Monday of the Week of Lent V
Do you not know, brethren—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during his life? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.… Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God. While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. (Romans 7:1-2,4-6)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Exodus 8:20–9:7; Psalm 74; Romans 7:1–6
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2Dg9nUZ
While Paul is speaking of marriage in this life and how it relates to the death of a spouse, he is really discussing how the legal demand of obedience to the law is ended by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We no longer need to save ourselves by the law, because we have been saved by the redemption we have in Jesus. Now we live in a new relationship, in the new life of the Spirit. When Paul says we no longer serve under the “old written code,” perhaps he was speaking of the 613 Jewish laws pulled from the Old Testament. But even our relationship to the Ten Commandments changed after Jesus’ death and resurrection. We keep the law not to save ourselves or make ourselves acceptable to God but because, in Jesus, we have been reconciled to God the Father by Jesus’ death on the cross. Now we are free to live out God’s laws and commandments. Now, as one of our pastors says, we don’t “have to” keep the law, but we “get to” keep God’s law! We are free to live new lives of the Spirit, as we are slaves of God, in bondage to righteousness.
This freedom is true freedom, as we live life hopefully and joyfully. Living under the law is a burden when we believe we must keep it perfectly in order to find favor with God and earn eternal life. This is demonstrably impossible, as we have seen from Adam and Eve onward. Being freed by Christ and “married” to him, we live in a new relationship that daily sends us on our way full of hope and joy. We are at peace with God, through Jesus Christ, able to live at peace with our neighbor. This is what God intends for us, and what he wants for us. This is why God sent his only begotten Son to die and be raised for us and our salvation. We have “died to the law through the body of Christ, so that [we] may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.”
This is the point—that we belong to Christ, in order to bear fruit for God!
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for Jesus, who has freed us to live new life of the Spirit. Amen.
Lenten Response: See if you can list the Ten Commandments, in order. A fruitful Lenten activity is to consider and confess how we have transgressed against them today.
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.