Victory in the War Within
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.
Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from a Hollywood production company asking if I would be open to participating in a new reality show called “The Preachers of Dallas.” They explained that they would send their cameras and follow me around 24 hours a day for one week. They would film me at church. They would film me at home. They would capture my public moments and my private moments. The point of the show would be to allow people across America to see me just as I am. I quickly said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Trust me when I tell you that it would not be a benefit to the kingdom of God for people to see me just the way that I am.
Don’t misunderstand: it is not that I walk around every day spewing profanities, getting drunk, and watching pornographic movies. That is not my lifestyle. But I struggle with the same kinds of things you struggle with. I struggle with temptation. I sometimes struggle with losing my temper. There are times I do not feel like reading my Bible. And I do not think it would be particularly helpful for everyone to see that struggle. That is why I am fascinated by Romans 7, because in this chapter the greatest evangelist and theologian the world has ever known allowed us to see him as he truly was. And though he sometimes lost the struggle with sin, he explained how we can experience victory in this very real war within every believer.
Paul began by talking about our relationship to the Law before we are saved. If you are not a Christian, then you are still under the Law. What does that mean? Without Christ, you are under not only the requirements of the Law but also the penalty of the Law. The penalty of the Law is that everyone who does not keep all of God’s Law 100 percent perfectly deserves eternal death. Deuteronomy 27:26 says, “Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.” By that standard, we are all guilty. But here is the good news: when you trust in Jesus Christ as Savior, you are placed in Jesus Christ. And what happens to Jesus happens to you.
What did Jesus do for us? He fulfilled the requirements of the Law. He is the only person who met God’s standard 100 percent. Not only that, but Jesus also paid the penalty for our failure to keep the Law. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for our sins. So when we trust in Christ as our Savior, God looks at us just as He looks at Jesus Christ. Because Jesus fulfilled the Law, God looks at us as if we fulfilled the requirements of the Law. Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, God looks at us and says, “You don’t owe me anything. The penalty has already been paid.”
What is our relationship to the Law? If we are in Christ, then we are freed from the Law. We are dead to the Law. The Law has no more jurisdiction over us because just as Christ died, we have died. We have been set free from the Law.