“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also aye become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
Not under the law are we, but under grace!
So the apostle had written in the previous chapter! And under the dispensation of grace, we are to bring forth fruit unto God in our lives!
Difficult as that may be, as the apostle also expresses it in the conclusion of chapter seven. There is a law of sin in us, against which the law of the Spirit, which is also in us, has to militate. So that the good which I would do, I do not; and the evil which I would not, that I do. And with the apostle I must exclaim: O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Nevertheless, there must be fruit!
The possibility lies, negatively, in the fact that we are become dead to the law; and, positively, in our being married to the One Who is raised from the dead. As the marriage of a man and a woman normally and naturally brings forth children, so our marriage to the risen Christ will produce fruits in our lives!
Married to the risen Christ!
O how often and how beautifully the Scriptures speak of that blessed union!
We sing of it with the sweet psalmist o’er and o’er!
O, Royal Bride, give heed,
And to my words attend;
For Christ the King forsake the world,
And every former friend.
O King of royal race,
Thy sons of heavenly birth
Thou wilt endow with kingly gifts
As princes in the earth.
How beautifully the Christ appears there! Royalty is in Him! He is the risen One who is exalted to the highest heavens! There He sits enthroned in majesty and power. His scepter is a right scepter. He loves righteousness and hates wickedness. He will judge righteous judgment. His palaces are ivory, that is, holiness becometh Him, and permanently they are fixed. His clothes are kingly robes. His garments smell of sweet odors. Myrrh, aloes, and cassia constitute their fragrance.
No less beautifully appears the queen, His bride! Upon His right hand she stands in an attire of gold, even of Ophir, noted for its purity. The King desires her greatly for her beauty. And she will serve Him, for He is her Lord!
Hear the wise man of God sing of this glorious union! My beloved is mine, and I am His! The bride thrills at the voice of the Bridegroom, while the Bridegroom delights Himself greatly in the love and beauty of His bride. He sings in poetic strains of the marriage relation of Christ and the church He loved!
To this relation also the Lord Jesus Himself referred when He spoke in parables of Himself as the Bridegroom, Who is coming for to take unto Himself His bride, while the ten virgins represent the church, His bride, viewed organically, gathered from among 1 the generations of men.
And the seer of Patmos in prophetic ecstasy beholds the New Jerusalem, the Holy City, which comes down out of heaven, as the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. And, the Spirit and bride say, “Come! Yea, come Lord Jesus! Come quickly!”
This union is, of course, a spiritual union!
Of that union, the natural is but a faint picture1 Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. This is a great mystery! In that natural union is symbolized the spiritual relation of Christ and His church. Married she is to the risen Christ!
Out of the dead He is raised! In His death, He entered the sphere of the dead. He died the death of the cross. Taken down from that cross, He is laid in the acre of the dead. Yea, He made His grave with the wicked and with the rich in His death. But out of death He is raised! Death could not hold Him its prey. He is the Prince of Life, yea, Life itself. Therefore, because by His death He had fulfilled all righteousness, and overcame the power of death, God raised Him! And by His own power He arose!
He is raised unto heavenly life and glory! That was the crown He received for His labors! It was God’s testimony to Him that He had fully accomplished all that the Father had given Him to do! That resurrection is His claim on His bride! In His death He purchased her!
For it required the shedding of His blood, the blood of the Son of God! He had to lay down His life! He who was rich, became poor for our sake!
Most precious bride! Upon her He had set His love! She is His most precious possession. His resurrection is God’s testimony that sufficient price had been paid. It was the receipt of a bill that had been settled in full. Now He may rightly claim her, the object, of purchase, as His own!
Together they live the same life! How inadequately the human relation between husband and wife serves as a type! The husband does his own thinking and willing, and the wife hers. The husband has his own work, the wife hers. The husband has his own responsibilities, the wife hers. And before God, though they now are become one flesh, they nevertheless appear as two separate individuals. But the relation between Christ and His church is one of unity of life ! The church wills the will of Christ. The church loves what Christ loves. The church thinks the thoughts of Christ. The work of the church is the work of Christ. The life of the church is the life of Christ!
That ye should be married to another!
Even to Him Who is raised from the dead!
To another, presupposes that the church was married before!
What then, is she an adulteress? Indeed not, says the apostle; for in respect to the first husband, the law, ye have been put to death!
Not the law of sin does the apostle have in mind, of which he speaks in the sequence, which is a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. But it is the moral law, the law which God instituted as a governing principle for life and conduct. Which the same apostle elsewhere describes as a school-master to lead us to Christ. That law was our first husband. His mind was to be our mind. His will was to be our will. However, he ruled over us in righteousness, while we were dead in trespasses and sins. We could not live with him because our life was not his life. He therefore laid burdens upon us too grievous to be borne. What he demanded, we could not fulfill.
Now we should notice that the apostle does not say: the law has become dead to us. Nowhere do we read in Scripture that the law has become dead. It is still very much alive. It still has its original purpose: to be a discerner of right and wrong, to be an instructor in the way of life. Though it never gives life, it always has and still does point out the way of life as it lies in the way of obedience. Nor is it true that the law has become dead in respect to us. So many would have us believe it, who declare that we are not under the law but under grace; as if we had nothing to do with it. For even now under grace, it is still the rule of faith and practice.
But the apostle says, “Ye have been put to death in respect to the law!” As far as the law is concerned, ye are dead. So that being dead, it cannot exercise lordship over you. No more than a husband can demand obedience of a dead wife, or a wife serve a dead husband, no more can we be held responsible to the law, or the law hold us responsible when we are dead to it.
And this being dead to the law gives us the perfect right to be married to another. As the wife whose husband is dead may marry another without committing adultery, so may we be married to Christ when we are dead as far as the law is concerned.
Through the body of Christ!
That is the way or the means through which we have become dead to the law. But what does this mean? Does the apostle refer here to the literal body of Christ’s flesh? or, does he refer to that spiritual, mystical union of the believers as members of His body of which Christ is the head? If it is the former that the apostle means, then it is the body of Christ’s flesh which was nailed to the cross, placed in the grave, and raised in the resurrection; through which the demands of the law are satisfied, so that we are become dead to its demands. If it is the latter, then it is through our spiritual union with Christ that we become dead to the law. Undoubtedly, it is the latter interpretation which has significance here. So that when Christ died, we died. His death was our death. The results of His death result to us. When Christ arose, we arose. If Christ had remained in death, we would yet have been subjugated to the law. Being members of His body, through His resurrection we became dead to the law, and alive unto Christ.
So we can be and are married unto the risen Christ!
That we should bring forth fruit unto God!
By divine ordination that is the purpose of natural marriage. God brought the woman, which He had made, unto the man. Not only did God intend her to be a helpmeet for him, but God blessed them and said: Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. And certainly, where that is the purpose of marriage, and it is possible, it also should be realized! The Word of God looks down in disfavor on all human attempts to ignore this divine ordinance, or to destroy it by means of infanticide or the use of contraceptives to break down the population explosion, or, to express it in more refined terms, making planned homes. Those who marry in the Lord will look to their children which God may give them, as gifts of God to be received and used with discretion. Moreover, through these children Christian parents will see the purpose in procreation realized in the fulfillment of His covenant.
But our marriage to the risen Christ has also this divine purpose, namely, that it bring forth fruit unto God!
The fruit that is evidenced in faith, and love, and hope! Righteousness and holiness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, are the fruits that flow from this spiritual union! A walk in good works, which before were ordained that we should walk in them, is the manifestation of a fruit-bearing marriage to the risen Christ!
The beginning of that fruit-bearing is in regeneration! Which is resurrection life implanted in our hearts. In regeneration the power of fruit-bearing is changed into light and goodness. In a walk of sanctification and holiness, this fruit-bearing develops. Now, to be sure, only in principle. Now there is but a small beginning of new obedience. Nevertheless, positive fruits our life which is hid with Christ in God brings forth!
Unto Him, because it is all of Him!
Of Him is the Christ! Of Him is the resurrection of Christ! Of Him are we given to Christ, and married to Christ! Of Him are the fruits of that marriage!
In order that also unto Him may be all the glory which these fruits of our marriage to the risen Christ will bring unto Him!
For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever!