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Sermon #71 — Romans Series
Title: Moses’ Obituary
Text: Romans 7:1-6
Subject: Believers Dead to the Law
Date: Sunday Morning — November 22, 2015
Reading: Deuteronomy 34:1-12
(Deuteronomy 34:1-12) “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, (2) And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, (3) And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. (4) And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. (5) So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. (6) And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. (7) And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. (8) And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. (9) And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. (10) And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, (11) In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, (12) And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.”
The title of my message is Moses’ Obituary. Our text will be Romans 7:1-6 — Moses’ Obituary (Romans 7:1-6).
Twice in the Book of God we read Moses’ obituary, first in Deuteronomy 34:1-12, and here in Romans 7:1-6. In the Book of Deuteronomy Moses himself, inspired by God the Holy Ghost, wrote his own obituary before he died and tells us that he was buried by the hand of God upon Mt. Nebo. Here, in Romans 7, God the Holy Ghost inspired the Apostle Paul to give us Moses’ Obituary in its spiritual meaning.
Proposition: Moses (the law) died that we might be married to Christ.
1st — In the opening verse of Romans 7 Paul raises a question by which we are told that the law (God’s Law, Man’s Law, Any Law) has dominion over a person only for as long as that person is alive. Once a person is dead, the law cannot touch him. It cannot harm him and cannot help him. It cannot demand anything from him or do anything for him. — He’s dead! Remember the context. Paul is showing us what he meant when he said “we are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14-15).
(Romans 7:1) “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”
God gave his law to our father Adam in the Garden, a law by which Adam and his posterity were bound to obedience, death being the result of disobedience. All men by nature are under that legal covenant, which is for all nothing but “a ministration of death” (2 Corinthians 3:7; Romans 2:14-15; Galatians 3:10).
(Galatians 3:10) “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”
God’s law is written on the heart of man. Its curse is constantly upon fallen sinners, tormenting all with a sense of guilt before the thrice holy Lord God (James 2:10). It is this same law that was written upon tables of stone and given to the nation of Israel at Sinai in The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20).
It is only when we are united to Christ by faith that we are freed from the law. — But, blessed be God, trusting Christ, being married to him, we are now free from the law (Romans 3:31; 6:14-15). You who are without Christ are still bound to the law, married to it, and under its curse. It torments you day and night, relentlessly, screaming — “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!” Trust Christ and go home today justified, not guilty, freed from the law.
Free from the law — Oh, happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
There on the cross our sin He was bearing,
Justly condemned, for sinners there dying!
Never again in bondage to law,
Fully we’re pardoned once for all.
Now we are free! — There’s no condemnation!
Jesus provides a perfect salvation!
“Come unto Me,” oh, hear His sweet call,
Come, and He saves us once for all.
Children of God! — Oh, glorious calling!
Surely His grace will keep us from falling!
Passing from death to life at His call,
Blessed salvation once for all!
Once for all — oh, sinner, receive it;
Once for all — oh, doubter, believe it;
Cling to the cross, the burden will fall, —
Christ hath redeemed us once for all.
2nd — In verses 2 and 3 the Spirit of God gives us an illustration familiar to and understood by everyone about marriage.
(Romans 7:2-3) “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. (3) So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”
We read in the Book of God that “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).
· Marriage is honorable among all men, believers and unbelievers.
· Marriage is for life.
· Whoremongers and adulterers, men and women who violate God’s law and the teaching of his Word regarding marriage shall be judged by God.
Yes, marriage is for life, and a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But once her husband has died, she is utterly and completely free from all obligation to her husband and free to marry another man.
· All obligation to her dead husband is cancelled and she is free to marry again.
· And if she does marry another man, her marriage is no more a breach of her chastity than a virgin’s marriage is a breach of her chastity.
· This is something all rational people recognize and understand.
Dead to the Law
3rd — Alright, look at verses 4 and 5. Here’s the third thing Paul tells us. We who believe were made dead to the law by the body of Christ, that we might be married to him who died for us at Calvary.
(Romans 7:4-5) “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are 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. (5) For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.”
Our freedom from the law was obtained for us “by the body of Christ,” by the doing and dying of the Son of God in our place.
· The obedience of Christ was our obedience to the law (Romans 5:19).
· The death of Christ was and is our death to the law (Romans 6:6-8; Galatians 2:20).
(Romans 6:6-8) “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. (7) For he that is dead is freed from sin. (8) Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.”
(Galatians 2:20) “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
· The death of Christ was a death that answered all the law’s demands; and, because the law has no further demands on him, it can have none on us (Romans 8:1, 33-34).
(Romans 8:1) “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
(Romans 8:33-34) “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
We are no longer married to the law, but to Christ. Our union is with him. Our identification is with him. Our dependence is on him. Our happiness is wearing his name. Our joy is his life, his love, his grace, his fellowship, his delight, his approval. We find our fulfilment in him.
What joy! What comfort! We are as completely and as blamelessly free from the law as if we had never been under it. When the Lord God revealed this to Martin Luther, it gave such relief to his mind that he thought he was at the very gate of paradise. He said, “Our sins are ours no more but Christ’s, for God laid them all on him. On the other hand Christ’s righteousness is ours.”
(Colossians 1:12-22) “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; (20) And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (21) And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled (22) In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.”
(Colossians 2:9-10) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.”
Trusting Christ, we are dead to the law. That is exactly what we read in verse 4. — “Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” — When Jesus Christ died as our Substitute under the penalty of the law, he silenced its thunderous threats and broke its power of condemnation. The sentence of the Lawgiver against the transgressor was fully satisfied in our Representative. — “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” And, “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Having fulfilled all the types of the ceremonial law and all the requirements of the moral law, “Christ is the end of the law.” — The handwriting of ordinances that was against us, he has taken out of the way, nailing it to the cross. — It was an ancient custom to cancel bonds with a nail. And our Lord has cancelled the law’s bond against us, by nailing it to his cross.
All are agreed that Christ did away with obligation to the ceremonial law. But, many still live like Ishmael, under the bondage of the moral law. Brethren, it was the moral, not the ceremonial law that had the power to condemn us. And it is this law’s curse which Christ nullified by his death. The ceremonial law of sacrifices was the Gospel in shadows, appointed for the relief of men. The ceremonial law was a foreshadowment of our justification in Christ. This was not contrary to us. Our Savior died under the power and force of the moral law. In his life, our Substitute rendered the exact requirements of the law in perfect obedience. In his death, he received its full penalty and execution. And in him we died.
By the cross of Christ we are dead to the law. The law can have no power over us until the virtue of our Surety’s death has ceased. And that can never happen! Now, when the blood of Christ is applied to our hearts by faith, we are not brought under the law. We are freed from it and married to Christ. Fixing our eyes upon the righteousness and shed blood of Christ, we joyfully sing with the full assurance of faith…
“Free from the law, O happy condition!
Jesus hath bled, and there is remission!”
Does that mean that believers are antinomian (against law)? Perish the thought! Never does the true born child of God say that he is free to sin, free to break the law. But we do refuse to become entangled again with the yoke of bondage. We will not be brought again under the covenant of works, obeying God by a legal principle. Our principle of life is “the love of Christ that constraineth us.” We live by faith in Christ’s satisfaction of the law, and walk by the heart principle of love to God and one another. We are dead to the law and alive to God, by Jesus Christ.
This gives us comfort and freedom. The law can only bring fear and bondage. Righteousness can never come by the law, neither for justification, nor sanctification. We live by faith in Christ. We do not frustrate the grace of God; “for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
Look at verse 4 again…
Christ died for us that we might be lawfully married to him, “even to him who is raised from the dead” (v. 4). — This is not a metaphor, but the blessed reality of grace! We are married to the Lord Jesus Christ! The Son of God betrothed his Church to himself before the foundation of the world, and betrothed us to himself forever “in righteousness and in judgment, and in lovingkindness and in mercies.” Then the Savior declares, “I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20; Ephesians 1:4). And so he has!
God the Holy Ghost preached this great truth to the Church, from the beginning of the creation of God. — “The Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him.” And when the woman was created from the man and brought unto him, Adam and Eve were married by God himself. Their marriage, their union as husband and wife, is declared by God to be a type and figure of Christ’s union with his Church in the fifth chapter of the Book of Ephesians. — “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ, and the Church.”
Christ and his Church were one before the world was made. The Church was raised up to be a help meet for the Son of God, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all!” Like Adam, he died that we might be married to him and him to us in perfect purity! That we might forever be his joy and his glory! — “Thy Maker is thine Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Isaiah 54:5).
The law acted as our Schoolmaster unto Christ. But since faith has come we are no longer under a Schoolmaster (Galatians 3:19, 24-25).
· By his obedience and death Christ, the Church’s lawful Husband, demands his lawful wife.
· And by the work of God the Spirit in her heart in regeneration we are now delivered from the law that we should serve God our Savior, our Beloved Husband, in newness of spirit and not in the oldness of the letter!
· We are dead to the law and married to Christ “that we should bring forth fruit unto God,” just as “when we were in the flesh” we brought forth “fruit unto death” (vv. 4-5).
Sweet and precious thought! — All the rigor of the law, all the threats of the law, its curse and condemnation, as the ministration of death, all are done away in Christ. Christ, as our Husband, Surety, and Head, has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. And God’s elect (his Church) are brought, one by one, by his sovereign grace to the knowledge and enjoyment of these high privileges of mercy in Christ. When called by omnipotent, irresistible grace, each chosen sinner betrothed to Christ from everlasting, says, “I will go and return to my first husband, for then was it better with me than now” (Hosea 2:7).
The fruit we bring forth to God is the fruit of his Spirit, the fruit of grace, given to us, wrought in us, and brought forth from us by God himself (Galatians 5:22-23). — “From me is thy fruit found” (Hosea 14:8).
Now, let’s read….
4th — Here, in verse 6, God the Holy Ghost gives us his commentary on Deuteronomy 34. Here is the spiritual meaning of Moses obituary.
(Romans 7:6) “But now we are delivered from the law, that [the law] being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.”
Notice here that Paul tells us the law is dead. — “We are delivered from the law, that being dead!”
Let’s go back to Deuteronomy 34. — In Deuteronomy 34 we read about Moses’ vision of the Promised Land from the “top of Pisgah” and his death and burial by the hand of God on Mt. Nebo. Moses’ death upon this mountain was by the express purpose of God to teach us very important spiritual lessons.
We are told that when Moses stood on Mt. Pisgah and looked over Canaan’s Promised Land, he surveyed the whole land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4). We are expressly told that he saw all the land of Gilead unto Dan, and all the land of Naphtali and Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah unto the uttermost sea, together with the south and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar (vv.1-3). That was some vision!
If you care to take some measurements by an atlas, you will find that with one view, from one spot, Moses clearly saw at least 60 miles in one direction and 120 miles in the other, taking in all the Land of Promise. That would be impossible for any man, except by supernatural, Divine assistance. Therefore, we read, — “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes.”
That is the way it is with all spiritual things and all spiritual sight. Everything we see and know by faith we see and know by Divine revelation, with eyes of faith that see eternal things.
· Our dear Savor is to the eye of faith precious and lovely, gracious and glorious.
· But to the carnal eye, “there is no beauty that we should desire him.”
Then, after taking in all the Land of Promise, after surveying the fulfilment of all God’s covenant promises, Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:4-6). Moses could not bring Israel into the possession of God’s covenant promises. Here is a picture of the law’s death. Yes, I meant to say the law’s death. If we are “dead to the law,” as God in his Word declares we are (Romans 7:4; Galatians 2:19), the law is dead to us. Moses died on Mt. Nebo, but Joshua lived. So it is spiritually: Moses is dead; but the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Joshua, lives!
Five things are stated in Deuteronomy 34:8-9, by which God the Holy Ghost gives us a picture of our complete freedom from the Law of Moses in Christ our Savior, who “is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
1. Moses (the law) died, having fulfilled his appointed service. Moses was 120 years old when he died and was as full of health and strength as he was when he was twenty-five years old. And the law, retaining all its strength, being fulfilled by Christ, was nailed to the tree and slain by our Savior (Colossians 2:14). As God buried Moses on Mt. Nebo and all hell cannot dig up his body, so Christ nailed the law to his cross, taking it out of the way forever, and though Satan constantly seeks to raise it up, Michael the Archangel (our blessed Lord Jesus) stands by his finished work and pours out his grace and righteousness in the full forgiveness of sin upon his chosen (Jude 9; Zechariah 3:1-9).
As Satan raises Moses up
And roars against my soul,
Lord Jesus, my poor cause take up
And make Your servant whole!
Arise, O Lord! Shine forth in grace!
Your precious blood apply!
Embrace my soul, dear Prince of Peace,
Blest Rock higher than I!
Speak, Savior, let me hear Your voice,
Show me, again, Your face!
Oh! Hear my inmost groans and cries. —
Revive my soul with grace!
2. The children of Israel wept for Moses and mourned. So the natural man weeps and mourns for the dead letter of the law, ever clinging to it, always desiring to make himself righteous by the vain delusion of law obedience. All lost men and women seek to make themselves righteous. And all who seek to make themselves righteous by their works are lost. While boasting of their obedience to the law, their religion makes them miserable. —— And, oh, what an insult it must be to our dear Husband, the Lord Jesus, when we look back to and cling to Moses!
3. Joshua was full of the Spirit and wisdom of God. And Christ Jesus, our Joshua, is full of the Spirit of God, and is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. All the fulness of grace and all the promises of God are in him and are ours in him.
4. Moses laid his hands on Joshua, fully approving of him. So the holy law of God approves of, is fulfilled by, and is fully satisfied with Christ. He magnified the law and made it honorable by his obedience in life and his obedience in death as our God-man Mediator and covenant Surety.
5. With Joshua as their head, the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses. If you read the book of Joshua, you will see that Israel no more obeyed Joshua than they did Moses. In fact, Joshua said to them, “Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins” (Joshua 24:19). Yet, we are told by God the Holy Ghost that “the children of Israel hearkened unto Joshua, and did as the Lord commanded Moses” (Deuteronomy 34:9). Obviously, there was a sense in which they did obey God. — Under Joshua’s lead, with Joshua at their head, they entered into, conquered, and possessed all the Land of Promise; and the Lord God fulfilled to them all the covenant promises he made to Abraham (Joshua 23:24).
What a blessed picture of grace! With Christ as our Head, our Mediator, our Representative, our Covenant Surety, all God’s elect have fulfilled all that God commanded by the law. Our Savior’s obedience to the law all the days of his life was our obedience. His death under the penalty of the law was our death. And now, in him, by the merit of his blood and righteousness, every believer is made an heir of God and joint-heir with Christ himself. All the blessings of God’s covenant are sealed to every chosen, redeemed sinner by God the Holy Ghost with the gift of faith in Christ. Thus grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Thank God, Moses is dead and buried. No one can ever find that dead body! — “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth!” — “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died!” — Yes, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness unto everyone that believeth!” Satan tries, but he can never raise the body of Moses against the redeemed!
Like Israel, in the day that Moses died, we hearken to our Joshua, serving him “in newness of spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.”
· By Faith (Romans 3:31)
· Willingly — “The love of Christ constraineth us!”
· Oh, may God the Holy Spirit now wed you to Christ by faith!
· Oh, Holy Ghost, flood my soul with my Savior, my Redeemer, my Husband, the Lord Jesus! — “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!”
(Song of Songs 4:16) “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my Beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.”
(Song of Songs 6:2-3) “My Beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies. (3) I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.”
(Song of Songs 7:10) “I am my Beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.”
(Song of Songs 8:6-7) “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. (7) Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”