“I’ve married Mr. Perfect!”
That thought kept running through her mind as the couple made their way down the aisle. Her excitement wouldn’t let the grin leave her face. She almost spoke aloud, “how could I be so blessed to be marrying this man?” He was handsome, yet rugged. She felt completely safe knowing he would now be her protector and partner for life.
She recalled that these thoughts of him remained through the honeymoon, and even for a brief period afterwards. But then…
It began one afternoon when he came home from work. The first words from his mouth were, “there’s dust above the door mantle.” But he didn’t stop there. He inquired, “Do you intend to mop the kitchen floor today?” And then added, “By the way, I prefer my shirts to be starched, not just ironed.” “And while we’re on this topic, I don’t particularly care for the detergent you’re using.” Before long he had brought to her attention her making of the bed, the seasonings she cooked with, and the way she brushed her hair. He seemed to go on and on and on with an endless list of failures on her part.
She remembered her initial thoughts of this man at their wedding. She was absolutely right in her assessment of him. But something had changed. On the day of their wedding, she thought of those words with joy and excitement. But now, she thought once again, “I’ve married Mr. Perfect” with despair and hopelessness of ever meeting his demands.
I wonder how many believers have experienced this same despair in their walk with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? I’ve been there and I suspect many others have also. But not because we have to. Instead, because as Paul teaches, there is a great misunderstanding of the law in relation to grace. We step into the faith and the first thing we’re hit with is a list of do’s and do not’s. Most items on the checklist are legitimate principles of the faith, but the method is all wrong. It sends a signal that being in Christ equates with rule-keeping. Paul engaged this error often, even to the believers at Rome.
In the seventh chapter of his letter, Paul uses an illustration of the marriage laws of his day to convey his thought. When a couple was married, they were joined until death. At least until the death of one party. If the husband or wife were to pass away, then the other was free to remarry. He is basically teaching that everyone is accountable to God’s law, His standard of holiness and righteousness. No matter how much we may not want to be married to God’s perfect law, its ring is permanently attached to our left hand.
What’s the answer according to Paul? One party must die. But it will not be the law. Remember Jesus’ words… not one jot or tittle. The law cannot die, it’s perfect and holy and just. So if the law cannot die, then only one option remains… we must die.
That’s the purpose of the sixth chapter of Romans. For believers, Paul explains, Jesus carried our sin nature to the cross… and it was crucified with Him! The words, “I am crucified with Christ” should sound familiar, for it is the battle cry of Paul often in his writings.
And for those who are saved by grace through faith, Paul proclaims, “But now, we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.” Romans 7:6
Paul wants his readers to understand that the law was given to make sinners aware of their sin, a school teacher of sorts. The law is a shadowy revelation of God’s character, but His perfect character is manifested in His Son. We desire to be obedient to the law, but not out of fear… instead, out of love for our Lord, who we want to be a mirrored image of.