What does the phrase “you are not under the law” mean?

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Not under the law

The apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome saying, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14). Some use this verse to teach that Christians are no longer obliged to keep God’s law. Is that what Paul is teaching?

The law doesn’t save

In the above Bible passage, Paul is saying that the believers are not under law as a way of salvation, but under grace. For the law cannot save a sinner, nor can it end sin or its power. The purpose of the law is to show sin (Romans 3:20). The law makes sin more noticeable (Romans 5:20).

In addition, the law cannot forgive sin, nor can it grant the sinner strength to overcome it. The sinner who tries to be saved under law will find only judgement and more bondage to sin. Wherever people teach that they can save themselves by their works, they always fail. When a man is “under law,” regardless of his best works, sin continues to have power over him, because the law cannot free him from the dominion of sin.

Therefore, the Bible teaches that the believer should not seek salvation legalistically, for he certainly can’t be saved by acts of obedience (Romans 3:20, 28). And he will always find himself a breaker of God’s law that is if he attempts to keep it in his own power.

People are saved by grace alone

People obtain justification when they accept Christ’s mercy and grace by faith. Paul wrote, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3: 24). Their wicked past is forgiven and they receive supernatural strength to walk in the newness of life. Thus, under grace, the battle against sin is no longer a lost hope, but a certain victory.

The Lord offers all people to be under grace, that they may triumph over sin. He makes available to all His strength to have every godly quality. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Sadly, many reject the Lord’s offer and still choose to be under law. These prefer to stay under law, as if they could earn their salvation by their own obedience to law. These unenlightened individuals resemble the ancient Jews who in their self-righteousness were not ready to admit their own helplessness and yield completely to God’s mercy and changing grace.

Summary

Paul taught that as long as a person is under law he remains also under the power of sin, for the law cannot save a person from either the judgement or the power of sin. But those who are under grace are given not only freedom from the judgement (Romans 8:1) but also strength to triumph (Romans 6:4). Thus, sin will no longer have dominion over them.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

This answer is also available in: العربية हिन्दी Español

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