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By the Spirit, not the Letter: Romans 7:1-6


I hated bathtime as a child.   I was required to shower everyday in my home.  I took that to mean that I had to physically get in the tub; but soap, you'd have to force me at gunpoint before I would use soap.  If my parents confronted me about it, I would split hairs on their rules and squirm away.

As I got a little older, a strange discomfort appeared in my gut.  I had become aware of my filth and the value of a daily shower.  The house rule helped me see this truth. But I still fought my parent's law and the conviction didn't stop me from hating my parent's authority.

But a few more years passed.  Suddenly a new discovery entirely changed my outlook on taking a bath. Girls.

As if overnight, the bathtub suddenly became my great ally.  Where I was once arguing with my mother about my cleanliness, I was now trying to compel her to buy me expensive shampoo (it's true, I used to have hair).  Not only did I take a bath every day, it became a necessary reality that I happily gave myself over to.  Something in my circumstances had changed, and the same is true of our relationship with God's Law.

In Romans 7:1-6, Paul demonstrates how we are freed from the Law.  "But we are released from the law," writes Paul in Romans 7:6, "having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit."

John 1 shows us the Jesus is the Word and we know that all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16).  Interestingly, where there was a time when God's people lived by the Law through the voice of a prophet and the writings of those God anointed, through our death and new life in Jesus, we have the Spirit dwelling within us.  The Word, according to Jeremiah, is now inside our soul.  It's infused, ingrained, and integrated with our composition.  It's a part of us.  Jeremiah 31:33 says, "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 

We are no longer under the oppressive thumb of the Law, but instead desire to live the Kingdom ethic joyfully.  Like the kid who suddenly sees the value of bathing, we desire the good thing the Law was teaching us all along.  What a remarkable transformation!

As you discuss this text in your House Fellowships this week, consider thing aspects of God's will for your life.  Were there areas you once rejected, maybe even hated?  Have you grown to see this as a good thing?  I remember early in my Christian walk struggling with the idea of tithing; yet as I faithfully tithed, I found my hatred of it melting away to reveal a discipline of sweet, joyful, worship.  Are there areas of your life where you have seen this transformation?  Maybe praying corporately?  Freely worshiping?  Forgiving someone who wronged you?  Submitting to God's Word, the Bible?

Are there areas where you see God's Word suggesting something you are still struggling to accept.  Do you find yourself feeling like the little kid who refuses to submit to something you know the Bible calls for?  Why do you think you're struggling in this area?

I am praying for you.  I'm praying for us as a church.  I sincerely hope that we would not balk and squirm under the "old written code" but life in new life of the Spirit, which would give us joy in the Spirit of God's Holy Law for our lives.

May God abundantly bless you!

Pastor Bryan

*Picture comes from user, PDpics and is used by permission.