans 3.20). Anyone who knows anything about law, knows surely that it is only whilst they are alive that the law has any power over them (v1). For instance, the law of the land concerning marriage binds a woman only as long as her partner is alive. After that, it is gone, finished, the law is no longer binding (v2)? Up to the point of the death of her husband she was under the power of the law, the death of the husband set her free from its power. If (v3a), she was to marry another man while her spouse is still alive, she has broken, transgressed the law. Again (v3b), without in any sense rebelling against the law, and without any effort on her part whatever, she may be set free from that law. How? By someone else’s death, her husband’s. A brilliant illustration! One which points to a death, Jesus Christ, for his Bride, the Church (Ephesians 5.25; Revelation 21.2, 9), a death which ends one relationship, ours with the law’s condemning power, and opens up another one, ours with the Lord Jesus, through grace (v4).
It takes us back again to how God can be the just and justifier of the ungodly. The exactness of the law’s penalty was met in the death of Jesus, God’s Son, we have been redeemed the price has been paid. God did not just brush the law, our sin, or its just recompense aside, that would have violated his justice. In the death of his Son he found a way to set us free from the existing condemning power of the law that stood against us (Romans 5.6-8; Colossians 2.13-14). To transform us morally and spiritually, to empower us by his Spirit (v6), to live a life of moral power, with an added spiritual dimension that transcends this world’s understanding, a life of holiness. The self-interest motive in the conduct of today’s Church, I think is anti-Christian (Matthew 16.24), it is evil, destructive. The love that died to set us free is the only acceptable motive for our holy living.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)