The law can no longer punish those who have died with Christ.
It’s an axiomatic truth that laws don’t apply to dead people. No policeman would issue a ticket to a drunk driver who was killed in an accident. Nor was Lee Harvey Oswald tried for killing President Kennedy, since he himself was killed by Jack Ruby. In Romans 7:2-3 Paul uses marriage to illustrate that truth: “For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man.” Paul’s point is simple: death ends a marriage because the laws regarding marriage don’t apply to the dead.
The same principle holds true in the spiritual realm. Since believers have died with Christ (Rom. 6:3-7), the law can no longer condemn them; it no longer has authority over them. Paul’s use of a passive verb (“were made to die”) indicates that believers don’t make themselves dead to the law; they were made dead to the law through a divine act.
The only provision for paying the penalty the law demands is the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). The apostle repeated that truth in Galatians 2:19-20: “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God that you are no longer under the law’s condemnation (Rom. 8:1).
For Further Study
Read Romans 3:20; 7:12; Galatians 3:24-25. Since the law can’t save anyone, what is its purpose?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187