The Authority of the Law—Romans 7:1

"Do you not know, brothers-for I am speaking to men who know the law-that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives?" (Romans 7:1)

This seems like an obvious statement, it makes sense that the law or legal claims only have authority over us while we are living. After all, it would be hard to collect taxes from a deceased person. When a person dies all claims of that life are nullified. Our possession get redistributed, our money gets pass down to our family members and we take nothing with us from this world .

This is a concept that everyone understands, both young and old. That is why Paul uses this example so that we can understand our new state of existence. In the previous chapter, Paul wrote to us that we had died to sin and we were made alive in Christ. He explained why we have no obligations to that previous nature. Now Paul is switching gears slightly and he is going to clarify how this transformation happened legally. This is important to understand that our redemption happened lawfully, which means it will hold up in God's court of Law. God does not operate outside of his established precepts, so he used legal methods to redeem us from the control of the kingdom of Satan.

When we are born into this world, we were born with a sin nature because of what happened in the garden with Adam and Eve. "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned" ( Romans 5:12 ). Adam plunged mankind into the kingdom of darkness.

Now it is important to understand that when Satan stole Adam's authority, which God had given him in the beginning ( Genesis 1:28-30 ), he took it legally. Which meant that God could not take it back unless he took it back lawfully, otherwise our redemption would not have worked. That is why he sent Jesus in human form. Because humans were under the control of Satan's Kingdom. So when Jesus came, he came under the control of that kingdom. Because the only way to break free of it was to fulfill the Law which held us in bondage to it. We know that Jesus fulfilled the entire law because he lived a perfect sinless life. So when he died upon the cross he broke the power of darkness and the sin nature that held us hostage to Satan. Then he rose again and since he died once to sin he can never died again. ( Romans 6:9-10 ) Now he lives forever in heaven before God making intercession for us. ( Hebrews 7:24-28, Hebrews 9:15, Hebrews 10:12-14 ). So Jesus came in human form, fulfilled the law, broke the power of Satan's kingdom over us, rose again, lives forever as our high priest. All legal claims of Satan over him were broken forever.

Jesus offers us the righteousness that the law ascribed to by giving a new spirit when we put our faith in Him. This is called being born again. No longer do we have the spirit or sin nature that we were born with. We have Jesus' nature, what we received when we believed in Jesus as our Savior. Jesus died to die to sin so that we could also be free of it by association with him. Our old nature is gone and we have been freed from it forever ( Romans 6:6-7 ).

Therefore, since we have died to sin, the Law no longer has authority over us either. This happened completely legal in ever sense of the word. All claims that the Law had on us previously where annulled when we died with Christ. Since we were also raised with him we now belong to another. ( Romans 6:11 ). Today may you marvel at how complete and legal your redemption was, then stick around in the next couple of weeks to find out how this association with Jesus and your new nature affects your entire existence.

For further reading please visit these articles:
Romans 5:12 - The Law of Substitution
Romans 5:13 - Absent of the Law, Sin is Not Imputed
Romans 5:15 - The Gift of Righteousness Far Surpasses the Trespass
Romans 5:16-19 - The Sin Nature, The Source of All Grief, is Defeated in the Born Again Believer
Romans 5:20-21 - Trespasses Brought the Law, the Law Brought Death


Previous: Romans 6:23  Next: Romans 7:2-3

Original article published October 27, 2009.

Juli Camarin

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