What does it mean when God says you are dead to the law?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published November 15, 2023
  • Word count 1,407

21

You Are Dead to the Law

For some of us, in our early years, the church we attended stressed obeying what is called the ten commandments. Do you remember every one of them? I don’t. Well, here they are from the book of Exodus 20:3-8.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Thou shalt not kill.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Thou shalt not steal.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

So, you tried as best you could to obey them. And if you were successful, you were probably characterized as someone who was living a moral, godly life. Right? As for myself, when I reached my late teenage years and started hanging around with a peer group that didn’t go to church but rather enjoyed the pleasures of sin, it’s not surprising that I stopped going. I got involved as we’ve heard others quote this line, with sex, drugs, and rock n roll. By my mid-twenties, my life was out of control. I didn’t like anything about it.

As I mentioned earlier in this study, and will briefly, here again, I decided to attend the various faiths in my home town, hoping to find a God that would work with me in changing my life. What I found out was that most churches emphasized learning about the doctrines of their faith and the need to stop sinning. Certain sins were considered more egregious than others. I tried this approach, hoping that I’d draw closer to God, but He was nowhere to be found.

I kept on attending different faiths until one of them presented the gospel of grace to me. I responded to it and was immersed in God’s love, peace, and joy. Thoughts of sinning were gone, at least for a short period of time. While sinful desires did come back, I began to learn how to address them.

What I learned was that it wasn’t by obeying a command of the Mosaic Law that addressed my sinful tendencies. Even if I tried as hard as I could to stop doing this or that, this didn’t stop the sinful thoughts from coming back again and again and imprisoning me once more. But I was set free by changing my thoughts concerning whatever sinful area it was that was trying to resurface and urge me to engage in it again. Let me give you one example of what I mean.

What if you’re attracted to a fellow believer and begin entertaining thoughts of desiring to have a sexual relationship with them. How could this be addressed?

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

New Testament Scripture says that we should confess known sin (mental, verbal, or overt) to God the Father. Under the Law of the Old Testament, we’d simply try not to commit this sin according to one of the commandments. But, in the New Testament addressing our thoughts is of paramount importance. What we need to do next is recall Scripture and reflect upon it that provides us with what our spiritual perspective should be in this area. A verse from the book of 1 Peter will enlighten us in this regard.

1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

We’re instructed to love one another with a pure heart. The word pure means not for the love of ourselves or to not use for our advantage. And the word heart means mind. Next, I’d recommend rewriting this verse, memorizing it, and applying it when needed.

1 Peter 1:22b … see that ye love one another with a pure (not for the love of ourselves; to not use for our advantage) heart (mind) fervently:

What we’re learning to do is think how God would have us think, which is according to His illumination of such in the Epistles. And guess what amazing thing happens? The book of 1 John will tell us so.

1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

As we choose to continually keep God’s word (all that he has made known to us as His will in regard to our conduct), the love of God (love produced in us by the Holy Spirit) will be perfected (manifested; an experiential realization of divine affection; characterized, not by any representative trait or quality of [our personality], but merely as the subject of the work of divine love.141

We’re no longer trying to obey an Old Testament command but confess sin and change how we think under a new dispensation of thought. When we do this, the passions of the sin nature that would continue to reign under the Law will be replaced with the fruit or influences of the Holy Spirit. And as such, our thoughts and thus our responses toward fellow believers and unbelievers will be Christ-centered.

So, what does the Word of God say is the relationship between Christians and the Mosaic Law? Please go to the book of Romans.

Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

It says that you are dead to the law at salvation. You are completely delivered from its authority as a covenant of works, and more especially from its power to condemn142 because of Christ’s death on the cross. It’s no longer the regulatory system for spiritual growth. Does it have any usefulness? Yes, the Law still has its place, but not for us. If not for us, then who? A verse from the book of 1 Timothy will tell us so.

1 Timothy 1:8-9 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

The law is good (morally excellent), if a man use it lawfully (as it should be used). This begs the question; how should it be used? The Law is designed to show people their sinfulness. [Thus,] the Law is not for one who had already recognized his sin and turned to Christ. That person is no longer under the Law but should now walk in the Spirit ([Galatians] 5:13-26). The Law is intended for those who remain unconvinced of their sin.143

So, remember, you’re dead to the law, i.e., like a widow released from marital obligations, so [you’re] released from the Law and its arousal to sin. The purpose of this release “from the Law” is so that [you] may [serve in] the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.144

The spiritual blessing that we’ll take a look at next has to do with superpowers. Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Did you know that you are one of them because you possess something that makes you such? Would you like to know what that is? You know the drill. Please turn the page.

Endnotes

141Vincent’s New Testament Word Studies.

142Barnes’ Notes.

143Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.

144Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament.

My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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