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?
Circumcision is a sign a badge for every one accepting the rule of the Law as long as he is alive. What avails when he, according to way of all flesh, returns to the ground from which he is taken.?’Dust to dust and ashes to ashes.’ Validity of circumcision no longer exists for him. This is what St Paul explains here using the analogy of marriage, as in the following verse: “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband(v.2)”.
The law of sin is compared to the laws governing marriage and it is not eternal but is provided as a relief, a temporary measure on account of the frailties of the flesh. Adultery derives its sting on account of the law by which every man or woman is bound over to honor their own flesh as they honor their spouses. In the Book of the prophets we read of Israel committing whoredom in worshipping strange gods. Flesh always brings to mind, because of the law comparison with the spirit. This is what we see in the Book of Hosea, “Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine./ So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:/ And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee(Hos.3:1-3)”.
Where flesh and its lusts indicates the physical reality adultery is punishable because the law incorporates restitution of damages. Failing to honor the Law is an insult to God who instituted it in the first place. God commands Prophet Hosea to serve as a symbol for the many sins of Israel. He serves as substitutional symbol as Judas Iscariot served as the betrayer of Jesus Christ. Marriage is honorable for all but God set this caveat, a substitution from the norm, It is part of the law, which is spiritual and it is God’s will. The slain Lamb before the foundation of the world is a symbol and it is to understood spiritually. In short the law of Moses and circumcision are two aspects of the law of flesh, and a shadow of the real. God is a Spirit who we are to worship in spirit and truth. (See note under v.6)
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 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.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.
When we die under water baptism we are ‘buried with him by baptism into death(Ro.6:4); on the principle ‘he that is dead is freed from sin’ we come out of the water in an act of surrender so the burden of sin has been once and for all left behind us. The newness of life facing from that point on, is the result of surrendering to the power of God, which we saw in the previous chapter ‘that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father(Ro.6:4-7)’. Law of the flesh is carnal whereas the law of grace is spiritual.
7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.