Today I realized that every single one of us was created for marriage. This was a somewhat strange revelation since I’m single, and I have no idea whether or not God intends for me to get married to a man during my time on this earth. But, it nevertheless dawned on me that we are all, every single one of us, created for marriage.
Why do I say this? Well, I was reading Romans 6-7 in which Paul talks about struggling with sin even though we have been saved through Christ. He teaches that we have been set free from Sin and Death, so the Law no longer rules over us. For most Christians, this is fairly familiar territory.
But, at the beginning of chapter 7, Paul does something really interesting–he compares our former relationship with the Law to the relationship of marriage. He goes on to explain that once you marry someone, you are bound to them for the rest of your life, unless, of course, that person dies, in which case you are free to remarry whomever you want. Paul then points out that we were once married to the Law, which meant we were bound to it for all of our lives…except in the event of death. Only in the event of death could we be free from the Law, and free to remarry.
And that’s exactly what happened when we became Christians. We died with Christ, as was symbolized in our baptism. And because we died, we became free to remarry, so we remarried Christ. Now, we are no longer married to the Law, but to Jesus (and thus begins the jokes about Jesus being your boyfriend).
Now all of that is pretty theological and dense, and even kinda boring, so you’re probably wondering what this mean for you practically speaking. Well, there is actually a fairly big question buried under all of that theology, and it goes like this:
Who are you married to? Do you live as if you are married to Christ, or do you still live as if you are married to the Law? The answer to this question will have pretty big implications on how you live your life.
Now in order to find the answer to this question, we must first understand what a healthy marriage looks like. When I look at my friends who are married, one of the aspects that really defines them as a couple and makes their marriage strong is that their spouse is the only one whose opinion ultimately matters. A man might feel like the whole world is against him, but if his wife says she believes in him, he feels like he can do anything. For a married person, their spouse is the greatest earthly source of confidence, and the standard by which they judge themselves.
So if your spouse is your greatest source of confidence, then you have to ask what is YOUR greatest source of confidence. Is it the Law, or is it Christ? Your answer to this question will reveal the identity of your true spouse. Now right about now you’re probably thinking, “I am DEFINITELY not married to the Law because I don’t believe that I am saved by works.” But don’t be so sure, because the evidence of your allegiance is not as obvious as you might think.
Recently I listened to a sermon by Tim Keller in which he argued that you can know whether you are serving Christ, or the Law, not by your actions, but by your motivations. This is an important distinction because the two actions can look exactly the same–two people may both be honoring their father and mother, but one is doing so for Christ, and the other for the Law. So how do you know the difference? –> Whether or not *fear* is in the equation. When you serve Christ, you do so out of love and gratitude. When you serve the Law, you do so out of fear, a fear that you will be punished if you do not do obey.
When Keller said this, and I looked at my own motives, I was knocked off my feet. Suddenly I realized that I’d been functioning as a practical legalist. There is always a part of me that fears if I make the wrong decision, choose the wrong path, or disobey God, that He will “discipline me” or “teach me a lesson.” After all, Scripture does tell us that God disciplines those whom He loves. But as a result of my thinking, I was living my faith out of fear, not freedom. I was afraid of what God would do to me if I failed. And as a result, I had deceived myself into believing that this wasn’t a form of works righteousness, because I have never doubted my salvation. But, I was still pandering for God’s approval. While I knew my salvation was secure, I was still afraid of earthly punishment and discipline, and I therefore did all I could to avoid it. I was still working for God’s grace.
In this way, the greatest source of my confidence had become the Law, because I felt that if I was doing everything just right, God would have no need to “discipline” me. Only then, when I was perfectly obedient, was there nothing to fear. And in this way, I essentially become my own savior. There was no need for Christ because I had become the source of my freedom and rest, rather than God’s love and grace.
So that is what it means to be married to the Law–doing good is your greatest source of confidence in life, not because you think it will save you, per se, but because you fear what will happen if you don’t. If there is ever fear behind your actions, then you are an adulterer in your marriage to Christ.
All of that to say, we were all created for marriage, which means we will all be married to something, but the question is what. Are you married to the Law, or are you married to Christ? Or perhaps more specificlly, are you married to self-image, to success, or approval from other people? If you can ever detect fear in any of these areas, then I think you know the answer. To be married to Christ is to experience the freedom of life without fear, so we must strive to live as faithful wives to a husband who grants us such a blessing. No matter who you are or where you are in life, embrace your role as a married woman, because it is freedom.