“Free From the penalty of the Law”
Romans 7:1-6, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law.) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. 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.” [King James Version]
Romans 7:1-6, “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? 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.
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. For when we were controlled by the sinful nature [margin: the flesh], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 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 [King James: “of the letter”---i.e. “the letter of the law.”].”
“Turn to Romans chapter 7, Romans chapter 7 in your Bible. While you’re doing that I want to read a letter that I received from a man in our church who took to heart what I said about reading Romans 6, 7 and 8 and making it a part of your life. And you know, people will come into my office and a lot of times they leave with this little prescription written out. I’m going to have printed up some prescription forms, make it look real official. It’s like, if you charge people or you make them think that it’s real official, then they’ll do it. If it’s free they won’t do it. Sometimes I could just really get up tight, because we don’t charge, and it seems like people don’t listen. But then they give their money---$80 an hour somebody was telling me they were paying to a psychologist who didn’t help. Hey man, the Word of God is free. And it can change your life. I mean, if you want to pay for it, go buy a new Bible, that’ll cost you 80 bucks. [laughter] And then, read it. It’s a good investment in your life. But I tell people, ‘Read Romans 6, 7 and 8.’ I want you to read it twice a day for the next three weeks until you understand it, until you’re walking it, eating it, thinking it. “Dear Pastor Mark, warm greetings in the name of our Lord. I’m writing this note to thank you for being obedient to God’s Spirit in ministry. I have been attending Calvary Community for several weeks and have been blessed by the teaching from God’s Word. You recently spoke of the importance of Romans 6, 7 and 8 for what I call a victorious walk. Well, dealing with the daily frustrations, attitudes and temptations of the world was enough for me to start reading regularly Romans 6, 7 and 8. Consistently doing this the past couple weeks has made a wonderful impact in my life and walk. Realizing the true identity and power we have in Christ, and applying that to my walk has added a step of victory and confidence to each day, praise God. I have been so joy’d that I just had to let you know, and I appreciate the wisdom and the knowledge that God has shown…” And then I know it’s having an impact, because he says also in closing, “Please find an application for children’s ministry.” Whoa! It’s working, Hallelujah! So, I tell you, when you really begin to see who you are in Christ, you get strong in the Lord, and when you’re strong then you can serve, and you can move forward in your walk in your life with Christ. It’s important to serve, that you have an outflow of service in your life. [log onto the study on Romans 12 for more on this theme about service and being living sacrifices through our service.] Well, I know I said look at Romans 7, and I’m going to get there, but to set the scene for Romans 7 I just want to remind you that Paul said in Romans 6:14 that we are no longer under the law, but we’re under grace. In Romans 6:14 he said, “For sin shall not be master over you, because you’re not under law but under grace.” Now he didn’t get a chance to develop that because he anticipated someone interrupting saying ‘Wait, wait, wait…Does that mean that we can do anything we want?’ He had started to say the same thing at the end of chapter 5 where he says, “Now man, where sin abounds grace does much more abound…and now we’re not under the reign of law and death, but we’re under the law of grace!” And then again he thought, ‘Oh, somebody’s saying ‘Does that mean that we can live any way we want? Then we can go out and do whatever we want to do?’ So he spends most of chapter 6 saying ‘No, and the reason why you don’t go out and live any way you want is not because the law’s over you saying ‘Do this, do that’, the law is no longer over you, but you have Christ living in you. That makes a difference. And he talks about how you have a new nature [and this nature is actually writing God’s Law in your hearts and minds, cf. Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:6-13]. And really, gang, if you missed out on the last few weeks’ tapes on Romans, you need to get the Romans 6 tapes and listen to them. I mean, don’t just depend on what you can get here, whenever you can get here. You take some responsibility for your own spiritual walk. Get those tapes, and listen to them, and begin to understand who you are in Christ. It will---just like it did with this one brother---it will radically change your life and help you in your everyday nitty-gritty stuff, not just, you know, theology. Theology is nothing until it’s applied, it’s got to be applied to our walk, applied to our lives. So, anyway, back in chapter 6, verse 14, he says ‘Look, you’re not under law but under grace.’ And then he gets sidetracked again by somebody saying ‘So that means we can live any way we want.’ It’s like every time you say that, you have to say ‘No, now that doesn’t mean that we can…’ So finally now in chapter 7, verse 1 he comes to the point where he’s able to explain to us just how we got out from under the law. Because you just can’t decide ‘I’m not going to be under the law.’ You can’t just decide ‘Well, today I don’t feel like obeying the laws of the land, I’m going to go to Dilard’s and I’m going to take whatever I want.’ And you go up to the jewelry counter and you say ‘Oh, there’s some nice watches there’, and you take them and put them in your pocket. And you see there’s a nice shirt and you take it and you stuff it in your shirt. And when you walk out, and they knock you down and tie your hands behind your back and arrest you for shoplifting, and you tell them ‘Well, I just didn’t feel like being under the law today.’ You know what? The little men with white jackets are going to come. They’re going to say, ‘Ah, excuse me. You can’t do that.’ ‘How can we not be under law, Paul? That’s the question.’ Law’s a moral permanent thing, you can’t just decide that you’re going to do away with it. So in this first part of Romans 7, Paul tells us how we got released from the law. And the title of my message is “FREE FROM THE LAW.”
Dead people are released from the Law
Now let’s look at chapter 7, verse 1. “Or do you not know, brethren, for I am speaking to those who know the law, that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives.” Now that is so basic, that is so simple, and that is so important. He says, ‘Don’t you know, brethren, I’m talking to those of you who know law’---the word “the” is not there, you can cross out “the” if you want to before “law”, it’s not there in the Greek. He’ saying ‘Those of you who understand law in general, Jewish, Gentile, pagan religion, let’s just talk law for a minute. Law has dominion as long as they’re alive. Right? Right? Simple. Yeah, the law is a binding authority on us as long as we’re alive. Policemen don’t sit and wait in cemeteries for someone to do something wrong---do they? No, because the dead people are not the ones they’re having the problems with. It’s the people that are alive that they have the problems with. I don’t know of any laws that have to deal with what a dead person can or cannot do. Dead people are released from the law. OK, verse 2, Paul now used the legal institution of marriage to make his point. Listen. “For the married woman is bound”---and the Greek there is “permanently bound”—“by law to her husband while he is living. But if her husband dies she is released from the law concerning the husband.” Makes sense. “So then, if while her husband is living, she’s joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies she’s free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she’s joined to another man.” Paul’s saying, ‘Look, look at marriage, there’s some similarities here. He says, ‘Marriage is binding on a person for life, that’s the way God intended it to be.’ And you can’t just leave your marriage partner and go and be married to someone else. Remember that funny little man who got married to how many women? He’s in jail here in Arizona. Remember him? He was married to dozens of women. Well, you can’t do that. That law says you can’t do that, that’s bigamy. [No, that’s polygamy!] That’s against the law. The Bible calls it adultery. OK? And he didn’t get away with it. Well, so in the same way, with our problem with the law is that, the law has a jurisdiction over a person as long as the person’s alive. And as long as I’m alive, I’m sort of married to the law. And I can’t just decide ‘Well, I’m going to do away with the law, and be married to Christ.’ You can’t just do that, that would be adultery. And God isn’t recognizing divorce. Divorce is something that came much later, and in Paul’s analogy, divorce isn’t an option here. And so he’s saying ‘There’s only one way to get out of that bad marriage, and that’s for someone to die.’ Don’t get any ideas, anybody. [laughter and chuckles] (I called an attorney and asked ‘Will I be legally responsible if somebody does somebody in after this message---no.) The way of release is death. If one partner in a marriage dies, the marriage is dissolved. And the surviving partner is then free to remarry. Right? That’s what he says in verse 3, “So then,” he says, “if while her husband is living, she’s joined to another man, she’d be an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she’s free from the law, and she can be joined to somebody else.”---and wouldn’t be an adulteress then. So the death of your partner would release you from that marriage, you’d be freed, you’d be released. The death of either party ends the relationship and frees the surviving partner to remarry another. And so, death ends the relationship with the law. And when you think about it, death ends the relationship to all law. Remember a guy by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald? He was the man who was accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy. He should have, by law, been tried, and most likely he would have been convicted of killing the President, and then would have been executed. But he never was tried. He got out of it. He never was convicted, he never was executed, he got out of it. How? Well, he himself was assassinated. He was killed. And he’s a very good example of what happens to you when you die, concerning the law. The law, which would have had him condemned, jailed and imprisoned, and all these charges against him, all of that was gone once he died. I mean, they didn’t bring in Oswald’s corpse into the court room and set it up, prop it up, you know, ‘All right, you are accused of…and did you pull the trigger? Was it your bullets, etc?’ And then they say ‘You are guilty’ and then drag the corpse to the electric chair and electrocute it once, and then throw it in the box and put it in a hole in the ground. They didn’t do that. Why? Because death severed all of his relationship with the law. It was severed. He had no more relationship with the law, because he was dead. You can’t prosecute a dead man. The law can only be enforced for the living. But that’s not very comforting when you really think about it, because sure I can be released from the law by death, but then it’s too late. Right? You can say, ‘Well, I’m dying, but at least I’ll be---gasp, choke, gasp---free from the law---gasp.’ I mean, great! You’re free from the law, but you’re also dead!
How can we be delivered from the grip, penalty of the law, and yet continue to live for Christ?
So how can we be delivered from the grip of the law in our lives? You have to die to get free from the law---how can we be delivered from the grip of the law in our lives, and yet continue to live for Jesus Christ? That is a problem. And God has always used these kind of problems with us, and so God came up with a solution. And guess who provided the solution? None other than Jesus Christ [Yeshua haMeshiach], and verse 4 gives us the solution. “Therefore my brethren, you also were made to die to the law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.” Verse 6, “But now we have been released from the law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.” The way that we’ve been set from our marriage to the law is perfectly legal and right. And that’s important. Maybe you’re thinking that’s not important, but if you ever deal with someone who is a real law person [they just look at it a different way, but come to the same conclusions in the end] who says ‘Hey, Christians have to keep the law today. You have to observe this day [Sabbath], you have to observe these Feasts, you have to eat this food, or God’s not pleased with you. Listen, you need to understand that you just can’t tell them ‘Well, the law’s been done away with.’ They’re going to look at you like ‘Have you lost your mind?’ ‘What do you mean the law has been done away with? You can’t do away with a moral thing.’ ‘You can’t just do away with something that’s right.’ And so you have to understand Romans 7. Romans 7 is awesome! He’s saying, ‘Exactly, we couldn’t do away with the law, we’re married to that husband, the law. We couldn’t get rid of him. The only way to be released from the law was for us to die.’ And so we died in Christ. Remember my illustration with the ink? Remember how Christ was the blue ink? And we were the white cloth, and when we were baptized into Christ, we became one with him, and when we come up out of that, we have Christ in us. We are part of him, and he is in us, and we are in union with him. That union, that death, also was your death to the law, you died. The old you died. I told you “the old man”, “the old woman” she died, and we’ve been made new creatures, we’re alive in Christ. Everybody in Adam’s family is married to the law, but the way you get out of Adam’s family is to be born a second time, born into Christ’s [Meshiach’s] family. That’s why you must be born again. So we have been released from the law through the death of Christ. And so that when he died, like baptism symbolizes, when he died, I’m with him in that. And when you go into the water, it’s like being buried like Christ was buried. And when you come up out of the water, it’s like being raised in the resurrection with Jesus Christ. And we’re just acting out what has happened in the spiritual realm. You’re dead to the law. The law wasn’t done away with---don’t say the law was done away with---it wasn’t done away with. It was fulfilled though. [I’m beginning to see, and I think this is what he’s getting at---from all my studies of the New Testament, Paul and Peter, and John show that we are supposed to try to live by the law, overcoming sin, putting sin out. And John said in 1st John 3:4 that “sin is the transgression of the law.” So what we have been freed from is the penalty of the law. Paul brings out in verse 7 of Romans 7 that the law is our spiritual mirror, showing us where the spiritual dirt is. We are to use it as a spiritual mirror in the washing-sanctification process. James brings the same identical point out in James 1:22-25. So, far from the law being put out of our lives, it has a different purpose for believers in Jesus, Yeshua. It’s our spiritual mirror, while the Holy Spirit who indwells us is the water that helps us wash the sin away. Ever try to wash dirt off without water? It doesn’t work. The law by itself is powerless to wash the dirt of sin away. It can only show where the dirt is. But the law as far as the penalty aspect of it has been canceled. But here’s a caution. The believer that fails to put sin out using the law as a spiritual mirror, and the Holy Spirit as the enabling, washing “water”, will not be granted eternal life. That is what the Bible says. Read Galatians 5:19-21. The new covenant is defined by the Bible as God writing his law into our hearts and minds. Now some believers, Sabbatarians and Torah-observant Jewish believers in Yeshua, chose to have God write his Old Testament Law of God into their hearts and minds, and Paul in Romans 14 said this is all well and good, they are free to follow their Christian conscience in such matters. Other Christians chose to have God write his New Testament Law of Christ into their hearts and minds through the Holy Spirit, and he does so. The Old Testament required those under the Law of God given to Moses to observe it all on their own without God’s Holy Spirit empowerment. That was the Old Covenant. They found out it was impossible, thus God proposed a new covenant. Now we’re not under the penalty of the law, whichever version of that law we desire for God to write into our hearts and minds. We’re free now to work with God in the sanctification or God’s cleanup process of our lives. We’re still told to obey God, and yes his law, but not without his empowerment, and yes, during the process, we’re free from the penalty of the law. Without a penalty, it’s like the law doesn’t apply to us, or it applies to us about as much as it would apply to a dead person. That doesn’t nullify the law, it’s purpose has merely changed. Hope this helps. Those who are labeled legalists are just as much a part of God’s sanctification process, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ as the rest of us. In God’s good time, God will help them understand the process better. But that is in God’s hands. I strongly recommend against getting into any arguments with them about the law being done away. It would prove spiritually counterproductive to them and their spiritual growth. And if they, in their reasoning with you were to decide to say, give up observing the Sabbath or Holy Days, against their Christian conscience, then as Paul pointed out in Romans 14:22-23, you would be causing them to sin. Do not do that.] And you’ve been released from law, freed from the law, in a way that honors the law. It’s like you got out of that marriage, in a way that honored marriage. You got out of it without a divorce, and without an affair. You died. That got you out of the marriage. The institution of marriage was still held in great honor, you didn’t commit a great sin, and you’re free. And the glorious thing is that when we died in Christ, we died in order to live. We died in order to live. And so God has provided a just way to justify us. It’s a fair and square law-honoring legal way. He holds up the law, he says ‘Yes the law is right, and eternal and good, and on the other hand, he saves us sinners---and it’s all by us dying in Christ. His death counted for more deaths than his own. His death counted for all of us, because we were in him, we were in Christ when he died. God set all our sins on him, God placed all of us upon Christ when he died, and when he rose again. That’s the theology. That’s neat. That’s incredible.
Jesus is our betrothed, husband to be---not the Law
But you know I got to thinking about this, and I thought, there’s something else here that really hits me, blesses me. And I wanted to share it with you now in the few minutes that we have left. I want to share with you who your new husband is like, or what your new husband is like. Who he is, is Jesus Christ. You were married to the law. And I had this brilliant, brilliant idea, an illustration for this, as soon as our worship was going to stop. And I had this all planned, right up to, what, Friday? Then I chickened out. But I was going to have, as soon as we stopped singing, and I stopped praying, all of a sudden you were going to hear the pipe organ start to play the wedding march, and a beautiful bride was going to walk down the aisle. And up here was going to be a manikin, or a policeman, I wasn’t sure. I mean, the policeman would represent the Law, you see. But the manikin would be even better because the manikin could represent the Law and be sort of lifeless and unable to do anything. I mean, can you imagine being married to a manikin? You say, ‘Yeah, I feel like I am.’ But I mean, this manikin, all he could do, we would have the Ten Commandments on the front of his Tuxedo, and all he can do is stand there and tell you “Don’t do this, Don’t do that, Don’t do this, Oh, remember this. And Don’t do this, Don’t do this.” But was he any help to you? Hey, it was a relationship. You were married. I was going to perform the ceremony and everything with you as witnesses. Now there’s no way you can get out of that, except when one of the partners die. And then I was going have some handsome dude come up dressed in a Tuxedo too, and when the bride died, and I didn’t how for sure I was going to have the bride die, but you know, some illustrations just aren’t practical, work better on video tape probably. So anyway, the Bride was going to die, but then when she came back to life, the Law would be moved aside and here would be this handsome dude that would probably be her real life husband, you know. And he would come up and just embrace her and we would realize that now they’re happy, now they’re going to live happily forever. Here’s someone who can understand her. Here’s someone who can help her. Here’s someone who just won’t say ‘Do this’, but will help do it. [That is just what I have been saying, for here, Pastor J. Mark Martin has just described the promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-33 and Hebrews 8:6-13, where God promises “I will write my law upon their hearts and in their minds…” The Law, whether your Christian conscience leads you to use the Old Testament 10 Commandment Law or New Testament Law of Christ, is not done away. But it’s purpose has been changed, it’s now our spiritual mirror, and God himself by Jesus indwelling us with the Father, through the Holy Spirit, writes his law within us, washes the sin away. The law’s the mirror, the Holy Spirit is the “water”. This precious analogy is in the Old Testament in the Brazen Washbasin that was made of women’s brass looking glasses and filled with water, and whenever the priests have to begin their priestly duties, they had to first wash their hands and feet in this huge basin, to wash ‘the dirt’ off of themselves.] And I thought, what a beautiful illustration. You see, we’ve been delivered from the husband of the Law. We died to the Law, but now we’ve been raised again, and now the Bible says in verse 4, “that we have been made to die to the law through the body of Christ that we might be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead.” We’ve been joined to Christ, he’s our husband now. He’s the one who loves us now. [Now here’s were analogies, even in the Bible break down. For here it is saying we are right now married to Christ, yet in Revelation 19 we are referred to as the Bride of Christ, and that marriage has not yet taken place, but will at the return or 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. We are really a Bride-in-waiting, and are now supposed to be cleaning ourselves up in preparation for that wedding, as Revelation 19 says. So, yes, the old husband of the Law is dead, the penalties of the law can’t touch us, but we are supposed to be cleaning ourselves up, sanctifying ourselves by the overcoming of sin in our lives, using the spiritual mirror of the law of God and the “water” of the Holy Spirit, letting God write his law upon our hearts and in our minds. That in reality is where we stand. The actual marriage hasn’t happened yet. We, as Jesus showed in the parable of the Bride’s maids in Matthew 25, are awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, which won’t occur until the 2nd coming of Jesus, Yeshua.] And if it’s weird for you guys to think about yourselves having a husband, don’t think of it that way, just think about the love of Christ, because that’s really what he’s talking about. How does Jesus, our new master, our Lord, our new husband, how does he love us? Well, it’s a love that goes far beyond any human kind of love, he loves us first of all, perfectly. He loves us perfectly. You have never been perfectly loved if you haven’t been loved by Jesus Christ. His love for us is unconditional. His love for us, is in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse. He is always loving you. His love for you will not stop when you stop. It’s not just, ‘Well, I’ll do my 50 percent, now you do your 50 percent.’ I’m sorry, Jesus, Yeshua has done 100 percent.
Jesus loves each of us for who we are
Jesus loves you. And when you have good days he loves you, and when you have bad days he doesn’t love you one fraction less. Do you understand that? You got to get it through your heads, gang, that this new husband of ours, he loves us not because of anything that he saw in us. You know, sometimes I talk to young men that are getting married, and they’re excited about their wives, their wive’s beauty, ‘Oh man, Mark, she’s just so gorgeous, oh!’ And I think, ‘Well, that’ll pass.’ [loud laughter] I mean, I mean you look at a couple that’s been married sixty years, maybe, and you know, beauty isn’t the thing that’s holding them together. Beauty isn’t the thing that’s holding them together. ‘Man, my wife, boy she’s a cook. Boy, I can hardly wait for those home-cooked meals.’ But you know, all that kind of love is so conditional, you know. I mean, what about when she flops, she cooks, and you say ‘We’re eating adobe bricks today?’. The beauty begins to fade as the children come on, and there’s not time for her to get all decked out every day, and dress in her finest, and all the makeup and whatever girls do, they sure look different, don’t they, after they put it on, than before they put it on. It’s like, whoa, whew! So, but I mean, you realize guys, before you get married, that things are going to change once you get married. But human love is sort of conditional, well, you know. ‘He doesn’t spend enough time with me…so I’m not happy with him anymore.’ And when women get unhappy with their husbands, then they begin saying things like ‘I don’t think I love him anymore’---because they’re very feeling oriented. And if the feeling’s not there, they mistake a feeling for what real love is. Jesus, Yeshua loves us absolutely, all the time, even at our worst, even when we’re doing the worst things that we could possibly do, he loves us. And he loves us, knowing everything about us. I advise couples before they get married, to make sure that they see each other in all sorts of different circumstances, so they don’t get surprised by something—I hope you have a fight before you get married---I say that to couples, you know, that I’ve counseled, they look at me like ‘Oh!’, grabbing each other’s hands frantically, ‘who, us?’ [laughter], ‘Oh no, our love, our love is like the love of the angels, why we would never…oh we are just so in love with one another.’ Leslie and I are going ‘Awwg’ you know [lots of laughter]. ‘Give me a break.’ It’s such baloney, such malarkey. Get real! Fight! [laughter] I tell them, ‘You know, Leslie and I have learned a lot through the fights that we’ve had. ‘Fights?! You’ve fought?! Maybe we should find someone else to do our counseling for us. We’re looking for a perfect marriage.’ Yeah, and boy you two are going to land on your heads after your honeymoon, aren’t you. He loves you, knowing everything about you…I have yet to see a couple who hasn’t, sometime after that blissful honeymoon is over, that one of them or the other have awakened in the morning (they didn’t say it out loud, thank God, but they say it to themselves), ‘I married him?’ ‘I married her?’ ‘Isn’t there some way we can undo this? I mean, can a priest write a piece of paper and I can get excused from this?’ ‘No, honey, you said till death do us part.’ ‘Well, that’s an idea.’ [laughter] But Jesus loves you, and he never gets any surprises. No surprises whatsoever. I think of my wife, and what she’s lived with, especially the last two weeks, I tell you, urine has been everywhere in our house with these kidney stones. I’m carrying it around, ‘Look! Look! Look what I’ve found! Look! Look!’ I was passing kidney stones, and I had to strain my urine. Tell the whole world, why don’t you. I had to strain my urine, and I had to put my urine in this thing that you carry around, OK, and when I was passing all this gravel, I really started getting excited, because finally something was happening, something was coming out, you know, and it’s like, I was giving birth to diamonds. And so I would run, to the…Look!, look!’ And pretty soon my little girls were going ‘Daddy, Daddy, we want to see.’ ‘Look, there it is Honey, there it is Sweetheart.’ And they would run with me to the bathroom so I could strain it, and I got so I didn’t even care. This is nothing to me. But before I reached that point, you know what had happened—this has nothing to do with the message, but [laughter]---I got into the emergency room the first time, and I was feeling terrible. And we can’t go anyplace in this whole city anymore, in fact almost the whole State without seeing someone who knows us. And it’s just a weird feeling. Especially when ‘I don’t think I can hardly talk…’ you know, you’re dying. And going into the hospital, I said to my wife, she was just dropping me off---heartless thing---no [laughter]. I told her to go on home, I knew what I was in for, the kids and all of that, so I said ‘Just drop me off.’ So anyway, I said ‘Just pray, that I don’t see anybody from Church, I just don’t want to see anybody right now. I don’t want to have to be Pastor Mark right now.’ So I had drunk, drank, drunked, drink, I don’t know, I had drank a whole lot of water, OK, that’s part of the therapy…I mean, my eyes were watering, I was sitting there, and I was in pain. And I said ‘I’ve really got to go to the bathroom.’ And the nice lady, I said, ‘But I’ve got to strain my urine, I got to catch it and everything.’ She said, ‘OK, just a minute.’ She went and got this huge container, with a handle on it which you can see through, and a strainer, and she said ‘Just go over there Mr. Martin.’ And I thought, ‘why didn’t she put me into the emergency room, you know there’s a bathroom right there behind closed doors, it’s private…’ Instead, I have to march across the lobby [laughter] with this thing, it’s empty right now, and so you’re nonchalantly, in agony, and you have to go to the bathroom, and so the door of the bathroom opens right into the lobby, it’s just like if there was a door right here to the bathroom [he’s on the front stage, in church], OK, just right here. Everyone’s watching. And I do my thing, and I gather it, and it’s almost full, because I drank so much water, and I step out, and I’m thinking ‘Please, Lord, no, I don’t want to see anybody’, and I hear “Oh, Pastor Mark! What are you doing here?” And I look over, and here in the lab is one of the sisters from Church looking right at me. And I said “Cheers!” [loud laughter] But I’m not bashful anymore about any of that stuff. I’ll show any of you my urine any day. Now my point is, my point is this. I’m sure that when my wife married me, she had no idea she would be doing and seeing the kinds of things that she has had to do and had to see and participate in. It might have taken her aback slightly. But there are no surprises when the Lord gets you. God sees your entire messy history. He sees your problem. He sees your sin. And the Lord accepts you, and he loves you, absolutely perfectly and unconditionally, knowing full well. You know, the Lord already sees the very worst you’re ever going to do in your life. Let’s say it’s never happened yet, but it’s gonna happen, an unthinkable thing. He knows it right now, and he loves you 100 percent, knowing what you’re going to do. Because God knows the future as well as he knows the past. Right?
Jesus doesn’t just love us perfectly, he loves up permanently---he will never, no never leave you
And then our Jesus, our new husband Jesus, he just doesn’t love us perfectly, he loves us permanently. He says in Hebrews 13:5, and you might look it up, he says “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Hebrews 13, verse 5, the latter part he says “I will never,” (in the New American) “never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Jesus, Yeshua loves you perfectly. The Greek actually gives a double negative, Oume [Strongs #3364] it says in the Greek, it says it twice, it says “I will never, no, no never…” It’s the strongest way that they could say something in the negative. There is absolutely no way, listen to how the amplified Bible translates this verse, it’s so cool, just see if you can follow along. “For he himself has said ‘I will not in any way fail you nor give you up, nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let you down and relax my hold on you, assuredly not.” Oh I love it! If you think that the Lord isn’t going to hang onto you, you better read that verse, you better meditate on that verse, because Jesus isn’t some fly-by-night husband that’s here now and gone when things get tough [I had a fly-by-night wife]. When Jesus took you, he took an oath that said “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Jesus is never going to divorce you. He will never leave you, no matter what you do to him, no matter what you say to him. He will never, ever separate himself from you. Divorce was never a part of God’s original plan for marriage. That’s why I like to have the young men, or whoever the guy is, getting married, I like to have him pledge to his wife that very verse, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” You see, Christian marriage is supposed to reflect the relationship that Jesus has with us, individually and as his Church.
Why our marriages fail---hardness of the heart
And that’s why divorce is not an option for Christians. Now I understand that there are some horrible things that happen to people, I understand that sometimes the pieces are so terribly broken, and I understand that there is a provision for divorce in the Scripture. The provision was there out of mercy, you understand. Because the Bible said if you broke your marriage vow by adultery the penalty was death [in the Old Testament Law], well finally they allowed divorce so you wouldn’t have to die if you committed that sin, so it was mercy that divorce was ever allowed. But the Bible also says divorce was allowed because of the hardness of people’s hearts. Some of you are contemplating divorce, and you have no real grounds for your divorce. You say, ‘Well, Mark, isn’t adultery grounds?’ Yeah, but it doesn’t say ‘you have to get a divorce because of adultery.’ You don’t have to separate because of adultery. Marriage was meant to be for life, till death do us part. Sadly, most people today including Christians don’t have this conception of marriage ingrained in them. Oh, we give lip service to it, but when things get tough in our marriages, you see that people are operating on an entirely different level of thinking. A lot of people have this idea about marriage, ‘Till hassles do us part.’ ‘Till incompatibility do us part.’ Man, I’ve heard incompatibility. I’m sick of it. What does that mean, you bump each other when you’re brushing your teeth in the bathroom in the morning? Does it mean that you like one television program and she likes another? You like white meat, she likes dark meat on the turkey? [Man, that’s just right, each gets more of what they like on the bird! People look at it all wrong.] Incompatibility. I know there’s things we’re not compatible on in our marriage, but I’m not going to divorce over it. Others operate on this, ‘Till economics do us part.’ Hey, economics can really hit you in your marriage. And if your marriage isn’t solid economics will really deal you a below the belt kind of a punch. Others say ‘Till hurt feelings do us part.’ Well my feelings have been hurt. Well, they’ll heal. ‘No, I’m not going to let them.’ (Oops, I didn’t mean to say that. [laughter]) That’s where some of you are at, tough!---you little sheep. Listen, hurt feelings, hurt feelings in a marriage, if you nurse and brood those hurt feelings, you can blow them up so out of proportion, you can make a big deal about a little thing with your hurt feelings. And yes, I’m not making light of hurt feelings, but you need to deal with them, you need to forgive them. Divorces happen because of hard-heartedness. I’ve seen this, and it’s breaking my heart, it really is. This week I went home and I cried, and the week before I went home and I cried, as I deal with precious people who are having their lives ripped apart now because of hardness of heart. You know, I do not understand this. But it seems like, you know you can be praying for that husband or wife to come to Christ, and you’ve prayed for five years, and then you’re so surprised when things start going wrong. What do you think it takes to get someone to Christ? A lot of times, it takes a lot of trouble to get someone to accept Christ. I haven’t read recently of someone who won the Ten Million Dollar lottery, and saying ‘The moment I won I fell on my knees and said I accept you Jesus as my Savior! I need you. I see my sinfulness. I see I can’t do it myself.’ I’ve never read of that, have you? Maybe I’m reading the wrong magazines, but I’ve never ever read of someone…Good times, man, people just say, ‘Oh, see you later God, don’t need you right now Lord, maybe some day when I’m old, you know, hopefully. Don’t come too soon.’ Trouble drives a man to his knees. Wives, if you’ve been praying for your husband for years, and now trouble has got him on his knees, but the trouble is bugging you too now. Well that’s because you’re one, the two of you are one. Of course you’re going to be in the mess with him. And now he comes and he accepts Christ. And you know what I see now happening over and over again? That at that point when he accepts Christ, the believing partner then decides all of a sudden ‘My feelings are hurt, and I’m not going to have anything to do with you. I’m going to let you hurt for awhile.’ Hard heartedness. Hard heartedness. The world encourages hard heartedness. Beware of who you get your counsel from. [Oh, that is so very true.] Psalm chapter 1 says “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly.” The ladies at work are not good counselors for you. The guys at work are not good counselors for you. They don’t know the Word of God. Are their marriages good? No. ‘Well, there’s this lady at work, she’s telling me that I should leave my husband.’ How many times has she been married? ‘Oh she’s on her sixth marriage now.’ Oh, she’s an expert, isn’t she. Yes. Listen to her, and you’ll be just like her. And maybe you’ve been married six times, God bless you. I’m not putting you down, but I’m saying---each time, didn’t you wish that would be the last time? Huh? Of course you did. Do you love going through divorces? Is it fun, is it what you do in your spare time? No. It’s ripping every time, and God would have spared you that kind of a life had you known Christ, and walked in his will. I see the children crying ‘Where’s Daddy? Why isn’t Daddy coming home?’ And I see hardness of heart, hardness of heart. ‘Me, I’m going to live for me. I want to be happy now. I’m going to be happy now.’ Hey, but you’re not going to be happy going against God’s plan, going against God’s will. Hardness of heart. Let’s call it what it is. Why don’t you just tell me, ‘I’m hard-hearted, and I want out, because my heart is hard.’ Tell me that. Let the Spirit speak to you, let Him convict you, teach you that this is wrong in your life. Jesus is never going to divorce you, he’s never going to abandon you. He loves you too much to ever do that. He’s never going to leave you for any cost. Do you understand that? Your relationship in him is secure. You’re not going to get out of it. He loves you. [And if you are not born-again, yet think you are, you will be able to “get out of it” (your relationship with Jesus Christ), and that should scare you, and you should do something about it (2nd Corinthians 13:5).]
How to break up hard-heartedness
And you know what? Hard-heartedness can be broken by forgiveness. Forgiveness. Forgiveness, let’s just nail down what it isn’t. Forgiveness isn’t you’re going back into the same situation with no change. Forgiveness isn’t you’re telling your husband or wife ‘That’s OK honey, what you did.’ Because that’s a lie. It’s not OK, right? When you forgive somebody isn’t asking you to say ‘Tell them it’s OK’, and here you are broken, your heart’s broken. ‘Tell them it’s OK.’ That’s not what forgiveness means, never. That would be a lie. When Christ was hanging on the cross to die for the forgiveness of our sins, was God saying ‘Oh, it’s OK.’? No, someone died to pay the price of that sin. It wasn’t OK. That’s why Jesus had to die. So forgiveness does not mean saying ‘It’s OK.’ Forgiveness means you drop your case, you drop your charges. That’s what God has done for us in Christ. He dropped the case, didn’t he? He’s dropped the charges against us. And that’s what forgiveness means. God never says ‘It’s OK that you sinned.’ No way. But he says ‘I have dropped the charges against you.’ And in your marriage, some of you are hanging onto hurts from ten years ago, some of you twenty years ago. Drop your case. You know, that last couple weeks I couldn’t sleep very well, so I was up late at night watching TV, and you know what I noticed?---just my little informal survey---is that all the attorneys who prosecute for accidents are on late at night. My theory is it’s because people who had accidents and are in pain and need an attorney are still awake late at night. Right? Can’t sleep. So the attorneys are on, this attorney is there, takes off his glasses, “Are you in pain?” “Did that bad man hit you?” “Did your car get totaled?” “I want you to know that we care about you.” “I want you to know that here at Martin and Sons, we’ll prosecute the pants off of them. We’ll get everything they’ve got, and more. Call us.” And then they have a testimony at the end of some guy who’s living in a mansion, and says “You know, since I used Martin and Sons, my whole life has changed. I’ve broken my back, but look at me now.” [laughter] And so, you’ve been hurt. You call the attorney, he says “Yes, you’ve got a case here, yes Mam, you’ve got a case, man we can win! Oh, they’re not going to have anything left when we’re through with them.” And part of you says ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s what I want to do.’ ‘I want them to hurt like I’ve hurt, I want them to experience what I’ve experienced. Yeah!’ But then the Holy Spirit begins to work on you, and the Spirit of God begins to speak to your heart, saying ‘Hey, drop the case. Forgive, drop the case.’ And so you call up and you say “Hey, yeah, I’m dropping my case, I’m going to forgive my wife. I’m going to forgive my husband. I’m going to forgive my father. I’m going to forgive my mother. Yeah, I know I could win, I know. I know I could make life miserable for them, that would be worth a million dollars, yes I know. But I can’t go through with it. How can I not forgive them when God has forgiven me so much, Good bye.” Click, you hang up. But that doesn’t end it, because this attorney, he’s persistent. And you may decide this morning to forgive, to drop the charges, but I want you to know that Satan will be back on the phone tomorrow morning, saying ‘Are you sure? Let me remind you of what you went through. Let me remind you what she [or he] did to you. Let me remind you of what he said.’ He’ll be back on the line again. And you’re going to have again say “I’m sorry, I’ve dropped the charges. Get out of my face.” And I’ve found in my own life that I don’t forgive just once, it’s usually a process of like every day for a week, and then I’m OK for maybe once a week for a month, and then maybe…you know I’m sort of excited, usually this time of year there’s one thing that happened in my life that I had great bitterness and unforgiveness over, and usually once a year I have to, I get the phone call, and I say “No, I’ve dropped the charges---bug out, I never want to hear your voice again!” And this year the ‘phone’ hasn’t rung. But it’s been ten years. So it’s a process, yes. But how can we not forgive one another---when God in Christ has forgiven us so much. Our Christianity, gang, has to extend down into our marriages, down to the person that we live with, that we’re real with. Look, Christ loves you, his love for you, his marriage with you, doesn’t have divorce as an option. It just isn’t a side issue here this morning, don’t you have divorce as your option. Listen to me. Listen to the Word of God. Don’t listen to those who don’t understand the Word, don’t listen to those who don’t know what Christ can do. How blessed is the one who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly, but how unblessed, how unhappy is the one who does walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Finally, I just want to tell you that Jesus loves you passionately. He loves you with a love that sent him to the cross. He doesn’t just care a lot about you, he immediately stepped in to take your place. It could have been you or death. And he took the place for you. Jesus, loves you. He loves you even if you’re struggling right now with unforgiveness. He loves you. He loves you all the time. You don’t have to try to please him more. He loves you. Let’s pray…” [transcript of “FREE FROM THE LAW, Romans 7:1-6”, a sermon given by Pastor J. Mark Martin, Calvary Community Church, PO Box 39607, Phoenix, Arizona 85069.]
Some vital information about marriage
I have found that most problems in marriage are a result more of ignorance---ignorance of what the emotional needs of the other spouse are. Jesus commanded us to love one another as he loved us (John 13:34-35). He also told us to do unto others as we would have others do unto us---the royal law. If you had a list of your spouse’s emotional needs---to do unto her as you would want her to do unto you would mean that you would fulfill those emotional needs which she has. To not fulfill her emotional needs makes her unhappy, and to quote Jeff Foxworthy, “If she ain’t happy, you ain’t happy. And if she ain’t happy long enough, you’ll be unhappy with half your stuff!” And the same goes for the wife toward her husband. But I have found most men---not so much with the women, who seem to be born with understanding on how relationships work---but most men do not have a clue and wouldn’t if it hit them over the head---of what the emotional needs of their wives are. If you could possess such a list, Jesus would have you use it to bless your spouse with---doing unto her as you would want her to do unto you. That is unselfishness, following the royal law. Well, such a list exists. And it in no way goes against the Bible. The apostle Peter instructed husbands to dwell with their wives with knowledge and understanding. But when someone offers that knowledge, most don’t want to hear it. And don’t think you apply these principles all on your own, it is the Lord working with and in you, helping you do this. For more information on how you can divorce-proof your marriage, making it truly joy-filled, log onto http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.COM . You will really learn some interesting things about your spouse that you never realized before, and about his or her emotional needs, and how the two sets of needs were basically designed to be complimentary to each other, not the same. editor.
The Purpose of God’s Law
Quotes from “Harper’s Bible Commentary” relevant to these passages in Romans 7:1-6, and my comments about the Law being a Spiritual Mirror. On page 1148 of Harper’s Bible Commentary in the section titled “7:1-6. Through Acquittal to Commitment” Harper’s backs up my comment about this passage meaning that the “penalty of the law” has been removed, or nullified, not the law of God itself, which is never nullified. But the penalty has been rendered inoperative for the believer. [Thus explains my addition in brackets [ ] to the title of this sermon on page 1.] This is seen in the quote “All seems clear: the woman is the Christian set free by the death of Christ from the law’s condemnation…” [emphasis mine throughout] Pastor Mark did not make that clear, so that many people reading this may think the law has been “done away”. No, it’s the penalty of the law has been nullified. Harper’s goes on to say just what Pastor Mark said, “…The Christian life is not merely a liberation, but is like ending one marriage and beginning a new one.” So Pastor Mark’s title “Free From the Law” is somewhat misleading. I didn’t even like using it. But this is an accurate transcript, so I used it. But that title does not convey the actual truth. So don’t get the wrong idea about the Law of God. It isn’t done away. It has a purpose. Now let’s see the purpose which I described earlier, backed up by Harper’s Bible Commentary.
Real purpose of God’s Law for the believer now
Then my comments about the purpose of God’s law, for which it must be used by the believer, is made clear in Harper’s next section, 7:7-25. A Backward Look: The Power of sin to Use the Law to Effect Death.” Quoting key operative statements from this section: “The law magnifies sin (5:20)…Yet the law in fact play[s] a role in relation to sin: It identifies sin and makes it known.” Yes! The Law of God is the believer’s spiritual mirror and magnifying lens, all rolled up into one spiritual device! Harper’s goes on with this key statement “…even in sin’s use of it, the law remains God’s instrument. The end result fits into God’s purpose for the law, namely to disclose the true nature of sin and show how “incomparably sinful” it really is.” Before, in the Old Covenant, people were told, “Here’s the mirror. Now go and clean yourself up.” In the New Covenant, God is in effect saying, “Here’s the mirror (the law of God), and now here’s the precious water of my Spirit which I am providing for you. Now use the water and mirror to clean yourself up. I will be inside of you, indwelling you, writing my laws into your minds and upon your hearts” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:6-13; John 14:15-23; James 1:22-25). This whole picture of what the new covenant is, is symbolized by the brazen wash basin described in Exodus 30:17-21, Exodus 38:8 and 40:30-32, which is a picture of James 1:22-25 and what I have been talking about here, the purpose of the Law. Editor
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