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Married to a Memory - Galatians

Married To A Memory

 

Are you Married to a Memory?

 

Paul Warned Against Spiritual bigamy in the Christian community.

 

In Romans, chapter seven, Paul was exposing an attempt by certain religious factions to corrupt the monogamous relationship between Christ and the believer. His theme? Legalism and faith do not mix! Either Christ is supreme in our lives and we make Him our sole authority, or we jeopardize our relationship with Him. What changed him from a devoted promoter of Law to a disciple of Jesus Christ?

 

In Romans 7:1, Paul makes it clear that he is addressing this message to the Christian Jews in Rome who were trying to blend the "Law" or nomos, into the Christ-centered faith. He begins;
Do you not know, brethren, for I am speaking to men who are acquainted with the Law (nomos) that legal claims have power over a person only for so long as he is alive?

 

Then he explains what he means by drawing an example from family law.
For [instance] a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is loosed and discharged from the law concerning her husband... and if she unites herself to another man she is not an adulteress. Romans 7:1-3 (Amp).

 

In this illustration, who died, the woman or the husband? Plainly it was the husband.
The woman is still alive, and is now free to marry another man.
1. The woman (Israel) was bonded to a husband (nomos) whom Jesus nailed to the cross.
2. She could not be married to another husband while the first one was still alive.
3. What freed her so that she could re-marry?
4. It was the death of her husband.

 

The first six chapters in Romans deal with the bonding that had taken place between the Jews and the Law. Paul is addressing a people whose lives were bonded, or married, to the Old Covenant Law. To them the Sinai Law had become the supreme authority in the universe. They even crucified the Creator in the name of Law. Paul says it is impossible to be effectively joined to Christ until the old husband is first put to death. In the new life, it is not the Law, but the Creator of that Law who reigns supreme. Now Paul goes to the next step. The woman marries another man. In this case it is Christ.
Likewise, my brethren, you have undergone death as to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that now you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God...Romans 7:4.

 

Notice that the word "likewise", here, contrasts the new Christ - believer relationship with the former Law - believer relationship that he described in verses 1-3.
Now, Paul is addressing the woman (believers) who are "married" to the new Husband, Christ. The old husband is dead. What does Paul mean that the wife has now,
Undergone death as to the Law through the crucified body of Christ,
so that you may belong to Another, to Him Who was raised from the
dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. Verse 4 (Amp)?

 

Since the first husband (Mr. Law) was nailed to the cross by Christ, (Colossians 2:14), what does Paul mean that now the woman had to "die to the Law"? Just as the first husband died when Christ took him to the cross, so now, the wife's commitment to the dead man must also be terminated. She must recognize that the former husband can have no part in her new life if she expects to "bear fruit for God", the new husband.

 

In verse 4, Paul addressed the new Christ - believer relationship. Before the widow can bear fruit to the new husband (Christ), she must first "die" to the ties that bound her to the first husband. Christ will not accept a bride whose heart is still tied to the dead man.
But now we are discharged from the law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life]. Romans 7:6 (Amp).

 

The reasoning here is clear. Unless the wife (in this case, converted Jews) severs all connection with the former husband, she will continue to bear fruit to the dead man, and, Paul says, she would be living in adultery. Verse 3. The dead cannot produce life!

 

Paul addresses this argument to the Jewish believers in Rome who had a problem with this concept. See Romans 2:17-28. He said that they were still emotionally "married" to the written code (the Law) that Christ "canceled...by nailing it to the cross". 2 Corinthians 3:6, 11,14-18. Colossians 2:14. He made it plain that they could not have a productive relationship with Christ so long as they thought they were still obligated to satisfy the demands of Mr. Law, the first husband. That would be adultery, Paul said. This warning applies not only to Messianic Jews, but to anyone who thinks that Christ needs Mr. Law to help His wife love Him. All emotional ties between the widow and the old husband must be terminated before the new relationship can "bear fruit for God". Christ will not share His bride with another man!

 

Verses 2 and 3 were a photograph of Israel, a people mesmerized by the Sinai Covenant. Paul was deeply troubled by Israel's emotional attachment to the law on stone and wished to see them set free. He pictured the Jews as still culturally married to the dead man we shall call Mr. Law. He saw those people looking toward Christ, hoping to be united to Him, while in their hearts they were still attached to the first husband.

 

Unfortunately, today there is a strong resurgence of this duplicity in the Christian community. Many have been deceived into thinking that Christ cannot manage His own family without Mr. Law's assistance. How did He do it before Sinai? What benefits and privileges does Christ, the new Husband, offer us that the old one could not?
He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14.
Also see verses 14-16 to see exactly what Mr. Law stood for.
Mr. Law's only purpose was to be Israel's tutor to point them to the Redeemer. Then, Galatians 3:24,25 tells us his job was done! Being above the law, Christ cancelled all the claims Mr. Law held against humanity by nailing him to the cross. As Mr. Law died, Israel was released from all obligations to him. When Christ rose from the cross, He did not resurrect Mr. Law with Him. God's people were now free to be married to Christ, but they still had a problem. By culture, and tradition, many Jewish believers were still emotionally tied to the dead man. They were not ready to bear fruit unto the new husband. 2 Cor. 3:7, 14-16.

 

Have you ever seen a widow mourning the loss of her husband? The more devoted she was to him, the harder it was to forget him. Before she could become legally free, he had to die. But to become emotionally free, she must turn away from the past and face the future. So long as the widow's heart remained attached to the dead man, she was not yet released from him, even though he was dead.

 

Suppose a woman married another man because she needed security, but every night before she went to bed, she took out a picture of her first husband, look at it, and mourned over her loss. Could a woman in that state wholeheartedly unite with her husband in creating new life? Verse 4 tells us that the woman who was legally freed by the death of her first husband, must let go her ties to him (die to him) before she could meaningfully embrace her new life.

 

Paul could not have painted a clearer picture of how difficult it is to release a person from the tyranny of legalism into a living relationship with Jesus. "Mr. Law" died when Jesus nailed him to the cross. Ever since that historic event, God's people have been legally free to unite with Christ. But through wrong teaching, many have been taught to try to please the new Husband by their devotion and loyalty to the dead man. Result? An anemic church!

 

Some teach that Christ is Mr. Law's servant and His job is to help us meet Mr. Law's demands. Such people still live in fear of the dead man's shadow. See Hebrews 8:6,7 and 10:1. They are so pre-occupied with the Old Covenant laws that they cannot fully relate to the Law of the Spirit, which reflects the heart of their Redeemer. Romans 7:6 (Amp.) gives us an intimate insight into this new relationship.
But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, [but under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life].

 

You are now Married to Jesus!
In this new union, Christ makes His Holy Spirit responsible (with our co-operation), for guiding our thoughts and keeping our feet in the ways of God. The Holy Spirit seeks to enlighten the Written Word to our minds, and to enliven our spirits to receive the revelations of the Holy Spirit by personal communion. Only by choosing to resist the "still small voice", as the Spirit speaks to one's conscience, is it possible to displease God. To the person who is led by the Holy Spirit, the only sin is his refusal to obey the Spirit's voice as He speaks to the conscience. "Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God". Romans 8:14. As far as failing, or stumbling, is concerned, Romans 4:8 (Amp.) speaks to the Spirit-led Christian:
Blessed and happy...is the person of whose sin the Lord will take no account, nor reckon it against him, or as the King James version puts it:
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

 

Even as the new husband of a widow may approach their relationship in a completely different way than the former husband did, so, Christ's approach is different from that of Mr. Law. Instead of being demanding and judgmental, He is always tender and merciful and forgiving. At first, the change seems almost too good to be true. Some seem to prefer abuse to freedom. Mr. Law allowed for no mistakes. Above his mantle piece was the motto,
The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:20.

 

The new Husband directs his household without any reference to the previous man's rules or laws. Rather than kill the sinner, Christ gave His life for the sinner. Mr. Law was demanding and unforgiving. Christ's ways are based on love, and faith, and trust as He seeks to develop the virtues of godliness within our hearts. How did God guide His people before Mr. Law was brought onto the scene at Sinai? Dare we trust Him to do the same today?

 

Verse 12 describes the law as having been holy and just and good. It was "holy" because it condemned sin. It was "just" because it pointed out the unjust nature of the natural man. It was "good" because, as a faithful schoolmaster, it revealed to man his need of the saving grace of Christ. In Christ's presence, the past life of struggling to please God will fade away like a forgotten dream. The New Man will naturally begin to lean toward the things that please God.

 

The people with the most serious problem are those who feel insecure, and hope to strike it safe by trying to satisfy the new Husband while following the regulations of the old one. Such people are "neither cold nor hot". Revelation 3:16. These people reason that after they are saved by faith, they must prove their love to the new Husband by doing their best to live by the demands of the former husband. To these Paul wrote in great alarm.
O you poor and silly...Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you,... Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit as a result of obeying the law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and [believing] it? Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith? Are you so foolish...? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh? Gal. 3:1-3.

 

Notice what Paul said! You will reach perfection in exactly the same way that you were first saved! You are not saved by faith, apart from law keeping, and then grow spiritually by adding your own works to your faith! No! You mature and reach perfection, he said, in exactly the same way that you were first saved! Mr. Law has nothing to do with it! Christians show love to God by faith alone, for the just shall live by faith! Gal 3:11.

 

At this point some inquire whether it is necessary for a sinner to go by way of the Sinai road, like faithless Israel did, before he can enter the life of faith. Must one marry Mr. Law as a prerequisite to receiving Christ, the Heavenly Bridegroom? Can one avoid the detour around Mount Sinai? Today Jesus directs us straight to the "Promised Land"! No detours!
Praise be to God! The sinner can go straight to Jesus, and enter boldly into the presence of God by faith in his Redeemer. Hebrews 4:16. Even today, it is much easier for a raw sinner to enter into the presence of God directly, than for a person who had become a co-dependent with Mr. Law. When a wife leaves, because she has been abused by a cruel husband, why does she so often go back when she knows that she will only be abused again? She needs help to break the cycle. It is the same with those caught in the trap of legalism. That is why people raised in legalism often feel more comfortable with a law that has nothing but condemnation for them, and will even fight to defend it. They have not yet learned, like Paul, that Jesus is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless to the Father.

 

In Romans 1:18 to 32 Paul listed the many sins that Gentiles indulged in. Then in the next chapter he pointed out that the Jews who pretended to keep the law were guilty of the same sins. He rebuked them with the words: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you". Verse 24. He exposed the "I'm keeping the law" charade, by showing them that not one of them had ever really kept that law. Paul showed them that all who preach the law, are breakers of the law, and therefore by preaching it, only condemn themselves as sinners without Christ! The Gentiles who did not have the law were in a better position to be made and kept holy by faith alone, than were those who worked fruitlessly hoping to impress God by trying to obey external laws. Romans 2:14,15.

 

To bring harmony between Jews and their neighbors, Jesus took the Sinai props out from under Judaism, by nailing them to the cross. He did not require the Gentiles to adopt the Sinai Covenant. Rather, by nullifying that covenant, He placed the Jews on the same level as the Gentile unbelievers, so that all may approach God in the same way, by faith alone.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace. Ephesians 2: 14,15.

 

Jesus said, You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32.

 

The theme of the New Testament is that a Spirit controlled life is not possible so long as you are trying to serve two husbands. Such people never emerge from the twilight zone. You must choose to experience the life of joy and freedom in the Holy Spirit, if you wish to mature into an adult believer.
Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. Hebrews 5: 12,13.

 

How can I participate in this Life of the Spirit?
Before Pentecost the apostles had not yet discovered that Jesus and Mr. Law could not both rule in the same house. They were eager to serve God intellectually, on the human level, but they were not equipped to do battle in the spirit realms. At Pentecost, when the explosive power of the Holy Spirit was released, they knew that Jesus had given them a victory that they only dreamed of while they were dedicated to Mr. Law. Now they knew the difference between working for God, and allowing God to work through them. Only Christ in you can gain the victory over sin!

 

The Holy Spirit will not compete with a rival for our loyalty. We must become emotionally separated from the old husband, or Old Covenant, with its imposing demands. You become like what you focus on. The more you focus on law, the more you will break it! Paul said so in Romans 7:21-25. Do you hate sin and want to break its hold? Turn around, and begin focusing on Jesus! Have faith in what He can do in you, and the victory is yours! You cannot serve two masters! Once you are freed from the legalistic mind-set, you will begin to rise on the wings of the Spirit to heights you never dreamed possible. This is the message of Romans 7.

 

One caution we must throw out at this point. Getting rid of legalism is far more than merely getting rid of wrong doctrines. Legalism is a matter of the spirit, more than it is a matter of the intellect. One may intellectually agree with all the right doctrines, and yet have a condemning, judgmental and critical attitude toward others who do not yet see things from their point of view. Reforming the brain without a transformation of the heart, will only turn a legalist into a self-righteous legalist. The new birth, or transformation of the heart, is our only solution!

 

Will This Work for Me?
Some people start their Christ-centered walk with high hopes. In a short while, when they find that they are still prone to error they become discouraged because they hoped that victory in Jesus meant that they should no longer make mistakes. Others go to the other extreme and think that sin does not matter. Christ guarantees our victory over both these deadly traps! Let us see what our New Covenant guarantee is. I quote from 1John 1:9. (Amp).
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just ...and will forgive our sins...and continually cleanse us from all unrighteousness - everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought and action.

 

This is good news! Our past sins are all under the blood of Jesus. Now, as we look to Him, He continually keeps us cleansed by His blood. As soon as His Spirit convicts us of hidden error, and we confess it, it is gone! Unrevealed sins are also under the blood. We are free!
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36.

 

Do not be discouraged if you find you are still human and inclined to trip over your own shoelaces. Christ has taken the responsibility for your standing with God. So long as you obey the Holy Spirit who speaks into your heart, God looks at you through your Redeemer and His purity is credited to you. To the faithful in heart, God's forgiveness is unconditional! In His presence we stand secure! Jesus' blood is sufficient!

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1,2.
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