The word for today is “delivered.” Have you kept God’s law? You might ask, “What do you mean by God’s law.” We would add that if we are speaking of the Law of Moses, then we have not tried to keep it. But if we are speaking of the Ten Commandments, then we have to admit that we have broken them in spirit as well as deed. But do we feel regret and remorse for our failures to do God’s will?
Today we read in Romans 7:1-13 that “we have been delivered from the law” (OSB vs. 6). Paul says that we have died to the law so that we should serve [God] in the newness of the Spirit (Romans 7:6). Today we consider why we need deliverance from the law and how the Lord has freed us from it.
Why We Need Deliverance from the Law
Why should we be delivered from the God’s law? After all, it is given by God who is good. St. John Chrysostom comments that under the conditions of human sinfulness, the law becomes an “accuser” and a “producer” of sin (NFPF1:11, 421). For example, if I did not know the law, I might not realize that covetousness is a sin. But if I know the Law of the Ten Commandments, I understand that coveting is sinful (vs. 7). So the law teaches me that I am a transgressor of God’s decree.
But the law not only accuses me of this sin. According to Paul, the law stirs up my desires, and so produces more sin (Romans 7:8). The sage of Proverbs writes, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Proverbs 9:17). Likewise, Chrysostom explains, “When we desire a thing, and are hindered by it, the flame of the desire is but increased” (NfPf1:11, 421). Even so, when we covet something, the commandment against such craving enflames the burning of greed.
An Unintended Result
Thus, the commandments that were meant to give us life in the favor of God brings on the judgment of death (OSB Romans 7:10). This unintended result is not the fault of the law, which is godly and holy in itself. But Paul teaches that the devious power of sin takes the “opportunity” of the law to lead us in the ways of death (Romans 7:11). Chrysostom explains in other words: “This is no fault in the physician [God] but in the patient who applies the medicine [the law] wrongly” (NfPf1:11, 421).
Scripture says, “The letter kills [of the law] but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). In short, Paul teaches that we cannot trust in the “letter of the law” to help us overcome sin and lead a godly life because it has become our adversary. However, if we are “dead to the law”–if by the death of Christ, we are delivered from it–then we are free to live in the “newness of the Spirit” of Life (vs. 6).
What then is the connecting link between our guilt and our deliverance from the law? It is the forgiveness of God. Through His sufferings and death, the Lord Jesus Christ has met “the righteous requirement of the law” (OSB Romans 8:4). The Cross is the answer to the accusation of the law. By it, God offers forgiveness to the penitent. Therefore, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (OSB Romans 8:1). Free of accusation and condemnation, believers may live in the freedom from being controlled by the law. Instead of being consumed by guilt, our hearts can be open to the Spirit.