Why, my brothers, you also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another…
I. TO HIS MEMORY.
1. When them of the Southern States of America were set free, they were, in many cases, placed in a position of deep misery. Their cry reached the ears of many in the North, and amongst those who went to the rescue was a young man of education, refinement, social position, and wealth, who, soon after commencing his arduous work, sickened and died. Arrangements were made to convey the body to the family sepulchre; but many who had been fed, clothed, instructed and comforted by their deceased friend, entreated that his dust might be allowed to sleep in the scene of his generous labours. The mother consented, and the father; but the consent of another was necessary. Could any wonder if it was but tardily given? At length his betrothed gave her cordial assent, declaring that she would live where her elect husband had died, and by devoting herself to his work, would be married to his memory.
2. More than eighteen centuries ago the Son of God came from heaven to our earth. He went about doing good. He bare our sins in His own body on the tree; He rose again, and ascended into heaven. But there is a remembrance of these things by the writings of the evangelists and apostles. By testimony, the Jesus of the past is with us. The birth at Bethlehem, the teaching, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension, can only be memories. Let us be married to His memory —
(1) By frequently thinking of all that He was, and did, and suffered. We cannot visit Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Calvary, but we can think of them.
(2) By cherishing affections corresponding with such thoughts. Thus thinking, gratitude and love will spring up in our hearts. Let us cherish these plants.
(3) By contentedly living on this earth so long as we have a work of God to do. Christ came to this world, and remained until His work was finished. His memory seems to say, Pray not to be taken out of the world, but ask for help to complete your work.
(4) By working, so far as we can, the works He wrought. He healed, and we may be great healers. He comforted, and the weakest may be a son of consolation. He instructed, and all who have religious knowledge may instruct. He made peace, and a little child may be a peacemaker.
(5) By intelligently and devoutly observing the ordinance of remembrance which He founded (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
II. TO THE FELLOWSHIP AND THE SERVICE OF THE LIVING CHRIST. The law, as given by Moses, has no claim upon us now. Prescription and exclusive sanctity as to place of worship is dead; human priesthood, carnal sacrifices, ritualism, symbolism, the whole Mosaic economy is dead. Let us then be married to the living Christ —
1. By the nonrecognition of the Mosaic institutes. As they who are married, forsaking all other, cleave to each other as long as both shall live, so the disciple of Jesus must cease to be a disciple of Moses, or refuse to be, if tempted to be.
2. By looking, and continuing to look to Him, for every good thing. All that we really need, the mediation of Jesus Christ can secure.
3. By cherishing and expressing true love for Him. Some appear to be content with knowledge without love, and others reduce their love to mere obligation for redemption from hell. But see 1 Corinthians 16:22.
4. By obeying His commandments. Verily, these are not grievous; but if they were, true love would make the yoke easy and the burden light. This is one test which Jesus gave His disciples (John 14:15).
5. By recognising Himself in His disciples, and by ministering to His needy ones for His sake.
6. By defending His name and His mission.
7. By devoting ourselves to advance the aim of His mediation — to save the world.Conclusion:
1. I know of no illustration of marriage to the Saviour's memory and mission equal to the example of the Apostle Paul. He describes his own death to the law and marriage to Christ, and his previous marriage to the law and death unto Christ, in Philippians 3:5-10. Paul knew what he was writing when he wrote the text, and as a wife submits herself to her own husband as her head, is subject to him in everything, reverences him, helps him, makes his cares, joys, honours, and burdens her own, and blends her life with his, so did Paul live for Christ.
2. One motive by which we should be constrained to seek and to cherish union with Jesus Christ is this — that only thereby can we live as God's children. The reference in the text is to the fruit of marriage. Elsewhere, with another reference, the same truth is presented (Galatians 2:22, 23; Ephesians 5:9; Colossians 1:5, 6, 10). The fruit here named is reconciliation to and oneness with God. It is light in the spirit, love in the heart, and righteousness in the life. It consists of all the fruits of holiness and righteousness and godliness. Peter names them as virtue, etc. (2 Peter 1:5-7). John represents them as all included in love. Jesus represents union with Himself as essential to all usefulness (John 15:5).
3. All coming short of this is traceable to non-union with Christ. Some religious people marry themselves to a system of theology, and the fruit is pride and bigotry; others to a round of ceremonies, and the fruit is self-deception and hypocrisy; others to what they account "the Church," and the fruit is a form of godliness without the power; others to a sect, and the fruit is envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness; others but partially identify themselves with Christ, and the fruit is indecision, confusion, and various evil works. The world, the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life make this union partial; in the degree that it is not entire, there cannot be fruit unto God (Psalm 45:10, 11).
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
WEB: Therefore, my brothers, you also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you would be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit to God.