Friday, December 11, 2015

The Law of the Spirit of Life vs the Law of Sin and Death

Why is it that, There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”[1]

It is because, the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”[2]

The “law” spoken of here is not the law of Moses, or “the written code”.[3] It is speaking of the laws that relate to the way the Spirit of life operates, and the laws that relate to the way sin and death operate.

Much of Romans 7 is Paul explaining how “the law of sin and death” operates.[4] Sin takes advantage of the law (the ‘written code’) to stir up the sinful passions of the flesh so that we sin and die. It is a law. It always works that way. Something had to replace the “law”, or, “the written code” given to Moses, so that this “law of sin and death” no longer had anything to work with.

The “law of the Spirit of life” is the life of the Spirit, the inherent characteristics of how the Spirit operates in the church, and the way we relate to the Spirit by faith so that we keep in step with him. It is a “law”, not because we are under “the law” of Moses, but because there is a certain, particular, way the Spirit works.

In other words, we cannot have the Spirit by whatever means, or experiences, or characteristics, we choose. He is who he is, and does what he does, and we must walk with him in his way of doing things in order to have the life he gives. Whatever God’s book teaches us about who the Holy Spirit is, how he relates within the triunity of God, and how he works in the church, give us the “laws” that govern the “Spirit of life”.  

The Holy Spirit cannot come and do things our way, because that keeps us under the law of sin and death, and he cannot be part of that. We must be brought out from under the law of sin and death, and into the new law, the new way of life, that cannot be ruined by the written code enacting the law of sin and death. Paul earlier called this, “we serve in the new way of the Spirit,”[5] and now summarizes the same thing with, “the law of the Spirit of life.”

What is this ministering to me?

On the negative, to convince me that nothing sarky (fleshly) will ever work. We cannot find our hope in methods, and systems, because they can be done in the flesh. It doesn’t matter how good the beliefs, or the group of people, or the history, or the building, or the location, or the denomination, or the skills, anything handled in the flesh (sark) will produce the fruit of the flesh.

On the positive, to convince me that the ways of the Spirit always work. It is a “law”. As gravity always does the same thing to any physical object, so the Spirit always works the same way in all believers. If the Scriptures tell us something the church can experience of the Spirit, it applies to every one of us who are “in Christ Jesus”.

Now that I see that the “law” Paul refers to is just the way both sides work, there is no way to think that we are being called to “keep” the law of the Spirit of life. Any thought of “keeping” the law went out with the “written code”.[6]

Instead, we are to be filled with the Spirit[7] so we can live under the laws that apply to how the Spirit works.

In fact, it is the Spirit who is bound by laws of holiness, and righteousness, and goodness, and love, and grace, and mercy, and relationship to the Father and the Son, to hear and do their will, and to enact all the promises and provisions of the new covenant. It is because the Spirit of God always lives by the laws of God’s nature, person, and work, that we can live in the Spirit by faith, not by keeping laws.

This is why Jesus would tell us to take his yoke upon ourselves so that he could give rest to our souls, and that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.[8] It is because it is faith that yokes us to the law of the Spirit of life, and so God enacts all the laws of his character, and of the new covenant, and the relationship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect unity, so that we benefit by everything they do according to unchangeable laws of life and love.

As the church moves ahead in life, we are to seek to know the “law of the Spirit of life”. Paul will help us through this in Romans 8, so we have all the encouragement we need. Any Scripture that speaks of the person and work of the Holy Spirit helps us understand the laws by which the Spirit operates. We simply need to live under this law, instead of the “law of sin and death.”

For starters:

We need to agree that life in the flesh keeps us in bondage to “the law of sin and death”. As Paul says a few verses later, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death”.[9]

We need to agree that life “in Christ Jesus” keeps us in the freedom of “the law of the Spirit of life”. As Paul says a few verses later, “but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace”.[10]

The “life and peace” we want is right here. It is in a person we can trust and follow, not a set of laws we need to keep. The person is the Holy Spirit. If we keep in step with him, the law of the Spirit of life will guide us wherever we go.

It reminds me of something God ministered to me a long time ago: 
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.”[11]

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Romans 8:1
[2] Romans 8:2
[3] Romans 7:6
[4] The Law of Sin and Death:

·         “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” (7:5)
·         “the law (the old way of the written code) held us captive (7:6)
·         It is the law that causes me to know sin (7:7)
·         “sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness” (7:8)
·         “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died” (7:9)
·         “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me” (7:10)
·         “For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me” (7:11)
·         “It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure” (7:13)
·         “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin” (7:14)
·         “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (7:15)
·         “So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (7:17)
·         “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (7:18)
·         “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (7:18)
·         “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (7:19)
·          “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me” (7:20)
·         “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand” (7:21)
·         “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (7:23)
·         “with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (7:25)

[5] Romans 7:6
[6] See Romans 7:6 again
[7] Ephesians 5:18
[8] Matthew 11:28-30
[9] Romans 8:6
[10] Romans 8:6
[11] Deuteronomy 30:19

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