Jew and Gentile
Restored to Israel
Slaves to Sin
Slaves to God
Slaves Serving God
Life by Faith
Service by Faith
Modified from Irving
L. Jensen's excellent work "Jensen's
Survey of the NT"
FOR: ho gar: (Ro 3:27; Jn 8:36)
For (gar) introduces an
explanation. Whenever you encounter a
term of explanation,
always consider performing the 3P's (Pause, Ponder
and Practice interrogating
the passage). Use this connective conjunction as a reason to
interrogate the text with the 5W/H'S,
asking questions like "What is being explained?". As
you perform the 4P's, you will find that you are in essence engaging in the
Biblical Meditation which God promises to richly reward
(See Ps 1:2-note,
explains that "for" "introduces the reader to the reason
that there is no condemnation to the one in Christ Jesus. And it is the secret
of the spontaneous Christian life that lifts one above the bitter
exhausting life of the Christian herd (cf. Is 40:31). The gift of the
Spirit is the fruit of justification (cf. see Ro 5:5; 7:6 notes
and He operates in the believer's life with the fixedness of a law
(the word here probably means something like principle). His leading is
not a matter of "sporadic impulse, but the believer's habitual
experience" (cf. Gal 5:18; Ro 8:14 see note
The presence of the sanctifying Spirit, always at work in the life of
the believer, confirms the liberation of verse one. Sanctification, I
repeat, is a necessary fruit of justification. Thus, a two-fold
salvation results from union with Christ, salvation from the penalty of
sin and salvation from the power, or bondage, of sin in the daily life.
The law of the Spirit of life aids and supports the "law of the mind"
(cf, see Ro 7:23-
on the road to liberty. What we cannot do of ourselves, even when we are
the recipients of a new nature, is done for us by the indwelling Spirit.
The key to the deliverance of the believer from indwelling sin is the
indwelling Spirit of Christ. The measure of His power within us is the
life of God, infinite and eternal. In fact, in another place the apostle
affirms that the new unit of measurement of the divine power in the
believer's life is the resurrection of Christ. The power that raised Him
from the dead works is us (cf. Eph 1:20, 21 -
see notes; Micah 7:15). The crowning
miracle of His life, His resurrection, is seen in His deliverance of us,
an amazing fact (Romans 8:1-4)
offers an interesting comment and challenge to all who saints to slow
down and diligently study the passage writing that "Here we have at the
very beginning of the chapter, one of the most common words of argument
in Paul's epistles, FOR (Greek = gar, Strong's
It occurs some 17 times in this Eighth Chapter, and about one half as
many in Chapter Seven, etc. In general, it (FOR) assigns the reason. Let us
not be among those who avoid Paul's epistles because of the mental
attention they demand. Most people would rather read a novel or go to
the picture shows than study. A chapter with 17 "FORS" in
it, is closely knit, and must be patiently followed. Unmeasured blessing
will result. (Romans: Verse by Verse)
(Editorial Comment - You may have counted all the uses of the English
word "for" in Romans 8 and arrived at a considerably higher number than
Newell. However what Newell has counted are only the uses of the Greek
conjunction gar, of which there are in fact 17 distinct uses in the
In summary, Paul explains why there is now "no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." In this next section (Ro 8:2, 3, 4) Paul
draws a striking contrast between those who are in Adam and thus can walk
only according to the
flesh and those who are in Christ
and now have a
supernatural ability to walk according to the Spirit.
We were bound by (enslaved to) sin and death just as we're bound by the law of
gravity. It was holding us earthbound or, more accurately,
However, the law of gravity can be overcome by the proper application of
certain natural laws, such as the principle of aerodynamics. Though
aerodynamics doesn't negate gravity, it can overcome its force.
Similarly as we learn to submit to and depend upon the indwelling
Spirit, we can overcome the continual pull of our fallen flesh (it's
"gravity" if you will) which seeks to make us commit sin. This classic
confrontation is described by Paul in Galatians 5:16-17. Notice that the
way a believer overcomes the lust of the flesh is NOT by trying not to
do what the fleshly desire is tempting us to do, but by walking
continually by the Spirit. When we yield to the Spirit and allow His
supernatural power to flow through our members, then (and only then)
will we be able to refuse the desire of the flesh. The correct order is
to say "Yes" to the Spirit and then you will be enabled to say "No" to
the flesh. If you invert this order, you end up putting yourself in the
subtle trap of legalism, saying "I won't do this or that, etc." That is
a surefire setup for falling. Romans 8:13 is a corollary for there Paul
says that we are putting to death the (sinful) deeds of the body by the
Spirit. When we try to put the deeds of the body to death by using our
flesh, we end up actually arousing our flesh (see Ro 7:5).
THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
IN CHRIST JESUS: ho gar nomos tou pneumatos tes zoes en Christo
Iesou: (Ro 8:10, 11; Jn 4:10,14; 6:63; 7:38,39; 1Co 15:45;
2Co 3:6; Rev 11:11; 22:1) (Ro 3:21-5:11)
VITAL PRINCIPLE OF
A DYNAMIC SPIRITUAL LIFE
(principle) of life - The Holy Spirit is repeatedly described as the
Source of spiritual life. Read Ro 8:10, 11; Jn 6:63; 7:38,39.
Notice the "sphere" of this life - in Christ Jesus.
Do you know and are you
experiencing the Holy Spirit as your Source of life in Christ Jesus?
Paul is describing
a principle of the spiritual life, like the law of gravity (see
below), for one does not have to urge on the "law of gravity" to
exert its effect. It does it because that is its natural function. It is
like the heart beating. The principle is that it beats without having to
be told to do so (excepting of course artificial means of stimulation).
In the same way the "law of the Spirit of life" works constantly and
will ultimately accomplish His goal of conforming each believer to the
image of God's Son (see Ro 8:29, 8:3-note). One is
reminded of God's promise to Jacob...
"And behold, I am with you, and will
keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I
will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (Genesis
So too the law
of the Spirit will accomplish what God has promised (cp Phil 1:6-note). There is a
for the new life., a new spiritual principal for a new spiritual
life! This animating (life giving/producing) principle is the Holy
Spirit Who acts as the Imparter of life (Jn 6:63).
The phrase “the Spirit of life,” is
not subjective, “the Spirit who has life,” but objective, “the Spirit
who gives life.” “It is the Spirit who quickeneth” (John 6:63 "It is
the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I
have spoken to you are spirit and are life."). (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
(nomos) is used in this context to stand for the regulative
principle which exercises a control over one. It is analogous to the
phrase, the "law" of gravity. Law in this use is not a
reference to the Mosaic law or to other divine commandments or
requirements. Nomos is a general "principle" or rule, norm and/or
standard of judging or acting. It is the principle by which something
else operates (see
note) Nomos is used
in the sense of a principle of operation earlier in the letter, where he speaks of “a
law of faith” (see Ro 3:27
note) and as he does in Galatians,
where he speaks of “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). The law of the
Spirit is higher and more powerful than the law of sin and death.
Stated another way
the law is not a written law but a regulative principle which exercises
a control over the life of the believer. On the positive side, the regulative control over
a believer's life is exercised by the Holy Spirit (although He can be
resisted, quenched, grieved, etc which thwarts the efficacy of His
supernatural power and work in one's life!). This control is in the form
of the "supernatural energy" giving us both the desire and
the power to do
God’s will (see Ezekiel 36:27-note,
The principle of the sin
and its association with death is abundantly clear from Romans 7, where we saw the power
of sin which brings death as
demonstrated by every sin we commit and every cemetery we see. But now
in the Risen Christ, Paul instructs us that the
"operating principle" of the Spirit of life is stronger than that
associated with Sin, and in fact has the inherent power to free us from
the operating principle of sin and death, which controls all those who
are still "in Adam" and which can still exert its deleterious effects
upon those are now "in Christ". But Paul knows that the truth about
these two principles has the potential to set his believing readers free
to be all they have the potential to be "in Christ."
In short, the power of this new life is the Holy
Spirit Who becomes the Almighty Agent within the believer, securing him
wholly, making effectual in experience the deliverance which Paul saw
when he cried in Romans 7:24-25:
man that I am! Who will set me free (rhuomai
= rescue by
drawing or snatching another to oneself and invariably from danger, evil
or an enemy) from the body of this death? 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
the law of sin.
Of course, the deliverance is through Christ,
for it is Christ's Own risen life which every believer now shares
("Christ our life" - Col 3:4-note). But it is
the blessed Holy Spirit as "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus", Who
makes the deliverance a reality in our everyday experience. It is the
Spirit Who is constantly at work in us to make effectual the deliverance
from the "law of sin and of death".
(principle) of the Spirit" is analogous to the "law
(principle) of aerodynamics" and it's
effect on lifting a plane off the ground thus "countering" effects of
the "law (principle) of gravity" (see
F B Meyer's note). The Spirit similarly lifts believer's lives to a
new plane, to "fly" at a new altitude that heretofore was not possible
under the "law of sin and of death" when they tried to attain
righteousness in their own power and/or by keeping the Law (or religious rules
- anything that we do with the intent to try to make us more pleasing to
God. God does not desire our
works or sacrifices but
obedience, a broken spirit, a broken heart). We were not justified by
faith and we cannot be sanctified by faith (Gal 3:3)...it is a
supernatural work of grace of the Holy Spirit of God (Gal 5:1,7).
Observe that prior to Romans 8 the Spirit was only mentioned for four times in this
letter, but in
Romans 8 He is mentioned 19 times making Him clearly a "keyword"!
The subtle trap
one is in danger falling into is in trying to "clean ourselves up" so
that we appear more holy. Take for example Paul's story of frustration
Romans 7- it is applicable whether
you believe it describes a
believer or a non-believer.
Romans 7 clearly shows that in
the realm of our spiritual life, self (flesh)
effort won't work and in fact will leave you in a wretched state! How do we
try to "clean ourselves up"? There are many ways we could answer this
question. For example, we stop
going to R-Rated movies, we stop cursing, etc (and yes, we should stop all
of these things) but we think that because we have
abandoned a few of the "top five" bad behaviors we are "better"
and thus more acceptable to our Father. The Christian life however is
not a matter of stopping some things and starting some other things.
Paul is saying that now we have experienced a radical transformation and
are to order our steps by an entirely new regulating principle,
the principle of the Holy Spirit. This distinction may be difficult to
grasp, but is worth trying to understand. The question we need to
ask ourselves is "Why do I do what I do?" If we can truly say that the Spirit initiated it and energizes
it, then glory to God in the highest. If however we initiated it and energized
it, no matter how "good" it might appear to others, it is ultimately a
work of the
I wrestle with this distinction even as I write these notes...is this
Notice that some
of the terminology in this chapter can be confusing.
Specifically, true believers although fully capable of behaving quite
"fleshly" are strictly speaking no longer "in the
even though the
still remains in us. It is a fact that a residual of the
nature inherited from our first spiritual father, Adam, still remains in our physical, mortal bodies. But you say "Yes, I know that's
true because I still sin. But at least the
is better than it was when I was saved 10 years ago." Wrong! Your
is no less corrupt, evil, depraved and wicked than it was before our
regeneration. "So what's changed?" you ask. Well, what has changed is that
now no longer rules in your mortal, physical body like it did when you
were "in the flesh". When you were
unregenerate in Adam, the
was the reigning king. But when you were regenerated, being born from
above by the Holy Spirit, the
Old self (old man)
was "dethroned" so to speak (the glorious transaction Paul
explains in Romans 6:1, 2, 3; 4, 5; 6, 7; 8, 9, 10; 11). But now you
have a choice see notes
6:11). But now you have a choice to
make every moment of every day - "Will I obey the
or will I obey the Spirit in this
particular attitude, action, word or deed?" It's really that simple and
yet that profound. We will spend the remainder of our lives learning how
to walk in and be controlled by the Holy Spirit, but it is only in this
manner that we can experience genuine victory over the old
which still lurks within our mortal bodies,
to carry out surreptitious attacks that are potentially just as evil and
destructive as those it
carried out before we were saved. When can the flesh exert control? It
occurs when we make a conscious, willful choice to walk in the
instead of in the Spirit.
Believers have the "mind of Christ" and are
called to use their renewed minds to make the choice for God and for His Spirit (realizing that
even the "want to" is made possible by a gracious gift of God!).
When we make the good, God choice we experience the power not to commit a particular sin
as the result of the
empowerment and enablement by the Holy Spirit indwelling us and ever
leading us to be conformed to the image of God's Son.
"Separation" from the
world (sanctification) takes place as we "cooperate" with the Spirit
(under control of or continuously being filled with the Spirit...like a "drunk" man...what
fills him controls him.) We too, like Paul, have to continually, daily die
first saying "yes" to Jesus (arising each morning and choosing to
present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices - see Romans 12:1-note)
and then much more likely to say "no" to the
Then the Spirit of Christ can live His life through us. It is not us
living "like Jesus" trying to do for Him, but Christ actually living His
life through us - this is the key to the Christ Life. After all, what
happens to the word "Christian" when we take our the name of our Lord?
So how can we live this "Christian" life?...
We can't but He can
(Galatians 2:20 -note)
Christ now in us
and enables us to do what He has commanded us to do (see Philippians
2:12,13-note). We must come to the
wretched end of ourselves (cp Romans 7:24-note), realizing we cannot live the life Christ lived unless He lives
it through us, in the power of His Spirit, and ultimately for the glory
of His Father. Have you reached this "wretched point" in your life? Take
heart, there is great hope in Romans 8 for
"the path of the
righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter
until the full day." (Proverbs 4:18)
Larry Richards has an insightful comment on the victory available
to every believer in Romans 8 explaining that...
within is overcome by a new
and powerful principle, that of “the Spirit of life.” Put simply,
Paul found his answer in realizing that even as a believer he could not
keep the Law … and was no longer trying! Paul no longer felt any
obligation to try! Paul had finally accepted himself as really a sinner,
with no hope of pleasing God. So Paul turned his gaze back to the Cross,
and found joy in the thought of “no condemnation.” But then Paul made
the great discovery! When he stopped trying, and instead relied on God
to express His own divine life through Paul’s personality, then “the
righteous requirements of the Law” were “fully met” in him (Ro 8:4-note).
lived in Paul. But
Christ lived in Paul too. If Paul concentrated on keeping the Law rather
than on trusting Jesus, his old nature was stimulated and he sinned.
When Paul concentrated on trusting Jesus, the Spirit energized his new
nature and he found himself living a righteous life. Our obligation,
then, is not to the Law, but to respond to the leading of the Holy
Spirit (Ro 8:12-note,
Ro 8:14-note). The Law has been replaced by an intimate, personal
relationship with God.
Baseball provides an analogy. We want
to get to first base. But to do so the batter does not look at first
base. He watches the ball. He focuses all his energy in concentrating on
hitting the ball as it is pitched. In a sense the “righteous
requirements” of the Law are first base to us. We yearn to get there.
But too many believers focus their attention on first base—and
constantly strike out! What Paul said was keep your eye on the ball—on
Jesus Himself—and you will discover that you arrive on first base (a
righteous life) without even trying. (Ed note: Not exactly in my opinion
- e.g., see Philippians 2:13-
How can relationship be the key to
moral victory? How does relationship produce righteousness? Paul showed
us that as we deepen our relationship with the Lord, the Spirit of God
gains more and more control over our lives. Then the Spirit will “give
life to your mortal bodies” (Ro 8:11-note). Yes, in our mortality we are in
the grip of sin. It has always taken resurrection, life from the dead,
for God to express Himself in human beings. And resurrection is exactly
what God provides for those who “live in accordance with the Spirit” and
“have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Ro 8:15-note). (Richards,
L., & Richards, L. O. The Teacher's Commentary. Wheaton, Ill.:
Notice the precious and magnificent promises that the Holy Spirit
provides for every believer in Romans 8:
Freedom (Ro 8:2-note)
Strength for service (Ro 8:11-note)
Victory over sin (Ro 8:13-note)
Guidance (Ro 8:14-note)
Witness of sonship (Ro 8:16-note)
Assistance in prayer (Ro 8:26-note)
Henry Morris explains that...
"The "law of the Spirit of life" has invaded and
opposed "the law of sin which is in my members" (Romans 7:23-note),
thus freeing us from its bondage (Romans 6:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
see notes on
6:15-17). We cannot obey God's law in the
strength of the
but as we reckon (that is, deliberately acknowledge) ourselves to be
dead to sin and "alive unto God" (see Romans 6:11-note)
this doctrinal truth increasingly becomes practical truth in our lives."
Henry: Defenders Study Bible)
Newell (Romans: Verse by Verse) writes that...
John Wesley's testimony is well
known, concerning the beginning of his life of real faith (in his 35th
year, after 13 years in a relatively commonplace ministry):
"In the evening I went very
unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street where one was reading
Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before
nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart
through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did
trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given
me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law
of sin and death.
For the next 53 years Wesley was "the
outstanding figure and the greatest force in the English speaking
world." But notice that he realized at Aldersgate Street, the two great
elements of our salvation:
(1) forgiveness of sin's guilt; and
(2) deliverance from sin's power -
from the law of sin and death.'
Alford says that...
“This law of the Spirit of life having freed him from the
law of sin and death, so that he serves another master, all claim of sin
on him is at an end—he is acquitted, and there is no condemnation for
HAS SET YOU FREE: eleutherosen
(3SAAI) se: (Ro 6:18,22; Ps 51:12; Jn 8:32; 2Co 3:17 Gal
"A RIVER OR A SWAMP?"
From an editorial in the
Wesleyan Christian Advocate...
The difference between a river and a
swamp is that a river is confined within banks, while a swamp is not...
Because a river is confined and channeled, it has life. It is a mighty,
moving, living thing. Because a swamp has no restrictions, it becomes
thin and stagnant... In our modern life we boast of freedom, We want
life without restrictions and without confinement. Only we forget that
such living becomes stagnant.
Comment: Remember that FREEDOM
IN CHRIST is not the right to do as one pleases but the power to please
God by doing what is right! Father, we thank You for the promises that
Christ has set us free, that by His Spirit rivers of living water can
now flow from our innermost being & that as we follow Him by abiding in
His Word, we shall know the truth & the truth shall make us free & we
shall be free indeed in the Son. Amen (Ro 8:2, Jn 7:37, 8:31-32,36)
Has set you free (1659)
(eleutheroo = the ending " -oo" means not only will
it be set free but it will be seen as set free) means to cause
someone to be freed from domination. The picture is that of the
emancipation of slaves. The idea is that the one set free is at liberty,
capable of movement, exempt from obligation or liability, and
unfettered. Although the act of setting free results in freedom and
liberty we must understand that this new freedom is not a license to
sin. In fact true liberty for the believer is now living as we should
and not as we please.
Related Resources: Studies on
Eleutheroo is used 7 times in the NT -- Jn 8:32, 36; Ro 6:18-note,
Gal. 5:1 (and only in Pr 25:10 in the
(Two times In Apocrypha - 2Macc 1:27, 2:22)
John 8:32 and you will know the
truth, and the truth will make you free."
John 8:36 "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Romans 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of
Romans 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you
derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome,
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you
free from the law of sin and of death.
Romans 8:21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its
slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of
Galatians 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep
standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
short, the Spirit, Who brought the life of God Himself into us, has
set us free from the power of our flesh and free to be the person
God wants us to be. In Romans 7:24 Paul asked "Who shall deliver me?"
The answer given in this verse is that: "Christ has already delivered
me!" The last part of Romans chapter 7 was a description of a believer's
struggling, failing condition. In Romans 8 Paul encourages the
believer to focus upon his perfect, unfailing position in Christ
Jesus! The more we believe God’s facts about our position the
more this will affect our actual condition!
Pritchard writes that the fact that you have been set free
You don't have to sin any more. You
don't have to live in defeat any more. You don't have to be down any
more. You don't have to go years and years and years committing the same
old dumb sins over and over again. Why? Because the law of the spirit of
life of Jesus Christ has set you free. Therefore, if you choose to dwell
in sin, if you choose to be defeated, it's because you've chosen to live
that way, not because you must live that way. (Romans
8:1-4: No Condemnation)
used primarily in three ways in the NT, first describing as in the
present verse, describing spiritual and moral freed. Jesus described
this same freedom when He declared to those Jews who had believed
abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine and you shall
know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (eleutheroo)."
(Jn 8:31, 32)
MacDonald comments that the "Jews did not know the truth, and they were
in a terrible form of bondage. They were in the bondage of ignorance,
error, sin, law, and superstition. Those who truly know the Lord Jesus
are delivered from sin, they walk in the light, and are led by the Holy
Spirit of God." (MacDonald,
W., & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments.
Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
J Vernon McGee adds this pithy
comment writing that
Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is
not alone (see notes beginning in James 2:14 --
). It will produce something. After a person believes on the
Lord Jesus Christ, he will want to “continue in His Word.” The proof of
faith is continuing with the Savior." (Ed note: And that
is the person who will truly experience the freedom that Jesus
makes possible!) (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
Secondly eleutheroo is used to
describe the freedom from binding legalism as Paul taught in Galatians
"It was for freedom that Christ
set us free (eleutheroo); therefore keep standing firm and do not
be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Gal 5:1). MacDonald has an excellent word on this verse writing
that "This first verse of chapter 5 refers to his practice—he should
live as a free man. Here we have a very good illustration of the
difference between law and grace. The law would say: “If you earn your
freedom, you will become free.” But grace says: “You have been made free
at the tremendous cost of the death of Christ. In gratitude to Him, you
should stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made
you free.” Law commands but does not enable. Grace provides what law
demands, then enables man to live a life consistent with his position by
the power of the Holy Spirit and rewards him for doing it." (Ibid)
Thirdly, eleutheroo is
used to describe nature’s deliverance from decay and corruption,
"that the creation itself also
will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom (related noun eleutheria = to enjoy the freedom of that
golden era when we as God’s children will be revealed in glory) of the
glory of the children of God. (Jn 8:36)
Here in Romans
8:3, "has set you free"
is in the
aorist tense which signifies a once-for-all act of setting the captives free.
It is a positional reality for every person who is in Christ. This is a
past tense event. So what? Well, it means that now believers are not to
struggle for freedom, but to stand firm by faith (not sight) in the
freedom that we have in Christ (see similar truth in notes
where the apostle also used the verb eleutheroo, cf Gal
5:1). In a sense the ultimate (or perfect) realization of this freedom
awaits our future glorification (see Romans 8:21-note).
Note also that Paul is not teaching sinless perfection for remnants of
our sinful flesh are the objects of the Spirit's ministry as long as we
are in this physical flesh. What Paul does teach is at the time of
regeneration the liberty began and will continue until it is perfected
in his book (highly recommended) "Embraced
by the Spirit" (2011) has an excellent illustration of the
meaning of the verb eleutheroo in his discussion of how the
Spirit sets us free from besetting sins....
Let’s turn our thoughts now to the
“how”—how does the Spirit set us free on a daily basis? We can live our
lives thinking that we have figured it out, only to discover later
there’s a whole other world going on that we missed in the process. I
want to introduce to you an awareness that many (I’m tempted to say
most) Christians do not have. I’m referring to slavery. That may
surprise you. Most of us have never witnessed firsthand the raw reality
of human slavery. We’ve watched television docudramas on the subject.
We’re theoretically aware that it once went on, but chances are good
that most of us have never witnessed it for ourselves. Tragically,
another category of slavery goes on every day in the lives of
But before we go there, let’s grasp a mental picture of slavery. Back in
the nineteenth century our sixteenth president realized something
radical must be done about slavery in our country. Unwilling to look the
other way any longer, on September 22, 1862, he presented what
came to be known as the Emancipation Proclamation, an official document
condemning human slavery. Abraham Lincoln, realizing that slavery is
completely against human dignity, officially abolished it from the
United States on that day. Tragically, little changed in the daily life
of our nation, even though the slaves were officially declared free. You
know why; you’ve read the stories. The Civil War was still going on. The
plantation owners never informed their slaves. The vast majority of the
former slaves couldn’t read, so they had no idea what the news was
carrying. There was no mass media then to announce those kinds of
presidential pronouncements. And so for the longest time, slavery
continued even though it had been officially brought to an end. The war
ended in April 1865.
Do you know when Lincoln’s
declaration was officially enacted? When the people finally began to
leave their enslaved lives and make their way toward freedom?
December 18, 1865—more than three years after he first released his
proclamation. Lincoln had been dead for months. The word traveled
out of the streets of Washington and down into the Shenandoah Valley of
Virginia, across the back roads of the Carolinas and into Georgia, then
Alabama, then Mississippi, then Louisiana, then Texas, then Arkansas,
announcing what had been true for more than a thousand days. Even then
the word somehow either wasn’t believed or wasn’t acted upon. Those
officially emancipated people, thinking slavery was the way they were
condemned to exist, continued to live in bondage though they had been
declared free men and women since the fall of 1862.
Now if you think that seems shocking, let me tell you something equally
as shocking: believers in Jesus Christ still live enslaved to the
domination of a power that no longer has power over them. What has freed
us is the great Emancipator, Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross set
us free from the law of sin and the fear of death. Like an Emancipation
Proclamation, it was made known to the world at large: Satan is
defeated! Sin is overwhelmed! Death no longer has its sting! Listen
to our Emancipation Proclamation, our Freedom Statement: “Our old
self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done
away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Ro 6:6-note).
In simple terms, this freedom liberated us from the necessity to
sin. Truth be told, you don’t have to sin. You know why you sin?
Because you want to! That doesn’t sound very affirming but it’s the
ugly truth. Every time you sinned last week, you wanted to. The same
this week. You weren’t forced to. It certainly wasn’t the new nature
operating within you. You gave in to the old nature that you had been
enslaved to so much of your life. As a Christian living like this, you
are under the false impression that you are as you’ve always been and
things are just the same as they’ve always been: “There’s just that part
of me that I can’t help. I just react like that. It’s just the way I
am.” But it’s not the way you have to be. It’s the way you choose to be.
Think of it like this. You’re driving in the mountains. You come to a
very sharp series of curves. The state officials who work with traffic
signs have options. They can build a clinic at the bottom of the curve
so that when you go over the cliff and crash, emergency vehicles can
come quickly to help you. Or they can put up a sign that says, “SLOW,
CURVE AHEAD.” The favorite verse 1John 1:9-note
is the clinic at the bottom of the hill. It’s mercy after the fact. The
Lord is faithful to forgive us our sins. After we’ve sinned, thank God
we are able to go to Him and say, “Lord, today I blew it” or “I reacted
in a way that wasn’t appropriate” or “I lusted,” “I lost my temper,”
“Greed took over and I walked through it at the time knowing completely
that I was doing what’s wrong but I went ahead anyway. That’s sin and I
lay it before You, I confess that to You.” That’s the clinic. But
there’s a better way! You can read the sign and react differently. You
don’t have to speed around this curve; you don’t have to go over the
cliff. You can slow down. When you realize that you’re faced with a
temptation, you can stand up against it. You don’t have to yield to it.
That’s what Romans 6 means when it says we should no longer be slaves to
sin: “He who has died [in Christ] is freed from sin” (Ro 6:7-note).
It doesn’t mean we’re freed from ever sinning again; it means we’re
freed from its domination. I can live my life in such dependence on the
Spirit of God that the flesh does not get its way for an extended period
of time. Now I can never live free of it because the old nature (flesh)
hasn’t been eradicated. But thanks to the power of God I can be on the
side of such victory in my life that I walk a whole new kind of life. (Embraced
by the Spirit The Untold Blessings of Intimacy with God - 2011 -
Ray Stedman makes this
liberating law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus very practical
Sometimes, even though we are very
disturbed (feeling "self-condemned" forgetting that "God doesn't condemn
us. He knows that there is a struggle, and he is not surprised or
alarmed. It doesn't shock Him as it does us, because He expected nothing
but failure all the time! He knows the
He knows it can't do anything, and He's not surprised), the greatest
moment in our life is when we come to God, and say, "Lord, I quit! I
cannot do it." God says, "Good! That is what I have been waiting for.
Now I'll do it." And, without a word of reproach or rebuke for our
failure, he does through us what we struggled in vain to do -- that is
"the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus."
Notice what he says: What neither the Ten Commandments, nor any other
law, could ever accomplish, what no standard of perfection that we are
trying to follow could ever do, because of our weak, sinful, unable
is now fully accomplished in us by another principle: The indwelling
life of Jesus Christ, ministered to us continually by the Spirit to do
everything that life demands of us, fulfilling the Law, and more.
However, the law of sin and barrenness still persists. It is still
present, and ready to spring into action whenever we harbor sin or try
to serve Christ by our own will or ability. We will discover this to be
so, and that is why Paul puts this struggle in the present tense. But
when we abide in Christ, as He abides in us, and we recognize that for
everything we do, whether it is tying our shoe, washing the dishes,
preaching a message, typing a letter, or whatever it is -- for
everything we do, we must rely in total dependence upon the law of the
Spirit of life in Christ Jesus in us; then that law takes over and
cancels out the law of sin and death. What we could not do by our own
effort, we do through Him....
This is the exchanged life, the
released life. It is a continual paradox. Life in the Spirit is a life
of restful activity, and this is a paradox. It isn't simply sitting
around waiting for orders from God. It is facing life with all its
mystery and fascination, with a continual recognition of, and constant
praise and thanksgiving for the fact that, within, is the indwelling
life of Christ, ready to do instantly, through me, all that I need to
do. As I rest upon it, I find that I can simply go ahead doing the
normal, the natural, the obvious, and, in it and through it all, God is
at work! Life becomes a continual matter of the expectation of miracles,
of excitement, because of what God does through me -- and yet it is rest
7:14-8:4: False Consecration)
Paul explained the truth about the
distinctive privilege of those who have been redeemed to the Galatians
who were being tempted to get back up under the law writing that...
"you were called to freedom (the noun form eleutheria), brethren; only do not turn
your freedom (your independence, your liberty) into an
opportunity (aphorme = literally the starting point or
base of operations for an expedition, then generally the resources
needed to carry through an undertaking) for the
not to the physical body per se but to the old sin nature that still
flesh), but through love serve one another." (Galatians
In a similar warning Peter
encouraged the saints to
free men (eleutheros
= at liberty, capable of
movement, "free ones", exempt from obligation or liability,
unrestrained, unconstrained, unfettered, one set free from slavery to
the mastery of the power of indwelling sin), and do not use
your freedom as a covering (literally a "veil" = a pretext = motive
alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention) for evil, but use it as bondslaves (Click word study of
doulos) of God." (see note
1 Peter 2:16)
Freedom in Jesus Christ is
the great manifesto of Christianity. Christianity is liberation from
slavery to Sin.
Freedom is at the very heart of the gospel and of godly living. It
is not a side benefit or an adjunct to the Christian life. Freedom
is presented here at the beginning of Romans 8 as a signal blessing of
the economy of grace, which, in contrast with the OT economy, is
represented as including independence from religious regulations and
legal restrictions (Galatians 2:4) and freedom from the yoke of the
Mosaic Law (Galatians 5:1).
As alluded to above, freedom in Christ is
Not the right to do as one pleases
the power to do as he ought!
This includes freedom from the dominion of sinful appetites and passions, as well
as the temptations of the world system to rebel against God [Gal 5:24-note,
Note that there is a balance we must remember when discussing our new
freedom in Christ.
Release from the law’s bondage and condemnation does not mean release
from the law’s requirements and standards. The higher law of the Spirit
produces obedience to the lower law of duties. Obedience to God cannot
save a person, because no person in his unredeemed sinfulness wants to
obey God and could not obey perfectly even if he had the desire. But
genuine salvation will always produce obedience from a new heart. This
obedience will never be perfect in this
life but nonetheless it is always present to some extent. See the in
depth discussion on the gospel which leads to the “obedience of faith” (click
study of this phrase).
Warren Wiersbe wrote that...
Freedom does not mean I am
able to do whatever I want to do. That’s the worst kind of bondage.
Freedom means I have been set free to become all that God wants me
to be, to achieve all that God wants me to achieve, to enjoy all that
God wants me to enjoy.
When God saved you, He gave you a new
life, not a new law; as you yield to that life, you obey His law.
A W Tozer said that ...
The true character of a people is
revealed in the uses it makes of its freedoms." In another
place Tozer said "I think it might be well for us to check our
spiritual condition occasionally by the simple test of compatibility.
When we are free to go, where do we go! In what company do we
feel most at home! Where do our thoughts turn when they are free
to turn where they will! When the pressure of work or business or school
has temporarily lifted and we are able to think of what we will instead
of what we must, what do we think of then!"
Edward Gibbons a secular historian makes an interesting comment on freedom worth pondering in light of the truth of the verb eleutheroo...
When the Athenians finally wanted
not to give to society, but for society to give to them, when the
freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then
Athens ceased to be free.
Vance Havner applied the truth about freedom stating...
I am thinking today of the liberty
there is in Christ. In these days of light and loose thinking on all
subjects, we are likely to forget that freedom comes through
FROM THE LAW OF (the) SIN AND OF (the) DEATH:
apo tou nomou
tes hamartias kai tou thanatou: (Romans
I have been delivered and set free from the law of sin and death. If I
were still under the law of sin and death then I would be under God’s
condemnation because sin demands judgment, death and condemnation -- the
penalty for sin must be paid!
One could interpret, “For the regulative
principle of the Spirit, namely, the life which is in Christ Jesus,”
this freed me from the regulative principle of sin and death (the evil
nature), at the moment I put my trust in the Lord Jesus and was saved.
Wayne Barber first gives a
general definition of hamartia, the Greek word for sin
First of all is a definition of sin.
What is sin? If I’ve got to deal with it and it is very clear that I do,
then what is sin? In 1Jn 1:8, 9, 10 we have just seen the word
mentioned. It is used in 17 verses in the book of 1John, so it is kind of
on John’s mind. It is a very prominent word in the study of 1 John.
The Greek word for sin is hamartia. It comes from the hamartano, which
means to miss the mark. It’s like taking a bow and arrow and shooting at a
target. When you are shooting at something, you try to hit it. When you
miss it, that is what sin is like. I want you to get the idea, shooting at
a mark and missing the mark. That is what the whole thing is all about.
When you put that in light of the Christian’s life, the Christian’s walk
is when you shoot at something. Perhaps it is God’s mark for you but you
go about it the wrong way and you miss it. You miss what God had intended
in your life. It is when you choose to walk in darkness rather than light.
It is when the Word of God has something very specific to say to you about
your family, has something very specific to say to you about your
finances, has something very specific to say about your future and
everything else in your life, but you say, "I don’t need that Book. God,
you leave it there. I am going to do my own thing." You just missed the
mark. That is sin. (from
1 John 2:1 - The Believer and Sin -
Remember that in Romans 6-8, Paul
uses the word
for the predilection or propensity that we all inherited from Adam. It
is that innate, indwelling "virus" called
which energizes, coerces and leads us
to commit the specific, individual sins. (which is what the
previous discussion by Wayne Barber is primarily explaining)
Wayne Barber writes that...
The law of sin is that
principle in us that pulls us downward into death and that used to
control and condemn us. Now, it can only operate when it is put under
law by our own foolish choices. It commands us to work "in the energy of
our flesh," and then condemns all that we do. It has no control over us
unless we foolishly fall into the trap of performance and law,
which is the beachhead for this principle to operate.
This is Romans 6 in a nutshell. Paul
presents two opposite laws or principles. The characteristic principle
of the Holy Spirit is to empower believers for holy living. The
characteristic principle of indwelling sin is to drag a person down to
death. It is like the law of gravity. When you throw a ball into the
air, it comes back down because it is heavier than the air it displaces.
A living bird is also heavier than the air it displaces, but when you
toss it up in the air, it flies away. The law of life in the bird
overcomes the law of gravity. So the Holy Spirit supplies the risen life
of the Lord Jesus, making the believer free from the law of sin and
The law of the sin and death reigns both strong and secure (as
demonstrated by every sin we commit and every cemetery we see); but the
law of the Spirit of life in Christ is stronger still, and frees us from
the law of sin and death. We are free from the law of death; death no
longer has any sting in it for the believer. But we are also free from
the law of sin; the Christian does not have to sin (though he inevitably
does) because we are freed from sin’s dominion.
Romans 8:1 speaks of
being free from the
Guilt of sin
Romans 8:2 speaks of being free
Power of sin
Morris, quoting Manson writes that...
Moses’ law has right but not might.
has might but not right
The law of the Spirit has both right and might
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This passage tells us that, though
the law of sin and death keeps a Christian from living the kind of life
God wants him to live, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
sets us free from the law of sin and death. In the same way, the law of
gravity acts to keep a plane from flying. But when a plane reaches a
certain speed, the law of aerodynamics takes over and frees the plane
from the effects of gravitational force.
><> ><> ><>
explains these two opposing principles:
"Paul begins to explain
how we are now free from the CONDEMNATION OF THE LAW. Note that in this
verse Paul does NOT use "law" as a synonym of the Mosaic Law.
Here's the picture - think of the
Throw a stone in the air and it will plunge back to earth. So "law"
is simply the principle by which something works.
Now what does
Paul mean by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"? He
is referring to how the Spirit of Christ, the life of God, works
in believers. We are identified with Christ and His Holy Spirit
lives in us as the embodiment of Christ's resurrected life. The
Holy Spirit within us supplies the RISEN LIFE OF CHRIST & EMPOWERS
& ENABLES us to live in the victory that is ours in Christ Jesus.
It is the Spirit of God working within us.
As one example of this
"law of the Spirit" consider how the Spirit won't let us "get away with"
sin. In other words, the Holy Spirit is the One Who will let us
know quickly and convict us that we have "missed God's mark". The
Spirit is He Who is always "pulling us" (leading us) (see
toward God, just as gravity pulls a stone to the earth. So this is
the "law" of the Spirit - it is Christ's Spirit Who guides
and gravitates us ever "Godward" toward the Father and towards
that behavior in our life that pleases the Father.
The contrasting principle or "law" is that of "SIN & OF DEATH"
which "pulls us" downward into death, whereas the Spirit of Christ
works to pull us upward toward God.
When we were in Adam we had no
choice but to be pulled by the "law of sin and of death". Now that
we are in Christ this "law" has no control over a believer
we foolishly fall into the trap of performance under the Law which
creates the "beachhead" from which SIN is able to operate in our
mortal bodies (see Romans 7:8-note "Sin"… takes…
"OPPORTUNITY through the commandment" where "opportunity" was a Greek military term
describing the base camp, in this case, the base camp from which
sin launches its deadly assaults.).
So there is a law or principle working (like
gravity) and if I choose to ever try to
live by the
flesh again, this "law" is going to pull me downward
and away from the "Godward" life that the Spirit is seeking to
pull me toward. The law of the Spirit is higher and more powerful
than the law of sin and of death and it has set your free.
"Set you free" is the
verb eleutheroo - The "-oo" means it not just simply
gives you freedom but proves you to be free (it puts your freedom
on display). Jesus used eleutheroo in John 8:32
"you shall know
the truth, and the truth shall MAKE YOU FREE."
The "law of the
Spirit" in my life has proven me to be free from the law of sin
of death. This truth has set me free to be what God wants me to be
because the Spirit of God living in me enables me. No longer am I
bound by the law of sin and of death. God has so changed us on the
inside with the indwelling Holy Spirit residing in us that the
Spirit now compels us like a magnet towards God.
Take the illustration of a huge and very heavy 747 jet. The law of
gravity says that the 747 cannot get off the ground. But there is
a law which supersedes the law of gravity - the law of
aerodynamics. Because of the forward motion of the 747 the plane
begins to lift off and the law of gravity is superseded. By
analogy the law of the Spirit of life in believers supersedes the
law of sin and of death. When you were in Adam, you had no power
Source to allow you to supersede the law of sin & death and using
the 747 analogy, it was "crash & burn" for us when we were
in Adam. The message is clear -- don't try to live a supernatural
life using natural means.
><> ><> ><>
F B Meyer
in Our Daily Walk has the following devotionals...
WALKING NOT AFTER THE FLESH, BUT
AFTER THE SPIRIT
"There is therefore now no
condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. That the requirement of
the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but
after the Spirit."--
Rom 8:1-4 (R.V.).
THE APOSTLE here is dealing with the conditions of a
holy life; and the condemnation to which he refers is that caused by the
constant failure so graphically described in the previous chapter. From
my own experience, I think that the
which is often induced by ill-health and weakness makes us very
sensitive to the failure and shortcoming of the inner life. We know that
we are accepted in Christ, and that our sins are forgiven us for His
sake; but we are deeply conscious that in us (i.e. in our flesh)
dwelleth no good thing from. Rom 7:18-note).
The Reservoir of Eternal
Life.--"the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus." We perceive what
physical life is when a child comes bounding into our room in a very
ecstasy of health and joy. We know what intellectual life is as we see
the mind developing under the process of education. We know what the
moral life of a stoic is, repelling by force of will the
appeal of the senses.
But above all these, there is Life which is resident in Jesus
Christ, stored in Him, abounding in Him, which He longs to communicate
to every soul that trusts in Him. This was the witness of those who knew
Jesus most intimately in His brief human life--that "God hath given unto
us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son." "He that hath the Son
hath the Life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not the Life."
This more than outweighs the down-pull of the serf-life. The aw of that
life makes us free from the law of sin and death, for it has mastered
death and the grave.
This Life is communicated and
sustained by the Holy Spirit. We must be one with Christ; we must be
in Him, as the sponge is in the ocean. We must be in Him, not only in
our standing, but also in our daily walk. We must be in Him as the
branch is in the vine, and the vine-sap in the branch. And this must not
only be a theory, but an hourly experience.
We must abide in Him and He in us. But how can this
become our daily experience? There is but one way. Through the
co-operation of the Holy Spirit, as we walk in Him (Gal
5:16-note). He is
the essence of the Life which is in Christ Jesus. "The Spirit of Life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."
Almighty God, I beseech Thee to raise
me from the death of sin to the life of righteousness by that same power
that brought the Lord Jesus from
the dead, that I may walk in newness of life through the
aid of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
(F B Meyer)
><> ><> ><>
THE LAW OF THE
SPIRIT OF LIFE
"For the law of the Spirit of Life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death."--
THE SIMPLEST child knows something of
the law of gravitation. The word is from the Latin gravitas, which is
the attraction of weight by weight. What gravitation is to matter, the
down-pull of the flesh is to the spirit. There is not a single one of
us, who is seeking to live the better life, that is not conscious of
this down-pull. Indeed the laws of
in the natural world have their counterpart in our inward experience.
There is always a down-pull to the centre of gravity, i.e. to self--what
I like, what I choose, what I prefer! The fall of the soul toward the
flesh--or self-life--becomes increasingly rapid, so that every time we
yield it becomes easier to yield, and the velocity becomes headlong. The
child of God would fall with velocity equal to that of the depraved
sinner if it were not for the law of the Spirit of Life which is in
Christ Jesus which makes him free from the law of sin and death.
Overcoming the Earth-pull. You
may see it in the soaring of the lark, singing as it rises, until you
think it will split its tiny throat with song. One of the delights of an
ocean voyage is to watch the gulls, as regularly, evenly, and easily
they keep level with the progress of the boat. The bird does not float
in the air; it balances itself; it measures its wings
its weight, and defies the earth-pull. But if the means of flight are
maimed, it drops helplessly on land or water. Alas for the bird, though
it be an albatross, that happens to alight on water covered by the oil
discharged from an oil-driven vessel. When once its wings have become
glued to its body, by immersion in that oil-bath, there is nothing for
it but a miserable end!
The Spirit works according to law,--"the
taw of the Spirit of Life." Do not grieve Him by any act of insincerity
or hatred. If you are aware of the subsidence of His energy, go back
till you have discovered where you dropped the thread of
to His gentle promptings. Pick it up by confession and restitution, and
again you will become conscious of His mediation to you of a Law of Life
that laughs at sin and death! Yours will be the wings of an eagle's
flight, the soaring of a lark, sunward, heavenward, Godward! But you
must take time to be holy--in meditation, in prayer, and especially in
the use of the Bible.
Help me, O Lord, to find my life
according to Thy promise. I thank Thee that Thou hast implanted the germ
of Thine own nature. Leave me not, neither forsake me in the upward
climb. Teach me to change my strength and mount up with
the wings of eagles. AMEN. (F B Meyer)
><> ><> ><>
Like an eagle set free: "While walking through
the forest one day, a man found a young eagle who had fallen
out of his nest. He took it home and put it in his barnyard
where it soon learned to eat and behave like the chickens.
One day a naturalist passed by the farm and asked why it was
that the king of all birds should be confined to live in the
barnyard with the chickens. The farmer replied that since he
had given it chicken feed and trained it to be a chicken, it
had never learned to fly. Since it now behaved as the
chickens, it was no longer an eagle.
“Still it has the heart
of an eagle,” replied the naturalist, “and can surely be
taught to fly.” He lifted the eagle toward the sky and said,
“You belong to the sky and not to the earth. Stretch forth
your wings and fly.”
The eagle, however, was
confused. He did not know who he was, and seeing the
chickens eating their food, he jumped down to be with them
again. The naturalist took the bird to the roof of the house
and urged him again, saying, “You are an eagle. Stretch
forth your wings and fly.” But the eagle was afraid of his
unknown self and world and jumped down once more for the
chicken food. Finally the naturalist took the eagle out of
the barnyard to a high mountain. There he held the king of
the birds high above him and encouraged him again, saying,
“You are an eagle. You belong to the sky. Stretch forth your
wings and fly.” The eagle looked around, back towards the
barnyard and up to the sky. Then the naturalist lifted him
straight towards the sun and it happened that the eagle
began to tremble. Slowly he stretched his wings, and with a
triumphant cry, soared away into the heavens. It may be that
the eagle still remembers the chickens with nostalgia. It
may even be that he occasionally revisits the barnyard. But
as far as anyone knows, he has never returned to lead the
life of a chicken."
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI.
Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)