Romans 8:3-7 (NKJV) 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 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. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
This week we have been discussing the power of choice and its relationship to walking in favor. They are related because God cannot bring favor to someone who does not choose to obey his voice, walk in his ways or keep his commandments. There are many who would say that I am talking about “law” since I mention keeping commandments. This is not true at all. Law was never the point it was always a means to an end. The point was always relationship. Obeying God’s voice, walking in God’s ways and keeping his commandments is about relationship not law.
When we are walking in relationship with the Lord, he will lead us into favor and blessing. That is why Deuteronomy 30:15 defines the choice to keep his commandments as choosing life instead of death. This is not about obeying a set of rules or keeping some arbitrary standard. It is about life and death.
Yesterday we looked at the first two verses of Romans 8. These verses tell us that there are two major forces at work in the earth defined by two laws. Again, these are not “legal” statutes. They are descriptions of forces that are at work in the spirit. We know that there is a “law of gravity.” This is not a legal statute that mandates the penalties for disobeying the standard of gravity. It is a statement of truth that describes the way the force of gravity works. The force is there whether we understand the law or not. It is always influencing life on earth.
The law of sin and death and the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus are the same. The law of sin and death describes the force of sin and death. There is not one statement of this law. It is stated throughout the bible. We might sum up the law this way. Whatever is separated from the life of God is spiritually dead by nature. Spiritual death is spread by sin and sin produces spiritual death. Spiritual death produces physical death. Physical death ultimately results in the failure of the physical body, but it manifests in the negatives of the human condition throughout the span of physical life.
The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus is also described throughout the bible, but could be summed up this way. Whatever is connected to God is spiritually alive. This life ultimately produces eternal life in the presence of God, but manifests in this life as all good things related to the human condition. We have access to this life by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When a person chooses relationship with Jesus through the Gospel, they are born again and this life becomes their nature. To access the power of this life, they must choose to obey the voice of the Lord, walk in his ways and keep his commandments.
The default law is the law of sin and death. As Christians, we can overcome this default law by choosing to walk in life. If we do not actively choose life, sin and death will be the result. That is not to say that we will not go to heaven when we die physically. It does mean that we will not be able to access the wonderful benefits of walking in the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus while on earth. It also means that sin will continue to have dominion over us bringing with it all the negatives of human existence.
The legal statutes given to Moses for Israel were the only vehicle available to man before the ministry of Jesus to allow him any kind of access at all to the law of the spirit of life as well as any protection from the law of sin and death. Romans 5 tells us death ruled in the earth from Adam to Moses. Before the law, there was no consistent way for man to meet the requirements of relationship with God.
There were some who did so because they were exceptional. Abraham was such a person. However, most people had no way to curb the sin nature that had come upon man through the fall of Adam. Once the law was put in place, it served two functions. It gave Israel a code of conduct that reflected the standards of God. It still does that today.
The more important function of the Law of Moses was to give Israel a vehicle by which they could minimize the effect of the force of sin and death and gain limited access to the force of the spirit of life. There was a built in problem with this system. It depended on the flesh. Man had to keep the law with his flesh. Man had to perform the sacrifices with his flesh. However, the force of sin and death’s greatest affect is in the flesh. The Law of Moses had to use the flesh to control what is the law of sin’s greatest area of expression, the flesh.
God had something better in mind, but he needed a people he could work through in order to bring that to pass. He made covenant with an exceptional man, Abraham. He then gave Abraham’s descendents the law so he could continue to work through them until the fulfillment of his real plan in the Gospel of Christ.
I say all of that to say this. Romans 8 3-7 reveals to us that the Law of Moses could never work because of the weakness of the flesh. God did not leave us to this weak system. It did the job God needed it to do. It brought man to Christ. Now relationship with the Lord through Jesus is possible. We can be born again. The laws of God, the law of the spirit of life, can be written on the heart of any person who chooses to submit to the Lordship of Jesus. (Jer. 31:31)
How do we access this force of the spirit of life under the New Covenant? How do we find the power to choose to walk in holiness and righteousness if it is not by keeping all the statutes of the Mosaic law? How do we control the tendency of our flesh to go after anything that pleases it even if that thing is bad for us? How do we live a life that is pleasing to God without an outward law to follow? How do we maintain our standing with God when we fail and give in to sin if there are no physical sacrifices to offer? We do what these verses tell us to do.
We understand that what the law could not do, God did by sending Jesus to die and become the sacrifice for our sins. When we receive him, it changes us inwardly. The force of death that came because of Adam’s sin is taken out of our innermost being and the force of life replaces it. Life becomes our nature. We walk in the law of the spirit of life that comes from relationship with Christ Jesus by allowing that part of us that is now full of this life to govern our behavior. When we fail, the blood of Jesus does not. We come to God in repentance and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from the affect of our failure.
The next verses give us a major key to being successful in this process. We must keep our minds on the things of the spirit. If we fill our minds with the things of the flesh, we will allow the law of sin and death to dominate us. If we set our minds on the things of the spirit, we will access the inner man and walk in the benefits of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Our behavior will follow our thinking. Our thinking will produce behavior that releases life by causing us to obey God’s voice, walk in God’s ways and keep his commandments.
Finally, we need to know that we are not at the mercy of the flesh. We are Christians. We have been born again and that means we have the life of God within us. We do not need an outward law because we can obey an inward one. This inward law will release the power of life. This power is the power of creation and it will change your world. (Verses 8-9)