"Dead to the Law"

by Mel Berglund

Introduction to Mel's writings:

The United Pentecostal Church is not perfect. Each local United Pentecostal congregation has it's own strengths and weaknesses. It is unreasonable to fault the entire United Pentecostal Church and its thousands of assemblies for mistakes that occur in a local gathering. It is improper and imprudent to ignore a series of complaints across our fellowship. Located at this web site are a group brothers and sisters who have been wounded in our midst. While you and I may not be the source of their hurt, we can we try to be a source of their healing. As mature believers in Christ, we adequately recognize that the church is not a showroom for faultless saints, but more often a hospital for the wounded in spirit. It is unfortunate when someone comes to our church with a genuine need, and ultimately leaves with unresolved problems and even deeper injury. I realize that the UPC is not for everyone. If someone finds that they can not embrace the doctrines of a "Oneness-Pentecostal-Holiness-Church", they should find a church that fits their beliefs. No organization can make everyone happy. Aside from that, we must admit when we have done wrong and hurt someone. The church must feel remorse and true repentance over offences that we cause. In this spirit, I apologize for your hurt. I ask your forgiveness and pray that you will not loose faith in Jesus Christ because of His people. I do not apologize for the doctrines of the United Pentecostal Church, but rather for the way in which they may have been presented. The United Pentecostal Church strongly believes that it stands tall as a clarion of truth to the last generation. Doctrinal compromise is anathema within the ranks of the UPC, therefore patience, temperance and love must rule our spirit as the gospel is preached.

It will be noticed that many of the problems within our churches are the results of methodology used in local assemblies. (At this point I add that people are never a "problem" and should not be thought of as such. Problems are circumstances to be resolved, not people to be criticized.) Every organization has both good and bad qualities. The UPC is no exception. Problems that plague a church today may be gone next year. To deal with these local church issues, each local pastor has their own methods. In turn each district has due process for dealing with situations that spill out of the local assemblies. Some types of problems are reoccurring and appear on these web pages. The standards of the United Pentecostal seem to be a source of much of this conflict.

I have been involved with the UPC for over 30 years and I speak from the voice of experience. I personally know this church to be kind and loving in receiving me as a young man into its fellowship. I know this church as being forgiving of my failures. As a member of this church I believe in the message of the United Pentecostal Church.

I have prepared a series of Bible studies that I hope may help all of us to take a different look at some of our difficult issues, and in so doing, help us to find the grace to love one another. Up front I want to make it clear that I do not advocate:

Forgiveness without repentance,

Discipleship without discipline,  
Christianity without Christ likeness      
A sacrifice without an offering,
A crown without a cross, and
Hope without holiness.

I am opposed to legalism, but I feel that legalism is no worse than:

Worldliness,

Ungodliness,  
Carnality, or
Sin.

Therefore my advice to all who read these lessons is to:

Build your house upon the rock,
Walk in the Spirit,
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
Resist the devil,
Obey those that have the rule over you,
Flee youthful lust,
Be not conformed to this world,
Perfect holiness in the fear of God, and
Submit yourself to God.

 In so doing we will never need a set of rules, for we will have become:

An epistle known and read of all men,  

An example to the believers, and
The light of the world.

I welcome your comments.

Thank you  

Mel Berglund

..........

Paul uses an illustration of marriage to express his teachings regarding the relationship of the believer to the law.

Romans 7:2-3 "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. 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." (NIV)

In this teaching we have three principle characters:
the wife
the husband (who will die)      
the new husband
We also have three actions:
the first marriage
the husband's death  
the wife's remarriage

Paul then continues with his lesson:

"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..." Romans 7:4 (NIV)

Paul injects Israel, the believers, and Christ into the three roles of his illustration:

The wife (Israel) was under the law of her legal husband (God)
The legal husband dies (Son of God - God in Christ)
The wife (Israel) is declared free from her dead husband's law (the Law)
The wife (Israel) is free to remarry

The woman (Israel) then marries another (Resurrected Christ)
The woman (Israel) therefore becomes the wife (church) of Christ

Now let us focus on the characters of Paul's illustration.

That fact that Israel was married to God is clearly shown from Jeremiah 31:31-32 where God says

"'The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD." (NIV)

There were only two ways that the marriage between God and Israel could have been ended: Either the husband or the wife would need to die. The living partner would be legally free from the marriage.

Because of God's love for humanity (i.e.: Israel), He would not let Israel die. Yet on the other hand, because God is a Spirit, He could not experience death. In spite of this seeming impossibility, God was able to both show his love for humanity and meet the requirement of death. This was accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." - John 3:16 (KJV) Through the miracle of the virgin birth, the Spirit of God dwelt with man, as a man. Paul, voiced this truth about the person of Jesus Christ in II Cor 5:19 "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." (KJV) When the Son of God died at Calvary, Israel was forever freed from the law, in that her husband was deceased.

Three days later, when Christ rose from the dead, He was not legally married (bound) to Israel and conversely Israel was no longer married to God. If Israel still desired a relationship with God, they would need to enter into a 'new covenant' with God The old marriage agreement (the law) was no longer valid, in that the husband had died.

When someone becomes saved, they actually become married to Christ. Paul explains in Romans 7:4 "Ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead. " (KJV) The new marriage between God (Jesus Christ) and his Bride (the church) does not take place on a national level (as it had in the Old Testament with Israel). The new marriage covenant is predicated upon a personal and individual faith in Jesus Christ.

If this was the end of Paul's teaching on this matter, the facts would be clear, and obvious. However, Paul brings another item into his illustration that needs closer examination. He says that not only did the husband die, (Jesus Christ on Calvary) but that the believers "Also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ." Romans 7:4 (KJV)

When a husband passed away, his authority over his wife is broken. The widow loses not only her husband, she losses his identity, his hand of protection, and in some Eastern cultures, her very life. In India it was normal until this century for a widow to be burned upon the funeral pyre of her deceased husband. That the wife ceases to exist at the death of her husband is recognized even in our culture. She is no longer called 'a wife', but a rather 'a widow'. Paul alludes to this phenomenon when he writes "ye also are become dead." The wife is not physically dead, but legally dead. Dead as far as her deceased husband's law is concerned.

It becomes clear now that Israel is totally free from the law given under the former covenant. Israel was free from both the restrictions and protections of the law. No one can ever hope for salvation through keeping the law, for Jesus cut that off on Calvary. The law is dead. Israel could legally enter into a New Testament (covenant) relationship as had been prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." (KJV- see also Jeremiah 31:31-32)

Paul gave his teaching on the law in Romans 7 primarily for the benefit of the Jewish converts to Christianity. This fact is clear from the way that he begins this chapter: "For I speak to them that know the law." - Romans 7:1 (KJV)  Apparently some of these former law keepers were having second thoughts about the liberty that they now experienced. Paul reminds them of the death of Christ on Calvary, and he appeals to their death in Christ. Jesus will not legally require them to follow the law because of His death, and they were spiritually free from the law because of their own death with Christ.

That Jesus died not only for Israel, but for all humanity is a recognized fact. That there is only one way to enter into the new marriage covenant with God is also well documented in scripture. When Jesus rose again from the dead, He sent out His Holy Spirit seeking a Bride from all nations. "Go into all the world" was His great commission to the Apostles.

For a Jewish believer, there is no more reason to live under the law than for a newly remarried widow to keep using the name of her deceased husband. It can be an insult to her new husband for her to keep going back to the law of the 'old dead husband'. Paul goes so far as to announce in Galatians 5:4 "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." (KJV)  In saying this, Paul is not condemning those who refuse to sin. Paul is warning against depending upon the law to justify us. We will never be found 'just' by the works of the law. We are justified by the death of Christ. Certain Jewish teachers had entered the church and were teaching the necessity of circumcision as found in the law. Paul was opposed to this teaching and makes his stand clear in the book of Galatians.

The non-Jewish believers will not die to the law in the same fashion as the Jewish believer, but they must die in Christ nonetheless. The Gentiles were never under the law, and therefore will hold little attachment to it. The Jews served the law while the Gentiles served sin. Paul makes this fact obvious when he proclaims:

"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin." Romans 6:6-7 (KJV)

When we enter into a salvation relationship with God, we must realize that it is a second marriage for each of us. As the wife, we are dead not only to the law but also we are dead to sin. The new marriage between Jesus and the bride is based upon love and liberty as shown in Galatians 5:13-14:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (KJV)

This liberty and love does not just happen, but is based upon our being in a 'covenant of marriage' with Christ. A proposal, or offer of marriage is extended to all who thirst for this type of relationship. The Bible ends with both the Spirit and the bride saying "Come, and drink of the water of life freely." (see: Revelation 22:17)

According to Romans 8:2; There are still two laws in force today:
the 'Law of the Spirit of Life' and
the 'Law of Sin and Death'.

True Christians are alive in the first law and dead to the second. If anyone has not been born again, they are still under the condemnation and sentence of death from the 'law of sin and death'. This is why Jesus said "ye must be born again".

Repentance is a death to the old law. Repentance is a death to sin. Receiving the Holy Ghost is a resurrection to the new law of the Spirit where the desires of God are written in the heart. Baptism is the act being buried with Christ. (see Romans 6: 1-4) This is the gospel that saves. This is the only gospel that sets the sinner free from the law of sin and death.

Conviction will come through the preaching of guiltiness to the old law. The burden of trying to live under the condemnation of sin and death is then lifted by repentance. When a sinner realizes that they are guilty of breaking God's law, this conviction will lead them to ask forgiveness and pardon. For this reason, the preaching of the severity of the law is acceptable and necessary today, but it must be tempered with the offer for free grace from God. To feel that forgiveness is dependent upon our good works is wrong. Grace and grace alone will remove the weight of the law and set the sinner free. Jesus died and in his death alone is salvation.



Posted March 5, 1998
E-mail link removed November 5, 2004 as no longer valid

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