In my last posting, I concluded my series on the roles of men and women in the biblical family. I would like to emphasize one last idea before moving on, that, if ignored, would not only render everything I have said on this topic previously not only useless, but actually harmful, even spiritually deadly.
The ideas we discussed already concerning family roles and responsibilities were taken directly from the Bible and represent the holy, righteous, eternal law of God that Jesus said will never pass away. Men are commanded by God to love (agape – Ephesians 5:25) and lead or rule (1 Timothy 3:4) their wives, even if they don’t respect you, love you back or follow your leadership. Women are commanded to submit to their husbands and their leadership just as if it were the Lord leading them, even if they do not love you (1 Peter 3:1).
This is the revealed law of God, His standard for righteous living. How are you doing in obeying it—in your heart?
Here is what God says about your efforts to do so: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom 3:10-12).
If I am not mistaken, “all,” “no one,” and “not even one” includes you and me. If so, trying to follow those biblical injunctions to be righteous in Romans 3 seems like it would be counterproductive, even impossible for you to do. Would that also not be true of your spouse as well? If so, why are you mad at him/her for not treating you biblically?
As a matter of fact, did you know that the righteous law of God is actually called “the law of sin and death” by Paul in the Bible? The Bible teaches clearly that when you or your spouse do your best to obey His righteous, perfect law concerning the conduct of husbands and wives, it will kill you! Where does it say that and what in the world does that mean?
Here are several of the places:
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:55, 56). In other words, sin results in death, and the law is what empowers sin; thus, God’s holy law becomes ““the law of sin and death.” in our lives.
Here is another one: When we are living naturally, the way we all come out of the womb since the Fall, by “the knowledge of “good and evil,” we are living by the law—trying to be “good” and not “bad.” Paul says that if we are doing so,“our sinful passions, aroused by the law, are at work in our members to bear fruit for death” (Romans 7:5). Sin, which always lies buried unnoticed in our lives according to the above verses in Romans 3, comes roaring to life when we try to do “good” and not evil.
However, trying to obey the law invariably causes us to do “evil” instead of the “good” we are trying to do. Thus, the holy law of God will eventually expose us as rebels if we see ourselves as failures, or as self-righteous Pharisees if we think we are successful. One or the other or both are buried in the hearts of us all. The law of God has become “the law of sin and death”—it “kills” us spiritually!
The following passage is, I believe, the most important in the Bible in understanding living the Christian life successfully in this world, including having a successful family. Without grasping this truth, spiritually and experientially and not just intellectually, your family will not become an effective weapon in God’s hand to extend His rule over the earth.
“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
So, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. (Romans 7:7-14).
This struggle against sin is insightfully described by an ancient anonymous proverb: “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!” This teaches us the inviolate spiritual truth we have been discussing.
So, what do I do? Most teach that I must try (run, strive, discipline myself) harder and more diligently, but we have seen that this only increases sin. No, I must realize (O God, open the eyes of my heart!) that Jesus did not just die for me, but He also died with me. 2000 years ago, I died there too! I died to sin and to the law of God—as a standard of conduct to ever have to try to obey again to please God. And I have already, 2000 years ago, come out of that tomb with Jesus, never to die again! It is finished!
Yes, after that first Easter Sunday, not only could the disciples say, HE IS RISEN!, but yesterday I realized in a whole new way, for the first time, that, since that day, I too can say, I AM RISEN! I am risen to a new life of faith. I am now, since the resurrection, dead to God’s law of sin and death, forever free from ever living any way but as a little child with my hand in Daddy’s telling Him, “Daddy, I trust you. Take care of me”—a life of faith alone!
Hallelujah! And here is the amazing result: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (not by us!), who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-4).
These are amazing verses. They tell us that obedience to the law will be a reality in my life, but never by me and my efforts at obedience, but by Jesus Himself, completely unbeknownst to me and independent of me. By His Spirit, He, not figuratively or hypothetically, but actually—really-and-truly—lives in my heart and is busily at work there fulfilling the law in me. Believe it, because it is true. You too are risen today. Hallelujah!