URC Daily Devotion 2 August 2023

Wednesday, 2 August 2023

Romans 7: 1 – 6

Do you not know, brothers and sisters — for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime?  Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband.  Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.

In the same way, my friends, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.  While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work for our members to bear fruit for death.  But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.


All this talk about being free could easily be taken to mean that folk could do as they pleased.  Instead, Paul taught that a new situation meant a new reality.  Just as, after a bereavement, a spouse is free to marry again (women, of course, could not then divorce their husbands) so the death of Christ has set us free from the law which Paul felt kept people captive.  

Christians are very good at bandying Paul’s words around and assuming our Jewish sisters and brothers are oppressed by ancient laws.  Of course, we’re surprised to find Jewish people don’t feel slaves to the Law any more than we feel slaves of the Highway Code.  I don’t feel imprisoned because, in Scotland, it is illegal to drink and drive.  I don’t feel oppressed because I have to wear a seat belt.  Paul, however, experienced the Jewish Law as something that Christ had set him free from; his experience of it seems at variance with contemporary Jewish experience and to the many Old Testament writers who saw light, love, and liberation in the Law.

So, what might we be set free from when we convert to Christianity and trust in Jesus?  (That’s assuming, of course, we want to be free.)  Jesus offers us freedom from 

  • some of the values of our age which judges on appearance not virtue, 
  • the prejudices that keep us divided, 
  • the self loathing and failure to love ourselves that holds us back.

More, Jesus gives us the tools to question and critique much that is wrong with our world – our economic systems which prioritise growth over sustainability, a housing market which excludes the poor – and even those on middling incomes – our values which count the cost of health care but never know its value.  We’re not called to be libertines, but to be free from the oppression that surrounds us; real oppression not ancient moral and religious codes.


Lord Jesus, 
give us the courage to be free.
Lord Jesus, 
open our eyes to see where there’s oppression.
Lord Jesus, 
help us to use the tools you give us to spoke the engines of evil
that we, and all your people, might be free. Amen




Today’s writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister for Digital Worship and a member of the Peedie Kirk URC, in Orkney.



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