Adultery and “newness”

After God led me recently to Romans 7:6 in preparation for a sermon, my mind has not been able to leave it for very long.  I don’t know why, but this verse (and it’s context) excite something in me.  Ok, I do know why; it’s because it’s as though God had been leading me on a path that finally crested at this verse and the light that I saw (or the light bulb that was switched on) was nothing short of awe-inspiring awesomeness.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have more to learn, but I had an a-ha moment.  It continues to build too when I go back and study it more!

First, my sermon was on adultery – with a specific emphasis on spiritual adultery.  Paul in speaking to the Romans in chapter 7 compares marriage and adultery to the newness we have in Christ versus living under the law.  He specifically points on the “newness” of the Spirit in contrast to the old way of living by the letter of the Law.  So what he is saying is that you are now married to Christ and the new way of living by the Spirit in contrast to the old way (which you died to, ending your marriage to it) of having a list of laws that you tried to in your own efforts to live up to and by.  So if you claim to be a born again Christian, in-dwelt by the Spirit and having a transformed nature (Romans 12:2) then it is adulterous to go back to the old way and try to live by in your self efforted self righteousness of trying to live out the Law.

Second, in preparation for my sermon I used a Bible dictionary to look up the word newness.  It described it as something completely new; something that wasn’t a refresh of before; something that didn’t take the old and add anything to it but rather was a brand new, never before seen, thing.  In this case, living by the Spirit.  So it can’t be the Law + the Spirit to live by because that would be old way + new way.  That’s spiritual polygamy and isn’t the word used there.  Ok, good times, right?

Well, today I looked at the blueletterbible.org’s breakdown of that verse and then clicked on the greek word that is translated as newness, kainotēs. I saw a link to Vine’s dictionary and clicked it… it said in reference to the use of the word in Rom. 7:6, “it is impossible to dissociate this (in an objective sense) from the operation of the Holy Spirit, by whose power the service is rendered.”

Wowza!  Another reminder that the righteousness and working is on the part of God and not of me, or my effort, or my duty, or my diligence, or my striving, or my knowledge, or my talents, or my skill(s), or my bank account, or my ability to speak, or my… anything.  It is only in the surrendering to the work of the Spirit, which is made possible by Jesus.  So Christianity is not Judaism plus Jesus (the Jerusalem Council agreed on that in Acts 15 & Galatians 2), and it’s not my best and Jesus doing the rest, and it’s not my ability to follow the Law plus Jesus, it’s just Jesus.

Whew, glad to be taken deeper into the idea that this isn’t relying on me and my ability to perform; only in my ability to say “I have no ability, please come do it (living in holiness & righteousness) for me, in and through me, so that you may somehow get glory out of this life you gave me.  I’m marking my life ‘Return to sender’.”

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3 thoughts on “Adultery and “newness”

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  1. It is so freeing when we realize it is not about what I am doing but about what Christ has done. How do you think Jesus saying he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it plays into this? How is that different than adding to it or refreshing it? Honestly, just curious on your thoughts on this topic because I have appreciated what you have shared.

    1. I look at in similarly to my post on letter vs. heart in regards to the Law. The Law reveals what is Sin and opposite of God and His desire for us. But that’s all the Law does, let’s us know how we fall short of God’s righteousness and holiness. So Jesus’ coming doesn’t change that or abolish it, it actually reveals more about the heart of what the Law pointed to. God actually has higher standards than just the letter of the Law, but we couldn’t even live up to the letter of the Law let alone the higher standards we hear about in the Sermon on the Mount. The Law points us even more to our need for Jesus to do what we can’t. So he fulfills the Law and when we enter into Him – his death, resurrection, and ascension – the requirements of the Law have already been fulfilled as we are clothed in His righteousness and holiness. That allows then for His Spirit then to enter us, as we are cleansed by Jesus’ blood, making the body a temple and dwelling place of God’s very spirit.

      I understand it as new in that instead of just having the Law and trying to keep that list of commands, living in our own effort to reach God and His requirements, and really working at making ourselves righteous (self-righteousness) we have the Gospel. So instead of our efforts to reach God plus Jesus’ work, it’s just Jesus and what He’s already done on the cross, rising from the dead, and being drawn up to the right hand of the Father. It’s the essence of living in the flow then of the life of Christ through the Spirit. Braches living off the livelihood produced and given by the vine. Abiding in Him as He abides in you to me conjures up the notion of just total dependance on Him – that He is THE source of everything that happens as He lives through you. This is completely different than being handed a list of “things God likes and things God hates” and trying to do them all simultaneously. Instead of trying to earn His approval through our efforts it’s resting in what He’s already done and still doing in and through us via the Spirit. That’s how I’d describe my paltry understanding of the newness 🙂

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