adultery, Bride of Christ, divorcee, enslaved, first and second husbands, marriage analogy, metaphor, new man, obligated, old man, sin nature, sinless nature, slave-master relationship, Torah (the Law), under Grace, under the Law, wife
Surely you know, brothers — for I am speaking to those who understand Torah — that the Torah has authority over a person only so long as he lives? For example, a married woman is bound by Torah to her husband while he is alive; but if the husband dies, she is released from the part of the Torah that deals with husbands. Therefore, while the husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress if she marries another man; but if the husband dies, she is free from that part of the Torah; so that if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress. Thus, my brothers, you have been made dead with regard to the Torah through the Messiah’s body, so that you may belong to someone else, namely, the one who has been raised from the dead, in order for us to bear fruit for God. For when we were living according to our old nature, the passions connected with sins worked through the Torah in our various parts, with the result that we bore fruit for death. But now we have been released from this aspect of the Torah, because we have died to that which had us in its clutches, so that we are serving in the new way provided by the Spirit and not in the old way of outwardly following the letter of the law. ~ Romans 7:1-6, CJB
The Old Testament’s Law was not given to God’s Jewish people to perfect each Jewish person’s old man or sin nature. That is to say; the Law was not given to make Jewish people holy and righteous, because the Word of God makes it clear that if they stumbled and broke one point of the Law, then they were guilty of breaking the whole Law (cf. James 2:10).
Therefore, the reason why God gave His Ten Commandments and His other directives was for the purpose of producing the kind of guilt that would make His Jewish people understand that they are in bondage to and, thus, under the dictatorship of their “old man” or sin nature (see Romans 3:19, 23; Romans 5:12; and 1 Timothy 1:9-10). Since they were sinners who, apart from God and His Grace, would never live a sinless life, this Divine Truth is why God commanded them to make amends for their sins through sacrificed animals and burnt offerings, as well as through some non-animal offerings like repentance, prayers, and charity/good deeds (see 1 Kings 8:46-50; Hosea 6:6), or else suffer the consequence of the sin(s) they committed. The bottom line is that every Jewish person sinned, and every one of those sins ultimately leads to the sinning person’s physical death.
Put differently, the Jewish people living under the Law were in essence SLAVES to that Law—they were obligated to serve the Law through their obedience to the Law. Whenever they were disobedient to the Law, they legally were required to make the appropriate sin sacrifice and sin offering (read Leviticus 4:1-6:30) that were necessary for Jewish sinners to receive forgiveness, or they had to suffer the consequences of their sins that the Law described (read Deuteronomy 28:15-68 for descriptions of the many curses God will send because of their disobedience). Then too, the Law even dictated where the Jews could make their sacrifices and their offerings. They couldn’t do so wherever they wanted (see Deuteronomy 12:4-6, 8-11, 13-14).
Be that as it may. When a person becomes a believer in Christ (a born again, saved, and being sanctified believer), this is when that person’s legal obligation to the Law ends. There no longer is that old slave-master relationship with the Law, like every Jewish person had from the time of the giving of the Law, and like each Jewish person still has, if he or she is not a Messianic Jew. Now the chief reason why a believer’s slave-master relationship with the Law has ended is because he or she has died to his or her old self, and as a result also has died to the Law. Thus, for the believer in Christ Jesus, the Law that was given to kill and condemn (see 2 Corinthians 3:7, 9) no longer could strengthen sin (see 1 Corinthians 15:56), for sin that has been strengthened ultimately defeats humans.
In other words, the reason why every believer no longer is under the Law is because each believer’s old man or sin nature no longer exists. The believer’s spiritually DEAD heart (spirit), in which the old man used to live, has become a New Creation (see Romans 6:4, 6; Ephesians 2:5-6; and Colossians 2:12-13). Because of God’s Grace, each believer in Christ Jesus now has new life—is a new man with a sinless nature. The Lord has set the believer free (released him or her) from the Law so that he or she could marry Christ Jesus, the Messiah! Conversely, the only way a Jewish person could get out from under the Law—could be legally released from the Law—was through a physical death, as only death could end every legal obligation to the Law. For this last reason, the apostle Paul uses marriage as an analogy or metaphor to illustrate the similarities between the Jewish wife who is no longer married to her first husband, because his physical death has released her from the marriage part of the Law, and believers in Christ Jesus who are no longer married to their old man or sin nature (their first husband), because the death of their old man or sin nature has released them from being SLAVES to the Law.
Once again, for those of us who are in Christ Jesus, our “old man” is DEAD. Now here’s where we need to know what the Torah (the Law) says about marriage, in order to understand the apostle Paul’s marriage analogy (how he compares the relationship a Jewish woman has with her husband and the Law TO the relationship believers have with Christ Jesus and the Law). Then too, what is important to know about biblical analogies is that, like parables, they are used to get across one point of Divine Truth. In the apostle Paul’s marriage analogy, that one point of Divine Truth is: Death removes a person from the bondage of the Law. Moreover, making just one point is why analogies are not specific in EVERY detail, which is why when analogies are pressed too far they then will fall under the category of allegorical interpretations, where every part of an analogy will have an analogous counterpart.
Having said that, there can be no doubt that the apostle Paul knows that the Jewish marriage Law, indeed ANY marriage law, whether Jewish, Roman, or whatever, has the power and authority to bind a man and a woman together, yet if either the husband or the wife dies then the marriage law that bound them together is cancelled. More important, unlike Roman and other Gentile marriage laws, where either the man or the woman could divorce a spouse, the apostle knows that, in accordance with the Mosaic Law, a woman who is married cannot divorce her husband. She, thus, is bound to her husband by the Law, even if he decides to divorce her for the legal reason of conjugal infidelity. As a divorcee she is forbidden to marry another man, as long as her first husband is living, and this point in the marriage Law is what Christ Jesus emphasizes in the New Testament (see Deuteronomy 24:1; Matthew 5:31-32; and Romans 7:3). The bottom line is that since only death can set aside the Jewish marriage Law obligations, a married Jewish woman is bound to her husband by the Law until her husband dies.
Once again, the Torah only has authority/dominion over that wife, as long as her husband lives. When he dies, she is free from the very Law that otherwise would have prevented her from divorcing her first husband and/or prevented her from marrying someone else, as a divorcee, as long as her first husband is alive. If she remarried before the first husband died, she would be committing adultery.
Since the Law no longer plays a role in salvation, for as the apostle says, “But now, quite apart from Torah, God’s way of making people righteous in his sight has been made clear — although the Torah and the Prophets give their witness to it as well” ~ Romans 3:21, CJB, the apostle’s marriage analogy, thus, really is a salvation issue. His marriage metaphor is a salvation issue because the power of both sin and the Law ends once the believer belongs to a new realm—to the spiritual realm, as opposed to the natural realm. Indeed, believers, who now are the spiritual Body of Christ, obtain salvation by Grace through Faith in Christ Jesus, and not by the Law. It is salvation, then, that initiates believers’ new marital relationship that is both lifelong and eternal.
Since the Law does not save anyone, the apostle Paul’s marriage analogy (metaphor or comparison) definitely is describing how believers in Christ Jesus = the wife/married woman; how believers’ old-man nature = their first husband; and how believers’ new-man nature = their second husband, as every believer’s new nature is being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus. Now, it is important to note here that the apostle Paul is not saying that the Law is dead, as many seem to believe. Why would the Law die, when the Law is NOT sin but rather reveals sin and informs about sin (see Romans 3:20 and Romans 7:7)? Then too, why would the Law die, when the Law is holy, righteous, and good (v. 12), and the Law is spiritual (v. 14)? No, the Law isn’t dead, but it does produce death, as well as sin (vv. 9-11), and the Law also sensitizes both Jews and Gentiles to their need for God’s Grace and Mercy.
For these above reasons, the apostle Paul, with his marriage analogy or metaphor, is saying that it is each believer who has died to the Law through Christ Jesus’ death, and every believer died so that he or she could take Christ Jesus as his or her new spouse (cf. Romans 7:4). In other words, the apostle is saying that it is the believer in Christ Jesus who experiences a spiritual death (the old man dies to the “spiritual” Law, once and for all). However, unlike how it is with a believer’s dead and gone old man or sin nature, a believer’s soul and body are left in their unregenerate state. This Divine Truth is why the soul and body of a believer have to die daily—a death that occurs with every renewal of his or her mind, with every daily change in his or her thinking and his or her attitudes about God’s Perfect Will (cf. Romans 12:1-2).
Certainly, the apostle Paul also is saying in his marriage analogy that as long as believers (the woman in his marriage analogy or metaphor) are married to their first husband (bound by the Law to their individual old sinful self; see Ephesians 2:3), even if they wanted to, they never would be able to get out of that first relationship, as long as the Law controlled them—had authority and dominion over them. They also would not be able to get out from under the Law, as long as the Law made them aware or conscious of sin and then produced guilt in them (see Romans 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 1:9-10). However, because of God’s Grace and the power of His Holy Spirit, when believers’ first husband (old man) died a spiritual death (when they were born again, regenerated), the Law which legally bound them to their first husband (old man) no longer could condemn them or prevent them from marrying their second husband (new man; new self; which by the Holy Spirit is being transformed into the image of Christ). That is to say; unlike the natural marriage in which the Law had dominion over the wife, neither the Law nor sin has dominion over Christ Jesus’ spiritual Bride, which is every new man (see Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10).
Put differently, when our first husband (our old man of sin) becomes dead in the eyes of the Law (is put to death in Christ and, thus, has risen with Him as a NEW Creation), this death means that the “old man” no longer exists. In essence, neither our old sin nature nor our new sinless nature is under the Law! Now that we, who are the New Creations being compared to the woman in the apostle’s marriage analogy, no longer will be guilty of committing adultery, should we remarry, we are unlike the Jewish wife who might obtain a divorce certificate. For her, as long as her first husband still lives, she would be considered, by the Law, to be married to two different husbands at the same time, if she remarried. The point here is that, if we who are New Creations had two natures (our old AND our new natures), as some believe we have, we definitely would be living in adultery, because we still would be married to our old man (sinful nature), while in a second marriage to our new man (sinless nature), which is being transformed into the image of Christ Jesus.
Instead, contrary to popular opinions, we born again, saved, and being sanctified believers do not have both an old man or sinful nature AND a new man or sinless nature. That would make us somewhat schizophrenic! Furthermore, unlike a husband and a wife who become one through intercourse, we who are the collective Wife or Bride of Christ (New Creations) have become One with Him spiritually, by becoming just like Him. In other words, our regenerate spirits are IN Christ and IN the Holy Spirit. We are no longer who we used to be, when the Law had authority over us.
Do believers who are born again, saved, and being sanctified still sin? Yes! Occasional sinning is why born again, saved, and being sanctified believers in Christ Jesus struggle with the reasons why they still sin. However, the Divine Truth is that these believers are NOT hopelessly doomed to sin, even though they will not want to sin, but then sin anyway.
Moreover, the real struggle is between believers’ born-again spirits (hearts), which have them choosing to live a holy and righteous life, and their unregenerate souls and bodies, which have them choosing to participate in unholy and unrighteous behaviors. Indeed, when the desires of the regenerate spirits in believers, which make them so sensitive to the workings of the Holy Spirit inside them, are overruled by the desires in believers’ minds and bodies, that’s when believers really “feel” the ugliness and the shame of their rebellion, which sin causes, and when they are most aware of their struggle.
In other words, the struggle true believers in Christ Jesus have is because of the Law that is in their minds. The Law makes them ashamed of their sin, which they became aware of as soon as the Holy Spirit convicted them of it. Furthermore, the struggle true believers in Christ Jesus have is because of the Holy Spirit who is inside them, teaching and/or reminding them that every sin a child of God commits diminishes the amount of Glory God should have been getting from the NEW lives believers are supposed to be living. So then, the Law is not dead, but rather believers are under new management, so to speak. Because they now belong to Christ Jesus, who fulfilled the demands of the Mosaic Law, they now serve and obey God a new way, which is by living in the Spirit.
Believers struggle with the reasons why they sin, then, not because they still have their old sin nature (their old man; their spiritually dead spirit) inside of them, but because only their spirits (hearts) have been perfected—born again from above, justified, presented as if believers had never sinned, and then credited with the righteousness of Christ Jesus. This Divine Truth is why, when Father God looks at the Lord’s Bride through Christ Jesus’ blood, Father God sees His holy and righteous children, even though He knows their souls and bodies occasionally still act as if they’re married to sin, despite the fact that believers’ new-man spirits are married to Christ Jesus.
This struggle is best illustrated by the apostle Paul, who writes:
I can anticipate the response that is coming: ‘I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?’ Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. ~ Romans 7:14-25, MSG
Once again, the true believers in Christ Jesus are His believers’ born-again spirits and not believers’ souls (their individual mind, will, emotions, desires, intellect, conscience, and so forth) or their physical natural bodies. Actually, Christ Jesus is holy and righteous, so how could all of a believer (spirit, body, and soul) live in Christ Jesus, when the soul and body still are unregenerate? NO sin can live inside a holy and righteous Christ Jesus. Again, only the human spirit is a new Creation, and this new Creation is IN Christ Jesus. That’s why, for the most part, the born-again spirits of true believers in Christ Jesus do live and walk in the Spirit (cf. Romans 8:4-9), but since their souls and bodies have not been perfected sometimes believers make a choice to walk after their fleshly or soulish desires. So then, because believers’ souls and bodies have not been completely perfected, this is the main reason why believers have to renew their minds, daily, so that the spiritual Truths and the Will of God that have been deposited in their born-again spirits are flowing through their souls and bodies, manifesting outwardly as holy and righteous living—as lives that produce good fruit.
Now this produced good fruit is what the apostle Paul calls “fruit for God,” which he speaks about in Romans 7:4. Obviously Paul’s “fruit for God” means the good fruit of a sanctified (holy) life, which no doubt also would include the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, as well as believers’ righteous/good deeds. However, in contrast, the apostle also speaks about the people who are without Christ Jesus, who have unregenerate spirits, and because they are unbelievers they ONLY can bear the fruit for death (cf. Romans 7:5).
Lastly, our struggles aside, the apostle Paul makes it clear that Christ Jesus did not free us from our first husband (from our marriage to our old man or sinful nature) just so that we could wallow in sin—return to sinning habitually; return to being slaves to the Law of sin and death. The Lord freed us from our first marriage so that we could marry Him—become His pure and holy Bride. He also freed us so that we now could serve Him in the new ways the Holy Spirit establishes (serve Him with our new-man nature we have been given) [cf. Romans 7:6]. This service would not be possible, if we had two natures, for Christ Jesus declares that:
No one can be slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and money. ~ Matthew 6:24, CJB
Now, if men and women can’t serve both God and money, then it stands to reason that men and women also can’t serve at the same time their new husband (Jesus Christ), to whom their new sinless nature is married, and serve their old husband (sin; wickedness, rebellion, Satan), to whom their old sinful nature was married. This Divine Truth is why our old man is dead, never to live again.
A word to the wise should be sufficient. Amen