by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 8 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2 May 22, 2007 Lincolnton, N.C.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
1901 ASV Translation:
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.
3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
I. The Competition Between the "Laws".
A. Paul's use of "law" in this unit of material.
1. Clearly, his use of "law" in 8:2 is different from the use in 8:3-4.
a. In 8:3-4 the reference is to the Law of God through Moses at Sinai. As such, it represents a composite whole that contains a myriad of expressions of the issues involved in relational unity between God and any created person. Its underlying principle is "Justice" in harmony with a particular aspect of the Divine Plan for Creation. It is important to recognize that "Justice", because it springs out of the divine essence, is immutable, but, the Divine Plan for Creation, because it involves the process of bringing ignorant creatures to a genuine understanding of God, is mutable in that it shifts through time according to what the particular need of creatures has become in the "educational process" that is necessary to bring creatures into a stable harmony with their God.
b. In 8:2 the reference is to a "working principle" that governs a certain domain and causes certain results within that domain. There is a "domain" of "Life" and the governing principle of operation within that domain is the foundational reality that it is the Spirit of God, made free by the "Justice-Satisfying" Christ Jesus, that produces the experience called "Life". The undergirding reality is the fact that it is by the grace of God that creatures experience "Life". There is, however, also another "domain" that is summarized under the phrase "Sin and Death". Since "sin" is the operating principle, and "death" is the result, we can identify this "domain" as the domain of "Death". The governing principle of operation within this domain is the foundational reality that aggression against God's essence and plan generates conflict in the relationship between God and the aggressor so that a kind of experience, called "Death", is the result: an alienation and antagonism between God and His creation. Thus, Paul, in 8:2, is dealing with the "principle(s) of operation" that governs the outcome within certain "domains" that, themselves, exist because of a reality outside of those domains that governs relationships of all kinds. That "super-reality" that stands above the individual "laws" is the primacy of "Love" and the imperative of "Faith". Love and Faith stand above all relationships and the application of their "laws" determines the "domain" that exists under this over-arching umbrella. If the application breaks down, the "domain" becomes "Death". If, on the other hand, Love works by Faith, the "domain" becomes "Life". According to Paul, when the Spirit is at work on the foundations of Jesus Christ, "Life" is the result and "freedom" is in place. But, when Sin is at work in aggression against Jesus Christ, "Death" is the result and "bondage" is in place.
2. The word "law" is fundamentally a designation of "any description, demand, statement, or other verbal expression that identifies a methodological principle of God's creation." A "law" reveals how God's essential character is made manifest by action.
a. When "law" is used to refer to that which Moses received at Sinai, it is a statement of what the character of God requires in order for there to be "Life" (defined essentially as "joy" and methodologically as "peace-producing action"). The "deficiency" of this "law" was that it simply stated the requirements without making any provision for their fulfillment (Galatians 3:21). It made this statement in the context of a humanity that wished to "prove" that it "has what it takes to make Life work." It was given to prove that wish to be what it is: an arrogant aggression against the God of Life. At issue is this reality: there are multiple personalities in existence who will either enjoy "peace" or "suffer" conflict.
b. When "law" is used to refer to "the Spirit of Life" and "Sin and Death", it is being used to refer to the opposing "principles" by which the "results" are obtained.
B. In Paul's explanation of his statement that the law of the Spirit has made him/us free from the law of sin, he declares the essential composition of the "laws". In the "law of the Spirit of Life" the essential issue is "God". In other words, "Life" arises out of the actionofGod on the behalf of others. In the "law of sin and death" the essential issue is "the weakness of the flesh". The problem for the "flesh" in respect to "Life" is simply that it does not have the necessary abilities to produce "Life". Ever since Genesis three, mankind has arisen within the state of death and there is nothing in the flesh that can move man into the state of Life. The inherent dominion of selfishness erases every principle of "peace" because, within a creation that is working, there is a myriad of "potentials" that call for "agendas" and self-centered creatures do not have the ability to give in to others except to gain what they want by manipulation. The essence of the domain of death is the "I wanna be God" mentality that exists at the root of fallen personality. Within the myriad of "methodological loves" there exists an abundance of possible compromises for selfish people, but at some point close to the "bottom line" there can be no compromise without sacrificing it all.
II. The Happy Result of Grace: the Point of All Law is Achieved by the Spirit.
A. The "point" of all law is the revelation of how "Life" works.
B. Walking by the Spirit is an open demonstration of the principles of "Life".