Know you not, brothers, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law has dominion over a man as long as he lives?…
I. ALL MEN ARE, NATURALLY, UNDER THE LAW AS A COVENANT OF WORKS.
1. As men. God made man capable of moral government; he was naturally bound to obey the will of his Maker. The moral law: perfect obedience to this law could never entitle him to any greater degree of happiness, yet God was pleased to superadd a promise of everlasting life upon obedience, to which He annexed His awful sanction, "In the day that thou sinnest, thou shalt surely die." This is what we call a covenant: as such it was proposed on the part of God, and it was accepted on the part of man. Now as this covenant was made with Adam as the federal head, so all men are naturally under it.
2. As sinners. In this view sinners are under the law as a broken covenant, which therefore can afford no relief to them that seek salvation by it (Galatians 3:10-12).
II. TO BE UNDER THE LAW, AND ESPECIALLY AS A BROKEN COVENANT, IS A MOST DREADFUL THING.
1. The law requires perfect, universal, and everlasting obedience of all that are under it. Now this law is not abolished or made void, either by Christ or by any of His apostles. "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil; for verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:17, 18; Romans 3:31). How dreadful then is such a state, since no mere man can thus keep it. And while the Christian betakes himself to the mercy of God in Christ, as his only hope, the sinner supports his vain confidence in the supposition that God will not insist on His claim.
2. It denounces against every transgressor the most awful curse (James 2:10, 11; Galatians 3:10).
III. MANY HAVE OBTAINED A GLORIOUS DELIVERANCE OUT OF THIS DREADFUL STATE. In Christ they are made brethren: "Know ye not, brethren."
IV. THEY WHO ARE DELIVERED FROM THIS STATE ARE TO BE DISTINGUISHED FROM OTHERS IN THE MINISTRY OF THE WORD. Addressing himself to believers, Paul appeals to their spiritual knowledge and judgment, "Know ye not."
1. There is a knowledge peculiar to the saints, whereby they know the things that are excellent; they have judgment to distinguish betwixt truth and error; an inward principle (1 John 2:27; 1 John 5:20) which teaches them the knowledge of every truth necessary for consolation or salvation.
2. One great reason why many know not the truth, is not merely owing to their ignorance of it, but often to their prejudice against it.
3. Sound and saving knowledge hath respect not only to the truth itself, but also to the use we are to make of it.
4. It is no inconsiderable part of our happiness when we are called to minister unto such as know the truth as it is in Jesus.Conclusion:
1. If all men are naturally under the law as a covenant of works, who can wonder if they seek life by that covenant? Natural light, natural conscience can discover no other way of salvation.
2. If all are miserable who are under the law, especially as a broken covenant, this calls upon men who are under a profession of religion to examine themselves as to their state before God.
3. If believers are delivered from the law as a covenant, yet still let them remember, "They are under the law to Christ."
4. If true believers are to be distinguished from others in the ministry of the Word, let them distinguish themselves, not only by a public profession, but also by a becoming walk and conversation.
Parallel VersesKJV: Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?