The title of this post may seem to be blindingly obvious because who can possibly break the law after they have died? It’s impossible to even consider such a thing isn’t it?
Absolutely! Once a person dies they can’t do anything, say anything, act or behave in any way at all. So how can they break the law? Well, they can’t. It’s as simple as that. A dead person cannot break the law and so, as the title says, the law ends at death.
Now believe it or not, even though this sounds blatantly obvious, there is a message that is crucial for Christians to learn and understand about this very matter. It is written in this first verse of Romans 7 and it is crucial that all Christians “get it” because it drives to the very core of the workings and power of the new covenant.
The law ends at death
Believe it or not, Christians are some of the only people in the world who do not seem to accept the fact that the law ends at death. What? Are we Christians completely bonkers? Are we stupid? Why don’t we get it?
The main reason why many Christians do not understand this fact of Christianity is that they have been led astray to believe a false doctrine. And in their false beliefs they deny the power of the blood of Jesus Christ and the message of salvation without even knowing it!
Oh, they say all the right words about how Jesus came to save us from our sins and how his blood washes us clean from sin and how He was sacrificed to take on our sin on our behalf and so on. But they then continue to walk in condemnation and continue to think as sinners because they do not understand what this verse in Romans 7:1, as well as a number of others, is saying. So let’s look at the verse.
Or do you not know, 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?
Who is Paul writing this verse to? He writes to those people who understand and know the law, most likely the Jewish believers in the early Roman church. So these people Paul expected would know what He was talking about because they knew what the law had to say.
Many Christians are not in that same place for most Christians do not have the depth of understanding of the law that the early Jews and Israelites had. Without going off on a tangent, many Christians break many of the laws without even knowing it. There are more than 650 laws in the Old Testament and every one was given for a reason and to break any of them is sin.
What The Law Does
Ok. Back to the verse. Paul is writing to those people who “know the law.” What is the message he is writing to them? He is saying that, “…the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives.”
So if the law is binding only while a person is alive, then when that person dies they are no longer bound by the law. And if they are no longer bound by the law then they cannot break the law because they are not under it anymore once they have died. And if they cannot break the law because they have died, then they cannot sin because sin is the breaking of the law for the law defines what sin is. As the scripture says in Galatians 3:21-23,
21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.
Verse 22 tells us that the “scripture,” that is the law as referred to in verse 21, imprisoned everything under sin. The law encapsulates and defines what is sin and what is not sin.
We see also in Romans 5:20 what the relationship between sin and the law is.
Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more
The law gives power to sin for it makes it even more sinful because there IS a law forbidding it. Thus when a person who knows or ought to know better breaks the law, they are even more condemned because they should have known the law.
As to the power of the law regarding sin, or rather that the law gives sin it’s power, look at what it says in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56.
55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
People die because of sin and the law is what gives sin it’s power. Sin is powerful because of the law for the law is what makes it even more sinful.
But, back to the verse in Romans 7:1, Paul is telling us that the law is binding on a person only while they are alive. So if they are dead the law no longer binds them. The law has no power over a dead person.
Why this is important
Many Christians do not understand this point or fail to realise the implications of it with respect to their walk with Christ.
They know that Jesus died for their sins but they fail to realise that they have died with Him also. At least those who have entered into His death by baptism into His death have died with Him.
And even many of those who have been baptised into His death fail to understand that they have died with Christ. That is what baptism is all about. It is us taking on the death of Jesus Christ as our own so that we can die with Him.
So how do I know that many Christians do not understand these things? After all many say these same words. Well, it’s quite simple really. I know they do not “get it” because they still say they are sinners. They still say that they are breaking the law of God and committing sins of one kind or another.
So I ask, if you know that the law is binding on a person only while they are alive, and if you have died with Christ through baptism, and if you are no longer bound by the law and your sins are removed by the blood of Christ’s sacrifice, how is it that you still call yourself a sinner?
And you reading this now…I ask the same question. Are you a sinner? If you answer “Yes” then you have missed the whole point of the new covenant and the purpose of the death of Jesus Christ.
By calling yourself a sinner you are saying you are still under the law because if you believe you sin you are breaking the law. And if you believe you have broken the law and thus sinned you are still bound under the power of the law. And if you are bound under the law believing you are a sinner you are separated from Christ as Paul wrote in Galatians 5:4,
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
You may say to yourself that you are not attempting to be justified by works of the law, but if you recognise sin in your life then you are recognising the power of the law in your life for it is the law that gives sin it’s power. And if you recognise the power of the law in your life then you are still under the law and attempting to be justified by the law rather than righteousness by faith.
You cannot be justified by faith and still consider yourself a sinner. Part of the faith as revealed in the new covenant is to be released from the law for that is what removes the power of sin and we must be freed from sin if we are to come and stand before God.
How this all works will be discussed in the next post for the next verses of Romans 7 gives us the necessary insight as to how we die and take on the death of Christ to set us free from the law. But you have to believe you have been set free from sin and set free from the law from your heart. This is at the core of our faith for this is why Jesus died and why of all the many things He could have told the disciples to do when they went out to preach the gospel, he told them to “baptise the new disciples in my (Jesus) name.”
Baptism in water is so important to the working of the new covenant that Jesus Himself, who did not need to be baptised for He did not sin nor had any need to repent, even He was baptised so no one could use Him as an example to say they do not need to be baptised.
It is crucial that all Christians understand this for this is the beginning of the workings of the new covenant. It is not until this foundational principle of the work of Jesus is understood and taken in faith that growth can properly occur for God cannot help a sinner. Don’t call yourself a sinner because if you have died with Christ through baptism, then sin and the law no longer have any power over you.
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