In Romans chapter 7, the Apostle Paul uses the marriage covenant to show that we are no longer bound by the law in death. He writes,
that the law is binding on a person during that person’s life time? Thus a married woman is bound by the lay 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. – Romans 7:1b – 3, NSRV
As I looked at this analogy from the standpoint of how God views sins of the believer, I began to understand a crucial mechanic of God’s plan of salvation. I call this the Death Mechanism. Let’s take a look at how this mechanism works.
According to scripture there are only three reasons that a marriage covenant can be dissolved for a believer.
- Marital unfaithfulness (Matthew 5:32)
- Death (Romans 71b – 3)
- An unbelieving spouse deciding to leave (1 Corinthians 7:15)
Paul focuses on death as an approved reason for dissolving the marriage covenant in his letter to the church in Rome. His claim is essentially this that when a person is married and one the spouses dies the surviving spouse is no longer obligated to the marriage covenant. The question then becomes what kind of death does Paul mean? Does death refer to a spiritual death as a result of sin or does it refer to a physical death?
It seems unlikely that Paul was referring to a spiritual death. For if he was referring to a spiritual death, than any sin be it lying, coveting, idolatry, greed, pride, ect. would be a viable reason to dissolve the marriage covenant. Yet, as previously established the only sin that is said to be viable in dissolving the covenant is unfaithfulness. Since all sin is not viable, then he must be referring to a physical death. If he is referring to a physical death then, it would seem rational to infer that throughout the letter he is referring to a physical death when ever he is talking about being freed.
Romans 6:7 says, “For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (ESV) Since we have established Paul must be talking about a physical death, it must be concluded that those who have died have been freed from their sin. If they are freed from sin, then they are justified (in right standing). If they are in right standing then they are in no danger of eternal punishment. So where is the salvation offered through Christ.
It must be that all the dead are raised at Christ’s return. This is evidenced by Revelations 20:13. At this resurrection those who believed now will be “changed in the blink of an eye” and given eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:52). Those who did not believe now will be shown the ultimate Grace and Mercy by being allowed to make a choice while face to face with the Lord, Jesus.
The judgement on sin did not occur at the cross, rather it occurred in the Garden of Eden when God said “You will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). But wait! Doesn’t Revelations 20 also say that every man will be judged for what he has done? Yes it does, however, Paul’s intention in Roman’s is establish that salvation comes by belief and not works. This is clearly seen in Romans 3:28 “For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Then it stands to reason that if God is judging works then it must not be for the purpose of salvation, it must be for the purpose of reward.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of this truth, yet, it is profound in even this simplistic state. My prayer is that you will study this truth and allow the spirit to reveal the deepest nature in God through it. For God’s love is so much deeper and greater than human beings have taught or even know. May God bless you in your endeavor to seek His truth. In the name above all names, which Jesus Christ, amen.