As Caitlin and I were driving home from church on Sunday, we passed a police officer parked on the side of road taking radar.
Sunday. High noon. Churches everywhere just letting out.
That means that most of the drivers on the road are those heading home from church. They are the individuals who consider themselves to be dead to the Law and released from its grip. Or so they think? However, I can guarantee that the officer would not see it that way if he had to pull someone over for speeding.
I can see it now…
[Officer]: Do you know why I pulled you over?
[Christian]: Was I going too fast?
[Officer]: You were traveling eight miles over the speed limit. I am going to have to write you a ticket for breaking the law.
[Christian]: Oh well, you see…I am not actually under the law anymore. I died and am now free.
[Officer]: Step out of the car, sir.
The above illustration may be ridiculous, but we tend to act like this all the time. I cannot count the amount of times I have heard pastors bragging about how fast they drive. It concerns me that we in the Church do not see anything wrong with this kind of behavior.
After all, if leaders in the church speed and openly boast about it then so can I…right? Wrong. Behavioral problems like this one stem from a misunderstanding of what it truly means to be free from the Law.
Dying to the Law does not mean that you now have freedom to live your life indulging in your own sinful cravings. It is still wrong to murder, fornicate, steal, lie, overeat and, yes, speed. Speeding, at least within our cultural context, is an open declaration of rebellion against God’s established order of government. As Christians, we tend to justify our own sins or even overlook the “small” ones in our lives.
What it Means
Romans 6-7 is where you will find the famous passage of Scripture which speaks of the believer’s death to sin and the Law. However, if it is still wrong to do things like murder and steal, then apparently believers are not free from the Law after all.
Death to the Law does not mean that from here on out all forms of obedience are tossed out the window. Freedom from the Law does not mean that you can now enslave yourself into various forms of idolatry. Being released from the Law means that you are no longer held guilty of crimes against the Godhead which are punishable by death.
Yes, the Bible is a love letter from God to you. However, it is also a warrant for your arrest. The Old testament is God’s case against mankind and we are left with no defense. We have nothing to do but plead guilty of high treason.
Yet, this is the beauty of Romans 7:4 because it says that, as Christians, we have died to the Law. It is as if we committed a crime. For example, let’s say we robbed a bank and the police are now looking for us. The Law is out to get us in order to bring about justice. However, God has identified us with the death and resurrection of His Son to the point that, when Christ died, so did we. Thus, the Law is no longer looking for us to pay the price because we already died—in Christ.
Police do not arrest dead men. A judge would not sentence a corpse to suffer a death sentence. Neither will we who died in Christ ever suffer condemnation from the ultimate judgment of the Law. However, this freedom does not give you the license to sin. Obedience to God is still, just like it always has been, the Christian life.