Shane asked a couple of questions in the comments section for Romans 6. “Is this then to say that the Law was done away with Christ’s sacrifice? Did the Law ever condemn or was it sin that condemned? How do we determine which pieces of the Law are still binding?” I’m sure Brother Shane won’t mind if I make these questions the basis of this stage of the defense of God by Paul (herein referred to as Sha’ul)…as in the text.
I believe Shane feared that I was heading towards an abolishment of the Law but he may need to reprimand me if he notices where this post is going. Shane quotes Ya’akov (2:19-23) where Avraham is “justified by his works’ to defend the goodness of the Law and the benefit of keeping it.
Let’s follow the apostle Sha’ul’s defense here. Believers have (1) died to the Law through the body of Messiah (2) and have been joined to Messiah in the raising of the dead (3) so as to bear fruit for God. Because: (1) in the flesh, sinful passions by the Law (2) worked in the members of the believer’s body (3) to bring fruit to death. Now: (1*) Believers have been released from the Law; (2*) died to that by which they were bound; (3*) serve in newness of the Spirit and not oldness of letter. (Rom 7:4-6). The only fruit that came through the law was death because of sinful passions.
Passions by Law
to the Bind
Sha’ul stops the reader: Is the Law sin? Vehemently no. The Law is not sin and never has been. Sha’ul agrees with Shane insofar that the Law is perfect and good and holy. Sha’ul acknowledges that he wouldn’t even have known sin except the Law had told him what was sin.
It’s not is it that Sha’ul is saying that there was no sin before the Law? No, but instead he is illustrating how the Law, if you will, perfected sin. Sin reigned before the Law but by means of the commandment, the drawn line, sin was able to perfect its attack. Sure there were all types of coveting before the Law, but when the commandment came it became refined. Sin thus gained its power and life from the expression of “Don’t do this!’ and in so doing a person, specifically the Jew though, is slain.
Is Sha’ul referring only to his pre-salvation days? Not necessarily (even if likely). Haven’t you found it, soon after being saved and starting to understand God’s commands just how woefully short you fall of them? Yeshua makes the point that Lawbreaking is done in our hearts–but even the Law said as much in ‘You shall not covet.’
So the Law which is good and perfect, does it become death? No. Sin is what effected death but it could only do so through that which is good, taking the commandment of “Don’t do this” breaking it, then proving itself utterly sinful and resulting in condemnation.
The “will to sin” is still present within the believer’s body. The believing (specifically Jewish) sinner has died to the Law and been married to another–thank God for that. But at this point, it’s not that the believer is only legally under the power of sin, he is a slave to sin and not just in bad habits. The (specifically Jewish) believer can agree in his mind with the Law, agreeing with that perfect good which, in essence says “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” but sin taking opportunity brings the war inside a believer’s body.
The will to sin is raging against the will to be holy. The will to the flesh as a system is constantly struggling with the will to be Spiritual as a system, that is the way things operate. The believer now finds that his sin is powered by the desire of not wanting to obey God.
It’s worse than we thought. If you wish to read it this way, the letter to the Romans started off showing us how guilty we were in our sin, meriting the wrath of God. After dealing with that problem, Sha’ul shows that we have inherited Adam’s sin nature. After dealing with that, Sha’ul underscores how much worse it is: we have this sin nature currently alive and well in our bodies. So who will deliver us from these sin empowered bodies?
Thank God, it is Yeshua the Messiah our Lord! We have this battle constantly going in our members, and in fact taking sides within our being but we know that there is now no condemnation, no death sentence as required by the Law, for those who are in Messiah Yeshua. The law of the spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set us free from the law of sin and of death. Which law? Generically, the same law that Sha’ul spoke of which is Prescript plus Punishment under which sin thrives and strives versus the law of the spirit which has nothing to do with Condemnation found in the punishment clause of law.
The Law, though perfect, had a weakness in what it expected sinful flesh to perform. But God’s son came in that likeness of sinful flesh and put the death sentence on sin in the flesh so that the requirement of Law is now fulfilled in us, not in the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4).
Does this now mean we can go back to the Law and try to carry it out in the flesh? Sha’ul will answer this here in Romans 8 but I would have us take a look at Galatians 3″having begun in the Spirit are we now to go back to the Law to be made perfect in the flesh?” Is that the point: to enable us to keep the Law, the so-called “Rule of Life”? The word of God records that our setting of mind is not on the Law but rather the Spirit because, as a believer we are people according to the Spirit (Rom 8:5).
“Is this then to say that the Law was done away with Christ’s sacrifice?” No, the purpose of the Law was to point the person under Law (that would be specifically the Jew) to the only one who fulfilled the Law’s requirements. But Messiah died, completing the condemnation clause of the Law for any and all who believe.
“Did the Law ever condemn or was it sin that condemned?” The Law brought the condemnation but it only did such by the sin taking occasion through the Commandment.
“How do we determine which pieces of the Law are still ‘binding’?” We don’t have to for the Law was a prescription against the flesh but we are to be bound according to the Spirit.