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Delivered from the Law?

We need to be clear about this.

"But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." Romans 7.6

In what sense have we been released or delivered (κατηργηθημεν) from the Law?

Not from its role as definer of good and evil, for Paul says that through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (v. 7), and John teaches that sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3.4).

Not from the standard of goodness which the Law provides, for if it shows us our sin it must also, being holy and righteous and good (vv. 12, 16), indicate the way of righteousness (cf. 1 Jn. 2.1-6). The Law thus remains established as a standard of goodness for us (Rom. 3.31).

Then are we delivered from the Law as a means to spiritual health and growth? No, because the Law is spiritual (v. 14), and it is the "core curriculum" by which the Spirit brings us to the glory of God and forms us into the image of Christ (Ezek. 36.26, 27; 2 Cor. 3.12-18).

Perhaps the Law has been superseded by the Spirit and Kingdom of God? But Jesus said that keeping the Law and teaching it to others is the way to greatness in the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5.17-19).

How then are we delivered from the Law?

We are delivered from the Law's power to condemn and kill us, which power it wielded within our souls while we were yet in our sins (vv. 5, 6; cf. Rom. 2.14, 15). Our conscience is no longer a slave to the Law but to Christ, so that, whenever we would be condemned for transgression, we know that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ and to whom the righteousness of Christ is credited by grace through faith (Rom. 8.1, 3.19-22).

So while the Law no longer condemns those who are in Christ, it still convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment in the classroom of the Spirit (Jn. 16.8-11). And while it does not save, it is a primary means by which the Spirit enables us to work out our salvation in ways that are pleasing to God and beneficial for us in realizing the life and good works for which we have been redeemed (Phil. 2.12, 13; Lev. 18.1-5; Eph. 2.8-10).

The Law guides us in the liberty we possess as sons and daughters of God (Jms. 2.8-12), and teaches us both the ways of love and how to read all the rest of Scripture in order truly to understand the ways of love (Matt. 22.34-40).

This does not mean that all the Law remains valid (cf. Heb. 7-9) or that the letter of the Law must be applied as originally given; we seek to know the spirit of the Law in these latter days of the Spirit of God, not merely the letter of it (cf. Deut. 30.1-10; 2 Cor. 3.5-11: 1 Cor. 5.1ff, cf. Lev. 18.8; 1 Cor. 9.8-14).

But to neglect, minimize, or scorn the Law, pleading that we are "delivered" from it and no longer obligated to it, since we are under grace not Law, is to be in danger of failing in the way of righteousness (Ps. 1) and of making even one's prayers an abomination in the sight of God (Prov. 28.9).

For more insight on the role of the Law in our lives today, order a free copy of The Ground for Christian Ethics by clicking here.

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