Focus: The law of the Spirit of life works within us to overcome sin and death. We need to cooperate with and activate this law by setting our mind on our spirit.
I. When Paul speaks of the different laws in Romans 7 and 8, he uses the word “law” in a scientific sense, not in the sense of a set of regulations. A scientific law denotes a principle that works automatically, such as the law of gravity or the law of aerodynamics.
A. In this Bible study we will cover two laws, the law of sin and of death in Romans 7 and the law of the Spirit of life in Romans 8.
II. The law of sin and of death
A. Where did the law of sin and of death come from? Where is this law currently? Read the following verses.
Romans 5:12 Therefore just as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin, death; and thus death passed on to all men because all have sinned— Romans 7:23 But I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and making me a captive to the law of sin which is in my members.
B. The law of sin is a scientific law, an automatic principle that naturally causes man to sin and do evil. Paul discovered that what he did not want to do, he did. He found that it was the sin dwelling in him that did it. Read the following verses.
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but to work out the good is not. Romans 7:19 For I do not do the good which I will; but the evil which I do not will, this I practice. Romans 7:20 But if what I do not will, this I do, it is no longer I that work it out but sin that dwells in me.
C. As Christians, we all desire to live lives that are pleasing to God. Romans 7:22 says that we delight in the law of God, referring to the commandments in the Old Testament.
D. Can you remember any of the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:1-17)? 1 of the last 5 commandments is impossible for anyone to keep, and this is the one that Paul struggled with in Romans 7. Can you find it? Why is this commandment impossible to keep and what does this show us about sin?
E. No matter how hard we try, we find that in and of ourselves, we cannot please God. The next verse exemplifies Paul’s frustration. Have you ever felt similarly?
Romans 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from the body of this death?
IV. The law of the Spirit of life
A. Paul begins chapter 8 with the realization of another law, the law of the Spirit of life, which is able to free us from the law of sin and of death.
Romans 8:1 There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.
B. The phrase “in Christ Jesus” is mentioned in both of the verses above. What does that tell us about where law of the Spirit of life came from?
C. This also shows us that this law is related to a person, and even that this person has become this law to us! To see further that this law is a person, compare Romans 7:24-25 with 8:2.
Romans 7:24b-25a Who will deliver me from the body of this death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.
D. The law of sin and death dwells in our flesh, i.e. our fallen body (Rom. 7:18, 25). Where does the law of the Spirit of life dwell? Read the verse below for help.
Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.
E. Like the law of sin and of death, the law of the Spirit of life is an automatic principle. As previously mentioned, the law of the Spirit of life can overcome the law of sin and of death. Only through a stronger law can a weaker law be overcome.
1. Can you connect the example of the law of aerodynamics overcoming the law of gravity with the law of sin and death and the law of life?
2. The law of the Spirit of life is derived from the strongest life, the life of God; hence, the power of this law is also the strongest; it not only keeps us from obeying the law of sin to commit sin but also enables us to obey itself and live out the life of God naturally.
3. Read the following excerpt: “Philosophers throughout generations have advocated various ways of cultivating morality or improving behavior. In fact, what they have advocated is a working through human intellect, self-will, and self-effort on the already corrupted body and soul in order to restore or reactivate the original good in man. All this cannot overcome the natural power of the law of sin. The strength of man is limited, whereas the power of the law is enduring; man’s striving is a self-exertion, whereas the power of law is spontaneous. Man, by using his own effort, may be able to sustain himself for a while, but once his strength is exhausted, the power of law manifests itself again. Therefore, God’s way of deliverance is not to work on our outward body by dealing with the sin that surrounds us, nor to work on the soul, which is between our body and our spirit, by strengthening our will to do good. But it is in our center, that is, in our spirit, that God adds into us a new element, which brings with it a mighty power of life. Then He advances from our center to the circumference, penetrating through all the parts of our being, by using one law to subdue another law to overcome the power of sinning in the law of sin. Moreover, we are enabled to live out the good required by the law of God, which we were unable to live out formerly through the law of good. And much more, through the life that is derived from the law of the Spirit of life, we are able to live out the life that God desires.” (“The Knowledge of Life,” CWWL, 1953, vol. 3, ch. 9: Three Lives and Four Laws)
4. Can you summarize in one sentence the main thought of the point above?
1. The law of the Spirit of life has been installed in our being, much like electricity installed in our home. In order to activate this law, to switch on the electricity, what must we do? 4 ways are presented in the verses below.
Rom. 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace. Rom. 8:4 That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit. Rom. 8:14-15 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery bringing you into fear again, but you have received a spirit of sonship in which we cry, Abba, Father!
2. Which of the above ways do you feel you need the most? How can you work it out in your daily life?