We say as Paul that we are dead to sin and the law. Paul and we further say that grace now reigns through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is at this point that we hear from a multitude of sources that to assert that we are dead to the law leads to a licentious lifestyle. Many a grace preacher then counters this accusation by saying that God’s magnificent love and His grace will motivate the believer not to be attracted to sin, that grace will overcome any evil impulses. However, this is not an adequate explanation to why we never again will return to a sinful lifestyle.
When posed the question “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?” Paul counters: “By no means!” He then continues with this truth: Don’t you know that you were baptized to His death and raised with Him to newness of life? To further drive home his point he utilizes three analogies.
He compares our human condition to that of a slave. We are either slaves of sin or slaves of righteousness. There is no intermediate state. When we were slaves of sin we were driven by Satan and his lusts. We carried his fruit. Fruit we now are ashamed of. Paul uses the analogy of a vessel to accentuate his point. Man is a vessel which either contains sin or righteousness, either Satan or God. The main consequence of the fall was that we were deceived (Rev 12:9) to believe that we have a human self which can operate and maintain itself. The deception leads to ideas which maintain that when we receive the proper impulses we will be motivated to do right.
Next Paul applies the tree analogy. We are branches either engrafted to the tree of knowledge of good and evil or the tree of life. The sap which flows through the branches decides which fruit are produced. On account of that we have changed trees the fruit we now produce are the fruit of the Spirit. We never produced fruit without a tree! Hence Paul so emphatically states: “By no means!”
His last illustration is that of a husband and wife. He speaks about the law of marriage. The wife is legally bound to her husband as long as he lives. She receives his seed and produces children with his stamp and his attributes. Any change of husband would be adultery, and our problem is that he never seems to die. The solution is that the wife dies in Christ. Raised with Him she is now free to marry another, and she now receives her new husband’s seed and produces His children or fruit. Jesus came as a representative of the whole human family and dissolved that marriage to sin-Satan which was consummated at the Fall. Paul’s point is that we always have produced fruit of a husband.
How can we continue to produce sin when we are married to righteousness, when we have changed trees and are sold as slaves to a new owner? That is an impossibility, Paul insists. That deity which produced sin in us is forever removed from our lives! That connection is severed! It was in us, but now Christ is in us. We irrevocably produce His fruit. Paul’s “By no means” can only be wholly appreciated when we recognize through faith and the inner witness that we do not have an independent self. We manifest the deity to which we belong.
Paul’s motivation to write these chapters evidently is to establish the converts in Rome in their new identity, to comfort those precious souls in those afflictions, temptations and weaknesses we all face. It is as he says: “Don’t let appearances decide how you perceive yourself. You belong to God and Christ lives in you.” In Romans 7:4 he states that since we have died to the law we now bear fruit for God. Paul further writes: “For apart from the law, sin lies dead.” There is nothing wrong with the law, but that old master seized an opportunity through the law and deceived us into believing that we were independent selves who could keep the law. To our great dismay and despair we discovered through the law that we were sold to sin. In other words God used the law to disclose that deception that we are independent selves who can operate and manage our own lives.
What Paul so clearly proves is that we never are those in-between persons who have to choose between good and evil where all the emphasis is on us and our ability to make the right choices. This is another one of those lies the law exposes. It is the deceiver projecting himself as you when you are captured in that mindset.
It is on this backdrop that we refuse to let any outer ordinances, shoulds, ought tos or similar commandments have any influence on our lives. We are driven by another who is our law. His life in us is grace!
What comes out of all this is a beautiful humanity created in God’s likeness to be Christ expressers. There is nothing wrong with us. Paul clearly identifies the power which wrought all kinds of evil in him as sin. It wasn’t him. He was merely expressing the deity which formerly indwelt him. Before Christ he expressed that deity. In Christ that same deity upholds the illusion that he is an independent self and thus can keep the law. However, since he is not an independent agent he fails miserably. He has to learn that he is Christ in his form. When he fails the false deity upholds the illusion that Paul is an independent self and thus that there is something wrong with him and it even convinces him that it still is in him. But that is just another lie. Christ is the new indweller, who through Paul’s negatives awakens Paul to Himself.
When Paul finally come to terms with the amazing truth and behold his perfect humanity and that he now is a Christ-expresser he triumphantly cries: There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus!!!