from the pen of John Murray...
In brief: Murray says Romans 6:14 "For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace," and other passages that seem to encourage a disparaging view of the law, do not indictate at all that the law of God is to be deemed in such as way as to throw the Christian at odds with it. On the contrary, Murray says, what Paul means here is that "under law" means being in bondage to sin, and "under grace" means being in bondage to Christ. There is an antithesis, says Murray, but evangelicalism has taken the antithesis too far, in removing the law from the life of the Christian en toto, resulting in antinomianism (being "against law").
Elsewhere, Paul speaks of obeying the law (Romans 13) and putting himself "under law" in 1 Cor 9 (the "to the Jews" passage). So in one sense, "under law" means being in bondage to sin, and in another usage, "under law" means Paul's placing of himself under the auspices of the ceremonies and rites of the Mosaic system with the express purpose of "winning some."
Nevertheless, despite Paul's commendation of the Decalogue in Romans 13, some clarity is needed as to what relation the Christian has to the Decalogue. It is clear that the ten commandments cannot regenerate and bring salvation, and that they serve very well to anounce sin (Romans 7:7 "I would not have known what sin was except through the law,") and need of a savior (Galatians 3:24 "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ,"). But once a Christian is convicted by the law and regenerated, justified and sanctified, what is his relation to these laws then? Moreover, how do we understand Romans 7:6 "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."?
Quick answer, 1 Cor 9:21 "To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law." Paul is not antinomian, rather he sees holiness as conforming to the law of God. He is "not free from God's law." He is under Christ's law in the sense that he is regenerated, justified and sanctified and obeys God's law meaning the Decalogue, but is no longer under the Mosaic system of rites and ceremonies. Christians are not saved from the law, the are saved to it. Romans 6:15 says, "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" And again, "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law," (Romans 3:31).
So, being "under law" in Romans 6 & 7 means being in bondage to sin because of the law's work in arousing the sinful nature in us and producing the condemning effect it was designed to do. Romans 7:8 "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead." Paul calls this law in Romans 8:1 the law of sin and death. It is this sense that Paul speaks of the unregenerate person being "under law." And through the power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Christian, now a regenerate person being justified and sanctified (and in the process of sanctification as well), can actually obey the law of God and do so in order to receive his or her Heavenly Father's good pleasure.
This is why Paul can say in chapter 12, that conforming our minds to the pattern of God's will is pleasing to him. And in Romans 13, Paul can say,
8Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."
If Paul intended for Christians to speak of being "free in the Holy Spirit to love and serve God without recourse to the law (Decalogue), he brings a lot of confusion by quoting from the Decalogue toward the end of his theological treatise we call the Letter to the Romans. This section, toward the end of his treatise, confirms that Paul intends for us to understand more than one purpose of the law. The first is 1) to bring evidence of sin and the second is 2) to give Christians a right guide and rule by which to live. (There is a 3rd usuage--we'll bypass that for now).
We are indeed to live by faith through grace by the power of the Holy Spirit in the freedom from the condemnation of the law. But since the law is "holy spiritual and good," (7:12, 14, 15), we have not died to it in the sense of abrogating it from our lives, or else why the quote here in chapter 13? Rather, Paul says we died to the law in this sense: that we are no longer unregenerate sinners under the wrath and condemnation of God because he regards us as transgressors of his law. Instead, we are regenerated, live by faith in Jesus Christ through grace with the power of the Holy Spirit to live obedient, humble lives with our loving Heavenly Father. And we do the latter by fulfilling the law by loving our fellowman.
It is a misconception for us to think of "love" as a self-directing, self-guiding abstract entity, in the form of some impersonal force by which we adhere, move with and point toward as a reference. Rather, love has an object. The object of our love is God himself. Since God has a character and has revealved that character through his law, we obey his law when we love him. And, we love him when we obey his law. We do this all by faith in Jesus Christ and by his grace.
to read Murray's article on this subject, click here http://www.lgmarshall.org/Reformed/murray_lawandgrace.html
and here http://www.gospelpedlar.com/articles/Christian%20Life/moralaw.html