The life of Christ is not an abstract concept in the life of the believer but an operating force. Like any other law of Creation, it is real, verifiable and dependable. The Law of the Spirit is a spiritual law describing a spiritual reality: according to this law the Holy Spirit makes believers free from the law of sin and death … not just from the penalty of sin, but from sin itself to the glory of God.
In the Bible it is written, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Ro 8:1-2) What is this law of the Spirit of life in Christ?
First, we consider the concept of a spiritual law by observing its counterpart in Creation: Natural Law. Certain kinds of natural laws, like the Law of Gravity, describe predictable patterns of behavior in the universe. They are generally stable, immovable, solid, and firm. God has designed them for our benefit so that we might experience Him and each other in a safe and predictable environment. Only supernatural beings may violate these laws: when God does so we call it a miracle. As we begin our Earthly sojourn we quickly come to understand these natural laws and live in accord with them.
Spiritual laws are similar to natural laws and comprise the ultimate reality of which Natural Law is merely an illustration or shadow. Spiritual laws are predictable and unchanging patterns of behavior in spiritual beings. And as in Natural Law, there is a corresponding sense of miracle here: spiritual laws are only violated when God violates them. Just like natural laws, we can freely depend on spiritual laws; and as with natural laws, it is good for us to come to understand spiritual laws and live in accord with them.
In the context of Romans 8 God is describing two spiritual laws: the law of sin and death and the law of the spirit of life in Christ. The first law describes a predictable and consistent pattern in the lives of all who are not of God: they are violating God’s commands (sinning) and experiencing the consequence: alienation from God (death). This pattern of behavior is constantly evolving and progressing in all those who do not belong to God; they love darkness (Jn 3:19) and disobedience (Ro 1:32) and are constantly going deeper and farther into it. (2Ti 3:13) As God allows them to exercise their free will they consistently choose to become more ungodly, less God-like; they are continually developing and evolving a soulish nature that is more and more the opposite of God, at enmity with Him (Ro 8:7) … self-centered, willful, stubborn and hateful. (Ro 1:28-31) We have all experienced this law of sin and death to some degree, along with its dreadful consequences. (Ep 2:2-3)
But something happens in the elect to reverse this process: God intervenes and they start violating the law of sin and death. This is a spiritual miracle, expressed in another law, the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ. As if walking on air and defying the Law of Gravity, the elect begin to rise and break the law of sin and death: God so works in their souls that they begin to move in the opposite direction from the way they have been going.
This law of the Spirit of Life in Christ is a spiritual law present in every child of God. God gives us a new heart (Eze 36:26) and begins to write His laws (Torah) into our new hearts and minds. (He 10:16) As a result, rather than running from God and hiding in our rebellion like the rest of humanity, we now begin to pursue Him and seek Him out, wanting to know Him and obey Him and interact with Him. He responds by teaching us His ways … and we actually begin walking in them with Him. (Mi 4:2) We are no longer experiencing a pattern of growing disobedience to God’s laws and alienation from Him, but rather a pattern of growing obedience and holiness and fellowship with God.
This could never happen merely by our own effort, any more than we could violate the Law of Gravity by trying harder: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Je 13:23) Without God we are as bound by the law of sin and death as anyone else. For us to be free of this law God must intervene and redeem us, raise us from death, give us a spiritual heart transplant and set us free – and He has done so in all those who are redeemed. (Ep 2:4-5)
Now we may be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Php 1:6) Knowing that God is at work in us “to will and to do of His good pleasure,” (Php 2:13) “we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Ro 5:2) We may confidently appropriate the strength (grace) we need to live for Him in every circumstance of life, with a certainty that God will continually glorify Himself in and through us. Yes! “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Ro 8:37) And so Christ says to us, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) We could never overcome the world by ourselves, but it is His pleasure to overcome the world in and through us.
With this perspective freshly in mind, let us ponder the words of Peter, and let them dwell richly in us (Col 3:16), who are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 1:2a)
Regardless how wretched and wicked the world around us may become, grace reigns through righteousness in all of God’s children. May this cause us to exceedingly rejoice in Him and look forward with delight to our gathering together unto Him in glory.