Dead to the law

Passage: Romans 7:1-6
Romans 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

People who reject Christianity love to quote elements of the Old Testament law that modern man finds odious. They typically cite the following:

1. The prohibition against eating unclean animals (shellfish, rabbit, pork, etc.; Leviticus 11).
2. The purification rights concerning a woman’s menstrual cycle (Leviticus 15:19-33).
3. The death penalty for adultery, homosexuality, and rebellious children (Leviticus 20:9-21; Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

Different denominations view the Old Testament differently, but for the most part the Old Testament has been abrogated by the New because Christ has fulfilled and will fulfill all of the promises therein. This is why the believer is said to be “dead to the law by the body of Christ.” There is no Christian sect that refrains from eating shellfish, rabbit, or pork because of Old Testament prohibitions. Part of this is because God spoke to Peter and said that there is no longer any unclean foods, so slay and eat (Acts 10:9-16), but more generally the New Testament abrogated the Old and that is why the testaments themselves are described as “old” and “new” (the modern practice of referring to the Old Testament as the Hebrew Scriptures is just another expression of unbelief).

The Old Testament ordinances are typically separated into three categories: civil, ceremonial, and moral. Those that are civil pertain to the nation of Israel during Old Testament times, but they are not applicable to modern Gentile governments. Those pertaining to ceremonies (sacrificial offerings, priestly duties, food restrictions, regulations on priests, etc.) are considered fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the high priest of the Christian Church who sacrificed himself for all of mankind once and for all.

However, those pertaining to God’s moral law are still in force because they are based on God’s immutable character. Therefore, stealing, lying, oppressing your neighbor, idolatry, sacrificing children to false gods, adultery, bestiality, incest, and homosexuality are still considered sins and violations of God’s righteousness. Almost all of these sins, including homosexuality, are deprecated in the New Testament.

The main message of the passage (Romans 7:1-6) is that following the letter of the law like a group of lawyers, without a heart change, yields no fruit; it only brings squabbling and death. If you are really going to live for Christ and produce fruit, you must live “in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Prayer: Lord, change my heart. Give me the strength and conviction to live according the spirit of Jesus Christ and not by empty creeds and words.

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