Reflecting on the fact that before his redemption his flesh was condemned to death by the Law of God, the Apostle Paul made the confession of faith that he was, by believing in Jesus Christ, dead to sin. Before we met the righteousness of God—that is, before we were born again—those of us who believe in Christ used to live under the dominion and curse of the Law. Thus, the Law would have had dominion over us had we not been redeemed of our sins by encountering Jesus Christ, who brought us the righteousness of God.
Paul spoke of spiritual matters that cannot easily be understood in flesh—that is, those who are dead to sin are no longer under the dominion of sin, just as a woman whose husband has died is completely freed from her obligation to her husband. This passage may sound simple, but it is a spiritually crucial passage. It means that, whether they like it or not, those who have not met the righteousness of God are, as a matter of fact, fated to live under the curse of the Law. This is because they have not yet resolved the problem of their sins.
Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death,” meaning that sin will disappear only when its wages have been paid. If one believes in Jesus yet does not know the righteousness of God given by Jesus, then he is still living in sin and must pay the wages of sin. This is why we have to meet God’s righteousness through Jesus Christ. Only by encountering the righteousness of God can we be dead to our sins, freed from the Law, and be married to our new groom Christ Jesus.
We can find God’s righteousness through Jesus Christ, but without believing in this righteousness of God, no one can be freed from the Law. The only way to break away from the curse of the Law is to know and believe in God’s righteousness. Have you found this righteousness of God through Jesus? If not, now is the time for you to abandon your own righteousness and humbly return to God’s Word.
Toward Christ after being dead to sin
Paul told his brethren in Rome, “You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ.” You have to have a precise understanding of what it is ‘to have become dead to the law through the body of Christ.’ No one can go to Christ without becoming dead to sin through the body of Christ. Our sins, in other words, must die with the body of Jesus Christ. This is possible only when one believes in the baptism of Jesus by John and His death on the Cross.
We can die with Christ to sin by believing in Jesus’ baptism by John. Because Jesus died with all the sins of the mankind passed onto His body with His baptism by John, our sins, too, have died with Him when we believed in this. That all the sins of the world were passed onto Jesus through His baptism by John is the truth. This truth should not just be known but kept in our hearts in faith. We must keep this faith until we enter the Kingdom of God. This is why Paul said that we became dead to the Law through the body of Christ. As such, those who believe in this truth can go to Jesus Christ, live with Him, and bear the righteous fruits for God.
We should not believe in the oldness of the letter, but in the new truth of the Spirit. Sinners actually commit more sins because of the Law. This is because the Law reveals more sins that are hidden inside of them, thereby making them more knowledgeable of their sins and allowing them to sin even more. One of the functions of the Law is to make us recognize our sins, but it also functions to reveal more of the nature of sin and to make us commit more sins. Were it not for the Law that God gave us, we would not know that there was so much sin hiding inside of us. But God gave us His Law, and this Law not only makes sin even more sinful, but it also makes us commit more and more sins.
Therefore, Paul says that since we have become dead to sin through Christ’s body, we now have to serve the Lord with the faith of believing in God’s righteousness. He is telling us to serve the Lord with the help of the Spirit and the gift of redemption given to us for our faith held deep in our hearts, instead of serving Him with faith in the literal letter of the Word. As the Bible tells us that “for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life,” we must follow the Lord by realizing the true meaning of the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which is God’s righteousness. When we believe in the Word of God, in other words, we have to know and believe in the true meaning hidden in the written Word.
Then is the Law sin? Certainly not!
Paul explained the Law of God by emphasizing its functions. This shows how important it is to believe with a proper understanding of the function of the Law. Paul looked at his sins in his own way before, and because of this he did not know his own sins, but through the Law of God he was able to realize that he had a covetous heart in him.
I hope that the believers in Jesus today are also able to reach the same understanding about the Law as the one reached by Paul. There are so many people who, not having realized the truth of the Law, try ever harder to live their lives by the Law. They go to church thinking that if they try a little harder, they will be able to keep all of the Law. But in reality, these people will actually not be able to find God’s righteousness at all.
They have not realized the profound meaning of the Law given by God and have thus become legalists. They are hypocritical blinds unable to see even their own hearts, and they don’t know they are standing against the righteousness of God in the Christian community. There are many such people in today’s Christianity. Those who do not truly know God’s righteousness and have accepted Jesus as their nominal Savior in legalistic faith will not be exempt from the punishment of eternal death.
Paul stated that through God’s commandments, he came to realize the covetousness inside his heart. When he realized his sins through the commandments, Paul was still a legalist who thought that he had to keep God’s Law. God’s commandments revealed the covetousness in Paul’s heart and made Paul’s sins even more sinful. This is how Paul came to realize that he was nothing but a grave sinner.
There are twelve natures of sin in human mind. When Paul did not know about the actual functions of the Law, he thought of himself as a fine person, not realizing just how sinful he really was. But the result of his effort to live by God’s commandments showed to him that he was far from being able to keep the commandments, and that these commandments actually revealed his sins even more.
How are people when they believe in Jesus? When you first started to believe in Jesus, you might have been all fired up with your faith, but as the time passes, you would have found the many sins that are fundamentally in you. Through what did you find these sins? It is through the written Law and commandments that we have found out just how full our hearts with the twelve kinds of sins. And we shrink from seeing our sinful selves before the Law. This is because we find, through the Law, that we are truly grave sinners.
That is why some people created the Doctrine of Justification to comfort themselves. This doctrine claims that even though we have sin in our hearts, just because we believe in Jesus, God would regard us as righteous. This is only a man-made doctrine. People have made and believed in such a doctrine to hide their sins, trying to live in the complacency of this doctrine. But because they are still revealed as sinners before the Law, their sins come to weigh down heavier and heavier on their minds. To be freed from all our sins, we have no other choice but to believe in the gospel that contains God’s righteousness. This is the only way to be delivered from all our sins.
As Paul in his past had thought that God gave the commandments to be followed, he considered it only natural that he would try and do his best to keep them. Yet contrary to this, he found out that these commandments actually put his soul to death because of sin. Paul ultimately realized that he had been misunderstanding and mistakenly believing in God’s commandments.
Everyone has in his heart the twelve kinds of sins mentioned in Mark 7:21-23. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
Paul and all other people ultimately came to recognize their sins through God’s commandments. By the Law they realized their sins and were put to death, and then they discovered the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ and believed in it. What is your understanding of the righteousness of God? Are you still trying to observe the commandments while thinking that you can keep them all? God gave us His Law so that we would recognize our sins and return to Him—to be delivered from sin, in other words, by believing in the righteousness of God. We must have a proper understanding as to why God gave us His commandments and believe in them correctly. Once you realize this truth, you will know just how precious the gospel of water and the Holy Spirit is.
Those who believe in God’s commandments can realize how great of a sinner they are in the sight of God. People who do not know the role of the commandments and do not believe in God’s righteousness will come across great difficulties in their religious lives and ultimately be led to their own destruction. This is because it is simply impossible to stay away from sin while living in a world that is full of sins. This is why some people even seclude themselves in the remote mountains and try to live ascetic lives. They think that by living in deep mountains and retreating away from the sins of the world, they can avoid committing sins, but this is not the case.
We must realize that, though it is true that everyone in this world commits sin and thus has sin in his heart, the redemption from all such sin can be found in knowing and believing in God’s righteousness. Even if we were to avoid the world in order to escape from its sins, we would still be unable to escape from the sins of their hearts. This is because our sins are found in our hearts. To truly rid ourselves of sin, we must believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Law of God and His commandments make our sins even more sinful. Those who know the severity of their sins must know and believe in the righteousness of God, revealed to us through the gospel of the water and the Spirit.
“And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me” (Romans 7:10-11). We must have a proper understanding of the Law. Those who have not properly understood the Law will spend their whole lifetime drowned in legalism, trying to escape from the Law until their very last day. Only those who know the true role of the Law will love and believe in the righteousness of God fulfilled by Jesus. Do you, then, know this righteousness of God?
Paul the Apostle said that because he was not born again in the past, he had then belonged to his flesh and been sold under sin. He also confessed that although he wished to live by God’s Law, he ended up doing that which he did not wish to do—to commit sin, that is. This was because he did not have the Holy Spirit in him, as he did not have the righteousness of God. Paul then admitted that the reason as to why he committed sin against his desire was because of the sins found in his heart, for He was yet to find the righteousness of God at the time.
Nevertheless, Paul realized one law, and that law was the law of sin—his most fundamental realization of the fact that man, who has sin in his heart, cannot avoid sinning. He also realized that the inner person still desired to always live according to the Law of God. But Paul confessed that, just as a tree of sin bears the fruits of sin, he was a sinner who could only continue to live in sin, because he, not having met Jesus Christ yet, had not received the redemption of his sins. It was proper, in other words, for him to be put to death because of his sins.
This is why he confessed that he was a wretched man, lamenting, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) This was Paul’s recollection of himself when he had been a sinner. You should consider applying this confession of Paul to yourself. Are you not still imprisoned in this body of death that cannot keep the Law? We must believe in the righteousness of God. In the gospel of the water and the Spirit is this righteousness of God hidden, and we can attain His righteousness by believing in this gospel.
Paul could be freed from all his wretchedness by believing in the baptism of Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross.