What is “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2)?


By BibleAsk Team

“The Law of Sin and Death”

The apostle Paul refers to “the law of sin and death” in Romans 8:1–2. He says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” The law of sin is the authority exercised by sin and ending in death.

There is a close connection between Romans chapters 7 and 8. For the apostle in chapter 8 extends his thankful exclamation of ch. 7:25 which says, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And he moves from the study of the painful struggle with sin to an explanation of the life of peace and freedom that is offered to those who live “in Christ Jesus.”

The Law of Life

The law of the Spirit of life works directly contrary to the law of sin and death in the believer, strengthening them to triumph over sin’s destroying influence and liberating him from the slavery of sin and its condemnation. Thus, the Spirit brings life and freedom, in contrast with the law of sin, which brings only death and condemnation (Romans 7:21–24).

Paul emphasizes the fact that the Spirit exercises His life-giving power only through the union with Christ. The phrase “in Christ” shows the closeness of the personal relationship that exists between the Christian and His Lord. It means more than to rely on Him or simply to be His follower or disciple. It means a daily, living relationship with the Savior (John 14:20; 15:4–7). The apostle Paul applies being “in Christ” to churches (Galatians 1:22; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:1) as well as to individuals (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:1.

Jesus Himself stressed the closeness of this union by His parable of the Vine and the Branches (John 15:1–7). And the apostle Peter wrote about the necessity of being “in Christ” (1 Peter 3:16; 5:14). Also, the apostle John wrote about this unity as being “in him” (1 John 2:5, 6, 28; 3:24; 5:20). Unless a person is experiencing this changing unity with the Lord, he cannot claim liberty from condemnation. It is through faith in Christ that the believer can obtain reconciliation and justification (Romans 3:22–26).

Jesus Christ condemned sin but not the sinner (John 3:17; Romans 8:3). When a person accepts the Lord, sin is no longer the predominating and controlling influence in his life. The indwelling Spirit of life inspires obedience and gives power to “mortify the deeds of the body” (Romans 8: 13). The believers may yet show weaknesses in the character, but when it is in the heart to obey God, when attempts are made to this end, the Lord accepts this disposition as man’s best effort, and He makes up for the lack with His own divine merit. For these faithful ones, there is no condemnation (John 3:18).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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