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Not Under Law
SUNDAY, JUNE 19, 2011
Posted by: Providence Reformed Baptist Church | more..
43,550+ views | 160+ clicks
Musing on the great truth that "sin will have no dominion over you" - John Murray (1898-1975) observed:
"Sin does not rule in the believer. To think so is to deny the lordship which belongs to Christ by reason of his death and resurrection. And just as the deliverance from the power of sin is decisive, so it is inclusive. If the believer were under the dominion of any sin, then the truth of the proposition 'sin shall have no dominion over you' would be abrogated. The deliverance in view must therefore apply to all sin, and the inescapable inference is that the sin he commits does not have the dominion over him. Sin as indwelling and committed is a reality; it does not lose its character as sin. It is the contradiction of God and of that which a believer most characteristically is. It creates the gravest liabilities. But by the grace of God there is this radical change that it does not exercise the dominion."
Every Christian should take in deeply those last quoted words of Murray: "But by the grace of God there is this radical change that [sin] does not exercise the dominion." This is what believers in Christ must hold on to when facing the remaining force of indwelling sin (cf. Rom.7:17-18). Sin's rule, reign, and power has been forever borken. It has been eternally breached. United to Christ, our position is entirely different in relation to sin. We are no longer its slaves. "For sin will have no dominion over you."
Now in my last post I described this truth of Romans 6:14 as our assurance for persevering in sanctification. This assurance comes to us as an encouragement to carry out the imperatives of Romans 6:12-13 - where we're commanded to oppose sin and serve God. With such a high and holy mandate, every believer needs some kind of guarantee that they will not ultimately forsake God and return to their former bondage under sin's reign. Hence, the opening words of Romans 6:14 come to us as a mighty promise of God that we will persevere in sanctification. "For sin will have no dominion over you."
But in addition to this indicative regarding our relationship to sin, Romans 6:14 goes on to express another important reality which aids us as we oppose sin and serve God. It is our permanent position for the perseverance. In the latter half of Romans 6:14, we're told: "...since you are not under law but under grace." The reason sin will not have dominion over us, is because we are not under law but under grace. What does this mean? These words are expressing a definite and permanent position that is true of every Christian. A Christian is not under law but under grace.
But what are the implications of this position? To begin with, let's consider for the remainder of this post, the truth that we are not under law. At the outset of this statement we must clear away a popular misconception. There are many Christians who take this indicative to mean that we have nothing to do with God's law any more. How do we answer this? First of all, the Bible nowhere teaches that a Christian is finished altogether with God's law now that he is saved. While it is true that we are no longer under the curse and condemnation of the law (Gal.3:13); yet, we have not been liberated from the moral mandates of the law - namely - to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt.22:37-38). These two commands sum up the whole of God's moral law (Exod.20:1-17), and thus the righteous requirement of the law; which by the regenerating work of the Spirit, we now have the desire, power, and responsibility to fulfill (see Rom.7:22; 8:3-4; 13:8-10; cf. Jer.31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-13). The Christian life therefore is not a life of lawlessness! Salvation by grace has not canceled obedience to God's law. Rather, it has enabled us with the freedom to obey God in response to His law (see I Jn.2:3-6).
So then, what does it mean to be not under law? It means to be not under the curse and condemnation of the law - since all the law can do by itself is to confirm us in our sinful bondage and judge us for this bondage. The law demands perfect obedience to God which it has no power to give but can only declare and approve. A person under law therefore is someone who is enslaved to the power of sin; because they have no power either in themselves to be free from sin nor in the law to aquire that freedom. Yet, for the believer, the law no longer stands over him pronouncing judgment but approval on account of Jesus Christ.
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