The Holy Spirit has just finished a lengthy discussion concerning the realities of positional and progressive sanctification. Now He begins to reveal the enemy of sanctification- the flesh. The term flesh refers to the old man or the natural man. He is also represented as the carnal man. Some may be more familiar with the term human nature. Regardless of the term, the text will soon reveal that the flesh is not concerned with pleasing God. It is intensely selfish and unfathomably wicked. The heart, with all its motives, passions, and desires, is as Jeremiah said “...deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked...(Jeremiah 17:9).”
“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? 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. 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.”
Verses one through six describe the flesh's incompatibility. Christ has released the believer from the power of his old man; therefore, the old nature is incompatible with the believer's new life in Christ. Paul uses the example of biblical marriage to demonstrate this. With divorce and remarriage so rampant in Christian circles, this illustration may seem out of place for some. However, if marriage is viewed from a biblical perspective, this illustration fits perfectly, because the entirety of Scripture reveals that God does not allow for divorce and remarriage. In God's eyes, only death frees a man or woman from their vows. The example of a woman is used, but the tables could be reversed and applied to the man as well (Mark 10:11-12). Should a spouse, regardless of the circumstances, be divorced and remarried, he or she now bears the stigma of adultery. One must die in order for the other to be entirely free from that bond. The verb is bound is in the Greek perfect tense. Being the strongest tense know in biblical Greek, the grammar is reinforcing the fact of marriage's permanency. The idea is that this woman is permanently bound to her husband by her vows. This is regardless of circumstance or situation. She is that man's wife and only death can break such a bond. This example demonstrates the hopelessness of the natural man's religious lifestyle. Man is permanently wedded to his old nature and cannot please God outside of the regenerating work of the Spirit of Christ.