(25) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
(1) Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
The Apostle is saying there is no condemnation. What does that mean? It means God according to His judgment has found “those who are in Christ Jesus” to be absolutely just. But there is a condition; this is true of only those who are IN the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only true for those who are IN a divine union with Christ.
Jesus Christ is the only man to be perfectly righteous. To be under no condemnation is to be under no guilt of sin. I am not talking about the guilt as an emotion but guilt as in a judgment. So, it can be logically said that if mankind is to be without guilt or condemnation, he must somehow be in Christ, because Christ is the only one who has ever upheld the law of God or the only man to be righteous in God’s sight.
“How is this possible?” someone will ask, “Paul, in chapter 7, was just telling us about this horrible struggle with sin. How can he be free from condemnation if he is not free from sinning against God?” Well the Apostle answers that question by saying:
(2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
What does the “law of the Spirit” mean? Well this is an entirely new law that is not related to the law spoken about in Chapter 7. Chapter 7 was Paul’s (or the Christian’s) personal experience and relationship to the law of God, the law of righteousness. However, this law presented in chapter 8 is a new law “of the Spirit”. The “Spirit” is quite obviously the “Holy Spirit”. Now what is this law of the Holy Spirit? What do we know about it? First of all, we know that the law of the Spirit is a law “of life“. We know from the previous chapters that “life” usually is meant as “spiritual life”. Spiritual life means to be alive to God. Likewise, spiritual death means to be completely dead to God. Secondly, we know that this “law of the Spirit of life” is “in Christ”. This is significant. Paul is saying that the law of the Spirit that results in life resides in Christ Himself. He then goes further by say that this law “has set you free from the law of sin and death”. Before we go further we need to understand what this “law of sin and death” is. Think of it as a physical law, like gravity. As sure as you release your fingers from your phone, it drops to the floor. We’ve all done it a hundred times and 100 out of 100 times it hits the floor. It’s a scientific law. It is the same principal with sin. As soon as you sin, death is the verdict. It’s what the apostle means when he says “the wages of sin is death”, because that is the case, sin is a law of sorts that results in death. That is why the apostle presents it as “the law of sin and death”. So we have an understanding of what the law of sin and death is. But this Apostle is saying that there is a law of the Spirit that results in life, not death and is found in Christ and that law sets those who are in Christ free from the law of sin and death. What a tremendous statement! How does this law “set you free”? We must not go ahead of this Apostle, He will answer in the upcoming verses.
Someone may ask, “Why does Paul write in such a complicated way?” Why is he writing about doctrines and calling them laws? Remember Paul is writing this letter to not only the gentiles, but also the Jews, who know the law of God. He will use their existing knowledge of the law to teach the gospel. You saw an example of that in Romans 7:1 He says:
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?
I would say the vast majority of Romans chapter 2 was almost exclusively directed at the Jews. So Paul will use their existing lingo and knowledge to make a point as all good teachers do. While it may be difficult for us who are not accustomed to this, with a little thought and prayer, I trust Christ will reveal to us what we need to know as He has promised.
You can draw the logical conclusion already, Chapter 7 proves that the Christian is still very much in a battle with indwelling sin, but because the Christian is in Christ, that sin does will not result in spiritual death because the law that produced the spiritual death has no dominion over the Christian who is under the law of the Spirit of life, in Christ. The apostle makes the case that to be bound to Christ is to be completely free from the law of sin and death. To help us understand this, observe the words of our Lord:
(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
He speaks of Himself as the way, truth and, “the life“. So here we have Paul saying exactly what Christ said of Himself. He is the life; it is only when we are in Christ that we are alive to God. This is important because this teaching is very much in conflict with many denominations. In fact, this is one of the largest wedges between the protestant and catholic church. Some churches believe that as a christian you must make certain confessions, say certain prayers, or pray to certain saints to appease the wrath of God, but Paul is quite clear, there is no condemnation for the christian, he is not under the law of sin and death. That wrath of God was satisfied by Christ on the cross. Christian, you are free. Totally and completely free. If that freedom is used towards satisfying the flesh, and not stumbling towards Christ, then you are most likely not a christian. If you do stumble along the way towards Christ, and are down cast with a feeling of hopelessness.. God isn’t salivating from the mouth, eagerly awaiting to condemn you. Acknowledge your actions as sin, confess it, stop doing it and move on. God loves you, and there are repercussions for that, ask Christ. He’ll tell you all about it, and when you believe it, you won’t want to spend another second sinning against that kind of love.