Daily Devotion for October 25, 2011
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
"In faith there is enough light for all those who want to believe — and enough shadows to blind all those who don't."
~ Blaise Pascal
Romans 7:1-6 (ESV)
Released from the Law
Or do you not know, brothers — for I am speaking to those who know the law — that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?
For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. 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.
Likewise, my brothers, you also 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. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.
But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.
Notes on the Scripture
In the first few verses of Romans 7, Paul attempts to illustrate what it means to die to the law. The illustration is easy enough to follow. The law says that a marriage is permanent. But when one spouse dies, the law no longer has any power over either person in the marriage. Death releases the legal obligation, which Paul calls being "dead to the law".
When we are born, we are subject to the law and will remain subject to the law all of our lives. We can be righteous before God only by following all of his commandments. But if and when we accept the Holy Spirit (usually accomplished or symbolized by baptism with water) we die and then are reborn in Christ, over whom the law has no dominion. Our relationship with God changes radically.
Of course, we do not undergo physical death. In many senses, it would be more accurate to say we undergo a transformation. The process of being born again is much like what happens to a seed that is planted. The seed seems to die, so that a vine or tree may be born which will bear fruit.
As we know, however, it is not totally accurate to say the seed "dies". It disappears and something else rises in its place. But Christ and Paul both choose the word "death" to illustrate and emphasize how profound the transformation is. Looking again at the illustration of marriage, there is nothing that frees us from the law of marriage so completely as death. Our relationship to the law ends totally, completely; we are not divorced from it, we are dead to it. We now belong to Christ.
In the coming chapters, Paul will teach us what it means to be dead to the law (and also, what it means to be dead to sin, his main topic in Romans 6).