FREED FROM THE LAW OF

SIN AND DEATH

 

Romans 8: 1 – 4


1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, 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. 

 

We know from scripture, that there are two laws pertaining to the destiny and nature of mankind operating concurrently in this dispensation.  The Law of Sin and Death and the Law of the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2).  The principles and judgments of the law of sin and death are bound up in the Edenic commandment :  Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." (Gen. 2:16-17).

 

The Law of the Spirit of Life is founded upon the principles embodied in the lamb slain from the foundation of the world and the truths manifested in the Edenic promise of the seed of the woman. The Law of the Spirit of Life is the antithesis (the direct or complete opposite) of the law of sin and death.  

 

Now these two laws are in operation at the same time, but, not within the same sphere of influence.   Indeed, they cannot be, just as the laws or the constitution of Canada have no operation or no effect upon a citizen living under the laws of the United States.  Every person who ever lived is descended from Adam and is born under the law of sin and death, but only a few called out ones are freed from that law and come under the law of the Spirit of life. Those who remain under the first law will perish as we have reference in John 3: 16; but those who come under the second law, and are faithful to its requirements, will inherit everlasting life (Rom. 6: 22).

 

Now the dictionary defines the word law as “a binding edict issued by a supreme authority.”  This definition also has validity in the scriptural use of the word.   There are certain elements common to any law, including divine law. 

 

1. A law consists of an edict (or rules or a statutes). 

 

2. That edict is enforced by means of a retribution, prescribed within the law itself, to deal with any action that transgresses or violates that law. 

 

3. Any retribution exacted upon a transgressor, by necessity, brings about changes in the existence of the offender and in his relationship to the law-giver.  These are the consequences of the retribution of the law.

 

Now, the Law of Sin and Death is operational upon mankind and creation suffers the consequences of the retribution that has resulted from its violation because of the actions of one man, Adam. As a result of Adam’s transgression, judgment and sentence have been pronounced.  The sentence is condemnation (Greek katakrima of Romans 8) or death, a return to the dust from which man was formed.  And, the consequences of this retribution, of this fall from a very good state to a condemned condition of existence, are mortality, disease, decay, sorrow, wars, pestilence, an famine- All the things that plague this earth and mankind.

 

Now, the command given to Adam simply imposed a restriction upon his conduct.  It did not require any specific actions on his part other than obedience.   But, in the face of temptation, he was unable to keep this commandment.   He partook of that which was offered him, fully aware of what he was doing, because we read in 1 Tim. 2: 14, "Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression.”  After Adam disobeyed, he was to become the father of mortal mankind.  All his descendants were in his loins, so to speak, when he sinned and therefore in a certain sense, being of the same nature as Adam, we "all have sinned" (Rom. 5. 12).

 

We have an example of this principle in Hebrews 7:9.  The example of Levi paying tithes in Abraham.  In submitting to be blessed by Melchizedec, Abraham voluntarily acknowledged his inferiority; Paul says in v. 7:  for "the less is blessed of the better". But the Levitical priesthood (the less referred to in that verse), was not alive at that time, and, of course, could not actually acknowledge its inferiority to the better (Melchizedec).  But their inferiority was just as real as if they had actually been there with Abraham to pay the tithes.

 

And so, by the same principle, the descendants of Adam are accounted as having sinned in him. They do not possess moral guilt, as he did; for they have "not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression" (Rom. 5. 14): but the result is the same. He sinned, transgressed God’s law, and mankind, as descendents of Adam sharing his same nature, are made sinners (Rom. 5. 19) apart from any actions of their own.  They are by nature sinful mortals.  They are in God’s eyes, constituted sinners; and according to the provisions of God’s law and the retribution arising out of Adam’s transgression cannot be delivered from the consequences of this condemned sin nature apart from Divine mercy and grace.  God is the supreme authority and law giver.

 

Now, the Law of Sin and Death is operative and creation suffers the consequences of its retribution, because of one man’s transgression (Adam).  We read in Romans 5: 12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”  A better rendering of that last phrase, for that all have sinned, as found in some versions other than the AV is “in whom all have sinned”, of course referring to Adam.

Adam’s transgression brought death to the world, but now, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus is operative and we have access to that law because of the righteousness of one man.  We read in Romans 5: 18 “just as the result of one trespass (1st Adam) was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness (2nd or anti-typical Adam, Christ) was justification that brings life for all men.”

 

Brother Thomas in Elpis Israel says:  The two Adams are two federal chiefs; the first being figurative of the second in these relations. …”the flesh profiteth nothing” … For this cause, then, for sons of Adam to become sons of God, they must be the subjects of an adoption, which is attainable only by some divinely appointed means.”

 

That means of adoption referred to by brother Thomas, as appointed by Deity in this dispensation, is baptism.  We are all born in Adam and therefore under the law of sin and death and its sentence of condemnation. The apostle Paul tells us that we come out from under this law (law of sin and death) with its condemnation at baptism, when we pass out of Adam and into Christ.   We become heirs of God; and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).  We are subjects of an adoption.  This action is not accompanied by any physical change but rather the change is one of relationship.  Adam ceases to be the federal head of baptized believers, and Christ takes his place. 

 

This new condition, that is, being brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ, affects us in two ways:

 

The immediate effect of this condition is that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us instead of the "disobedience" of Adam.  We cease to be accounted "dead" (2 Cor. 5: 14) and are quickened or made alive in Christ and become "heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3: 7).

 

The long range effect of this condition is that death, as the result of Adam's disobedience cannot reign over us. "By one man came death", and “by one man's offence death reigned by one” (Romans 5).  Our relationship to the offence is altered and by the same token our relationship to its consequence is altered; changed in that, we will be brought out of the grave for judgment if we die before the return of Christ.  When the apostle Paul says in Romans 6:10 “By man came also the resurrection of the dead", he’s speaking of the man Jesus Christ, who lived a life of obedience and sacrifice and died to sin.

 

The scriptural principle is affirmed and demonstrated not only by Paul but throughout God’s word that the resurrection of the dead Paul speaks of here in Romans 6, applies only to those who have been "buried with Christ by baptism into his death" (verse 4); those who have "made a covenant with God by sacrifice" (Ps. 50: 5) and taken upon themselves the Name of Salvation.

Up until the appearance of Jesus Christ, a period of some four thousand years, the law of the Spirit of life, was identified with Yahweh the rock of Israel: the Name of Salvation.  “As for our redeemer, the LORD of hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 78:35).  But in the fullness of time God sent forth his son made of a woman and made under the law. And, because of his obedience, the law of the spirit of life is now embodied in him and has become the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  And so anyone who is baptized into the name of Jesus Christ can say, as Paul says, in Romans 8:2:  "The law of the Spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom. 8: 2).

 

By the way, the original language in Romans 8 does not denote or the context suggest, that being freed from the law of sin and death as spoken of by Paul is prospective or is in any way an incomplete transaction.   But on the contrary, when we consult a lexicon we see that the grammatical form is absolute, emphasizing the fact and condition of liberty and freedom. This has great significance to what Paul is telling us concerning condemnation and justification. 

 

In the Greek the mood and tense of the verb hath freed tell us that a definite statement is being made and speaks of an action completed in the past without need of future repetition. This is similar to our English past perfect tense. A simple example would be: “Joe has bought the car.” Speaking of an action completed in the past with no need for future repetition.  This particular mood in the original language, according to Greek scholars expresses an absolute certainty.   That is: the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the power or the dominion of sin.

 

So, here in the Greek, the verb form  [eleutherosen, aorist tense] speaks of a definite action that was performed and completed at a particular point in time in the past. We know from Romans 6 and other scripture that the particular point in time referred to is our baptism; when we put on Christ.   It’s at precisely that point in time when the verses  in Galatians 3 define our change of relationship “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.... And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise”.

 

The meaning of the grammar is intensified when we realize that in this verse the word from in freed me from is the Greek preposition apo, which expresses motion away from the surface of an object.  So the Spirit of life has removed and separated us from the law of sin and death.

 

In this verse, the usage of the word law has reference to a controlling power rather than to an actual written rule or principle. It is the governing strength of sin and death which has been removed; the power that holds us in the grave.  A literal rendering of verses 1 and 2 with semantic nuances from the Greek then would be: The law of spirit of life in Christ Jesus, has given me freedom by breaking the chains that bound me to the law of sin and death and has therefore removed me from its governing power.  This is undeniably a one-time event that results in a permanent condition.

 

Although freed from condemnation, those under the law of the spirit of life still die as a consequence of the effects of the law of sin and death on creation.  We die but are not held under its unrestricted operation (that is, an eternity in the grave).   Paul goes on in verse 18 – 22 and to the end of the chapter to describe the bondage of corruption, decay and mortality that the whole world suffers in this age.   The whole of creation groans for freedom from that bondage, the curse of the ground.  We all long for that that redemption; for the adoption of the body, of the manifestation of the sons of God.  That freedom is prospective and will involve physical changes in us and the whole of creation.

 

Paul exhorts us to look past our sufferings to that glorious age to come, the restoration of Eden.  He’s speaking to those under the law of spirit of life in Christ Jesus who walk according to the spirit not the flesh and reminds us that a faithful few will share in his glory.

 

He says: (NIV) Romans 8: 15-25 ,  15  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit itself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently
.” 

 

The law of sin and death that Paul is speaking of here in Romans 8 (and it’s very important for us to realize this fact)  is not the moral principle he talks about in Romans 7.  He says in chapter 7 v.18 “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” 

 

Now this is that principle of the fleshly nature against which we all struggle, all the days of our lives.  It’s that principle that comes with the consequences of the retribution of law of sin and death. He says in Romans 7, 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

The usage of the word law (Greek nomos) there in verse 23 does refer to a principle.  A moral principle or the simple fact of existence; mortal life in this dispensation.  We all suffer the consequences of katakrima.  We will until we are raised to a higher nature, when all of creation is delivered from this bondage of suffering. 

 

 

We know that the death of those in Christ is not a necessity:  Otherwise the last generation of those under the law of the Spirit of life, those who are alive and remain until the coming of Christ, could not escape going into the grave.

 

We look forward in hope in this probation to the redemption of our bodies, the restitution of all things. Paul tells us that to share in these things, we must continue our spiritual growth through study and walking in the spirit of Christ.  When we fall short of this we know from 1 John 1:9 that:  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

We know from scripture that the law of sin and death contains no provision for justification from sin, and therefore nothing which can counteract the reign of death (eternity in the grave) for those who remain under this law.  All mankind is born into this law and are therefore by birth, "children of wrath" (Eph. 2: 3).   As long as a person continues under this law he is "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2: 1); and if he dies while under "the law of sin and death," he dies at enmity, in the same relationship to God as he was born.    He dies at enmity with God, an alien from the hope of Israel, not having received justification to life. The scriptural truth concerning death in Adam is indisputable: from this death there is no escape.

 

The law of sin and death speaks only of a life under condemnation (katakrima).  A life that can be cut short at any moment.  The law of Moses, offered the obedient, faithful Israelite shadow-justification from Adamic condemnation.  It offered long life, free from disease if its ordinances were faithfully observed. The judgments of the law of Moses were confined to this life and its retribution upon unfaithful and disobedient Israelites was consummated in the grave.

 

The lesson here is:  just as the punishments due to those under the Mosaic law are past, not future, so the punishments due to any under "the law of sin and death" are consummated when that law consigns them to the grave.  Any possibility of their being brought forth from the grave for future punishment is precluded by the fact that they while they were alive they did not receive justification through Christ from the offence of Adam and their own wicked works.   This is the same obstacle that would prevent any person in Adam who has ever lived during any time in history from being raised to a future probation or to a second death. They were not justified, so when they died they were consigned by the law of sin and death to the endless power of the grave (Ps. 49: 14-15).

 

Speaking of the Mosaic law, Jesus said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled" (Matt. 5: 18).  Christ, having been "made under the law" (Gal. 4: 4), and having been also "made a curse" under that law (Gal. 3: 13), he could not be redeemed from the curse of that law apart from his death on the cross, being hanged from a tree.

 

On the same principle, having been "made of a woman" (Gal. 4: 4) descended from Adam, he could not be freed from the Edenic law without dying a sacrificial death (Genesis 3).  In fact, he was the anti-type of the Lamb slain in Eden; the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  But He shrank from such a cup of bitterness, and prayed "earnestly" (Luke 22: 41) no less than three times (Matt. 26: 44) that "if it be possible" God would spare him from it (ver. 39).

 

The righteousness of God, his infinite love and the immutability of his counsel are all manifested in the fact that he upheld the principles he had established related to the law of sin and death and to the law of the Spirit of life:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Christ submitted in faithful obedience to a sacrifical death and his  resurrection from the dead was the result of justification:  justification through his own blood, from sin inherited through Adam.  His sacrificial offer was first for himself then on behalf of his people.   The resurrection, the coming forth from the grave of his ecclesia is based on that same principle of justification.  We have been justified from inherited sin and individual "wicked works" (Col. 1: 21), and whether we remain faithful or not, we will be raised to stand before him in judgment.  A time when, as we read in I Cor. 4:5 he “will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.”

Jesus told Martha at Lazarus’ tomb in John 11: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die

 

He is "the resurrection", in the sense that not only is he the firstfruits of them that sleep, but in that he will raise from the grave, all who enter into the Name of Salvation, the "many called" who constitute his ecclesia.   But, there will only be a "few chosen" who keep God's word. And it is to these few that he will be "the life" (Greek, zoe), energized and animated not by flesh and blood but by spirit.  They will live forever in a restored Eden, free from all disease, pain, and fleshly weaknesses.

 

We read in 1 Cor. 15: 22 that “In Adam all die"; those who have not been transferred out of Adam into Christ through baptism.  When we enter into Christ, we pass out of Adam; that is, we cease to be imputed "sinners" in Adam, and are "made or imputed righteous" in Christ (Rom. 5: 9). We are then "born from above" (John 3: 3), and become "Sons of God" (I John 3: 1).

 

The God of peace, the eternal increate, brought Christ from the dead "through the blood of the everlasting covenant" (Hebrews 13:20), and his ecclesia will be raised through that same blood and upon that same principle:   "By the blood of thy covenant I have rent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water" (Zech. 9: 11).

 

When Christ said, "The gates of hades shall not prevail against my ecclesia" (Matt. 16: 18) he was saying that the grave could not hold, for eternity, the members of his ecclesia. The gates of hades will not prevail against them; for Christ will use "the keys of hades" (Rev. 1: 18) to release them from the grave, because, as "the ecclesia of God he hath purchased" them "with his own blood" (Acts 20: 28).   But, we know that "the gates of hades" will prevail against those who have not become members of his ecclesia.  They will remain in the grave (hades).

 

We read in Romans 8:3:  “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.”  The justification from sin provided for by the law of the Spirit of life is due to the fact that God "condemned sin in the flesh" of "his own son" (Romans 8:3).   The sacrificial death of the righteous one, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the basis on which the law of the Spirit of life frees men from the law of sin and death. According to the provisions established by Deity in the Law of Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, those who share in the likeness of his death in baptism will be brought forth out of the grave. They have passed from under the operation of the one law to the operation of the other law. Their change of relationship is immediate not prospective.

 

We read in Romans 5: 15:  “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.”

 

It is through the grace of God that such a sacrifice was provided, and therefore it is through the grace of God that anyone is allowed to come under the operation of the law of the Spirit of life.  But having once partaken of the grace we are under an obligation to the requirements of a new law; we are henceforth required to "continue in the grace of God" (Acts. 13: 43) and to "grow in grace" (2 Pet. 3: 18). If we fail we will "receive the grace of God in vain" (2 Cor. 6: 12), and incur the retribution arising, not out of the law of sin and death, but out of the law of the Spirit of life: the second death.  But, if we succeed, we will be there to see the purpose of God in the earth accomplished; to be clothed upon with eternal life and to share in the glories of the New Jerusalem.

 

Read Rev 21:1 – 8, 22 – 27.

 

 

Ronnie Sanders