Married to the law: Married to Grace (2)- Femi Aribisala
By Femi Aribisala
“Do you not know, brothers – for I am speaking to men who know the law – that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.” (Romans 7:1-2).
Chalk and cheese
Abigail was married to Nabal under the law. It was a very contentious and problem-filled marriage. But then Nabal died. Therefore, she was released from her marriage to him and became free to marry David.
There is a big difference between being married to David and being married to Nabal. It is like chalk and cheese. The marriage to Nabal was characterised by barrenness. As Nabal’s wife, Abigail had no children. But there can be no barrenness in the house and lineage of David. Therefore, Abigail had many children for David.
The bible provides an impressive list of women who were barren until they met the Lord. They include Sarah the mother of Isaac, Hanna the mother of Samuel, Manoah’s wife the mother of Samson, and Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist. This shows fruitfulness is the heritage of those married to the grace of God in Christ.
In that family, there is no sickness. As a matter of fact, healing is the children’s bread. There is no poverty, after all God, our husband, owns everything. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. His kingdom never comes to an end. Therefore, we are made rich in every way so that (we) can be generous on every occasion, and through us our generosity results in thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Married into bondage
It is important to highlight what it meant to be married to Nabal and the law of Moses; and then differentiate this from what it means to be married to David and to the grace of God. When Nabal married Abigail, he gave her a list of do’s and don’ts. It was quite extensive; there were no less than 613 items in it. These were the things Abigail had to fulfil as his wife. The only problem was that it was simply impossible for her to fulfil them.
No matter how hard she tried, she would always find that she forgot to do something, or forgot to say something, or did something in a way that was different from the precise and exact way he wanted it done. He wanted his rice cooked in a particular way. His meat had to be boiled in a particular way. His shirt must be ironed in one way or you won’t hear the last of it. If Abigail failed to meet even one of his many conditions, it meant she had failed to meet every condition.
Married into liberty
But when Abigail moved into the house of David, the difference became crystal clear. She dutifully asked David for his own list of do’s and don’ts. But to her surprise he said he had absolutely none. “I just love you,” he said. “There are no laws, no rules, no regulations, and no guidelines. Just love. For love makes up for many of our faults. Love covers a multitude of sins.”
Love is the beauty of grace. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).
The Christian marriage has nothing to do with what is seen in the Law of Moses. Jesus says; “in the beginning it was not so.” Well, what was it like in the beginning. In the beginning there was no law. In the beginning, there was grace. But when sin came, we fell from grace and the law entered: “Knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:9).
Therefore, Christians, who are by faith the righteousness of Christ, must not persist in operating in the same old psychology of the House of Nabal while now in the House of David. We must not use the letter of the bible to kill our marriages, but rather give it life by the Spirit. This is because the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.
The natural marriage under the law is a contract between two people. This makes it a weak marriage that often ends in divorce. It produces Ishmael, as in the case between Abraham and Hagar. But the heavenly marriage is a contract between three people, as with God, Abraham and Sarah. Therein lies its strength for: “A threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). It produces children of promise, such as Isaac.
The earthly marriage produces strife and conflict. Ishmael was a wild man, according to prophecy. But the heavenly marriage produces joy and laughter, which is the meaning of Isaac.
Many Christian husbands, despising the grace of God, re-establish their marriages under the law. Their agenda is to exercise full control over their wives. They set up military barracks in their households, with the husband as the commander-in-chief whose word must be obeyed.
They dictate what their wife should wear, whether she works or not. They even try to determine what work she should do. Their family structure becomes one in which the wife and even the children are held in bondage.
They instil the fear of man in their wives and use the scriptures to threaten and browbeat them. They shout commands of: “Submit, submit, submit in the name of Jesus.” If the woman does not submit, they might even beat her up in order that “the will of God” might be done.
Grace of God
This is not the way of Christ. Jesus came to set the captives free. He did not come to put us into another bondage. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
If the Christian husband would only love his wife, submission would not be such a big deal for her. Remember, God has ordained by decree that the desire of a woman is to her husband. (Genesis 3:6). So, a loving husband would be irresistible to his wife. After all, love is the most powerful and most potent force in the universe.
God is almighty. But his great might is not in his power but in his love. Indeed, God himself is love, and love itself is God. Force can only get you certain outward things: it cannot reach what is hidden in the heart. But love can reach everywhere and get everything:
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12-13).