Dead, But Alive to Be United To Another
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? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. 4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:1-6)
I was listening to this in the car and something obvious struck me about the extent of Paul's analogy with marriage. We have died to the Law, he says, and uses the analogy of a woman who is bound to her husband, and then the husband dies and she is free from that Law which bound them in order to marry another.
First observation: we, who have died to the Law, are typified in the woman and the man of this analogy in different senses. At first I was confused by this -trying to say that we were either one or the other, but I see that to say are released to the Law because someone or something we were bound to died betrays the fact that Paul says it is us who died through Christ's death -not someone or something else. We were under Law, but now something has happened which resulted in us being freed from that Law. The point is, the Law does not bind us like this anymore. We, like the husband, have died. We, like both the husband and wife, and therefore released from the Law that bound them both. Lastly, we, like the woman who has been released and lives, is no longer condemned for breaking what formerly was governing over her.
Second observation: once the woman is free from the Law in her marriage to her husband, who is now dead, she is free to marry another. Likewise, we, who are free from the Law are now united to Another -for, that is the very purpose of our release. Paul says "so that you might belong to another" just as the woman who was freed is not an adulteress even though she marries another.
It seems like an odd analogy because it involves two people in various roles -one who dies, the husband (Which we would assume would make him a type of us), both who are released from the Law (both wife and husband, just like us), yet the wife, who remains alive, is free unto something else -unto union with another (which is definitely us). So, while it seems a little odd at first, the analogy actually highlights every aspect of this great spiritual truth. We die, we are therefore released, but now, being released, we are united to Another. This is what Pauls talks about in verses 4-6. We died to the Law through the body of Christ -ie. we died because of our vicarious union with Christ who actually died in our place- and therefore are relased from it so that we "might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead." And this new relationship is marked with grace, and gratitude, and love -which results in the bearing of fruit.