But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.
God often brings me back to the question of Law versus grace. My human tendency is to lean on The Law; to try to obey the Thou Shalts and the Thou Shalt Nots. But I am unable to obey The Law. The Law, as Paul writes later in Romans 7, is holy and righteous and good. The fault lies not in the commandment, but in me.
Paul boils the whole thing down to two things: old and new. The oldness of the letter, i.e. the old covenant of The Law, and the newness of the Spirit, i.e. the new covenant of grace. Under which of these do I want to live?
Paul notes that the believer has been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). Here in Romans, that crucifixion with Christ means that I have died. The Law only has jurisdiction over the living — despite modern inventions like Death Tax … who knew I could be taxed for doing what I have no choice but to do? — so The Law has no hold over those who have died with Christ. However, Paul’s parallel does not end there. The believer does not simply die to The Law and now live as may please him, but is rather subjected now to Christ’s rule. Rather than being subject to The Law, we are subject to The Lawgiver; rather than being subjected to the letter, we are subject to The Word made flesh. I am not longer subject to a dead code, but to a living Christ.
That, in a nutshell, is the breakdown of it all. While I may be tempted to stray back into trying to be “good enough,” whatever that means, I am not bound by The Law but by the edict of the Lawgiver Who tells me that the whole of His Law can be summed up in the commands to love Him and to love my neighbor. Does He expect me to do these perfectly? Absolutely not. He knows how little I am capable of (Psalm 103:14). What He expects is for me to subject myself to Him more and more until I am so utterly His that He says “Go.” and I go and He says “Come here.” and I go there and He says “Do this.” and I do it (Luke 7:8). I do not count myself to have apprehended, but I press on toward that high call (Philippians 3:13-14): the call to live in the newness of the Spirit; the new covenant; the new life and relationship with Him.