Death and Life

Daily Reform, Day 150

Galatians 2:19 & 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

From the Reformer

On first sight Paul seems to be advancing a strange and ugly heresy. He says, “I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.” The false apostles said the very opposite. They said, “If you do not live to the law, you are dead unto God.”

The doctrine of our opponents is similar to that of the false apostles in Paul’s day. Our opponents teach, “If you want to live unto God, you must live after the Law, for it is written, Do this and thou shalt live.” Paul, on the other hand, teaches, “We cannot live unto God unless we are dead unto the Law.” If we are dead unto the Law, the Law can have no power over us.

Paul does not only refer to the Ceremonial Law, but to the whole Law. We are not to think that the Law is wiped out. It stays. It continues to operate in the wicked. But a Christian is dead to the Law. For example, Christ by His resurrection became free from the grave, and yet the grave remains. Peter was delivered from prison, yet the prison remains. The Law is abolished as far as I am concerned, when it has driven me into the arms of Christ. Yet the Law continues to exist and to function. But it no longer exists for me.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Jesus lived and died under the Law. He kept the Law perfectly and died a sinless death. In so doing, he satisfied its demands upon the human race. (Matt 5:17) Just so, we are to die to the Law so that we might live to God through Christ. If we try to live eternally by obeying the Law, we deny the power of the life-giving Gospel. We do not gain God’s acceptance by keeping the Law. Divine approval comes through Christ alone. Thus Paul says, “I died to the law, so that I might live to God.”

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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