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Lesson 6: Christ's Death and the Law *

Introduction: When we studied Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), you might have felt a little depressed. Jesus explained that keeping the law is not just a matter of avoiding sinful acts, it has to do with our thoughts and attitudes. It requires attitudes that are, frankly, foreign to our natural heart. We are to do good to those who abuse us? Turn the other cheek? The good news is found in our lesson today. Jesus kept the law for us. The law is still our ever constant "map" to keep us out of trouble, but the high standard Jesus holds before us is not the test of salvation. Let's wade into our Bibles and learn more!

  1. A Dead Map?

    1. Read Romans 7:1-3. What is the most important legal issue in a second marriage? (Whether your original spouse is dead.)

        1. Is the death of a spouse something over which you have control? (I hope not!)

      1. What is Jesus teaching us? (Jesus' example has both an obvious message (you are free to remarry after the death of your spouse), and a less obvious message (whether you are violating the law can turn on circumstances outside your complete control.)

    2. Read Romans 7:4. When Jesus says that we died to the law "through the body of Christ" what does He mean? (We died to the law when Jesus died on our behalf on the cross. Jesus' death was outside our control, but it makes all the difference regarding our relationship to the law.)

      1. What is the ultimate intended consequence of Jesus' death? ("That we might bear fruit to God.")

    3. Read Romans 7:5. What creates sinful passions in us? (Two things: a) a controlling sinful nature; and, b) the law!)

      1. How can the law "arouse" sinful passions? (Have you ever had someone say that you were not permitted to do something? Now you understand.)

    4. Notice the last words of Romans 7:4 and Romans 7:5 about "fruit." How does grace help us to provide Godly fruit and the law help us to provide deadly fruit? Doesn't that turn our normal expectations upside down?

    5. Read Romans 7:6. What is our present relationship to the law? (We are released from it.)

      1. What does it mean to "serve in the new way?"

      2. I've been hammering the "map" analogy - that the moral law is like a map to help us avoid the damage that violating natural laws would do to us. How does my map analogy fit? Let's turn to that next.

  2. GPS Life!

    1. Re-read the last part of Romans 7:6. Have we traded masters: the law master has released us into the hands of the Spirit master?

      1. What does it mean to "serve in the new way of the Spirit? (Read John 14:26. The Holy Spirit will lead us in life.)

    2. Read Galatians 3:10. How does this help us to understand the "fruit" issue? (Relying on obedience to the law for our salvation is certain death. This is part of the deadly fruit.)

      1. This suggests that map-reading is a "curse!" How many of you have trouble with a map? (We have trouble following maps: holding a map, seeing a map's details, figuring out where we are on the map, etc. Worse, a map is only a representation of real roads. The Bible says that "keeping" the map is not the goal. If the goal is to keep the map (keep the law) we are destined to fail. We will be cursed.)

    3. Read Galatians 3:11-14. How are we justified? (By Jesus redeeming us!)

      1. What is our promise for the future? (Again, we see a reference to the Holy Spirit. Like many others, I have a GPS ("Global Positioning System") program on my cell phone. The need for guidance has not changed since Jesus' death. We still need and want guidance to keep us safe. The change is that observing the map is not the ultimate goal. The goal is a Holy Spirit led life - which still holds the promise of helping us to avoid the damage arising from violating the natural law.)

  3. Dead Law?

    1. Let's return to Romans. Read Romans 7:7. What is important about the law? (It informs us about sin. Like a map, it gives us direction.)

    2. Read Romans 7:8-11. What is wrong with gritting our teeth and determining to keep the law? (It causes us to want to sin.)

    3. Read Romans 7:12-13. How is the law both good and death?

      1. Did the law die?(Notice something very important. All of the statements about something dying in the texts we have studied refer to us dying or sin dying. It never refers to the law dying.)

      2. Why is it important that we died? (The penalty for sin is death. When Romans 7:4 tells us that we "died to the law through the body of Christ," it means that through Jesus we paid the penalty for sin. That is how we are freed from the law, we already died!)

    4. Read Romans 7:14-20. Let's think about the law being a map again. You are a rebellious map reader! Sure, you can see the map, you agree that the directions on the map are accurate, but you hate to take directions from a piece of paper. You want to go in the way that looks interesting from a real-life point of view. What does the map do for you now? (Makes you feel guilty. You know the way to go, but your rebellious nature takes you in another direction.)

    5. Read Romans 7:21-24. How do we get out of this predicament with the map? (Read Romans 7:25. Jesus rescues us!)

  4. Getting in the Car

    1. Read Romans 8:1-4. How are "the righteous requirements of the law ... fully met in us?" (Through Jesus' "sin offering" on our behalf. When we accept Jesus through baptism, His death is our death to sin.)

      1. How is it ( Romans 8:3) that Jesus "condemned sin in sinful man?" (Because Jesus died in our place, we see the terrible consequences of sin.)

    2. Read Romans 8:5-8. Should we be frightened by this? Is the new test of salvation where we have set our minds?

      1. Recall that in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said lusting and anger were serious problems like adultery and murder. Has the works battle moved to our minds? (No. Grace covers both our thoughts and our actions. However, we have to make a grace decision.)

    3. Read Romans 8:9-11. Let's step back a minute. In the last part of Romans 7 Paul tells us that we have this daily struggle between wanting to do God's will and doing sinful things. In the first part of Romans 8, Paul says this is not a problem because we already paid the penalty for sin through Jesus. But, now, we are told that we should not be "controlled" by our sinful nature. Why is that?

      1. Is this simply another way of saying that we have to obey to be saved, except this time we have to obey the Holy Spirit instead of the law? (Re-read Romans 8:1-2. Grace releases us from condemnation. The question then is, "How shall we live?" If you want to live a life that pleases God, and takes advantage of His loving directions for avoiding disasters, then you need to choose a Spirit-led life.)

    4. Consider this example. Assume you want to arrive at a destination that is very difficult to find. Arriving at the destination is the most important thing in your life. I hand you a map, and tell you that if you do not strictly follow the map you will never make it. What would the map be to you? (Everything!)

      1. Now assume that I tell you that you are assured of reaching your destination because your car has been pre-programmed with GPS control by an experienced guide. You can rest in the knowledge that you will make it to your destination if you simply enter your car. What is the map to you now? (Not a bad thing, but compared to the pre-programmed car it is useless.)

    5. What if you are in the car, heading towards your destination, but you are looking at the map and feeling rebellious. Does that matter? (No! This is the transition from the last part of Romans 7 to the first part of Romans 8. We have a war going on in our lives against sin. But, Jesus rescues us. When we are in the car (saved by grace) our destination is sure even if we are wrestling around in the car with the map.)

    6. Friend, how about you? Do you want to spend your life wrestling with obedience to the law? Or, would you rather know that through Jesus, the penalty for all your sins has been paid? If you prefer the assurance of salvation, then commit to living a life led by the Holy Spirit.

  5. Next week: Christ, the End of the Law.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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