Sunday 28 July 2013

Yes I Am 17 - A Change of Husbands

Yes I Am by Norman Grubb
Chapter 17

How wonderful it is! - in our new slavery to Christ we are joyfully free to be producers of the fruit of the Spirit, and cannot come again under the control of our old sin-owner. In our new slavery we say from the heart what it says in that old Church of England prayer: "… in whose service is perfect freedom." That is the fact; but how about our realization of it?

Let us face it: Though Paul has declared to us the totality of our new freedom as slaves to our new Owner, we often don’t seem to have found this fixed level of new freedom working out in our lives, but are caught up again under that old sin-boss. Where does the answer lie? It is in our relationship to the law. We go back to this word of Paul’s: "You are not under the law." But in fact we are under it and know a lot about the heavy bondage of the law on us with its "you ought" and "you ought not"! Then what does Paul mean when he says that we have full freedom from the law? We must look thoroughly into this and find the solution. For if Paul is saying, "Sin shall not have dominion over you, because you are not under the law but under grace," that evidently means sin will have dominion over us as long as the law does continue its hold over us. But how to be not only "dead to sin" (6:2) but "dead to the law" (7:4)? And how can that give us our liberty?

Paul explains it like this in Romans 7:1-6. In a marriage, law binds you to your mate. Now we humans started life mated to Satan, expressing his sin nature and producing his children, "the motions of sin in the flesh." But as we have already said, we came into the world blinded to the reality of our marriage and to the control of our sin-husband, and to the fact that it was his children which we were producing. We were duped into regarding ourselves as free persons living our own lives. If we had a relationship to sin, it was more as it having some "influence" on us, but by no means having control over us as husband over wife. We recognized Satan neither as husband nor slave-owner over us.

Therefore in our unsaved days, when blind to our true relationship to Satan, God in mercy sent us the law through Moses with its written list of "Thou shalts" and "Thou shalt nots" to shoot holes through our false independence and self-righteousness. We admitted the authority of God’s law of right living, for we were still His offspring created in His image. But how husband sin laughed at us: "Fulfill God’s law based on being a self-giving self, when you’re mated to me, the enemy god of self-loving self? Ridiculous!" He was right. We couldn’t and didn’t want to fulfill God’s law. So God’s hidden purpose of grace in sending us the law was first fulfilled not in us humans keeping the law (which we couldn’t) but in our consistently breaking the law, and thus being exposed by the law as guilty lawbreakers, as sinners.

So by the law we were ultimately driven to take that first great outward step of "coming honest" and acknowledging our guilt, repenting, and being delivered from the curse and condemnation of the law of God’s own Son, "set forth" as the propitiation for our sins.

But then comes the further step. The total work of the law is not just to expose the fact of sins committed and the consequent judgment. It is that "by the law is the knowledge of sin" - not sins, but the sin principle which was dwelling in us when the father and originator of sin dwelt in us.

Paul, through analogy, explains how we are at first married to and totally controlled by our Satan-husband, but then by one stroke the marriage is broken up - Christ’s death as our representative cutting us off from the marriage to Satan! Having died with Christ, we are now dead to our old husband. That means that the law can no longer point its finger at us as unable to keep its commands - unable because our husband (who expressed himself by us) would never let us - for death has put an end to that marriage; so the law has no further condemning claim in that respect. "Wherefore, my brethren, you became dead to the law by the body of Christ, that you should be married to another" (7:4).

He then uses the marriage illustration, just as he had used the owner-slave illustration, to bring home the same truth to us: that we humans are always under a deity management. So there’s no such thing as we humans remaining unmarried, just the same as we couldn’t remain free from slavery. Therefore the marvel of God’s grace, says Paul, is that at the moment our old marriage was broken by the death of Christ our representative, immediately in His resurrection He became our new Husband in place of Satan. There’s no such thing as a time period in which we are a kind of widow! We have immediately changed husbands and entered into our new marriage contract, in which "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death" (8:2).

When I inwardly know this and have got the facts in clear focus, I find that my new Husband has me, to my delight, in His total ownership; and I have nothing to do in our family life beyond producing the fruits of our marriage, the fruit of the Spirit. Then the law has disappeared from me, because my new Husband, who is the resurrected Christ, fulfills it by our union life. I thus have become dead to the law in its outer form - the form in which God first sent it, so as to expose me to the reality of my old Satan-husband.

What perfect joy for us who have come this whole way by grace into our new union and know, in its full reality, our marriage to our new Husband! But actually, the point of what Paul is now writing about, and bringing to its climax in Romans 7, is that we’ve not yet properly understood our relationship to our two husbands. Being all tangled up, our concepts need to be untangled. The tangle is caused by the false idea of myself as an independent person, about which I’ve been deceived from the Fall. Not knowing that as a sinner I lived under the total management of my old husband and solely expressed him and reproduced his children, but wrongly thinking I then had an independent life of my own, I started out living my new life thinking that now also, as a redeemed human, I have an ability of my own and so can fulfill the law. And so my former husband catches me unaware. When I think I ought to be "doing my own thing" for God (for now, being redeemed, I delight in the law of God) Satan cunningly re-exerts his control over me and causes me to fulfill his flesh will. How can this be? Because "doing my own thing" is Satan’s principle, the very cause of his and Adam’s fall. It is the sin principle. Here then is the value of the continuing law to my life. I needed to have one final radical exposure of the "nonsense" of my supposed independence. By this, at last, I can see I have never been independent: because the self-relying self was the sin-spirit in me. Until, however, I consciously know and enter into the reality of not only my cutoff from my old husband, but also my marriage to my new Husband, I will still be in an illusory condition of independence, and so actually under the remote control of my old husband. There is no in-between status. So the law completes its work by revealing the illusion of my independence, and grace reveals the reality of my new marriage. Once I move into that, the law ceases to exist as having an outer claim on me, since it is now being inwardly fulfilled in me. This is why Paul puts such strong emphasis upon the completion of God’s purposes through the law for my freedom, exposing sin as well as sins, and the lie about a time of independence intervening between the old ownership and the new, the old husband and the new.

How wonderful to know that I am now married to Christ! To know that "I am my Beloved’s, and His desire is toward me" (S. of S. 7:10).

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