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Released from the Law 脱离了侓法

Sermon passage: (Romans 7:1-6) Spoken on: August 30, 2015
More sermons from this speaker 更多该讲员的讲道: Rev. Wong Siow Hwee
For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: Romans

Tags: Romans, 罗马书

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About Rev. Wong Siow Hwee: Rev. Wong is currently serving as a pastor in the children and young family ministries, as well as the LED and worship ministries.

罗 马 书 第 7 章 1 - 6 节
Sermon on Romans 7 : 1 - 6

Title: Released from the Law
Speaker: Rev Wong Siow Hwee

Today, I’m going to share something very simple. But it is like fire, it can be full of power but also highly dangerous. So I need your full attention. First thing first, the simple truth is this: you are no longer bound by the law. This is repeatedly expressed in many different forms in our passage today. Verse 2: released from the law. Verse 3: free from that law. Verse 4: died to the law. Verse 6 again: released from the law. Specifically, it means that we are no longer subjected to the laws of Moses. That would be the immediate context of Romans. But if you understand the reasoning behind it, the implications are even bigger than the Mosaic laws. That’s because the reasoning Paul used is Death. In our baptism, or rather, in our commitment to Christ, we become in union with Christ through faith. This union means that spiritually speaking, Christ’s death also becomes our death. And so, in the eyes of God’s law, we are dead. And the law cannot do anything to the dead. We have been freed from its domain. I say that there are dramatic implications because this entire process is a spiritual matter. It is a spiritual transformation of our status. It is about God’s current perception of us, and our official standing before him. In my earlier sermon I declared: we now have peace with God. And so it goes beyond the Mosaic covenant and the Jewish people. We who are Gentiles before God are also freed from God’s wrathful judgment because spiritually and legally speaking, we are dead. There cannot be any further conviction or punishment beyond death. We are free to go, in the eyes of God.

It is now the season for PSLE. Last week was PSLE oral exams on Thursday and Friday. If you are a primary six student in Singapore, you are obligated to take the exams. But what if you were to suddenly change your citizenship and transfer out of local schools? Suddenly, you are freed from this obligation. I can see the eyes of some of the P6 kids sparkling away. “Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be a Singaporean?” Sorry to dash your hopes, but even if you are not a Singaporean, you probably have other international exams to take, like the IB Primary. But imagine a scenario where suddenly there is no more PSLE. The exams by themselves, just like the Jewish laws by themselves, aren’t the main issue. In fact, exams are good in spelling out the knowledge that students should strive for. But as a standard, it can unwittingly become a tool to punish the lazy or other forms of human weaknesses. It is worse when competitively used as a benchmark between the have and have-nots. But supposed if the examinations are gone, imagine it even if it’s just a dream, you are then set free from judgment time. I think for many older primary school kids, their lives would be redefined. For such a transformation of the situation, Paul used death as the explanation. In a way, death has the same effects. You are freed from your original obligations. Death changes everything.

But Paul’s theology was also highly dangerous. And I think the worries of his opponents were quite justified. Such freedom can easily become lawlessness. Some parents or educators might be thinking: if there are no more tests and exams, then there will be chaos. Kids will be wasting their lives away, watching TV or playing computer games all day long. In the same way, it is imaginable that if people are no longer under the law, then sin and evil will run rampant. Remember this quarrel between Paul and the Jewish leaders in Romans 3:1-8? (show picture [1]) The Jewish leaders might have taken the negative consequences to the extremes, in order to scandalize Paul’s teachings, but nonetheless it was a concern to many who may cherish the necessity of the law.

So let this be clear: Freedom from the law is NOT lawlessness. To understand this, we’ve got to understand Paul’s analogy fully. The reason detractors of Paul misinterpreted him was because they saw a divorce as the metaphor. As if Paul was divorcing himself from the law, and he was advocating that we go wild with everything against the law. But it is a remarriage, not a divorce. (*repeat*) I repeat myself because Paul explained this metaphor once in verse 4 then repeated it again in verse 6. 4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God. 6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code. The metaphor of death is to describe a remarriage to Christ. In fact, the release from the law is only possible through this union with Christ. Without the union, there is no death. Without death, we would still be under the law. But in union with Christ, we go beyond death, we are resurrected to bear fruits to God. Let us not forget, that our Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. Freedom from the law is NOT lawlessness.

If this is a remarriage, is there any difference between the two relationships? If the conclusion is that we have to be law-abiding in both relationships, then there are no differences. If you fail to understand this, then you will be just as legalistic and judgmental as a Christian. But this is a new covenant, of course there are significant differences. The essence of the law still remains the same, after all, God’s will does not change. He continues to see life-giving in order and abundance as good. But the way the law is fulfilled has transformed. We now do it in union with Christ. Sin in the old covenant leads to death. But in union with Christ, when sin abounds, grace will abound even more. We get to turn back and try again, and try it together with Jesus. Or to use the agricultural analogy. We were working in a field that was punishing us for every failure. But now you are working on a special field. Your mistakes are forgiven. But what’s more important is that you are seeding and ploughing with Jesus. If you do try, you know that you will bear fruits. If you can see the two fields clearly, then you know what is so amazing about grace.

When the pastors were preparing this sermon series on Romans, and when we came to this turning point in chapters 5-8, we had a wish. We wished that the Jubilee community would also experience such a turning point in how they lived their lives. This turning point is a natural response to God when you understand fully the grace of God. I have 3 words as a response: Make it count. This grace is freely given. It is a gift to have a new life. So make it count! Back to the PSLE analogy. You have no more exams, no more judgment day. Does it mean that you waste your life away? I’ve not heard of any special calling to be a bum.

Make it count. That means that you are dead to your old self. Don’t be like the Israelites who yearned after Egypt after their liberation. Your new life may not be easy, but it is better than the hopelessness of the old life.

Make it count. Sometimes we do things for the wrong reasons. We study for exam’s sake. We obey for the law’s sake. Well, it’s not about the law anymore. Be life-giving without any more strings attached. People can tell you, you must do this and that since you are a Christian. You say, “No, not because I’m a Christian. No strings attached. I do good, because I love to be like Christ.”
Make it count. You have a comforter and an enabler in the Holy Spirit. If you are tired, you will be spurred. If you feel weak, you shall be strengthened.

I want to share an encouragement to those who feel motivated to embark on this new life. It is something from John Calvin about bearing fruits for God. Calvin’s Institutes 3.17.8 is in support of a theological understanding known as double justification. In section 8, Calvin, after defending justification by faith alone, does teach a justification of works which is itself founded on the prior justification by faith alone. Calvin writes: “Forgiveness of sins being previously given, the good works which follow have a value different from their merit, because whatever is imperfect in them is covered by the perfection of Christ, and all their blemishes and pollutions are wiped away by his purity, so as never to come under the awareness of the divine court. The guilt of all transgressions, by which men are prevented from offering God an acceptable service, being thus deleted, and the imperfection which is used to sully even good works being buried, the good works which are done by believers are deemed righteous, or; which is the same thing, are credited for righteousness.”

But just because our works are now made perfect in Christ, it doesn’t mean that henceforth we can be justified by works. Calvin continues in sections 9 and 10 of the same chapter on this same topic. He states: “In this way we can admit not only that there is a partial righteousness in works (as our adversaries maintain), but that they are approved by God as if they were absolutely perfect. If we remember on what foundation this is rested, every difficulty will be solved. The first time when a work begins to be acceptable is when it is received with pardon. And whence pardon, but just because God looks upon us and all that belongs to us as in Christ? Therefore, as we ourselves when joined into Christ appear righteous before God, because our iniquities are covered with his innocence; so our works are, and are deemed righteous, because everything otherwise defective in them being buried by the purity of Christ is not credited. Thus we may justly say, that not only ourselves, but our works also, are justified by faith alone.”

I want to share why Jesus can offer this new life to us. We have to understand the principle, in order to understand why life under the law and under Christ is so different. 耶稣以爱的行动来挽回我们。爱是罪的克星。爱能给我们的生命力量。是超越自我的力量。我们之所以犯罪就是往往以自己为中心,不把上帝当上帝。爱让我们晓得上帝才是我们生命的中心。我们的属灵生命是靠着上帝的引导和灌溉来成长。当爱充满我们,我们爱主的心让我们脱离我们肉体的私欲,让圣灵和主的话语引导我们属灵生命。当我们的属灵生命不是孤立的,而是于上帝联系起来,这个生命就永不古干,并结出果子来。这就是爱超越自我的力量。So in this new life, it is never about whether I am good enough. We are assured, because God is good enough.

Back to the original question: How should we live our life, given this freedom from the Law? One way to review and plan your days ahead is to think of yourself as a king. 其实,我们每个人都我们生命中的国王。想想看,你是如何管理你的王国。你的王国的主权是谁?如今,你已经有了选择的自由,你想为你的王国划出什么样的蓝图?你的王国的前景是什么?现在是大选期间。我们每一个政府部门都会分析。其实,我觉得我们更应该分析自己。你的外交部就是你于别人的关系。想想看,你的关系政策是什么?是利害关系政策,还是唇亡齿寒的政策?谈谈教育部。你看的书是那一种?你如何充实自己?你有上全教会读圣经吗?最后看看内政部。你以什么做为你的纪律,行为准则呢?你如何应对生活危机?还有你王国里面的财政部,卫生部,文化部,你都可以来一一分析。让我们今天好好的来想想看,我们的这许多生命政策,有多少是以上帝为中心。我们有了一条新生命,不管我们什么年龄,我们与主接连的时候,我们都可以重新开始。但如果我们让罪在我们的生命掌权,我们将再次失去这个机会。唯有耶稣才能救赎我们脱离罪的捆绑。今天让耶稣住在你们心里,用爱的力量,叫我们永远选择那有永恒生命的道路。