Paul's Passing Thoughts

Harriet Tubman and Romans 8:2. True Salvation Involves Two Laws and New Birth

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on August 13, 2020

ppt-jpeg42The other night I was watching a movie about Harriet Tubman and was struck by one of the scenes.  The movie was based on her true story, and I later looked up a printed version of the scene. Harriet Tubman was a runaway slave that lived under two different laws.  She recalled crossing the state line into Pennsylvania where the law declared all people to be free, and stated the following: “When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”

Protestants are big on definitive black and white statements. John MacArthur stated the following about justification: “Justification is a forensic, or purely legal, term. It describes what God declares about the believer, not what He does to change the believer. In fact, justification effects no actual change whatsoever in the sinner’s nature or character.”

Of course, a thinking person would question that statement immediately. If a law can give you hope, would not having hope change you? Of course it would. In addition, the contrast of being under the law of slavery in that day and later freedom would most certainly change one’s perspective on life drastically.

Missing from the church gospel is the two different laws of slavery and freedom much like Harriet Tubman experienced. And for that reason, the church has no biblical gospel. Yes, the movie about Harriet Tubman inspired me to once again try to help church people get their minds around what the biblical new birth really is.

In regard to church: “You mean it’s all a lie?” Yes…sorry about that. I lived the lie for 30 plus years, but was glad to find the truth because I always knew something wasn’t exactly right with church. In fact, I was never completely comfortable with its canned five-word gospel either: “Christ died for our sins.”

Salvation is very much like the Harriet Tubman story and her two different lives under two different laws and how she crossed the line from slavery to freedom. That’s very akin to chapters seven and eight of Romans. There is only one difference; she lived under one law that was bad, and the other one was good.

However, she experienced true freedom, and that compelled her to put her newfound life and freedom on the line to save others. Had the law in Pennsylvania been little different from the law that Harriet Tubman fled, not only would her life have been little different, she would have been little motivated to bring others to her newfound freedom. This is another good analogy to be taken from her story because I was in the church for thirty plus years and getting people to evangelize was like pulling a mule uphill. There is a reason for that and the reason follows: church people are not under a different law. It is the same law they have always been under. Their “saved” life is little different from their old life they were supposedly saved from.

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

This verse of Scripture is not about invisible realms or realm manifestation and other ideas that come from mysticism. The word for “law” in this verse is “nomos.” It is used a little less than 200 times in the New Testament and refers to the word of God. These are two different laws.

You could argue that it is really the same law (the same Bible) with two different applications, and you would have an argument, but that is not how the Bible frames it. These are two different laws; so, what makes them different? Answer: one has condemnation, and the other one has no condemnation. Under one, you are a slave; under the other, you are free. Under one, you are a sinner, under the other, you have no sin. Throughout Scripture, these two laws are spoken of differently.

More specifically, the new birth is the demarcation between the two laws. Perhaps you could say the different person makes these laws different. Clearly, the Bible teaches that the old us died with Christ and died to the law of sin and death, and we were resurrected to a new life under a new law.

Romans 7:1 – Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, 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. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

One law is dead when we become a Christian; it died with us when we died with Christ in Baptism. Christ died to end that law, and the old us died with him. We were also resurrected with Christ and are now under a new law. It is interesting to note that Harriet Tubman (her free name) had to be covert when she went back to Maryland to smuggle her family and friends to freedom in Pennsylvania; Maryland considered her to be under their law. Tubman believed that once you are made free, you are always free. Once you cross that line from Maryland to Pennsylvania, you are born into freedom and always free.

LIKEWISE, for true Christians, the world, and the church with it, will always claim that we are still under the law of sin and death. Actually, the church is most guilty of that. The church is the perfect example of Maryland slave owners in the Harriet Tubman narrative. MacArthur said it, no? When a Christian crosses that line between freedom and slavery, it does nothing to change that person. That’s what he said. In Pennsylvania, the law only declared Tubman free, but she was still enslaved?

If that was the case, she would have hardly risked her life for 13 covert missions to free 70 slaves. As a military officer in the Civil War, she led the raid on Combahee Ferry that freed 700 slaves.

This is why the church lacks zeal; its freedom from sin is only a “legal declaration” without the experience of real freedom. The church still lives in Maryland while only confessing the glories of Pennsylvania. “We are all sinners (still enslaved to sin) saved by grace.”

Harriet Tubman only lived under one law, the law of freedom. The old law she lived under, when she was Araminta Ross, no longer existed. In her mind, neither did Araminta Ross. Perhaps Christians who truly understand the new birth should change their names. Christ was known to endorse that idea at times.

Harriet Tubman’s life is a most fitting example of the true biblical new birth. We are not still under the law of slavery while confessing the freedom of heaven. We are literally citizens of that kingdom and under its law. She lived as a free woman. I am sure the old Maryland law tormented her at times, but that did not make her any less free.

This is what she has known for some time now: when she crossed over the Pennsylvania line, she felt like she was in heaven because she was.


3 Responses

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  1. Michael Fritsch said, on August 13, 2020 at 8:42 PM

    Growing up an hour North of the Mason-Dixon line, this is absolutely the most fitting illustration I have ever heard regarding Romans 8:2 and how we should live (Spirit Law) vs how most Christians I know live (Death Law). I love it! Thank you for sharing this Paul!


    • Paul M. Dohse Sr. said, on August 14, 2020 at 6:28 AM

      You are most welcome.


  2. lydia00 said, on August 14, 2020 at 10:36 PM

    This is a beautiful illustration. It made me a bit misty. Between the lecturing Karen’s, the smug virtue signalers who would make great East German citizens, the rioters and totalitarians all around us in my boarded up city, I needed to read this.


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