“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” (Romans 7:4).
When Christ died for us, we died with him. God looked on us who believe as united to Christ. His death for our sin was our death in him. (See the previous chapter.) But sin was not the only reality that killed Jesus and us. So did the law of God. When we break the law by sinning, the law sentences us to death. If there were no law, there would be no punishment. “For . . . where there is no law there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15). But “whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that . . . the whole world may be held accountable to God” (Romans 3:19).
There was no escape from the curse of he law. It was just; we were guilty. There was only one way to be free: Someone must pay the penalty. That’s why Jesus came: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13).
Therefore, God’s law cannot condemn us if we are in Christ. Its power to rule us is doubly broken. On the one hand, the law’s demands have been fulfilled by Christ on our behalf. His perfect law-keeping is credited to our account (see chapter 11). On the other hand, the law’s penalty has been paid by the blood of Christ.
This is why the Bible so clearly teaches that getting right with God is not based on law-keeping. “By works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20). “A person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16). There is no hope of getting right with God by law-keeping. The only hope is the blood and righteousness of Christ, which is ours by faith alone. “We hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28).
How then do we please God, if we are dead to his law and it is no longer our master? Is not the law the expression of God’s good and holy will (Romans 7:12)? The biblical answer is that instead of belonging to the law, which demands and condemns, we now belong to Christ who demands and gives. Formerly, righteousness was demanded from outside in letters written in stone. But now righteousness rises within us as a longing in our relationship with Christ. He is present and real. By his Spirit he helps us in our weakness. A living person has replaced a lethal list. “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). (See chapter 14.)
This is why the Bible says that the new way of obedience is fruit-bearing, not law-keeping. “You . . . 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” (Romans 7:4). We have died to law-keeping so that we might live to fruit-bearing. Fruit grows naturally on a tree. If the tree is good, the fruit will be good. And the tree, in this case, is a living relationship of love to Jesus Christ. For this he died. Now he bids us come: “Trust me.” Die to the law, that you might bear the fruit of love.
*This is taken from John Piper’s book “The Passion of Jesus Christ,” which was later released under the name “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die.” Please visit Desiring God’s Website for more gospel-centered resources from John Piper. You can also download a free PDF of “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die” here.