OceanSide church of Christ
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GIVE AN ANSWER
Romans 6:14-15, Not Under Law
Victor M. Eskew
There are many religious groups that are opposed to law. Anyone who advocates the necessity of keeping a law is called a legalist. Those who do not believe that we are under law today turn to Romans 6:14-15 for their “proof.” Paul writes: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” The contention is that man is no longer under a system of law today. Instead of law, we are under grace only.
There are several answers that can be given to this false teaching. First, if we are no longer under law, then it is impossible to sin. John teaches us that sin is the transgression of law in I John 3:4. “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Will anyone contend that no one can sin today? Or, that sin does not exist in our society? We think not.
Second, there are many passages in the New Testament that reveal that we are under the law of Christ. Romans 8:1-2 is one of these passages. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” This passage is especially useful since it is found in the same book that supposedly teaches that we are not under law. Did Paul contradict himself? Did the Holy Spirit teach that we are not under law, but then teach that we under law? Who would attribute such inconsistency to deity? Numerous other texts could also be listed that prove we are under law today (I Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2; Heb. 8:10; James 1:25; 2:8).
Third, we need to look closely at the meaning of Paul’s words in Romans 6:14-15. Specifically, we are interested in what Paul means by the words, “the law.” The first time the word “law” is used in the Roman letter is in Romans 2:12. “For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” From this verse we learn that there was a group of people who were without law and another group of people who had law. As we read the book, we learn who Paul was describing. In Romans 2:14, we find that is was “the Gentiles, which have not the law.” In Romans 2:17, we learn that the Jews had the law. “Behold, Thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God.” Under what law did the Jew live? Clearly, it was the Law of Moses. As one proceeds through the Roman epistle, he understands that this is the law that is no longer binding. We are no longer under the system of law found in the Law of Moses, but we are under the system of grace found in the New Testament. This new system involves a law, the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2). However, this new law liberates instead of condemning man like the Law of Moses did. To make Paul’s words applicable to any and all law would mean that man is not even under the law of Christ. To be without “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) would be a tragedy!