The Law #3

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The Law #3

We are going to continue in our series called Camping With Jesus.

Today’s message is called. “The Law #3”.

Ok as promised we will going to Romans today - but the heart of the message is still from Matthew 5 which is the sermon on the Mount. 

For the last two weeks we have studied Matthew 5:17-20. 

Basically Jesus talks about the Law and the Prophets and our big takeaway is that Jesus FULFILLED the law. So if our faith and hope for salvation is in Jesus - then we are not subject to the law.

However, Jesus made it clear that he did NOT abolish the law so, if our faith is NOT in Jesus, we are absolutely subject to the law and the consequences for breaking it. 

This whole idea leads to the question:

How do we as Christians relate to the law of God? 

Many will say that well, if we are not under the law then I guess it is ok to sin or do whatever feels good.

This is what I refer to as a “False Dichotomy”.

It is essentially the belief that if we don’t subject ourselves to the law - we are opening the door for all kinds of sin.

How do we deal with this? If Jesus fulfilled the law and we are not subject to it - is it, in fact, ok to violate the written law of God. Yes or no?

You see - most people would say no. But our actions say yes. Why? Because no is the answer that sounds safer. It is like you’re not telling me what you really think - just what you think I want to hear. 

One of the most important questions you should answer is:

Why do you Believe What you Believe?

I believe this passage in Romans will help us a lot.

Romans is a very deep book… In Chapter 5 we really get into this idea of Grace vs. Sin - which then leads to Law vs. Freedom.

Romans 6:1–2 (ESV)

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

So two obvious and huge takeaways here are: 

  1. We should not continue in sin.
  2. We died to sin.

Notice that what Paul says separated us from sin was not superior moral behavior - rather it was our death to sin.

Death is separation.

In Verse 6, “old self was crucified”

In Verse 7, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.”

One of the most important distinctions a Christian should be able to make is that

we are free FROM sin not free TO sin. 

We are free from the law - but that freedom is not for us to fulfill every passion and desire that we have. It is freedom to live for God. 

This is a huge issue of debate and confusion and my goal is to give you absolute biblical clarity today. 

Learning to Think Biblically

We tend to think one of three ways:

We think Culturally (the way everyone else thinks)

We think Religiously (the way we assume God thinks)

We think Biblically (meaning we can support a belief with clear scripture)

I want us to think Biblically as we approach this subject.

I want to answer two questions:

  1. Are we truly free from the law?
  2. How do we define what is right in the eyes of God without the law?

Let’s start with the first question -

Are truly free from the law?

Paul answer this in Romans chapter 7 with a very interesting analogy.

Romans 7:1–3 (ESV)

Or do you not know (I love that phrase), brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 

Then he gives this powerful and clear illustration of just how free we are from the law. 

2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

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Now many use this as a teaching about marriage - but that is not the point at all. He is not talking about marriage or adultery, he is talking about the law.

He is saying just like a widow is free to remarry after her husband’s death - we are free from the law - because of death.

In the case of the widow, is the marriage contract abolished? NO! 

What are the vows? Till death do us part…

The contract was not abolished it was fulfilled. 

Jesus does not abolish the law - he fulfills it. 

The just law of God requires death to be fulfilled. This death applies to us all. 

“We will either die to sin or we will die in sin”

but either way death is the only way out of the contract. 

We if we choose our sin nature over God - we die in our sins.

When we truly choose Jesus we die to sin. 

But notice the analogy is not just a widow who remains single - but she marries another. 

And notice that Paul unmistakably connects this story about the widow to the law.

Romans 7:4 (ESV)

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

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Just like the widow - who is free to marry another. 

We are free from the law to be connected to Jesus.

This is so good! It would be easy to keep going in this thought and let it become it’s own series… But I want to stay in our series about the Sermon on the Mount. 

Jesus said the law is not abolished but it will be fulfilled. 

It was fulfilled with his death - that is why the last words he spoke on the cross just moments before he died were, “it is finished”.

What was finished? The power of sin and death through the law. 

Now the rest of Romans chapter 7 is so good - I would highly encourage you to read it carefully. Let me paraphrase it so we can get through this today. 

The Law is Good

Paul goes on to say that Law, in and of itself is not bad. It is good. It exposes right and wrong. He says the law is not the problem sin is the problem. In v. 14 he says that, “The law is spiritual”

Then he goes into this portion about how his desires are waging war inside of him. 

 He says, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…” (Romans 7:19 (ESV)

How many of us can relate to that sentiment?

Then he says famously 

Romans 7:24 (ESV)

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Romans 7:25 (ESV)

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

He is saying that if my hope is in the law - I have not hope at all. 

But in Jesus Christ our Lord - is the answer.

Then there is this ever so important word - Therefore.

For this reason. 

This is one of those places I really wish there was not a chapter break. Because people read Romans 8:1 as an isolated passage. 

But it is not isolated. 

Romans 8:1 (ESV)

There is therefore (for this reason) now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

For what reason - is there now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. The reason is - we died to the law. We are not under that contract any more. That is the reason there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. 

Romans 8:2–4 (ESV)

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

So are truly free from the law? Yes we are truly free.

Are we free to sin or free from sin? We are free from sin. That is Good!

How do we define what is right in the eyes of God without the law?

This might seem easy but it can be very difficult. For example let me give you four things that the law defines as sinful. And you decide whether or not they are still wrong today.

  1. Committing Murder
  2. Working on the Sabbath
  3. Getting Tattoos
  4. Engaging in Homosexuality 

There are some - who would say none of these are wrong in the eyes of God because there is no more sin. All of it was covered and paid for on the cross. We already read in Romans 6 how can we who have died to sin continue to live in it? If there was no such thing as sin - he could not have said that. 

Most people, however, will judge those based not on biblical standards but cultural ones. 

Nearly everyone would say murder is absolutely wrong in the eyes of God. At least until you remind them that Abortion is Murder. Then somehow not that kind of murder is not wrong

Most people would say working on the sabbath is not a big deal, yet it is not just part of the Levitical law - it is the 4th of the 10 commandments.

Tattoos - this is one of my favorites, many of the people who would say we are free to work on the sabbath - will turn around and judge someone with a tattoo. 

And obviously homosexuality has become a new frontier in the debate about the law. The change in many peoples view on homosexuality and the Bible - is 100% cultural and 0% Biblical. The Bible has not changed…

So how do we determine right and wrong if we throw out the law?

Can we?

If you’re legalist - this is incredibly hard.

If your a loyalist - this is incredibly easy.

A legalist measures things by the letter of the law.

This could be legalistic Christians who tries to enforce all of the Levitical laws.

This is also seen in the liberal Christian who says I live anyway I want to because I am not under the law.

Both use the letter of the law to justify their beliefs and actions.

The loyalist however looks at the heart of the law. For the loyalist - love is the motivator - not legality. 

John 14:15 (ESV)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

When love is your motivator - you don’t look for what you can get away with. You desire to separate yourself from anything that displeases the one you love. 

Totality of Scripture

One of the most important ways we determine what is right and wrong in the eyes of God is through the totality of scripture.

1 Timothy 1:8–10 (ESV)

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine

“The biggest problem for many Christians today is they only know Sound Bites and know little of Sound Doctrine.”

You will never truly know the difference between right wrong with just sound bites from the Bible. You need to get into sound doctrine.

Sounds Bites are a scripture here a scripture there. Just little bits.

Sound Doctrine is what the whole message says.

And that is where we will pick up next week as we continue to study the sound doctrine of the sermon on the mount. 

Watch this message here