1Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
2For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband.
3So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
4Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
5For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.
6But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in(K)newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
7What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.”
8But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead.
9I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died;
10and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me;
11for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
12So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
I have to say, I feel a bit distracted today, so if I go off on some random tangent, call me on it and I’ll revisit. This is try #2 for this passage today. The first time I couldn’t focus AND I was hungry. Now that my stomach is satiated, My soul needs to be fed. What have we today?
It seems to me Paul is answering more questions about the Law, that which everyone had studied for years and years and now is being told not to worry about that. Can you imagine how that feels? Something you were raised under, studied, and tried to live out to the best of your ability, suddenly you are told it’s flipped upside down and you have to switch gears. Its hard to change beliefs, isn’t it? Sure, that’s why God steps in 😉
As I read more about The Law, I compare it more and more to the Tree of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. Paul already explained that sin always existed, and we always sinned and were born into sin before The Law was even written. Here, he explains that The Law simply defined sin. It exposed what is right and what is wrong. It tells us what God sees as righteous acts and what He doesn’t. (cue the naysayers talking about laws of eating, etc.) Well, thankfully Christ fulfilled the law. But, that doesn’t mean The Law is bad.
The first class I took in school, I had a small conversation with an older man who claimed to be a Christian and said that because he was a Christian, he refused to eat any part of a pig. Of course, my self righteousness kicked in and I told him he was wrong for refusing to eat pork since The Law doesn’t apply to us anymore. Who the heck am I? I guess that means I can go kill someone and covet my neighbor too, right? The mind reels.
I think Paul’s point here is that the letter of The Law is holy, especially since it IS God’s commandments. The point of The Law was to point out that living holy (aka good works) is impossible because we could not come close to living it to the letter. Many tried, many came close. We see that throughout the bible, but only One actually did it. Why? Oh yeah, that’s right, because He WAS God.
So, is it wrong to try to follow some of those rules, or even all of them? No. I’d say God would be pleased if you tried to follow his commandments. Remember what Christ said though, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” Personally, I haven’t read all of the commandments, but knowing God and what Christ said, I’m pretty sure all of those commandments relate to love in one way or another. In fact, in following those two rules, I’m pretty sure by acting out that love you can live out the majority of The Law, from your heart, not the letter.
I’m relieved that God sent His Son to die for us to cover the impossibility of The Law. Now I can focus on living for Him and loving Him and others instead of focusing on whether or not I’m doing the “right” thing.