Married To The Flesh And Not To The Law

(Understanding What the Apostle Paul is Really Saying in Romans 7)

The apostle Paul in his letter to the saints in Rome used the existing Jewish law at the time concerning marriage and remarriage as a metaphor to give further insight into the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Most Bible teachers say that Paul was teaching in Romans, chapter 7, that we were once “married to the law” but now through the death of Jesus we are no longer “married to the law” and are now married to Jesus who was raised from the dead, if we have believed on Jesus for the forgiveness of our sin.

That interpretation does not fit the metaphor that Paul used in his letter and it actually misses one of the main points Paul is making in chapters 7 and 8 of Romans concerning the flesh. Paul is not saying we were once “married to the law” but rather he is saying that we were once “married to the flesh” or “in the flesh” or “joined to the flesh.” The metaphor of a husband and wife in the apostle’s thinking in this passage is a reference to how we are joined to the Adamic race by natural birth and live in the flesh under the jurisdiction of law as the sons of the fallen Adam. In chapters 5 and 6 of Romans the apostle discusses how the race of Adam has been terminated and a new race springing forth from the Last Adam, even Jesus, has come.

To be released from the law, our husband must die so we can be married to another, as illustrated in the Jewish law of marriage and remarriage that Paul is using as a metaphor. Paul is saying that our husband is the flesh and the flesh must die to release the inner man from the lineage of Adam and of this creation so that the inner man can be raised from spiritual deadness and created new by the Spirit and placed in union with Jesus who is raised from the dead.

Here are the actual words of the apostle Paul:

“Or do you not know, brothers (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning her husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress, but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.

Therefore, my brothers, you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the law, were at work in the members of our body, to bear fruit for death. 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 7:1-6)

See it?

The apostle Paul is saying we were once “in the flesh” or “married to the flesh” or “in our sins” and the law that we were under and bound by (because all natural men in Adam are under the law of God) actually aroused sinful passions “in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.” Paul says that we were made to die “by the body of Christ.” A few verses down Paul says that God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh!” (Romans 8:3) Through this amazing mystery, God was able to judge our sinful flesh “by the body of Christ,” who took on our flesh and blood as a man, for God made Jesus “who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God!” (II Cor. 5:21)

To teach the saints that we were once “married to the law” is not only just wrong it conceals the real point that the apostle is trying to make about the flesh. If you believe Paul is saying we were “married to the law” and therefore the law was our husband, then the metaphor does not work. The law does not die and in the metaphor that Paul is using it is the husband that dies so that the wife can be married to another man. The law never dies. We must die to the law to be released from it. The body of Christ on the cross corresponds with our “sinful flesh” that we were once “married to” or “joined to.” It is not only confusing to teach that we were once “married to the law” it also robs the saints of the rich meaning in the apostle’s words in Romans 7 and 8 concerning God’s circumcision of the body of our flesh to release the inner man to be joined to the risen Christ through the Spirit. (Col. 2:11)

The death of Jesus was in reality the death of the old man. The old man is defined as a spiritually dead inner man who is joined to the flesh of this creation from the family of Adam. That spiritually dead inner man is “the wife” in the metaphor that desperately needs a new husband. We were crucified with Christ, Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians. This was the only way to release the inner man from the flesh so that the inner man could be joined to another.

Do you see how the inner man, the real person composed of both soul and spirit, is the wife in the metaphor and the flesh is the husband that must die to release her from the law? The wife is now free to be married to another because she is free from the law according to the metaphor that Paul is using from Jewish law.

That’s why the apostle Paul in almost every verse of Romans 7 and 8 discusses how we are now no longer “in the flesh” but “in the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus,” the resurrected One. He goes into great detail about how the power of sin has been quarantined in the “members of our body” and how “no good thing dwells in our flesh” even though his new, inner man delights in the things of God. He explains a great revelation that God gave him about how just knowing right from wrong in your mind is no match for the power of “sin which is in the members of your body” and that the power of sin will take you prisoner every time if you are trying to “serve the law of God” with your mind, as opposed to serving God Himself by His Spirit. See the difference?

Hear the apostle Paul’s own words: “For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law (or principle) in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind (the knowledge of right and wrong) and making me a prisoner of the law (or principle) of sin which is in my members (in the physical body itself). Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God [I am set free] through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:22-25)

The apostle then explains in chapter 8 of Romans in great detail how the new reality we enjoy in union with the life of Christ is a superior principle, even the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” and that new dynamic is able to “put to death the deeds of the body!” For we no longer “serve God” in the oldness of the letter or by the law, but rather we “serve God” in the newness of the Spirit of life in Jesus. Notice that the apostle says we never go back to the law to “serve God.” Some teach that the law cannot save you but after you are saved by grace through faith in Jesus the law is a rule of life that believers need to use in their service to God. The apostle Paul says no! The law still has the power to arouse sin in the members of our body because the law is not of faith and if you try to “serve God” in the oldness of the letter of the law and not in the newness of the Spirit, you will quickly find the power of sin taking you captive once again as the apostle taught. Paul taught that the law was the very power of sin. (I Cor. 15:56) The law does not cease to be the power or strength of sin after we are believers because the law is not according to grace or faith.

The apostle exhorts us in chapter 8 of Romans to set our minds on the new heavenly reality and see that the old man is really dead and a new man has come into being by the creative act of God Himself. For our God is able to raise the dead and call into being that which did not exist before! (Romans 4:17) We are the beloved sons and daughters of God Himself and therefore His heirs of all He is and has. The wife cries out to the risen and exalted Jesus, her new Husband, and says “my Beloved!” Nothing shall ever be able to separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Romans 8:39) Jesus is the Door and through Him we have passed through death and judgment, having been cut away from our sinful flesh by the hand of God Himself, and have entered into a whole new world in His Spirit. Behold the Kingdom of God is now within you and the honeymoon never ends with your new Husband!

James Barron

  1. Xinh says:

    Do the daily meditation daily mesasge from pastor started? I did applied, but I have no answer on that subject and i am so thirsty for that. please let me know if you received my application. My God is the same God as Josep Prince and I want to know everything about Him and received all knowledge, put it simply i am running after Jesus and Pastor Prince I love the way you help me to see that i am loved by God and that Jesus is my everything, I need your to hear from you. You are talking to my spirit and we both rejoice. Thank you!Again wonderfully teaching. Warmest greating. Josette

  2. RLobato says:

    Sounds like it will be an awesum mssgaee! Just a suggestion can you start making video downloads for your sermons? Would be cool to watch as well as listen. Still getting the MP3 for this though. And its true people, ALL my addictions (pornography, video games) have been taken away by looking to him rather than myself. Yeshua You are too Awesome and I give You all the praise and glory for who I am today!

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