Sisyphus Lex vs. Atlas Pronomos

"Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Romans 3:31)

"And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law…" (1 Corinthians 9:20)

Aah...another apparent Bible contraction to explore and therein find that blessed harmony over which superficial critics ever stumble!

The apostle was indeed not under the law as he clearly affirmed to the Corinthians and to us his modern Christian readers. That is, thanks be to the Savior Who became sin for Him, Who is the end of the law unto righteousness for every one who believes, Paul was free. Does he mean free of obedience to God? As he himself might say, "May it never be!" Far from it!

Yet even as the one time enemy of Christ is now gloriously alive and free in every way in the heavenly realms, so after his conversion on the Damascus Road on Earth he began to enjoy his eternal liberty…the glorious liberty of the children of God…in principle. He became free of the soul crushing weight of guilt and condemnation laid by the broad, universal, and perpetual requirements of the good and perfect law upon his sin-disabled flesh.

He became free from trying to establish a righeousness of his own by the law. So Paul was not like mythological Sisyphus, doomed to forever labor to push the boulder of self righteousness uphill, only to see that big rock of no merit roll back down into the valley of God's utter displeasure. Paul knew that without faith it is impossible to please God, and that righteousness is by grace through faith.

The original language word translated establish in the Romans text means "to cause to stand." As one having the Spirit Chirst, without which one is none of His, Paul and all Christians find a new power to uphold the law, to establish the law, to cause the law to stand in the fabric of their lives in a soul liberating way. For to obey God is perfect freedom.

Under the new and better covenant in Jesus' blood, in which the law is written on the tablets of human hearts as the prophet foretold (cf. Jeremiah 31:31ff), Christians are united to Him Who magnified the law of God by His perfect life of sinless obedience. Now their relation to the law is a relation that is in Christ, Whose relation to the law might be compared to the relation of mythological Atlas to the world. Jesus upholds the law of God on His broad incarnational and sinless shoulders. In this way, by His exceeding power within us, we uphold it in Him. He graciously helps us to "cause the law to stand" in our lives.

Romans 2:29 – But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Romans 7:6 – But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter.

Keith Graham, March A.D. 2011

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