It is funny how easily we turn ourselves to rules and regulations. We always claim not to like extra rules. Yet, when we think about our lives, rules are the things we turn to when we consider Christian character.
But looking at the New testament’s handling of the concept of the law, we find that rules occupy a very strange place. The law of God convicts us of sin. The rules of the Old Testament serve to demonstrate for us that we are not able, on our own, to live out the perfect righteousness of God.
But then came Jesus. The Savior fulfilled the law for us. And, the Scripture is clear that we are now free from the law.
Romans 7:4-6 – 4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
We have died to the law. We are released from the law. In Christ, we are not subject to the demands of law.
Of course that leads to the commonly asked question: Since we are free from the law, are we now free to sin? Of course we are not. God does not free us from law to allow us to turn to sin without consequence. God does not save us in order that we might then rebel against him and his ways.
What then do we do with law since we know we are free?
Romans 6:15-18 – 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
We are made free from the law, but not to be free to sin. Instead, the call is for us, in our freedom, to refuse to present ourselves as slaves to sin. You see, when we sin, when we disobey the clear commands of god, we become slaves to sin. But God did not free us from the law so that we can become enslaved to sin. Instead, God freed us from the law by fulfilling its requirements on our behalf. However, we now actually are to live in obedience to the law, but in a totally different way. Now we obey because we are free.
Consider this illustration. It is a law that we must eat. If we do not eat, we die. We are under that law. Now, pretend that you have been freed from that law. Consider that your body was given a miraculous ability to survive and keep functioning without food. Would you then choose never to eat? Or might you still choose to eat, not because it is required, but for the pleasure of food and fellowship? I think we would continue to have meals together for the joy of it all, even though we are freed from the very requirement that calls us to eat.
In the same way, we are freed from the law. We do not have obligation to the Lord to fulfill. Jesus did all that for us. But we will not find our lives to be full and pleasing to the Lord if we intentionally turn away from the Lord and toward that which dishonors the Lord. God has called us family members. He has adopted us. Why then would we declare a freedom to insult him and act hatefully toward him?
God has freed us, but in a special way. We are freed from the law, but not to reject the ways of God. We are freed from the requirements of the law so that we can freely obey the very principles that the law demonstrated. We are free—free to obey. And when we obey out of freedom, God gives us joyful fellowship with him.