A bus leaves a closed border facility as migrants subject to a Trump-era asylum restriction program were expected to begin entry into the United States at the San Ysidro border crossing with Mexico, in San Diego, California, U.S., February 19, 2021. © REUTERS/Mike Blake
Former judge Merrick Garland, nominated by President Joe Biden to lead the Justice Department, seemed to say “I don’t know” a lot at his Senate confirmation hearing, including when asked about illegal immigration.
Senators questioned Garland on Monday ahead of the floor vote on his nomination, which appears to be a foregone conclusion. Time and again, however, he would not commit to things – from safeguarding the probe by special counsel John Durham into the FBI and DOJ spying on former President Donald Trump, to things such as enforcement of US immigration laws.
“Do you believe that illegal entry at America’s borders should remain a crime?” asked Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) at one point, only for Garland to reply,“I just haven’t thought about that question.”
GARLAND: “I just haven’t thought about that question… I don’t know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to enter.” pic.twitter.com/RDSRsdCabu
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 22, 2021
“I don’t know of a proposal to decriminalize but still make it unlawful to enter,” Garland added. Asked if the DOJ would continue to prosecute illegal immigration, he called it “a question of allocation of resources.”
“I have to admit I just don’t know exactly what the conditions are and how this is done,” he told Hawley. “I assume that the answer would be yes but I don’t know…”
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) argued that Garland’s no-answer on the burning issue should disqualify him from office.
“Every single part of this response should disqualify Merrick Garland from being Attorney General of the United States of America,” she tweeted.
— Marjorie Taylor Greene 🇺🇸 (@mtgreenee) February 22, 2021
Garland, 68, is likely to be confirmed as Biden’s attorney general. He became a household name in 2016, when President Barack Obama wanted him to fill the US Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia – only for the Republican-majority Senate to refuse to consider the nomination.
He had worked as a prosecutor at the DOJ during the Clinton administration, and was confirmed as a federal judge at the US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit in 1997. He resigned earlier this month, after more than 13 years on the bench.
Planned Parenthood performed the highest number of abortions in over a decade in 2019, received a record amount of government funding and saw net assets increase compared to the previous year, the organization’s latest annual report shows.
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2019-2020 annual report released last week, the nation’s largest abortion provider performed 354,871 abortions, an increase from the 345,672 the nation’s largest abortion provider performed in 2018.
The amount of government funding received by Planned Parenthood also increased from 2018 to 2019.
The organization received $618.1 million in government health services reimbursements and grants in 2019, a slight increase from the $616.8 million awarded in 2018.
Government funding accounted for about 38% of Planned Parenthood’s revenue in 2019, making taxpayer dollars the largest source of income for the abortion provider.
Private contributions and bequests were Planned Parenthood’s second-largest source of income, accounting for 31% of the total. Planned Parenthood’s total revenue for 2019 amounted to $1.64 billion, similar to its revenue in 2018.
The pro-life activist group Live Action has kept track of the number of abortions Planned Parenthood has performed overall in the past 20 years.
In 2019, the group found that abortions provided by Planned Parenthood constituted 41.15% of all abortions performed, the highest share since 2000. Based on the number of abortions provided by Planned Parenthood in 2019, one abortion occurred every 89 seconds that year.
Live Action reports that the 2019 total of abortions conducted was a record for Planned Parenthood.
Pro-life groups reacted to the annual report with disgust.
“Planned Parenthood’s business is abortion, not health care,” maintainedMarjorie Dannenfelser, president of the national pro-life grassroots organization Susan B. Anthony List.
The SBA List reports that Planned Parenthood abortion numbers hit a 15-year high.
“With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, we can expect this alarming trend to continue as Democrats seek to force taxpayers to bankroll abortion businesses at home and abroad, roll back FDA safety precautions on dangerous abortion drugs, and convert every pharmacy and post office into an abortion center – reversing decades of pro-life progress,” Dannenfelser warned.
“The pro-life movement will work tirelessly to expose the Democrats’ extremism on abortion. We will never quit fighting to stop taxpayer funding of the abortion industry and provide the life-affirming alternatives women and families deserve.”
Chuck Donovan, president of the Susan B. Anthony List’s research organization, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, said that it is a “tragedy” that abortions “continue to increase at Planned Parenthood even as they decline all across the country.”
“Women are paying a heavy price for this very wealthy organization to achieve its quotas and goals,” Donovan argued.
“Trends like this are exactly why Congress has limited family planning grants to exclude them from going to programs where abortion is a method of family planning. This is exactly the situation the American people have always strived to avoid.”
MacArthur’s representative condemns “muckrakers” and “monomania”
Deflecting from the Details
Confession: Psalm 25:1–5
To you, O Yahweh, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust you; let me not be put to shame.
Do not let my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you should be put to shame.
Those who betray without cause should be put to shame.
Make me know your ways, O Yahweh.
Teach me your paths.
Cause me to walk in your truth and teach me,
because you are the God of my salvation.
I await you all day long.
Reading: Mark 9:30–32
And from there they went out and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples and was telling them, “The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the statement, and they were afraid to ask him.
Oh, do not forget to admire infinitely more the dear Lord Jesus, that promised seed. He willingly said, “Lo, I come,” though under no obligation so to do, “to do your will,” to obey and die for men, “O God!” Did you weep just now, when I bid you fancy you saw the altar, the wood laid in order, and Isaac laid bound on the altar? Look by faith. Behold the blessed Jesus, our all-glorious Emmanuel—not bound, but nailed on a cursed tree. See how he hangs crowned with thorns and in derision of all that are around Him. See how the thorns pierce Him, and how the blood in purple streams trickle down His sacred temples! Hark how the God of nature groans! See how He bows His head, and at length humanity gives up the ghost! Isaac is saved, but Jesus, the God of Isaac, dies. A ram is offered up in Isaac’s room, but Jesus has no substitute. Jesus must bleed. Jesus must die. God the Father provided this Lamb for himself from all eternity. He must be offered in time, or man must be damned for evermore.
And now, where are your tears? Shall I say, refrain your voice from weeping? No; rather let me exhort you to look to Him whom you have pierced. Mourn as a woman mourneth for her first-born. For we have been the betrayers, and we have been the murderers of this Lord of glory. Shall we not bewail those sins, which brought the blessed Jesus to the accursed tree? Having so much done, so much suffered for us, so much forgiven, shall we not love much! Oh! let us love Him with all our hearts, and minds, and strength, and glorify Him in our souls and bodies, for they are His.
Abraham’s Offering Up His Son Isaac
Christ willingly died for you and has forgiven you. Consider the paths you have turned from and the roads that you are treading on right now. Pray that you would do everything out of love for Him and a desire to use your time for Him.
 Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
SEATTLE, WA—Amazon announced today that Kindle users will now have the ability to virtually participate in book burnings, that time-honored tradition of tolerant, open societies.
The Kindle platform will feature a new area called the “Kindle Bonfire”, where users can throw select books into a virtual inferno.
“Good old-fashioned book burnings have really gone by the wayside,” said Amazon spokesman Heinrich von Schnitzelkopf. “Seems there aren’t as many print books out there, for some reason. So here at Amazon, we wanted to find a way to still involve people in destroying dangerous books, like books about chromosomes. Now, people from across the globe can join together via Kindle Bonfire, around the warm glow of outdated literature.”
Amazon has selected a library of objectionable books that users may not read but can burn, including all science and history textbooks, as well as pretty much anything written before 2018. After picking a few books, users will then control an avatar that flings books into the Kindle Bonfire while shouting slogans like, “Hate has no home here!” Avatars may then give each other socially distanced air-fives, and celebrate the coming peace that always follows an ascendant cultural force burning all dissent.
While a few distributors still exist that will sell the books slated for burning, Amazon plans to buy those distributors or bash them in with a shovel. The U.S. government has offered to provide any assistance necessary to ensure no small business stands in the way of Amazon blazing the way to utopia.
by Mike Ratliff
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. John 15:1-4 (NASB)
When My dad was still with us he loved to garden. One of his passions was to grow tomatoes. When I was a teenager we were living in a suburb of Oklahoma City called Yukon. Our backyard wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big either. One day in early spring he came home from work and informed me we were going to dig up and turn over the dirt in a square at the back side of our yard. He told me he was sick to death of store-bought tomatoes. I really didn’t understand what he meant by that, but I did help him break up that ground.
That Saturday he came home with several very small tomato plants. He carefully planted them in neat rows. He placed some coffee cans with both ends cut out over each one. The cans were for the plants protection from Cutworms and to help protect them from frost. Over the next several weeks those plants grew and grew. As they grew tall my dad carefully propped up the vines. By mid-summer each plant had many green tomatoes. Each day my dad would carefully check each plant to see if any were ripening. It was intriguing, I must admit. I wanted to see why it was so important to him. Over the next several days I did notice some of them were beginning to turn red.
One day I came home from work and my mom and dad proudly showed me several red tomatoes which they had picked. We had them sliced on charcoal-grilled hamburgers. I can still taste it. When I bit into those fresh, home-grown tomatoes on that thick burger I finally understood what all the fuss was about. I asked why they tasted so much better than what we bought at the grocery store. My dad told me those were picked while still green then shipped across country in trucks as they ripened. They were not allowed to ripen on the vine. Those my dad grew were awesome. No store-bought tomato I have ever bought has tasted as good as his.In John 15 Jesus used the analogy of the vine and the branches to make a very profound truth pertaining to our Walk by Faith. In His analogy, Jesus uses grape vines and branches. He was speaking directly to His apostles on his last night before His crucifixion. The apostles would have had no trouble picking up on His meaning since vineyards were very common in their culture. Those of us not raised in an agricultural setting though might need some help understanding His point.
Let’s start with John 15:1-4. I placed those verses at the beginning of this chapter. In the first verse we read, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” What analogy does Jesus use for Himself? He says He is the true vine. He is saying all other sources of divinity are false. He is the one and only source of fulfillment for believers because He is God. As the true vine, all branches which are part of it will receive proper nourishment and all they need to produce fruit.
The second part of v1 mentions God the Father. Jesus said, “…and My Father is the vinedresser.” Jesus says He is the true vine and His Father is the vinedresser. What does a vinedresser do? Well this vinedresser is God the Father. In this analogy the vine is Christ and the branches attached to the vine are believers. In v2 Jesus tells us what God the Father does, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
Grape vines have two types of branches, ones which produce fruit and ones that don’t. The vinedresser will work all day in the vineyard going from vine to vine checking the health of each branch. The vinedresser’s goal is to have grape vines which produce the maximum amount of grapes. If branches are producing fruit then they are pruned so they will produce more. What happens to those branches which produce no fruit? They are cut out and thrown away.
When I lived in Tulsa in the mid 1980’s my wife, Ina, and I used to take back roads to get from where we lived to where her family lived. They lived south and east of Tulsa so we would leave the metro area and go through a small town called Porter. Porter is famous for its peaches. Porter Peaches are prized. People come from all over the state to pick or buy them. When we would drive by the peach orchards it was amazing how cut back the trees were. Whoever maintained those trees would prune back the branches so all of the energy in the tree would go to producing peaches, not beautiful foliage. It looked cruel to me to make the trees look so stunted. However, those peaches were big and juicy.
What’s the point? In this analogy believers are the branches, not the fruit. As branches attached to the vine our job is to bear fruit, not be the fruit. How does a branch bear good fruit? The vinedresser prunes it. What does that mean to the believer? Well, pruning hurts. It means things are cut away and removed. The pruning forces the branch to rely more heavily on the nourishment from the vine rather than what it would store up for itself. The pruning makes the branch dependent on the vine rather than itself. The things pruned away did not come from the true vine. These are things inherent in the branch or are things acquired from somewhere else. In other words, the things pruned away will be things that are not “of God.” When the branch is pruned as it remains in the vine it will bear fruit the vine produces. However, if the branch doesn’t like the pruning and leaves the vine then it will wither and die.
Genuine believers bear genuine fruit the vine produces. Immature believers don’t bear much fruit, but as they mature they will. What sort of believer bears no fruit? Some might say the new believer or fleshly believer will bear no fruit, however, it may not be much, but all in Christ will bear some fruit because they are attached to the true vine. The branches which bear no fruit are taken away from the vine. They are not genuine believers. Just because someone “professes” to be a believer doesn’t mean they are.
How can we know if we are truly in Christ? Or you may ask, “What is the fruit which genuine believers bear?” If true salvation is as impacting on a believers life as we contend then there should be verifiable evidence or fruit manifested in that life. The problem is in knowing what evidences really prove the presence of God in person’s life and those that don’t. I have noticed most of us look at the wrong things to determine if we are in Christ. Real evidence of the presence of God in a person’s life will be the fruits of salvation. These fruits will in turn lead to outward manifestations of “goodness” or “religiosity” which, unfortunately, can be counterfeited. These outward manifestations are often what we look at to determine if we are a “good Christian” or not. That is a fallacy. Any activity or attitude which can be counterfeited by a false believer can not be used to verify ones salvation.
Let’s take a close look at these evidences that should never be used to verify our salvation. The first evidence which neither proves or disproves ones salvation is Visible Morality. We all seem to fall for the idea that if a person is a “good person” God surely will automatically accept them. Some atheists and agnostics are “good people.” However, the Bible is very clear in stating salvation comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have known many people who were kind and decent yet were not even professing Christians. People with a strong conscience will not stray far from high standards of behavior. Believers do not have a monopoly on high moral standards. In the book of Matthew a rich young man comes to Jesus seeking a savior.
16 And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” 17 And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” 18 Then he *said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER; YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY; YOU SHALL NOT STEAL; YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS; 19 HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER; and YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 20 The young man *said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” 22 But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. 23 And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:16-26 (NASB)
In these verses a “good person” with Visible Morality comes to Jesus to fill the void in his life. Jesus tells him to put away everything else he valued in his life then come to follow Him exclusively. He would not do it. He was a person with high moral standards yet he was not a believer.
The next attribute that cannot be used to determine true salvation is Intellectual Knowledge. Many mistakenly believe that belief in God is the same thing as believing God. I pity the so-called Biblical scholars who have gone hard after intellectual biblical knowledge without one iota of faith. These are the same bunch who will issue statements every so often questioning the veracity of the Gospels or the Deity of Christ. I do not understand why people who are supposed to be intellectual believers do everything they can to water down and liberalize Christianity into just another man-made religion. I don’t know what their motives are, but it is obvious they do not know Jesus as Lord and savior.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1:18-21 (NASB)
The majority of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day had a great deal of head knowledge of their religion, but they were the ones who rejected Jesus as the Christ. Those who should have known and recognized Him missed Him. They had knowledge without faith.
17 But if you bear the name “Jew” and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For “THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU,” just as it is written. 25 For indeed circumcision is of value if you practice the Law; but if you are a transgressor of the Law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Romans 2:17-25 (NASB)
Rightness with God comes only by believing on Jesus Christ as Lord and savior not by knowing about God and the Law.
Another snare many fall for is Religious Involvement. Man is naturally religious. Many people who are deeply involved in religion are not genuine believers. Being faithful in church attendance is not an indication of true saving faith because anyone can do that. Remember only those who know Jesus as Lord and savior are truly saved. “Going to church” is simply religious works not an act of faith. In one of Jesus’ parables He contrasted the genuine believers who are wise with the lost who are foolish.
1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. 5 Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. 6 But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Matthew 25:1-12 (NASB)
The wise know Christ and serve Him obediently. The foolish think their Religious Involvement will save them so they do not submit to Him as Lord or trust Him as savior.
The fourth indicator that should never be used to prove our salvation is Active Ministry. In every church I have been member I have seen people who have served in ministries for years who were not real believers. They thought they were, but they were trusting in religion and ministry to save them. In every case I saw each one repent and come to Christ. However, many who have the title “Pastor” or “Preacher” or “Evangelist” or “Teacher” or “Deacon” or “Elder” do not even know Christ as Lord and savior. How can I say that? I have seen the evidence myself. I have heard the testimonies of those who have gone through seminary and entered the ministry and never knew they were lost. How can this happen? The only answer I have for that question is the wrong indications of true salvation were used by them instead of the correct ones.
Active Ministry can be counterfeited. Some of the hogwash I hear from some radio and television “evangelists” verifies that statement. Jesus Himself attacked them.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:21-24 (NASB)
What did Jesus say? He said not everyone who says Lord, Lord is really saved. He says many of them perform all sorts of religious activities, but their works are actually lawlessness. Only those who are obedient to the will of God by His grace are truly saved. Remember, Active Ministry can be counterfeited.
The fifth false indicator of true salvation is Conviction of Sin. Just because someone feels guilt about their sin does not mean they are saved. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost about their sin to draw them to Christ. Until the sinner repents and comes to Christ for salvation they are still lost. When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea before being sent to Rome for trial he witnessed to the Roman procurator, Felix.
22 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him. 24 But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. Acts 24:22-26 (NASB)
Felix was convicted of his sins, but that did not bring him to salvation.
The sixth false indicator of true salvation is Assurance. Just because you or I might think we are saved because we believe we are does not mean we are. In fact the self-righteous are the ones who attack the truth most vigorously. They believe they have a corner on the truth and are above everyone else. They believe they are the true believers because of their religiosity, but they do not know God and His truth. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were perfect examples of this.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 [ Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.] Matthew 23:13-14 (NASB)
Their pride led them to believe they had the truth, but their Assurance was based on “works” not faith.
The seventh and last false indicator of saving faith is Time of Decision. Just because someone makes a public decision to receive Christ as Lord and savior does not mean they really do. I have seen many come forward at altar calls, tearfully confessing their sins, asking to be led to Christ. Of course we would attempt to do so. After a few Sundays they were gone. They had no power in their life to remain faithful. They responded to conviction by the Holy Spirit, but did not believe. Jesus told a parable about the false and true believers.
11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:11-15 (NASB)
The ones on the rock and the ones in the thorns are those who “believe”, but not with a whole Heart. They fall away because they didn’t really believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Their Time of Decision was false and could not save them.
Here are the seven evidences that can not be used to prove or disprove ones salvation: Visible Morality, Intellectual Knowledge, Religious Involvement, Active Ministry, Conviction of Sin, Assurance, and Time of Decision.
Genuine salvation produces fruit which is produced abundantly as we abide in Christ. The more we abide in Christ the more fruit is produced so we can bear it. We can not manufacture it. It can not be counterfeited. Since none of it can be faked we should examine each one so we can “know” whether we are truly saved or not. If these fruits are missing from our lives then we should be very concerned.
The first fruit that is produced in the life of a true believer is Love for God. The true believer who learns to abide in Christ will be living closer and closer to the Lord each day. They will be changed from the inside out. The changes they see in themselves and the enormity of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross will bring deep gratification and Love for God. As the believer spends increasing amounts of time in the presence of God they commune with Him deeper and deeper each day. They Love the Lord their God with their whole Heart. The Psalmist compares our Love for God as in insatiable thirst.
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. Psalms 42:1 (NASB)
God is above all in the Hearts of the genuine believer.
25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. Psalms 73:25 (NASB)
The believer abiding in Christ, the Spirit-led, loves God and that love grows continuously. The lost who is attempting to fake salvation can not do this. It can not be counterfeited.
5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:5-8 (NASB)
The second fruit that is produced in the life of a true believer is Repentance from Sin. True salvation produces true repentance. No matter how hard carnal people try to repent they can’t do it for long. They are simply trying to change via will power. The believer abiding in Christ will be living a life of walking in repentance. Repentance from Sin is a hallmark of the abiding believer’s life. God changes the Spirit-led believer from the inside out. Repentance from Sin is not something we have to try to do via will power. Thank God! Our part is to determine to obey God then rely on His power to Grant Repentance in our Hearts. This is the actual transformation that takes place in the Heart of a believer who is Spirit-led. A life of repentance is a pure life. A pure life lived before God is a holy life. There is no way a non-believer can fake or counterfeit this. Repentance from Sin is part our responsibility and part God’s. We must seek it and pursue it as the Holy Spirit convicts us, but it is God who changes us.
20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:20-26 (NASB)
God grants repentance to those who pursue godliness. This Repentance from Sin is a work of the Holy Spirit in the Heart of the believer who abides in Christ.
The third fruit that is produced in the life of a genuine believer is Genuine Humility. The truly humble believer is that way because of the good work God has done in their Heart. There is false humility, but it is actually pride pretending to be humble. Its goal is to bring recognition for being seen as humble. That form of humility can be produced by a non-believer. However, Genuine Humility is a fruit of salvation. The non-believer could never counterfeit it. Why? Genuine Humility is a product of ἀγάπη (agapē) love. This form if Love seeks the best for the one loved and is not concerned with self. Genuine Humility and agapē are two sides of the same coin. It is the outcome of God loving others through the believer. The Spirit-led believer will abide in Christ. As they stay in God’s presence God’s love flows through them to all around them. They will never be selfish or self-seeking. They will be treating all around them as Christ would.
The Spirit-led believer is humble because they know they can do nothing without God. They approach God recognizing their utter spiritual bankruptcy before Him.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalms 51:17 (NASB)
They recognize they are sinful when compared to God.
6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:6-10 (NASB)
There is no way for a non-believer to produce this fruit. Genuine Humility is a fruit of true salvation.
The fourth fruit of salvation is Devotion to God’s Glory. As the maturing believer spends more and more time in God’s presence their character is changed. It becomes more and more Christ-like. Part of this change is an understanding of how vital it is to live a life that glorifies God. God is worthy of glory. We are not. The only good we do is submitting to God as He works through us. The maturing believer understands this. The non-believer has no clue about this fact. When a non-believer tries to please God with religion they are really after self-gratification not God’s glory. The Spirit-led believer abiding in Christ is devoted to God’s glory. Their devotion is reflected in the next two passages from Psalms.
3 Glory in His holy name; Let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Psalms 105:3 (NASB)
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, But to Your name give glory Because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth. Psalms 115:1 (NASB)
All praise and worship of God should come from a Heart directed towards God like this. The non-believer can not see this nor counterfeit it. They are dedicated to self-gratification.
The fifth fruit which is exclusive to true salvation is Continual Prayer. The non-believer does not really understand prayer. They see it as some sacred or holy exercise to try to sway God to please them. Continual Prayer is even stranger to them. The Spirit-led believer is in a constant state of communion with God. That is Continual Prayer. The self-focused believer has a problem with this one as well. The reason they are self-focused is they aren’t doing this. This isn’t walking around all day continually talking to God. It is consciously keeping the Lord in your Heart and on your mind all the time. This is meditating on God Himself. All decisions are made in light of that communion. Worship is continual.
16 Rejoice always; 17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
This attitude and abiding in Christ can not be faked our counterfeited.
The sixth fruit of true salvation is Selfless Love. This is agapē directed towards others. It is the expression of True Humility. The presence of Selfless Love for other believers is an indicator of true salvation.
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 1 John 3:14 (NASB)
Selfless Love can not be expressed by anyone consumed by self-gratification. It is present only in those who are owned and in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. The self-focused believer has a hard time with this as well because they abide in Christ intermittently. The Spirit-led express it because they abide in Christ consistently.
The seventh fruit of true salvation is Separation from the World. This fruit in the life of a believer results in the jettisoning of worldly attitudes and activities which are replaced by godly pursuits. This comes as the vinedresser prunes us. The believer, who goes hard after God, abides in Christ and becomes Spirit-led fasts from secular attitudes and feasts on Christ’s character.
The ways of the world are going to be judged. The true believers must learn to separate themselves from them.
15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 17 The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (NASB)
The eighth fruit of true salvation is Spiritual Growth. The non-believer can not do this. Only the genuine believer, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, is being sanctified.
15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:15 (NASB)
In the parable of the sower, in Luke 8, Jesus portrays the word of truth being scattered throughout the World. Some of the seed falls on bad or stony ground and does not grow. Some falls in thorns and is choked out. Only the seed that falls on good ground, the genuine believer, grows and produces fruit. This Spiritual Growth is not accomplished by habitual religiosity or will power. It is produced in the life of a true believer only. It will be manifest mostly in the Heart of the believer who abides in Christ. The Spirit-led are growing in Christ continually. The self-focused grows in spurts accompanied by much back-sliding.
The ninth and last fruit of true salvation is Obedient Living. This is living a life in obedience to the will of God. This is a life that is submitted to the Lordship of Christ. Many believe they are believers because of their religiosity.
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Matthew 7:21 (NASB)
The non-believer does not have the ability to be obedient to the will of God because their will is in bondage to sin. Their will is corrupt and is incapable of choosing to not sin. They don’t know His will anyway. The self-focused believer may know the will of God, but they try to be spiritual by will power even though their regenerate Heart now has the ability to choose to not sin. Sadly, it is still hit-or-miss with them. The Spirit-led believer abides in Christ and is submitted to the Lordship of Christ. God’s will is imparted to them constantly as they stay in His presence. With their regenerate Heart they have the ability to choose to obey God through His grace and walk in victory. They are learning how to hear God. This can not be faked or counterfeited by a non-believer.
Here are the nine evidences that are the fruit of true salvation: Love for God, Repentance from Sin, Genuine Humility, Devotion to God’s Glory, Continual Prayer, Selfless Love, Separation from the World, Spiritual Growth and Obedient Living.
If the evidences in the first list are true of a believer, but the spiritual fruit from the second list are suspect then so is their salvation. If the spiritual fruit in the second list are manifest in a believer’s life then they will also take on the evidences from the first list. It makes sense if you prayerfully consider this argument. The first list can be faked, but no one can fake the second list. Also, there are many sincere people who are like that. They may really believe they are truly saved, but have never come to that place in their life where they have submitted to the Lordship of Christ. If that is the case they are able to be “religious”, but not have the relationship with God that results in the fruits of salvation being manifest in their life.
The self-focused believer struggles with the fruit of salvation. They produce small amounts. They tend to doubt their salvation because of this. I pray God will use this study to motivate them to become Spirit-led.
What has being a true believer or not have to do with abiding in Christ? Everything! Only a true believer can do it. What does abide mean? In the context of John 15 it means to remain. When a believer is self-focused they are not consistently abiding in Christ. They are doing things their way for the most part. They are Hard-Hearted and fleshly. Going through those lists above for the self-focused would be very stressful and convicting for them because they are producing only small amounts of that fruit. The Lost can’t touch the second list. They may be able to pull off the first list, but not the second.
The Spirit-led believer is in the fruit bearing business. They have taken on the Yoke of Christ and His character is being manifest in them. They have come to utter dependence on Christ, their communion with Him, and their obedience to Him. As they remain (abide) in these things their lives become more and more fruitful for Christ as they mature.
God the Father wants all believers to bear fruit in abundance. Why? Look at the second list again. Can you or I do any of that via will power? I can’t for long. However, if I abide in Christ then I can and will by the grace of God.
As we abide in Christ we stay close to Him in communion and obedience.Soli Deo Gloria! Addendum The outline I used to develop this teaching came from a page in my John MacArthur Study Bible I received as a gift from the staff of Trinity Baptist Church for some network work I did for them over several weeks back in the late 1990’s. The page is titled The Character of Genuine Saving Faith and is based on 2 Corinthians 13:5.
Late last Thursday afternoon we received word that the so-called ‘Equality Act’ was formally introduced. In the House it is H.R. 5. The Senate Bill, though drafted, is waiting for a bill number. Some have called this ‘The Criminalization of Christianity Act’ for the impact it would have upon churches and Christian ministries across the country. As Joe Biden ran for President he promised this as a top legislative agenda point to be passed in his first 100 days. It is moving like greased lightning in the House of Representatives.
Joining Jim to look at this critical issue was constitutional attorney Mat Staver. Mat is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel.
Before weighing in on the main topic, Jim had Mat comment on a number of other issues including:
- Today the U.S. Supreme Court decided it won’t be resolving disputes arising from the 2020 elections where state officials violated their own state laws. 3 justices, including Thomas, Gorsuch and Alito, have warned that failing to bring a conclusion to this issue could result in catastrophic consequences. Justice Thomas said that for the high court to refuse to address this is a concern in itself.
- Today was the beginning of confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland who was nominated by President Biden to be the U.S. Attorney General.
- Tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 10am Eastern Time, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will meet in a hearing in consideration of Xavier Beccera to be the next Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Back on February 18th, H.R. 5, the so-called ‘Equality Act’ was introduced. It was immediately sent to five separate committees for hearings. On Friday morning, President Biden ‘tweeted’ the following:
‘The Equality Act provides long overdue federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ+ Americans, preventing discrimination in our housing, education, public services and lending systems. I urge Congress to swiftly pass this historic legislation.’
According to Mat, this is the most radical bill to ever come out of Congress and if passed, it will affect the following: Employers, online retailers and service providers, religious and non-profit organizations, contractors, houses of worship, churches, schools (public, private and religious), colleges, universities, sports, hiring, curriculum, restroom usage, daycare providers, shelters, hospitals, adoption and foster care, and even places of gathering with no numerical limit as to what that would be.
As this broadcast progressed, Jim had Mat look at a number of other factors related to this issue, especially as it pertains to churches and religious freedom:
- How does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act affect this?
- What is the standard that determines a cause of action so that this legislation doesn’t become a haven for harassing lawsuits?
- Is conversion therapy affected by this legislation?
There’s much more to this issue and you can hear it all when you review this critical program.
You can contact your representatives at the following numbers:
More and more corporations are requiring their employees to be less white, in an attempt to stop racism forever. But it’s hard to know how to do that, since at first blush, that SEEMS really racist and impossible. But it’s not. It’s actually really easy if you follow these seven simple steps:
1. Burn all your Live, Laugh, Love signs. This is the first step to renouncing whiteness. Find every last “Live, Laugh, Love” sign in your home, every “Too Blessed To Be Stressed” trinket, and every “All I Need Is A Little Bit Of Coffee And A Whole Lot Of Jesus” mug and burn them as you think about your inherently sinful whiteness.
2. Rip off your skin. This is an easy one!
3. Kill yourself. Even easier! For best results, rip off your skin, then kill yourself.
4. Announce that you identify as a person of color. Wait, never mind. This one might be cultural appropriation. You also might be mistaken for a conservative trying to come up with a third joke.
5. Throw out all your ranch dressing. Ranch dressing, mayo — it’s all gotta go.
6. Take dance classes. This is a hard step, but it’s worth it. As you learn to dance to a beat, your whiteness will begin to melt away.
7. Hate yourself every waking moment until you have sufficiently atoned for your whiteness. Oops! Spoiler alert: you’ll never sufficiently atone for your whiteness. Better go back to step 3.
There you go! Racism ended forever!
Pope Francis is due to hold an inter-religious Chrislam prayer service at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Ur when he visits Iraq next week – an event local archeologists hope will draw renewed attention to the place revered as the birthplace of Abraham.
Pope Francis is sending another shot across the bow as he continues to work assembling the One World Religion of Chrislam foretold in bible prophecy. This time he is bringing his end times road show to the birthplace of Abraham in Iraq at Ur of the Chaldees. Abraham in the bible is at the head of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and he will retain his ‘top of the pyramid’ status as his name is claimed for the Abraham Accords, the Abrahamic Family House and the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative.
“Thou art the LORD the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham;” Nehemiah 9:7 (KJB)
This month it’s the 2-year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Fraternity, the end times covenant that birthed the official kick-off of Chrislam in Abu Dhabi with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb. Hard to believe it’s two years already, isn’t it? Yesterday, orthodox Jews began praying for Antichrist to come, next week the False Prophet will hold a Chrislam One World Religion conclave in Ur, and tomorrow? It just might be Flight #777 taking off, hope you’re ready to fly.
Pope Francis Holding Chrislam Event In Abraham’s Birthplace Of Ur Of The Chaldees At Ziggurat In Iraq
FROM BRITISH HERALD: Located about 300 km (200 miles) south of the capital Baghdad, the site comprises a pyramid-style Ziggurat and an adjacent residential complex as well as temples and palaces. It was excavated about 100 years ago by Leonard Woolley, a Briton who recovered treasures rivalling those found in Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt. But little work has since been done on one of the world’s oldest cities, where urban dwelling, writing and central state power began. According to the State Board for Antiquities and Heritage director for Ur, Ali Kadhim Ghanim, the complex next to the Ziggurat dates back to about 1900 BC.
The inter-religious prayer service will be attended by Christians, Muslims, Mandaean-Sabaean, Yazidi and other religious minorities present in Iraq. The focus will be on harmony between religious groups in a service the Vatican has named “Prayer for the sons and daughters of Abraham”.
The father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Abraham is described in the biblical book of Genesis as living in the city before God called upon him to create a new nation in a land he later learned was Canaan.
“This is why it is believed that this building, or house, was the house of the prophet Abraham,” Ghanim said, pointing at the residential complex.
According to Ghanim, the housing settlement was restored in 1999, after Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope John Paul II, announced a trip to Iraq. But his visit was cancelled when negotiations with the government of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down.
This time, Ghanim hopes that Pope Francis’ visit will attract international attention to the site, which he says is badly needed to fund restoration works on its palaces and temples.
“Not only tourism, but we believe that there will be a Christian pilgrimage season,” Ghanim said.
Un Ponte Per, an Italian-based organization, is working with the United Nations Development Programme on infrastructure works such as paths, rest areas and signposts to help visitors. Roads around the site are being renovated and powerlines extended ahead of the pope’s visit.
But without adequate funding, Ghanim says his administration has been limited to containing further damage to the site, such as digging trenches to divert rainwater from the ruins. Basra’s Archbishop Habib al-Naufaly stressed the symbolic importance of the pope’s March 5-8 visit as Iraq is still recovering from the war against Islamic State that destroyed scores of Christian heritage sites. READ MORE
BURBANK, CA—Disney has placed an offensive content warning in front of The Muppet Show, warning viewers that the program was made in a different era, when comedy was still culturally acceptable.
“This show was made during a different era, when comedy was more culturally acceptable,” reads the warning displayed on the Disney+ page for the show. “It does not reflect our modern values.” Viewers that then proceed to watch the program will find the show is interrupted with a pop-up every five minutes that reads, “It looks like you are still watching a problematic show that contains actual humor. Would you like to do better?”
Disney defended the warning, saying that viewers encountering creative jokes and humor on a modern Disney streaming service might find the experience jarring.
“We just wanted to give our viewers a heads-up that the show contains jokes, comedy, laughter, and free speech,” said a Disney spokesperson. “It feels very dated nowadays, since the show is packed full of problematic things like jokes, innovation, and quality. It’s like, come on, people, this is 2021, not the Dark Ages!”
The Mandalorian is also going to receive a warning, since old episodes of the show featured a free-thinking woman, while Jake and the Never Land Pirates will receive a content warning that the show promotes toxic masculinity and piracy.
WHAT’S INSIDE: Who is afraid of Proverbs 31? / Parenting: one set of guiding principles / The Great Reset: don’t let a crisis go to waste / Music from the eyes: Jamie Soles on what turned him into a songwriter / A more generous ministry of mercy? / 2K is not OK / Rod Dreher’s “Live not by lies”: a review and a discussion / Feature author: David Macaulay / When Big Tech comes after anyone / The con in compromising / What’s God’s favorite verse? / Comics for every age group / Archer Fish: a wonder of Creation / Hospital to get more gender-inclusive / and more…
Click the cover to view or right-click to download the PDF
Volatility has returned to Wall Street, and it appears that our absolutely epic stock market bubble may be in serious trouble. The S&P 500 closed down for the fifth trading session in a row on Monday, and that represents the longest losing streak that we have seen since last February. Investors are starting to get quite nervous, because for most of the past year stock prices have gone in just one direction. Even as the real economy has imploded all around us, there has been tremendous euphoria on Wall Street as stock prices have surged to dizzying heights. If stock prices were allowed to crash, that would definitely not be good for the national mood at all.
So what is the solution?
This stock market bubble was originally created by unprecedented intervention by the Federal Reserve and by extremely wild borrowing and spending by the U.S. government, and in order to keep the bubble going we are going to need a lot more of the same.
So someone needs to tell Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that it is time to go “full Weimar” so that we can prop up this bubble for as long as humanly possible.
For a while there in 2020, the Fed’s balance sheet was increasing at a nearly vertical pace, but in recent months it has only been going up at an exponential rate…
If the Fed wants to keep stock prices at their current levels, Powell and his minions need to fire up the engines again.
Meanwhile, the federal government has work to do as well. If our politicians in Washington really want stock prices to remain ridiculously high, they need to send more checks to the American people as soon as possible.
The effects of the last round of checks is already starting to wear off, and retail investors need more “stimulus money” to fritter away in their Robinhood accounts.
The good news for Wall Street is that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has reiterated her call for a large stimulus package, and Joe Biden has said that he is ready to sign one into law.
Of course at this point poor old Joe signs anything that his handlers put on his desk.
We haven’t added another trillion dollars to the national debt in a few months, and investors are quite eager to see our grand total cross the 28 trillion dollar mark. Most of them believe that more stimulus money will mean higher stock prices, but more stimulus money will also cause our money supply to grow even larger.
Since the start of the pandemic, M1 has been growing at a rate that would put the Weimar Republic to shame…
When I look at that chart, I feel like I am going to throw up.
But the only way to “save Wall Street” is to throw more giant mountains of money on to the fire. If we don’t go “full Weimar”, stock prices might crash to reasonable levels, and investors would be absolutely horrified.
And we are already starting to see warning signs. Just look at what happened to Tesla on Monday…
Shares of Tesla closed down 8.55% on Monday, as investors betting on a pandemic comeback rotated out of Big Tech and piled into cyclical stocks.
It’s Tesla’s biggest drop since Sept. 23, 2020, when it closed down 10.34%.
Do you want to be responsible for Tesla investors losing hundreds of billions of dollars in paper profits?
If not, then you need to support more printing, more borrowing and more spending.
Of course I am being facetious in this article.
By going down the road of hyperinflation, we are systematically destroying the value of the reserve currency of the world, we are piling up trillions of dollars of debt that future generations would never possibly be able to repay, and we are setting the stage for the inevitable meltdown of our current financial system.
In other words, we are literally committing national suicide.
Following World War I, they did the exact same thing in Germany.
The Weimar Republic created money like there was no tomorrow, and at first it fueled a tremendous speculative boom. Just a couple days ago, Michael Burry posted about this on his Twitter account…
“Speculation alone, while adding nothing to Germany’s wealth, became one of its largest activities. The fever to join in turning a quick mark infected nearly all classes..Everyone from the elevator operator up was playing the market.”
But that bubble didn’t last, did it?
Germany plunged into a horrific economic depression that shocked the entire world. Eventually, people were running around with wheelbarrows full of cash to pay for things, but nobody wanted the money because it was so worthless.
And of course the collapse of the Weimar Republic set the stage for World War II.
So why do we refuse to learn from history?
Sadly, it isn’t just the U.S. that is going down a hyperinflationary path. Governments all over the globe have been printing, borrowing and spending money at unprecedented levels, and now the ratio of the world’s debt to GDP has reached a staggering 356 percent…
The world’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 356% in 2020, a new report from the Institute of International Finance finds, up 35 percentage points from where it stood in 2019, as countries saw their economies shrink and issued an ocean of debt to stay afloat.
We all know how this story ends.
It ends with an absolutely nightmarish global economic collapse.
I have been sounding the alarm for years, and many others have as well.
Unfortunately, those warnings have gone unheeded.
Even though our forefathers handed us the keys to the greatest economic machine the world had ever seen, in our insatiable greed we always had to have more.
We just kept borrowing and spending, and many of us assumed that our self-destructive behavior would never actually catch up with us.
Disaster didn’t strike when our national debt hit 10 trillion dollars, and it didn’t strike when it hit 20 trillion dollars either.
To a lot of Americans, it seemed like we could keep this charade going indefinitely.
But now we are facing a day of reckoning, and the price for going “full Weimar” is going to be very bitter indeed.
Death the Funeral of Sin and Resurrection of Hope
Romans 6:5–7; 1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Peter 1:3–7; Revelation 21:4
A man that sees his propriety in God knows that death shall be the funeral of all his sins, sorrows, afflictions, temptations, desertions, oppositions, vexations, oppressions, and persecutions. And he knows that death shall be the resurrection of his hopes, joys, delights, comforts, and contentments, and that it shall bring him to a more clear, full, perfect, and constant enjoyment of God.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
War Should Be a Last Resort
Deuteronomy 20:10–12; Ecclesiastes 3:8
War is to commonweals a remedy indeed, but perilous and dangerous, even as lancing or cutting is to the members [of the body]. The hand is poisoned, and the arm in danger to be envenomed too, whereby the whole man perhaps may be cast away. But yet you do not cut off your hand until, when you have tried all other medicines, you do plainly perceive that no other means can remedy the sore but cutting off alone. Likewise, when all helps fail, then at the last let war begin.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Forgiveness is a problem for many people due to their misunderstanding of what forgiveness involves and confusion about what forgiveness really is. Part of the issue is that sometimes we are unable to distinguish between forgiveness and feeling forgiven. Sometimes our feelings can get out of sync with the reality of forgiveness.
Once a man came to talk to me about feeling greatly distressed because of his guilt. He said that he had committed a particular sin and had prayed and prayed about it but hadn’t received any relief. He wanted to know what he had to do to experience God’s forgiveness. But since he had confessed his sin and begged God to forgive him, I told him that he needed to ask God to forgive him for a different sin—the sin of arrogance. God says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). When we don’t believe that God has in fact forgiven us when we have confessed our sin, we are calling into question His faithfulness. We are saying that God’s promise cannot be trusted. That is supreme arrogance, so we need to ask God’s forgiveness for our refusing to believe His promise.
There is more to this problem of forgiveness. When we sin, one of the most difficult things for us is accepting free, gracious, merciful forgiveness. We are creatures of pride. We think that God’s forgiveness is fine for other people, but when we do something wrong, we want to make up for it. However, this is absolutely impossible for anyone to do. God requires perfect holiness. Once perfection is lost, we cannot regain it. We are debtors with a debt we cannot pay. This is difficult for us to accept because we want to be able to pay our own way. It’s because of our pride and arrogance, both fruits of our sinfulness, that we refuse to accept the forgiveness of God.
Back to the distinction between forgiveness and feeling forgiven: forgiveness is objective but the feeling of forgiveness is subjective. I can feel forgiven but not be forgiven because I haven’t repented. I can excuse myself when God has not excused me, and that false feeling of forgiveness can lead me astray. But I can also not feel forgiven even when I actually have been forgiven. If God declares that a person is forgiven, that person is in fact forgiven. Our lack of feeling forgiven does not negate the reality of what God has done.
What is the authority in our lives? Our feelings, which are subjective, or the Word of God, which is objective truth? The Christian must live practically each day by the Word of God rather than by his feelings. The issue of forgiveness is not whether we feel forgiven, but whether we have repented. If we confess our sin and ask God for forgiveness through Christ, we can be assured that He forgives us.
Sometimes we don’t forgive ourselves even though God has forgiven us. But who are we to refuse to forgive one whom God has forgiven? What makes us so wicked that God’s forgiveness is not enough to cover our sin? In effect, we’re saying that we’re so evil that even the grace of God can’t help us. No, we’re so proud that we refuse God’s grace.
Now let’s look at what forgiveness is. The Bible teaches that when God forgives us, He forgets our sins. This doesn’t mean He erases them from His memory. It means that He doesn’t hold them against us anymore.
How many times has someone told you that he has forgiven a sin you committed against him, and then, the next time you have a fight, he brings up what you did the last time? That person has, in a sense, rescinded his forgiveness. God doesn’t do that. If I am pardoned by God, it is settled and is never to be brought up again. God puts those sins aside and will never speak of them. However, we often reopen old wounds. We allow them to disturb the relationship. If I have forgiven someone, I should never again mention that sin. Forgiveness means not bringing it up.
There is another issue to look at, and that is our obligation to forgive others who sin against us. If such people confess their sin and repent, it is our moral obligation to forgive. However, if they don’t repent, we are not required to forgive. We may forgive, as Jesus did for those who killed Him (Luke 23:34). But in doing that, Jesus didn’t command that we must always forgive those who don’t repent. You can go to those who have wronged you and tell them they have offended you (see Matt. 18:15). If they repent, you have won them. But you are not called to forgive if they don’t repent. You are not allowed to be bitter or vindictive. You have to be loving, caring, concerned, and compassionate, but you don’t have to forgive. You can still talk about it and seek public vindication.
Here is one last problem related to forgiveness that we deal with often as elders in Christ’s church. A husband or wife commits adultery, repents deeply, and then asks his or her spouse for forgiveness. In such a situation, the offended spouse must forgive the guilty partner. However, that spouse is not obligated to stay married to that partner. The Bible makes a provision for the dissolution of a marriage in the event of adultery. The person is required to treat the repentant person as a brother or sister in Christ but not as a spouse.
Another example is a man stealing from us fifty times in our office and repenting each time. We must forgive him, but we can ask for restitution. We don’t have to keep him in our employ, but we must still treat him as a brother in Christ. This situation is an important practical application of the concept of forgiveness. We can have forgiveness and restored relationships, but that does not necessarily mean there are no lasting consequences for our sin.
Source: The Problem of Forgiveness
8:2 the law of the Spirit of life … the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit means His operative power (7:23). The law of sin is the operative power of sin, or else the divine law as used by sin to produce death (7:8–13).
8:2 law of the Spirit of life Refers to the authority of the Holy Spirit, who gives life and empowers believers to do what is right.
8:2 The evidence that believers are in Christ is that the power of sin has been broken in their lives by the work of the Holy Spirit. Law in both instances means principle.
8:2 The word “for” introduces the reason there is no condemnation for the believer; the Spirit has replaced the law that produced only sin and death (7:5, 13) with a new, simple law that produces life: the law of faith (3:27), or the message of the gospel. the law of the Spirit of life. Synonymous with the gospel, the law of faith. the law of sin and of death. The law of God. Although it is good, holy, and righteous (7:12), because of the weakness of the flesh (see notes on 7:7–11; 8:3), it can produce only sin and death (7:5, 13).
8:2 the law of the Spirit: The Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit who energizes our renewed spirit. It is also possible that the word refers to the spirit in us that has now been brought to life.
8:2. There is another principle at work in believers called the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life refers to the power brought by the Holy Spirit that resides in believers. Paul has not mentioned the Spirit since Rom 5:5. In chap. 8 he mentions Him twenty-one times. This is appropriate since the Spirit brings life setting one free from the law of sin (resident in the Adamic nature; cf. 7:18–23) which resulted in an experience of death (see 5:15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:5, 10–11, 13; 8:6, 10, 13).
8:2 The Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death. These are two opposite laws or principles. The characteristic principle of the Holy Spirit is to empower believers for holy living. The characteristic principle of indwelling sin is to drag a person down to death. It is like the law of gravity. When you throw a ball into the air, it comes back down because it is heavier than the air it displaces. A living bird is also heavier than the air it displaces, but when you toss it up in the air, it flies away. The law of life in the bird overcomes the law of gravity. So the Holy Spirit supplies the risen life of the Lord Jesus, making the believer free from the law of sin and death.
8:2. The word because (gar, “for”), connects through (lit., “in”) Christ Jesus in this verse with the identical phrase “in Christ Jesus” in verse 1. (In the Gr. word order of the sentence in v. 2, “in Christ Jesus” follows the law of the Spirit of life.) If 7:7–25 is Paul’s testimony of his struggle as a believer with indwelling sin, then “the Spirit of life” is the Holy Spirit of God, not the spirit of the new nature each believer receives. The Holy Spirit is the Member of the Godhead who regenerates every believing individual (Titus 3:5) and bestows new life (John 3:5–8), the resurrection life of Christ (Rom. 6:4, 8, 11). Romans 8:2 has the second mention of the Holy Spirit since 5:5, but He is mentioned 18 more times through 8:27. This law (“principle”; cf. 7:23) set me free (the Gr. aorist tense suggests a once-for-all act of freedom at salvation) from the law of sin and death. That principle is called the principle “of sin and death” because sin, as Paul said repeatedly, produces death (5:15, 17, 21; 6:16, 21, 23; 7:10–11, 13; 8:6, 10, 13). As the principle of sin it contrasts with the Spirit; as the principle that brings death it also contrasts with the Spirit who gives life. For the pronoun translated me some Greek manuscripts read “us” and others “you” (sing.). The difference is incidental; the truth stated applies to every believer.
8:2 “the law of the Spirit of life … the law of sin and of death” This could refer to: (1) the contrast between the law of sin (cf. Rom. 7:10, 23, 25) and the new law of God (cf. Rom. 7:6, 22, 25); (2) “the law of love” (cf. James 1:25; 2:8, 12) versus “The Mosaic Law” (cf. 7:6–12); (3) the old age versus the new age; or (4) old covenant versus the new covenant (cf. Jer. 31:31–34; the NT book of Hebrews).
This contrasting style is sustained.
- the law of sin and death vs. the law of the Spirit, v. 2
- according to the flesh vs. according to the Spirit, vv. 4 & 5
- things of the flesh vs. things of the Spirit, v. 5
- mind set on the things of the flesh vs. mind set on the things of the Spirit, v. 5
- mind set on the flesh, vs. mind set on the Spirit, v. 6
- in the flesh vs. in the Spirit, v. 9
- body is dead vs. Spirit is alive, v. 10
- you must die vs. you will live, v. 13
- not the spirit of slavery vs. the spirit of adoption, v. 16
|NASB, NRSV, JB
|“has set you free”
|“had made me free”
Verses 2–3 are the theological message of chapter 6. There are several different pronouns which appear in the ancient Greek texts; “me” appears in manuscripts A, D, K & P while “you” appears in א, B, F & G. The pronoun “us” appears later in an uncial manuscript, ψ. The UBS4 compilers give “you” a “B” rating (almost certain). The UBS3 gave it a “D” rating (great difficulty).
Newman and Nida, A Translator’s Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, say “the UBS Greek text suggests “me,” though rating this a “C” decision, indicating a high probability of doubt regarding the original reading” (pp. 145–146).
This problem of PRONOUNS “us,” “you,” or “me/we” is recurrent in the Greek texts of Paul’s writings.
2. For through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and of death.
Paul speaks about “the law of the Spirit of life.” That the Holy Spirit is life in his very essence and also imparts life, both physical and spiritual, is clear from ever so many passages of Scripture. The basis for this doctrine is probably found already in Gen. 1:1; Ps. 51:11; 104:30. For closer references see John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 6:8; and do not forget Rom. 8:11. The law of the Spirit of life is the forceful and effective operation of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of God’s children. It is the very opposite of “the law of sin and death,” for which see on 7:23, 25. Just as the law of sin produces death, so also the law, or ruling factor, of the Spirit of life brings about life. Cf. Rom. 6:23. It does this “through Christ Jesus,” that is, on the basis of the merits of his atonement, and by means of the vitalizing power of union with him.
The question arises, “If in Rom. 7:14–8:2 Paul throughout speaks about himself as a believer, how can he say not only, “I am carnal, sold as a slave to sin … a prisoner” (7:14, 23); but also, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death”? How can a slave and prisoner also be a free person? Does not this very contradiction show that we have erroneously interpreted Rom. 7:14, 23?
The answer is, “Not at all.” On the contrary, when we read these passages—both 7:14, 23 and 8:1, 2, we say, “How wonderful is the Word of God! What a true picture it draws of the person I really am! On the one hand I am a slave, a prisoner, for sin has such control over me that I cannot lead a sinless life (Jer. 17:9; Matt. 6:12; 1 John 1:8, 10). Yet, on the other hand, I am a free person, for though Satan tries with all his might and trickery to keep me from doing what is right—such as trusting God for my salvation, invoking him in prayer, rejoicing in him, working for his causes, etc., he cannot throughout stop me from doing so. He cannot completely prevent me from experiencing the peace of God that transcends all understanding. The sense of victory, which I possess in principle even now and will possess in perfection in the future, sustains me in all my struggles. I rejoice in the freedom which Christ has earned for me!” (cf. Gal. 5:1).
When an interpreter of 7:21–8:2 limits Christian experience to what is found in 7:22, 25a, 8:1, 2, leaving out 7:21, 23, 24, 25b, does he not resemble the musician who tries to play an elaborate piece on an organ with a very restricted number of octaves, or on a harp with many broken strings?
Ver. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Law cancelling law:—1. Few words are oftener on our lips than the word law. But we are in danger of using the word as though laws were impersonal forces, independently of a controlling mind. 2. But a law is not a force. It is only the invariable manner in which forces work. Better still, it is the unvarying method in which God is ever carrying out His infinite plans. How wise and good it is that God generally works in this way, so that we are able to calculate with unvarying certainty on natural processes. 3. And when He wills some definite end He does not abrogate the laws that stand in His way, but cancels their action by laws from higher spheres which counterwork them, e.g., The flight of birds is due to very different causes from a balloon’s. Balloons float because they are lighter, but birds are heavier. The law of the elasticity of the air sets the bird free from the law of gravitation that would drag it to the ground. In the autumn fields the children, in gathering mushrooms, unwittingly eat some poisonous fungus which threatens them with death. Some antidote is given, which, acting as “the law of life,” counterworks the poison, and sets the children “free from the law of death,” which had already commenced to work in their members. So the law of the spirit of life in spring sets the flowers free from the law of death of winter. And “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” set Lazarus “free from the law of sin and death” which imprisoned him in the tomb. And, similarly, the law of life communicated through the Holy Spirit will set us “free from the law of sin and death” which reigns in our hearts.
- There is in each one of us “the law of sin and death.” 1. This evil tendency is derived from our connection with the human family. Races and children alike are affected by the sins and virtues of their ancestors. In every man there is a bias towards evil, just as in the young tiger there is predisposition to feed on flesh, and in the duckling to swim. 2. That tendency survives conversion. “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.” Its strivings may be suppressed; but it is still there, only waiting till His repressive influences are withdrawn to spring up in all its pristine vigour. Conversion is the insertion of a new principle of life, side by side with the old principle of death. Consecration is simply the act by which we put the culture of our spirit into the blessed hands of Jesus. There is nothing, therefore, in either of these acts to necessitate the crushing out of any principle of the old nature.
- God does not mean us to be enslaved by sin. What a contrast between chap. 7:23, 24, and the joyous outburst of this text! The one is the sigh of a captive, this the song of a freed bond-slave. 1. Captivity: you have its symbol in the imprisoned lion, or royal eagle; you have it in the disease which holds the sufferer down in rheumatism or paralysis. But there are forms of spiritual captivity equally masterful. Selfishness, jealousy, envy, and ill-will, sensual indulgence, the love of money. 2. But it is not God’s will that we should spend our days thus. We were born to be free; not, however, to do as we choose, but to obey the laws of our true being. When we free an eagle we never suppose that he will be able to dive for fish as a gull, or to feed on fruits as a humming-bird. But henceforth it will be able to obey the laws of its own glorious nature.
III. We become free by the operation of “the law of the Spirit of life.” “The law of sin and death” is cancelled by “the law of the Spirit of life.” Life is stronger than death; holiness than sin; the Spirit than man. The mode of the Holy Spirit’s work is thus—1. He reveals to us that in the intention of God we are free. So long as you consider captivity your normal state and expect nothing better there is little hope of deliverance. 2. He makes us very sensitive to the presence of sin. 3. He works mightily against the power of evil. 4. He enables us to reckon ourselves “dead indeed unto sin” (chap. 6:11). This is the God-given way of overcoming the suggestions of sin. When sin approaches us we have to answer: “He whom thou seekest is dead, he cannot heed or respond.” Conclusion: 1. “Walk in the Spirit”; “live in the Spirit”; yield to the Spirit. Do not be content to have merely His presence, without which you could not be a Christian, but seek His fulness. Let Him have His way with you. And in proportion as the law of the Spirit becomes stronger, that of the flesh will grow weaker, until “as you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity,” you will now yield them to righteousness unto holiness. 2. And as you find the Spirit of life working within you you may be sure that you are in Jesus Christ, for He only is the element in whom the blessed Spirit can put forth His energy. He is “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” (F. B. Meyer, B.A.)
The law of sin:—
- The law of sin. 1. The word “law” taken properly is the edict of a person in authority, wherein he orders something to be done, backing his or their commands with promises of rewards, as also their prohibitions with threatenings of punishment. In this sense there is a law of sin. For—(1) A law is a commanding thing: it lays its imperative injunctions upon men and expects their obedience (chap. 7:1). Now, in this respect sin is a law; therefore you read of the reigning of sin, of obeying sin, of the dominion of sin (chap. 6:12, 14). The subject is not more under the law of his Sovereign, nor the servant of his master, than the sinner is under the laws of sin. As there is this domination on sin’s part so there is subjection on the sinner’s part; no sooner doth it command, but it is presently obeyed (Matt. 8:9). And where it commands and is obeyed there it condemns, which distinguishes it from all other laws. It rules of itself properly, but it condemns as it lays the foundation of condemnation by another—the law of God. And this speaks the inexpressible misery of the unregenerate. (2) A law is backed with rewards and punishments for the furtherance of men’s obedience. Answerably now to this, sin will be pretending to rewards and punishments, which, though in themselves they are but sorry things, yet they have a great power. For instance, sinner, saith sin, do but obey me, and pleasure, honour, profit, shall be thine. But if these enticing arguments will not do, sin then threatens derision, poverty, persecution, and what not. But note—That sin considered as simply commanding is not a law, but it then becomes formally and completely a law when the sinner obeys; so then he owns the power of it. The laws of usurpers, merely as imposed by them, are no laws, because not made by persons in lawful authority; but if a people freely own these usurpers and willingly put themselves under subjection to them, then, to them their laws become valid and obligatory. 2. The word “law” is taken improperly for anything that hath an impelling virtue in it. It hath the force of a law, and doth that which a true law uses to do. And, therefore, when sin is the principle which efficaciously excites a person to those things which are suitable to its own nature, there sin may be called a law.
- Its mode of operation. 1. Sin exerts its powers in its vehement urging to what is evil. Sin in the habit is altogether for sin in the act; indwelling sin is wholly for dwelling in sin. Though there was no devil to tempt the graceless sinner, yet that law of sin which is in himself would be enough to make him sin. Corrupt nature is continually soliciting and exciting the unsanctified man to what is evil; it will not let him alone day or night unless he gratify it. What an instance was Ahab of this. Sin put him upon the coveting of Naboth’s vineyard, and this it did with such violence that he would eat no bread because he could not have his will (1 Kings 21:5; see Prov. 4:16). 2. This law of sin shows itself in its opposing and hindering of what is good. It is a law which always runs counter to God’s law. Doth that call for such and such duties? Are there some convictions upon the sinner’s conscience about them? Doth he begin a little to incline to what is good? How doth sin now bestir itself to make head in the soul against these convictions and good inclinations!
III. Its miserable bondage. Such being under the law of sin, it follows that they are under bondage the very worst imaginable. We pity those who live under tyrants. But, alas! what is that if compared with this. The state of nature is quite another thing than what men imagine it to be; they think there is nothing but freedom in it, but God knows it is quite otherwise (2 Pet. 2:19). To better convince you of the evil and misery of this bondage, and excite to the most vigorous endeavours to get out of it, note—1. That bondage to sin is always accompanied with bondage of Satan. The devil’s reign depends upon the reign of sin; he rules in the children of disobedience, and takes men captives at his will. Shall a damned creature be thy sovereign—he who will be thy tormentor hereafter? 2. What sin is. (1) Look upon sin in itself. It is the vilest thing that is: the only thing which God never made. It is the only thing that God cannot do. (2) Look upon sin in the management of its power. Usurpers often make good laws; and indeed they had need use their power well who get it ill. The philosopher tells us that the intention of the legislator is to make his subjects good; but sin’s intention is only to make its subjects bad. Then, this sin is not only out of measure sinful in the exercise of its power, but it is also out of measure tyrannical. All the Neros, Caligulas, Domitians, &c., that ever lived were nothing to it. This first acted the part of a tyrant in them before they acted the part of tyrants over others. The tyranny of sin appears in many things. Its commands are—(a) Innumerable. (b) Contrary. Lust clashes with lust (Titus 3:3). (c) Rigorous. It must have full obedience or none at all (Eph. 2:3). (d) Never at an end. (e) So imperious and cruel that its vassals must stick at nothing. 3. That it is a soul bondage. The bondage of Israel in Egypt was very evil, yet not comparable to this, because that was but corporal and external, but this is spiritual and internal. There may be a servile condition without and yet a free and generous soul within; but if the soul itself be under servitude then the whole man is in servitude. 4. That of all bondage this is the most unprofitable. As to other bondage the master may be cruel enough, but then he makes some amends by giving good wages; but the sinner serves that master which pays him no wages at all—death excepted (chap. 6:21). 5. That the worst of this bondage is that they who lie under it are altogether insensible of it. Where it is external and civil bondage men groan under it, would fain be rid of it (Exod. 2:23). But the poor deluded sinner, like some distracted persons, plays with his chains. 6. That it is the most hurtful and most dangerous bondage: for it makes way for and most certainly ends in eternal death. Death puts an end to other bondage (Job 3:18, 19); but the worst of spiritual bondage follows after death. You have in the text the law of sin and the law of death coupled together (see also Rom. 6:16, 21, 23). (T. Jacomb, D.D.)
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ:—1. Men of the world think that the gospel has to do only, or chiefly, with death, and that its atmosphere is generally repressive. But the fact is the reverse. The gospel gives life for death, joy for sorrow; a conquering power of soul to meet the disability of the flesh; an abounding sphere beyond this world. 2. Every life force is mysterious. We cannot explain the forces of nature. Nor can we explain the mystery of this unique transformation, but we may study its effects and ask ourselves if they are realised in us. Contemplate the change wrought—
- In human activities. I will not select one whose life has been abandoned, but who is no stranger to religion, and who has led an outwardly correct life under the guidance of self-respect, and with regard to the good opinion of others. When renewed by the Spirit of God and freed from the law of sin and death he comes under the control of new influences. The love of Christ constrains, not prudence or sagacity. The charm of the Scriptures and of the sanctuary is something never known before. Resistance to sin is not, as before, a feeble, prudential avoidance, but a vehement hate. Love for holiness is ardent, and Christian work not a burden, but a joy.
- On one’s mental convictions. I would not refer to the scoffer, but rather to one who regards himself orthodox. He accepts Christianity as the most rational interpretation of nature. He accepts also the historic Christ, and redemption as well. But when such a person is born again, and sees God as his own Father, and the Saviour as his own Redeemer; when he sees the atonement, not as a philosophic scheme, but as a transcendent fact, involving greater resources than those of creation, a patience and love that shrunk not from the Cross, then a flood of light bursts on epistle, gospel and apocalypse, and a glory in the future rises on his view which is unspeakable. This intellectual elevation comes not from a study of the catechism, from a course of eloquent sermons, or from mere reflection upon the Word of inspiration, but as the result of that transforming power called “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”
III. On the temper of his heart. The ordinary attitude of a thoughtful mind toward the realities of religion is one of wonder and admiration. Yet all this sentimentality is inert and inoperative. There is no personal affection for the Saviour. Sometimes the character of an acquaintance is dim and commonplace, until some critical exigency arises which gives beauty and worth to that character. Then a personal and passionate attachment is roused. So with the waking of the new life in the soul, Christ appears in new and alluring loveliness. He seems no more afar off, but near at hand, in closest fellowship day by day. With such a Saviour, daily duties are delights however humble. The temper of heart is changed toward Christ’s followers as well. The Christian loves his brethren for the Master’s sake. His love is not founded on social or intellectual considerations, but grows out of spiritual unity and kinship, because of likeness to Christ. This change of temper and taste is the result of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus alone.
- In the expectations of the future. All men, pagan as well as Christian, look forward to a future existence. Unconverted men hope to be Christians before they die, but their ideas of the future are dim. With the believer death is seen to be but a transitional step, the mere portal to the shrine. While the world’s law is death in life, the gospel’s law is life in death. So the gospel fronts the world. Which is the better? Conclusion: Learn—1. That it is in this gospel that life asserts its freedom. All departments of thought and effort, religious and secular, are alike ennobled and quickened. 2. This is a life which tends to consummation and perfection. The snow-bound field lies bare beneath the fetters of frost. It seems dead and barren, but with the melting warmth of spring there comes a verdure in place of ice and snow. All things are changed. So when this spiritual life force is allowed to exert its renewing and transforming energy on the soul of man, life is perfected and crowned. (R. S. Storrs, D.D.)
The Christian liberty achieved; or, the law of the Spirit of life making free from the law of sin and death:—The “therefore now” does not introduce an inference from the immediately preceding argument—which could not warrant it—but one grounded on the previously affirmed effectiveness of the gospel to accomplish that for believers which the law never could. The justifying ground of this discharge from condemnation was set forth in chap. 3:21–26. The principle upon which it proceeds was illustrated in chap. 5:12–21. The persons to whom it is extended, and the new life of which they become the participators was specified in chap. 6:1–11. The reason for the impotence of the law was stated in chap. 6:14, and this impotence had supplied the theme for illustration in chap. 7:6–25, and the power of the gospel which had been distinctly stated in ver. 6, with an eye to which the apostle had penned (ver. 25). Note—
- The law of sin and death from the power of which believers obtain deliverance in Christ. It will be observed that the apostle does not speak of two laws, but of the one. Not that the two things are one, but that the one “law” pervades them both, and binds them together (chap. 5:12–21; Ezek. 18:4; James 1:15; Eph. 2:1–5; 4:17–19). This one law renders it impossible that the sinner can of himself regain the possession of innocence and peace, and evermore impels him onwards and downwards in the fearful descending circle of transgression and punishment. Man in the very act of sinning dies; or, being already dead, plunges into a still deeper death (Heb. 9:14).
- The sphere within which liberation has been provided—“In Christ.” 1. In Christ the double necessity of man’s case has been provided for; the twofold difficulty has been solved; the one by the death of the Son of God, the other by His life (chap. 4:25; cf. 5:18, 21). 2. The actual liberation is conferred on men only as they become united to Christ. It is indeed true that there has come a dispensation of grace and renewed probation to all men; but the actual discharge from condemnation, and the liberty from the “law of sin and death,” do not come to any but to those who are found in Christ by faith (cf. Eph. 1).
III. For all those who are in Christ the liberation is actually accomplished. 1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ”: He was condemned on their account, and they were condemned in Him. He died for their sins, and they died in Him (chap. 6:7, 8). 2. The liberation from sin is secured to believers in the active life; “for the law of the Spirit of life,” &c. (1) The law of sin is a law of death; and the “law of the Spirit” is a law of life. Sin deals death, and thereby perpetuates both itself and its punishment; but “the Spirit” inspires life, and thereby liberates both from sin and death, and insures everlasting victory and blessedness. (2) But how does the law of this new life in Christ exert within us its liberating power? Does it seize upon us from without, as the Spirit of inspiration seized upon the prophets? Or does it come upon as as a new constituent element of being? Or is it not the law of a new life which is infused into our spirit by the Spirit of God? (3) The new law acts upon the conscience through the medium of the light and truth of the gospel (John 17:3; 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:23). This living and abiding Word supplies—(a) That precious knowledge of the redemption in Christ which provides peace for the guilty conscience. (b) That knowledge of the royal and perfect law of liberty which is a sure and sufficient guide for conscience in the practical life. (c) That knowledge of God, as a God of love, as our God and Father in Christ, which imparts joyous courage and prevailing power to conscience. Conclusion: 1. Secure this glorious liberty. (1) Ponder well the terrible power of this law, and the dreadful consequences of remaining beneath its dominion. (2) There is now in Christ a perfect liberty from this law available for all who will accept it. Lay hold, by faith, of the hope now set before you in the gospel of Christ. 2. Having secured this inestimable liberty see that you hold it fast. (W. Tyson.)
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ:—
- The law of the Spirit signifies the power of the Holy Spirit, by which He unites the soul to Christ, in whose righteousness it therefore partakes, and is consequently justified. This law is the gospel, whereof the Holy Ghost is the Author, being the authoritative rule and the instrument by which He acts in the plan of salvation. It is the medium through which He promulgates the Divine testimony; by which also He convinces of sin and testifies of the almighty Saviour. The gospel may be properly denominated a law, because it bears the stamp of Divine authority, to which we are bound to “submit” (chap. 10:3). It requires the obedience of faith (chap. 1:5; 16:26); and when men refuse this submission, it is said that they have not “obeyed the gospel” (chap. 10:16). Although, therefore, the gospel is proclaimed as a grace, it is a grace accompanied with authority, which God commands to be received. Accordingly, it is expressly called a “law” (Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2); and in Psalm 110:2, referring to the power exerted by its means, it is said, “The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion. Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies”—namely, by thine almighty power. The gospel, then, is the law of the Spirit by which He rules, and the rod of His strength, by which He effects our salvation, just as, in chap. 1:16, it is denominated “the power of God unto salvation.” The gospel is itself called “the Spirit,” as being administered by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 3:8).
- The gospel is the law of the Spirit of life, the ministration of which “giveth life,” in opposition to the “letter” or old covenant that killeth (2 Cor. 3:6; cf. John 6:63; Ezek. 37:14; 1 Cor. 15:45). Christ is the life itself, and the source of life to all creatures. But here the life is that which we receive through the gospel, as the law or power of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which the apostle calls “the life of God” (Eph. 4:18).
III. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ is set before us in two aspects. As God, the Spirit of life resides essentially in Him; but as Mediator, the Spirit of life has been given to Him to be communicated to all who are one with Him. On this account the Spirit was not given in His fulness (John 7:39) till Jesus Christ as Mediator had entered into heaven, when the Father, solemnly receiving His satisfaction, gave this testimony of His acceptance, in pouring out the abundance of the Spirit on His people (John 16:7; Eph. 1:3). That the Spirit of life is in Jesus Christ, not only as God, but also as Mediator, is a ground of unspeakable consolation. It might be in Him as God, without being communicated to men; but as the Head of His people, it must be diffused through them as His members, who are thus complete in Him. Dost thou feel in thyself the sentence of death? Listen, then “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in His Son.” “I am come that they might have life.” “Because I live ye shall live also.” This life, then, is in Jesus Christ, and is communicated to believers by the Holy Spirit, by whom they are united to Christ, and from whom it is derived to all who through the law of the Spirit of life are in Him. (R. Haldane.)
Law of the Spirit of life:—The “law” in the text, whether that of “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” or that “of sin and death,” is a constraining influence—a moral force, an active power—an agency that acts mightily on the soul. And it is plain from the statements made regarding them, that these laws respectively are paramount at the time; they govern the whole being, either one or the other sits upon the inner throne of a man and governs him. It is a matter of life and death—of happiness or of misery, of freedom or of slavery, of everlasting weal or eternal woe.
- The inquiry relates to the law of sin and death. This must be an influence or force which is evil, which is the parent of sin, driving us along in the path of transgression, and which is not only of the nature of spiritual death, but which also issues in eternal death. 1. In order that we may ascertain its nature, let some thought be given to the process by which it is first established in the human soul. 2. As a mighty force this law is seen in those ruling passions of mankind which discard the authority of God. What is supreme love of money but self-gratification at the expense of one’s allegiance to the Most High. 3. We further discover the might of this law of sin and death in the sins of man against his fellow-man. When one overreaches another in trade, does he not gratify his desire for gain at the expense of another?
- Some general characteristics of this law. 1. It is often subtle in its actings. 2. It is a law of death as well as of sin. 3. It is slavery. This law of sin and death befools and degrades, and it is an unmitigated despotism. Woe to the soul under its unrestrained power! 4. It has had control universally.
III. We have to ask concerning the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. “The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” 1. It is a Divine implantation. “The Spirit of life” is undoubtedly “the Holy Spirit,” who is the Author of spiritual life in the soul. “When He cometh, He shall convince the world of sin.” Until He speaks inwardly, the mind seems unaware of the presence and power of the law of sin and death. It is also His gracious office to attract the soul to a vital union with Christ. Under the blessed light which He kindles around and within the heart, the redemption of Christ appears in its true aspect as most full, glorious, and adapted to save. 2. As the other is a law of sin and death, this is one of obedience and life. Self-love now seeks its gratification in pleasing God and doing His will. 3. Observe throughout that it is in Christ Jesus. To those who receive Him, He gives the privilege to become the sons of God. The Cross of Christ slays the enmity of the heart.
- This law sets free from the other. If it be established as the governing principle the other cannot be. They are in their own nature opposites. Self-love is gratified in the one case, in opposition to the claims of God and the well-being of others; in the other, by obedience and devotion to the supreme law of our being, love to God and man. Conclusion: 1. The adaptation of the religion of Christ to man. 2. We discover where true freedom and true happiness are found. 3. What we all need, and what the world needs, is to be delivered from the law of sin and death by the working in us of this ennobling force. What a glorious object of pursuit! How well worth all self-sacrifice! (H. Wilkes, D.D.)
Believers are freed through the law of the Spirit of life:—
- The deliverance obtained—1. By nature we are all (chaps. 6; 7) in spiritual bondage. We are “sold under sin,” and so necessarily are under death (chap. 5:12). The law of sin and the law of death are one and the same principle disclosing itself in different manifestations and degrees. Poisonous fruit is sap worked up, legitimately developed. 2. This evil principle drives man from God. (1) As it is darkness (1 John 1:5–7; 2:9), it drives him from the fountain of soul-light. (2) As it is death, from the fountain of life (Acts 17:28). 3. From this 3. From this evil principle believers are made free. Not from death, though its sting is taken away; nor even from sin perfectly. But over against death faith sees the resurrection placed, and over against sin the unblemished perfection of the redeemed.
- The agency whereby this deliverance is accomplished. Law counteracting law. 1. The term “law” term “law” may mean mean—(1) A certain code like the Decalogue and the laws of nations. (2) A principle operating with all the regularity and fixedness of statute—in which sense laws of thought, gravitation, refraction, are laws. 2. The latter is the signification here. (1) The “law of the Spirit” this new victorious law is called. It is contrary to whatever is of the flesh. In its origin, nature, mode of working, it is Divine. From God it comes. For God it moves. To God it leads. (2) It is the law of the Spirit of life. As the same Spirit is named the Spirit of wisdom, counsel, &c. (Isa. 11:2), of holiness (chap. 1:4), of truth (John 14:17; 15:26), because He makes wise, holy, leads into all truth, so He is here named the Spirit of life, as He leads into life, and works life. Of all soul-life He is the Author, Promoter, Regulator, Perfecter (John 6:63; 1 Pet. 3:18). This law of the Spirit of life as the stronger man casts out the strong (Luke 11:22). Water poured into a vessel expels the air.
III. The sphere within which this agency is so efficiently operative. Like laws of nature, it works within certain limits. Iron, not glass, will conduct electricity. Dews, droughts, hurricanes are conditioned by varied zones of atmospheric circumstances; so outside the region of “being in Christ Jesus” the law of the Spirit of life does not effect its hallowing results upon our souls. Within that radius, however, its might is sovereign. It frees believers. Conclusion: Note—1. The urgent importance of ascertaining which of these laws is supreme in our soul. If not conscious of resistance to the law of sin, we are under its sway. We may even be troubled about the commission of certain sins, and give heed to certain duties, and yet be in utter servitude to it (Ezek. 33:31). 2. The great need of asking the promised Spirit (Matt. 7:11; Luke 10:13). Regeneration, sanctification only obtainable through His power. 3. The duty of consciously living in this freedom, not confusing liberty with license (Luke 1:74, 75). Carefulness against presumption and despondency alike is indispensable (Eph. 6:11–13). 4. The strong consolation of knowing that ultimate perfection can be calculated upon with all the certainty of a result of “law.” Given the reign of the law of the Spirit of life in a soul, then amid and in spite of all conflicts the beauty of the renewed life will be patent and increase (Psa. 138:8; Heb. 12:23; 13:21). (J. Gage, B.D.)
The law of the Spirit frees from the law of sin:—Note—1. The Spirit frees from the law of sin. In reference to this you may consider Him either essentially as He is God, or personally. As it is the Son’s proper act to free from the guilt, so it is the Spirit’s proper act to free from the power of sin, it belonging to the Son to do all without and to the Spirit to do all within. That which God once said in reference to the building of the temple—“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit”—is applicable here. 2. This is done by the Spirit of life. This refers either to the Spirit as He is a living Spirit, or refers to the time when the Spirit quickens and thus regenerates, or to the method of regeneration itself. The Spirit who renews, when He renews, by renewing, brings sin under. 3. It is the law of the Spirit by which this is done. Here is law against law, the power and efficacy of the Spirit against the power and efficacy of sin (Eph. 3:20). The law of sin has a moral and a physical power; and so with the Spirit. He hath His moral power, as He doth persuade, command, &c.; and He hath His physical power, as He doth strongly, efficaciously incline and impel the sinner to such and such gracious acts; yea, as He doth effectually change his heart, make him a new creature, dispossess sin of its regency, and bring him under the government of Christ. And herein the law of the Spirit is above the law of sin. Set corrupt nature never so high, yet it is but a finite thing, and so hath but a finite power; but the Spirit is an infinite being, and puts forth an infinite power. For the better opening of the truth in hand, note—
- The necessity, sufficiency, efficacy of the power of the Spirit in freeing men from the power of sin. 1. The necessity of the power of the Spirit. Omnipotency itself is requisite thereunto; that is the strong man which keeps the palace till Christ, through the Spirit (which is stronger than it), comes upon it and overcomes it. The power of nature can never conquer the power of sin, for nature’s greatest strength is on sin’s side. That the power of the Spirit is thus necessary if you consider that—(1) Sin is in possession. (2) It hath been so a long time. (3) Its dominion is entire; it hath all on its side. When there is a party within a kingdom ready to fall in with the foreign force that comes to depose the tyrant, he may with more facility be vanquished; but if all the people unanimously stick to him, then the conquest is the more difficult. Christ said, “The prince of this world cometh and hath nothing in Me”; so the poor sinner may say, “The sin-subduing Spirit comes, but He finds nothing in me to close with Him.” (4) The natural man likes the power of sin. (5) Sin is very resolute for and in the maintaining of what it hath; it will fight it out to the last, and die rather than yield. (6) Satan sets in with it, and upon all occasions gives it all the help he can, as allies do. 2. Its sufficiency. As Christ is able to save to the utmost from sin’s guilt, so the Spirit also is able to save to the utmost from sin’s power. God once said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee” (2 Cor. 12:9). Now, as that grace is sufficient to bear up under the heaviest afflictions, so this grace is sufficient to bring down the strongest corruptions. Who is sufficient for these things? Why He, and none but He, who hath infinite power. 3. Its efficacy. (1) He doth not only in a moral way advise, counsel, persuade the sinner to cast off sin’s bondage, but puts forth an insuperable strength upon him, and so goes through with the work. (2) When He comes about this or any other saving act, He doth not leave the sinner’s will in suspense, but, in a way congruous to its liberty, He overcomes and determines it for God against sin, so as that it shall neither hesitate nor make any resistance to His grace.
- In what ways the Holy Spirit doth exert his power. 1. He effectually works upon the understanding, that being the leading faculty. (1) Whereas He finds it under darkness, He acts as a Spirit of illumination, filling the soul with saving knowledge. It required Omnipotency to say, “Let there be light”; no less a power is requisite to the having enlightening of the sinner (Eph. 5:8). But this being done, sin is broken in its power by it; for ignorance is one of its royal forts. (2) Whereas it lies under sad mistakes, therefore the Spirit doth rectify it and makes it to judge aright. (3) Whereas it is full of high and proud thoughts, of strange imaginations and reasonings, He casts them down (2 Cor. 10:5). 2. He then proceeds to the will. (1) Of all the faculties, sin contends most for the will, which, when it hath once gained, it will not easily part with. And so, too, the Spirit contends most for the will. He puts forth the greatest efficacy of His grace for the setting of that right and straight for God, that it may choose and cleave to His holy commands in opposition to the laws and commands of sin. (2) Yet though He acts thus efficaciously, He doth not at all violate its liberty, but exerts all this power in such a way as agrees with that liberty (Psa. 110:3; Cant. 1:4). He removes that averseness, obstinateness, reluctancy, that is in it against what is holy and spiritual. 3. In acting on the affections, He disengages them from sin, and sets them directly against it, and so freeing the sinner from the love of sin. Application: 1. Let such who desire this mercy betake themselves to the Spirit for it. (1) See that you pray in faith, believing in the sufficiency of His power. (2) Let all other means be joined with prayer. They are but means, and therefore not to be relied upon; yet they are means, and therefore not to be neglected. 2. Let such who are made free from this law of sin own the Spirit of life as the author of their freedom, and ascribe the glory of it to Him. 3. Greatly to love and honour the Spirit. 4. As you have found the law of the Spirit in your first conversion, so you should live under the law of the Spirit in your whole conversation. 5. Set law against law—the law of the Spirit against the law of sin. (T. Jacomb, D.D.)
The believer’s freedom from the law of sin:—
- The leading terms of the text. 1. By the “Spirit of life” we are here to understand the Holy Ghost. Men are spiritually dead; the animal and intellectual life remains; but the spiritual life—the life which connects man with, and qualifies him for the enjoyment of God—was extinguished by the fall, and can only be restored by the “Spirit of life.” And hence we are said to be “born again” of the Spirit. And as it is His office to restore spiritual life, so He maintains it. All “good” comes from Him and depends on Him. 2. He is called “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” Because—(1) We are indebted to Christ for the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is owing to Christ’s meritorious sacrifice that we are enabled and entitled to receive the Spirit. (2) It is the office of Christ to dispense the Spirit. From His “fulness” it is that we are to “receive grace upon grace.”
- The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. By this we are to understand the gospel, applied by the Spirit’s power to the hearts of men. The gospel is often called a law—“The perfect law of liberty”; “The isles shall wait for His law”; “The law of Messiah shall go forth from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.” What law ever went forth from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth but the gospel? 1. A law is an enactment or command issuing from supreme authority, fully published and made known, and enforced by sanctions of reward to the obedient, or of punishment against the disobedient. This constitutes, when it is published or made known, the rule of action, the standard of character, and the ground of decision and judgment; this is law in general. The gospel answers to this general definition in every particular. (1) It is an enactment or command. It comes with authority. It is not a statement of historical facts, an exhibition of truth, a collection of promises only; it comes to us with authority, that the facts should be credited, the truths received, the blessings included in the promises sought by us; so it may be said of us that we are God’s witnesses that the gospel is a “law.” Where there is no knowledge of the gospel there can be no obligation to receive it; but the moment the gospel comes to a man, from that time it becomes binding upon his conscience, and it is at his peril if he neglect or disobey it. (2) It is enforced by sanctions; there is reward to the obedient, punishment for the disobedient. (3) It issues from the highest authority in the universe. (4) It is duly published and made known. Whatever may be said of the condition of those who live in the “dark places of the earth,” generally speaking, at least, ignorance of the gospel among ourselves is wilful, and therefore criminal. (5) It constitutes the standard of character and the rule of decision. “God will judge the secrets of all hearts,” says Paul, “according to my gospel.” 2. But why is it called the Spirit’s law? Because it is the instrument by which the Spirit most efficiently operates upon the understanding, the will, the conscience, and the character of the man. By, and with it, he operates with the force and the authority of a law, overcoming and reducing and governing the mind. The power that accomplishes the great work of regeneration is the power of the Spirit; but the instrument He employs is the “Word of truth.”
III. The law of sin and of death. 1. By this some understand the moral law considered in its application to fallen man, as the covenant of works. This law, when given to man innocent and holy, in the possession of Divine and spiritual life, was well adapted to his case. But when man became a transgressor, then that which “was ordained unto life” began to operate unto death. It is the “law of sin” to all the unconverted, its very object being to “make sin appear exceeding sinful.” By the law is the knowledge of sin. Let a man apply it to his own character, and it will prove, to the conviction of his conscience, that he is a sinner; and, of course, wherever it proves sin it pronounces the sentence of death. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” 2. But others understand (and the general scope of St. Paul’s argument is favourable to the opinion) the sinning principle in the nature of fallen man. Wherever this principle of unsubdued enmity to God and holiness exists in the heart, it will manifest itself in outward acts of sin. And these acts become habits, by repetition; and thus sin becomes master. There his law is “a law of death.” Wherever there is sin in the root, there is death in the fruit; “the end of these things is death.” “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
- The law of the Spirit of life makes us free from the law of sin and death.” 1. This is true of the law of sin and death, understood as the covenant of works, the broken moral law. It is in reference to this that the apostle seems to be speaking in ver. 1. Before they were “in Christ,” they were condemned by the law for having broken it. But no sooner did they put their souls, by penitence and faith, into the Saviour’s bands, than all the mass of transgressions and guilt which rested upon them was removed. And now “there is no condemnation,” they are “made free from” the condemnatory demands of the moral law, from the curse of the covenant of works. 2. But true believers are delivered from the sinning principle which contaminates our fallen nature. “Sin shall have no dominion over you.” V. Practical inferences. The salvation of Christ is—1. Of indispensable necessity. It is, in fact, “the one thing needful”; “our souls without it die.” 2. A present salvation. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free.” 3. That connected with satisfactory evidence of its existence. St. Paul does not speak as if he were at all doubtful; as if it were a business of mere conjecture or probability, of inference or anticipation. He had a consciousness of his freedom. 4. A personal affair. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free. (Jabez Bunting, D.D.)
Freedom from law achieved by law:—We see this principle at work in the material world. A higher law comes into play and over-rides ordinary law. Thus dynamic law subjugates mechanical force, as in the steam-engine; chemical law, in turn, annihilates dynamic force; and intellectual power is superior to vital law, and moral to intellectual. The lower laws take effect upon the lower natures. The mechanical law of gravitation affects stones; but let a higher law of affinity come into operation, and those stones will be transformed into other combinations, such as gases, which will be above the laws of gravitation, and will form food for plants, &c. Mechanical law, however applied, cannot convert stones into bread. Chemical law can. If you mechanically pound ice or melt it, you can get nothing but water; but chemistry transforms it into power, and gas, and food. In the text the apostle is presenting to us in the kingdom of grace what is taking place in the kingdom of nature—law conquering law—e.g., a human body subject to chemical law ferments, putrifies, decays; but the vital law holds all these in check. It is only when the higher vital law is gone that the lower law reigns. (Percy Strutt.)
The two laws:—
- What is meant by “law.” 1. Law is an authoritative code framed by a master for the regulation of his servants. But when we speak of the laws of nature, we denote the process by which events invariably follow each other. The law which accountable creatures are bound to obey is one thing; the law, in virtue of which creatures are always found to make the same exhibition in the same circumstances, is another. 2. It is not difficult, however, to perceive how the same term came to be applied to things so distinct. For law, in the first sense of it, is not applicable to a single command which may never be repeated. True, like all the others, it is obeyed, because of that general law by which the servant is bound to fulfil the will of his master; yet it does not attain the rank of such a denomination unless the thing enjoined be habitual. Thus the order that doors shall be shut, or that none shall be missing after a particular hour, or that Sabbath shall be observed, may be characterised as the laws of the family—not the random orders of the current day. Now this common circumstance of uniformity has extended the application of the term “law.” Should you drop a piece of heavy matter, nothing is more certain nor more constant than its descent—just as if constrained so to do by the authority of a universal enactment on the subject, and hence the law of gravitation. Or, if light be made to fall on a polished surface, nothing more mathematically sure than the path by which it will be given back again to the eye of the beholder, and hence in optics the law of reflection. Or if a substance float upon the water, nothing more invariably accurate than that the quantity of fluid displaced is equal in weight to that of the body which is supported; and all this from a law in hydrostatics. But the difference lies just here. The one kind of law is framed by a living master for the obedience of living subjects, and may be called juridical law. The other is framed by a living master also, for it is God who worketh all in all; but obedience is rendered by the force of those natural principles wherewith the things in question operate in that one way which is agreeable to their nature. This kind of law would by philosophers be called physical law.
- In which of these two senses shall we understand “law” in the text. To determine this, we shall begin with the consideration of—1. The law of sin and death. It is quite obvious that this is not a law enacted in the way of jurisprudence. It is neither more nor less than the sinful tendency of our constitution. It is called a law because, like the laws of gravitation or electricity, it has the property of a moving force, inasmuch as it incessantly aims after the establishment of its own mastery. Death comes as regularly and as surely in the train of our captivity to sin as the fruit of any tree, or the produce of any husbandry, does by the laws of the vegetable kingdom. 2. The law of the Spirit of life just expresses the tendency and the result of an operative principle in the mind that has force enough to arrest the operation of the law of sin and death. The affection of the old man meets with a new affection to combat and to overmatch it. If the originating principle of sin be shortly described as the love of the creature, the originating principle of the spiritual life might also be briefly described as the love of the Creator. These two appetites are in a state of unceasing hostility. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.
III. The second of these laws. 1. Is called—(1) The law of the Spirit, because referable to the Holy Ghost, by whose agency the new moral force has been made to actuate the soul and give another direction to the whole history. (2) The law of the Spirit of life, because he in whom this law is set a-going is spiritually minded; and as to be carnally minded is death, so to be spiritually minded is life. It is like the awakening of man to a new moral existence, when he is awakened to the love of that God whom before he was glad to forget; like a resurrection from the grave when, aroused from the deep oblivion of nature, man enters into living fellowship with his God. It is only now that he has begun to live. 2. When does this visitation of the Spirit descend upon the soul? This is shown by the words “In Christ Jesus.” As surely as when you enter a garden of sweets one of your senses becomes awakened to the perfumes; as surely as when emerging from the darkness of a close apartment to the glories of an unclouded day another of your senses is awakened to the light and beauty, so surely when you enter within the fold of Christ’s mediatorship, and are united with Him, then there is an awakening of the inner man to the beauties of holiness. We refer to a law of nature, the impression of every scene, in which he is situated, on the senses of the observer; and it is also by the operation of such a law that, if in Christ, we become subject to a touch that raises us to spiritual life, and maketh us susceptible of all its joys and all its aspirations. 3. What have we to do that we may attain this condition. I know of no other instrument by which the disciple is grafted in Christ Jesus, even as the branches are in the vine, than faith. And “the Holy Ghost is given to those who believe.” “The promise of the Spirit is unto faith.” (T. Chalmers, D.D.)
Delivered from the law of sin:—Sin and death are partners of one throne and issue one law (cf. vers 14, 21). To obey the one is to obey the other. In former days Paul was compelled to do the bidding of sin. But the Holy Spirit has set him free by making His own will the rule of Paul’s life. Just so a conqueror, by setting up his own laws in a conquered country, makes the former laws invalid. That the country obeys the new laws is a proof of conquest. Similarly, the presence and guidance of the Spirit have made Paul free from the rule of sin. This is not a change of bondage, but freedom from all bondage. For the law of the Spirit is the will of our Maker, and therefore the law of our being. And to obey the law of our being is the only true freedom. “In Christ.” Paul’s deliverance took place objectively in the human body of Christ (chap. 3:24); subjectively, by Paul’s spiritual union with the risen Saviour (chap. 6:11). (Prof. Beet.)
Free from the law of sin and death:—
- The misery of all men by nature. And that it consists of a state of bondage and captivity, which is here in this Scripture called the law of sin and death. We shall speak of the law of sin. Sin, in those which are unregenerate, does exercise a tyrannical power and authority over them, therefore it hath the denomination of a law given unto it; not that it hath anything which is good or lawful or regular in it, for it is properly the transgression of a law. But it is called a law in regard of that rule which it bears in the hearts of all those that are entangled with it. This is the condition of sin, that it carries with it the nature of a law to the subjects of it. First, in the constant actings of it; sin is like a law so. Things which are acted by law they are acted with a great deal of constancy. The ordinances of heaven and earth, the sun, moon, and stars, they keep their course by a settled decree which is upon them. Even so is it also with those who are carried by this law of sin; it is that which is usual with them, they make a constant course and practice of it as their trade and life. Secondly, it hath the motion of a law in that men are carried to it powerfully and irresistibly without opposition. So is sin to an unregenerate person; it commands him and has power over him, it rules and reigns in him. This is first of all grounded upon that curse which was laid upon man for his first rebellion. But, secondly, sin gets a great deal of power by custom, which has the force of a second nature with it, and in that regard the notion of a law. The Ethiopian may as soon change his skin, and the leopard his spots, as they may cease to do evil that are accustomed to it. Now, for the further illustration of it, we may take notice of the misery of this bondage in these following aggravations. First, in the subject of this thraldom; and that is the soul itself—the immortal soul—that part of man which had the image of God in a special manner imprinted upon it. For this to be in slavery and servitude is a very sad business indeed. We know in the way of the world how bondage is usually aggravated from the quality and condition of the person that is brought into it. Secondly, consider it also in the persons which men are in thraldom to by it, and that is to Satan and his instruments. For a man to be in bondage to a stranger it is not very desirable, but to be in bondage to an enemy or adversary is very abominable. Thirdly, there is an aggravation also in it from the nature and quality and condition of the servitude itself, in all the circumstances of it. Of all servants we count them to be in the worse case that are sold. To this we may further add the insensibleness of this their condition which is usually attendant hereupon. We count them most desperately miserable who discern not the misery which they are in, as mad men that sing in their chains. And so much may be spoken of the first branch of a natural man’s captivity, as it is considerable in his thraldom to evil expressed here in the text by the law of sin. The second is as it is considerable in his obligation to punishment: and that is here also expressed by the law of death, which is added and joined to the other and goes along with it. There is a threefold death which the Scripture makes mention of, and they are all of them the wages of sin. First, natural death, which consists in the separation of the soul from the body (chap. 5:12). Secondly, there is also a spiritual death, which consists in a deprivation of the image of God upon the soul, and the withdrawing of His favour from it. When a man is void of all grace and comfort too, he is then thus far in a state of death (Eph. 2:1). Thirdly, there is eternal death also, which consists in the separation of soul and body from God for ever in hell. Therefore let us accordingly look upon sin and death in this conjunction. Let us not separate or divide these things which God hath thus put together, but in all temptations to the one think of the other. II. The second is the happy recovery and restoration of believers by grace in these words, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free.” First, here is the remedy itself which is mentioned, “The law of the Spirit of life which is,” &c. Where, first, of the meaning of the words. First, there are three terms here before us; there is life, and the Spirit of life, and the law of the Spirit. By life here we are to understand the grace of holiness and sanctification. By the word Spirit joined to life we are to understand either the original, because it is wrought by the Spirit, or the activity and intention of it. By the law of the Spirit we are to understand the power and efficacy of it. For law it is a word of command and hath prevalency with it. Now the point which is here observable of us is thus much, that in the human nature of Christ there is a law of the Spirit of life. There is a fulness and sufficiency of all grace and holiness in Christ considered as He was man. This the Scripture doth sufficiently intimate and confirm unto us in sundry places of it, as in Col. 1:19, “It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.” This was requisite thus to be upon a twofold ground and consideration especially—First, in regard of the personal union of His human nature with His Divine. Secondly, as this was requisite in regard of His personal union, so also in regard of His work of mediatorship. First, take it in the preparatory reference; and so the Spirit of life in Christ, it did fit Him and dispose Him and qualify Him for the work of the mediatorship. This we may conceive it to have done in these respects—First, in the sanctifying of the flesh of Christ in the womb of the Virgin. Secondly, it also dignified this nature and advanced it above all other creatures. Thirdly, this Spirit of life in Christ it did also fill His human nature with as much grace as it was capable of, and with all these perfections whereunto the nature of grace doth reach and extend itself. Again, further, it is also considerable in the exertions and transactions of it. Whatever Christ did as mediator, He was more particularly enabled hereunto from this Spirit of life. As first of all, it was this which quickened Him and encouraged Him in His entrance upon it. Secondly, it likewise sustained Him, and upheld Him in the very performance itself. Thirdly, in that moreover it at last revived Him and raised Him from the dead. Adam, he brought down our nature and subjected it to a great deal of disparagement by his transgression; but Christ by His purity and holiness hath set it up, and taken off that disparagement from it which was formerly upon it. Again, further, here is comfort as to the point of continuance of grace and perseverance in it. Forasmuch as that grace and holiness which we now partake of under the gospel, it is in good and safe hands. The grace which we had given us in Adam we lost, but that grace which we have now in the new covenant we have it upon better and surer terms, being such as is now rooted in Christ as the proper subject of it. This law of the spirit of life it is in Christ Jesus. The second is the efficacy of this remedy upon St. Paul and all other believers, “Hath made me free from the law of sin and death”: where the remedy is as large as the disease, and the plaster as broad as the sore. Here is the law of the Spirit in opposition to the law of the flesh, and the law of life in opposition to the law of death in us. First, as to matter of justification. This holiness of Christ it frees us from the law of death and condemnation. But secondly, it holds good in point of sanctification likewise. The pure and holy nature of Christ is the spring and original of all holiness in us. “And of His fulness do we all receive, and grace for grace,” as the apostle tells us (John 1:12). The Spirit of God does not bestow grace upon us immediately, but He bestows it upon us through Christ. Let us learn from hence to bless God for Christ, and give Him the glory of His own holiness in us. (Thomas Horton.)
Spiritual emancipation:—The word “law” may denote commandment, or the customary habit or state of any creature. In the one sense we talk of the laws of God, or the laws of kings; in the other sense we talk of the laws of nature, of matter, or of mind. It seems much better to understand the verse according to the second or subjective use of the word “law,” and then its reference is seen to be to the believer’s sanctification.
- Man’s natural state of moral thraldom. 1. There is a principle of depravity in every human heart (Rom. 3:23; Gal. 3:22). The whole work of Christ, as tasting death for every man, is based upon the assumption that all the world is guilty before God; for if not, there must be some for whom Christ has not died, inasmuch as they needed no atonement. Yet where are these to be found? This principle of evil may be described according to its various modes of manifestation. It is—(1) The love of the creature, in opposition to the love of the Creator. (2) Self-will, or self-assertion, in opposition to the will of God and the requirements of His law. (3) Sensualism, in contrast with that which is intellectual and spiritual. (4) Pride and self-preference. (5) Selfishness and self-seeking. (6) A tendency to falsehood and guile. 2. This principle operates with the regularity of a natural law, determining all our volitions and affections. Man sins with the same certainty that an apple, loosened from the tree, drops to the ground. It is natural for the sun to rise and set, for the moon to wax and wane, for the tides to ebb and flow, for the seasons to revolve, and for the generations of men to be born and die: to do otherwise, in any of these instances, would imply a miracle or a violence done to the uniformity of nature. So likewise it is natural and inevitable that men, unrenewed by grace, should sin. 3. This law of sin is likewise a law of death. God by express enactment has appointed death as the wages of sin. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” But in addition to that external decree, there is an internal tendency in sin to fructify in death (James 1:15), and to destroy the life of the soul.
- The state of moral freedom achieved for us by the gospel. 1. There is a principle of life in them that believe. They live, by having their minds enlightened with the knowledge of God, by feeling the burden of their sins removed, and by being able to look up to God with filial confidence and trust, by having the conscience cleansed from dead works to serve the living God, by being inspired with new emotions, animated by new aims. 2. This life is imparted and sustained by the Holy Ghost. It is not self-generated, but it is given from above. He who receives it is born of the Spirit. 3. This principle of life operates with the regularity of a law. The Spirit takes up His residence in the breast of the converted man, and goes on working till every thought is brought into subjection to Christ, and the work of the believer’s sanctification is complete. 4. This Spirit of life is realised only by our being in Christ. (T. G. Horton.)
2. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free … Compare 2 Corinthians 3:17, ‘where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’; also Galatians 5:13, ‘you were called to freedom.’ ‘Law’ here probably means ‘principle’ (see p. 59). It is the ‘law of the Spirit’ by contrast with ‘the law of sin which dwells in my members’ (7:23); it is the ‘law of life’ by contrast with the commandment which ‘promised life’ but ‘proved to be death’ (7:10). Even if the law of sin and death is not to be identified outright with the law of Moses, the law of Moses nevertheless stimulates sin and condemns to death. But the Spirit ‘by His determining influences produces regulated action without any code’.
The mention of the Spirit here introduces a fuller exposition of his ministry, anticipated in 5:5, where his coming is said to flood the hearts of believers with the love of God, and 7:6, where ‘the new life of the Spirit’ is contrasted with ‘the old written code’ (cf. also the brief reference in 1:4 to the ‘Spirit of holiness’ in connection with Christ’s being raised from the dead). Paul now shows what is involved in the ‘new life’ which the Spirit imparts and sustains. With the entry of the Spirit there is no further talk of defeat. The conflict goes on, but where the Spirit is in control the power of indwelling sin is mastered.
For ‘me’ in ‘has set me free’ some weighty authorities (including the eastern witnesses Aleph and B and the western witness G), followed by the Nestle-Aland text, read ‘thee’ (cf. neb: ‘has set you free’).
2. For the law of the Spirit of life, &c. This is a confirmation of the former sentence; and that it may be understood, the meaning of the words must be noticed. Using a language not strictly correct, by the law of the Spirit he designates the Spirit of God, who sprinkles our souls with the blood of Christ, not only to cleanse us from the stain of sin with respect to its guilt, but also to sanctify us that we may be really purified. He adds that it is life-giving, (for the genitive case, after the manner of the Hebrew, is to be taken as an adjective,) it hence follows, that they who detain man in the letter of the law, expose him to death. On the other hand, he gives the name of the law of sin and death to the dominion of the flesh and to the tyranny of death, which thence follows: the law of God is set as it were in the middle, which by teaching righteousness cannot confer it, but on the contrary binds us with the strongest chains in bondage to sin and to death.
The meaning then is,—that the law of God condemns men, and that this happens, because as long as they remain under the bond of the law, they are oppressed with the bondage of sin, and are thus exposed to death; but that the Spirit of Christ, while it abolishes the law of sin in us by destroying the prevailing desires of the flesh, does at the same time deliver us from the peril of death. If any one objects and says, that then pardon, by which our transgressions are buried, depends on regeneration; to this it may be easily answered, that the reason is not here assigned by Paul, but that the manner only is specified, in which we are delivered from guilt; and Paul denies that we obtain deliverance by the external teaching of the law, but intimates that when we are renewed by the Spirit of God, we are at the same time justified by a gratuitous pardon, that the curse of sin may no longer abide on us. The sentence then has the same meaning, as though Paul had said, that the grace of regeneration is never disjoined from the imputation of righteousness.
I dare not, with some, take the law of sin and death for the law of God, because it seems a harsh expression. For though by increasing sin it generates death, yet Paul before turned aside designedly from this invidious language. At the same time I no more agree in opinion with those who explain the law of sin as being the lust of the flesh, as though Paul had said, that he had become the conqueror of it. But it will appear very evident shortly, as I think, that he speaks of a gratuitous absolution, which brings to us tranquillizing peace with God. I prefer retaining the word law, rather than with Erasmus to render it right or power: for Paul did not without reason allude to the law of God.
8:2 / Paul now resumes the thought of 7:6 concerning the “new way of the Spirit.” Paul’s Jewish contemporaries were familiar with the belief that the day of the Messiah would be accompanied by an outpouring of the Spirit. Keying off the theme of law, Paul says, in effect, that a higher law of the Spirit supersedes the law of sin and death. We know of instances in nature where the effects of one law are cancelled by another. When an airplane wing provides the necessary “lift” to raise a plane upwards, one law (that nature abhors a vacuum) prevails over another (the law of gravity). In like manner, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. This is a development of 5:20–21, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” The Spirit now stands where the law formerly stood. It is the Spirit of life through Jesus Christ which set me free. The past tense, set me free, refers to a decisive point, most probably Christ’s crucifixion, but possibly the believer’s conversion. At any rate, it is no vague, undefined spirit which stands there for me. Paul expressly links the Spirit with the redemptive and liberating work of Jesus Christ. What God did through the historical Jesus on Golgotha, he now applies and extends to believers through the Spirit in the community of faith. The emphasis again falls on God’s initiative. Christ’s work, and its ongoing effect as applied by the Spirit, brings peace and freedom. “Grace renders that most easy, which seems difficult to man under the law, or rather does it itself,” said Bengel (Gnomon, vol. 3, p. 98).
There is, to be sure, a bristling tension between being a “prisoner of the law of sin” (7:23) and being free from the law of sin. But the inherent intellectual contradiction does not cancel the fact that both represent the experience of believers (see also 2 Cor. 4:7–12). In their earthly frames Christians are never free from the hold of sin, yet there is a marked difference between their response to that grip and that of non-Christians. Augustine said prior to conversion, “My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner” (Confessions 5.10). Christians are alerted to the ways of sin and are no longer ignorant and unresisting accomplices to its work. They recognize the power and deception of its tyranny and fight against it in the name of Christ and in the power of the Spirit.
Christians may still live with the effects of sin, but they do not live under its authority. When Paris was liberated in 1944 the Allies declared France free, even though a large portion of the country still lay under Nazi control. With the loss of the capital, however, the Nazi power base was broken, and it was only a matter of time until the remaining forces were driven from the land. The Christian experience is similar. The cross of Christ has once and for all broken the claim and power of evil over the lives of believers. The capital belongs to Christ, so to speak, even if mopping-up operations are still in effect. The liberating edict of the Spirit is now effecting Christ’s victory throughout creation. The future is assured even if the present is still uncertain. “He must win the battle” proclaimed Luther in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
2 The “for” (Gk. gar) indicates that this verse is the ground of the “no condemnation in Christ” announced in v. 1. A liberation has taken place through the Holy Spirit, and this liberation is the basis on which the person in Christ is forever saved from condemnation. In describing this liberation, Paul uses the word nomos to characterize both sides of the situation: “the nomos of the Spirit of life has, through Christ Jesus, set you free from the nomos of sin and death.” Why does he do so?
(1) Nomos in both parts of the verse might refer to the Mosaic law. Paul would then be suggesting that the Mosaic law has a dual role. In the context of the “flesh,” it is misunderstood as nothing more than a series of demands. As such, the law becomes an instrument of sin, leading to death (7:5, 7–13). However, in the context of the Spirit, the law is experienced in all its fuller and truer nature—as promise, and thus as calling for faith. It can then become an instrument of righteousness leading to life (7:10—the commandment is “intended to lead to life”). In support of this interpretation are (a) the undoubted preference of Paul to use nomos to refer to the Mosaic law and (b) the fact that this dual understanding of the law is, allegedly, present in the immediately preceding paragraph (see 7:22–23, 25b). On this view, then, Paul is teaching that the Spirit for the first time puts the law of God in its proper focus and context, and enables it thereby to free the sinner from the narrow and death-dealing misuse of the law.
(2) Nomos in both parts of the verse might have a figurative meaning, contrasting the “principle,” “authority,” or “power” of sin and death with the “principle,” “authority,” or “power” of the Spirit. As we have seen (see the note on 3:27), nomos can mean “binding authority” or “power,” so this translation is lexically acceptable. And this interpretation is clearly preferable to the first.
The first occurrence of nomos, at least, cannot refer to the Mosaic law. The immediate context stresses the incapacity of the law to do what v. 2 describes. It was God acting through his Son who accomplished “what the law could not do” (v. 3). To make the Mosaic law the liberating agent in v. 2 would be to make v. 2 contradict v. 3. But, more seriously, giving the law this kind of role would contradict a central and oft-repeated tenet of Paul’s theology. Throughout his letters, and not least in Romans, Paul pictures the Mosaic law as ranged on the opposite side of the Spirit, righteousness, and life. God’s righteousness has come “apart from the law” (3:21; see Gal. 2:15–3:14); the promise can be attained only through faith and not through the law (4:12–15; see Gal. 3:15–18); the believer must be “released from” the law through union with Christ in order to produce fruit pleasing to God (7:4–6; see Gal. 2:19–20). To be sure, Paul affirms that the law is God’s law and that it was given with a positive purpose within the overall plan of salvation (7:7–13; see Gal. 3:19–4:5). But this purpose is not the liberation of the believer from a misunderstanding or misuse of the law, or from the power of sin and death. The Pauline pattern, enunciated in v. 3, is clear: the impotence of the law has been met not with a new empowering of the law but with God’s gracious activity in Jesus Christ. As Chrysostom put it, “The other [the Mosaic law] was merely given by the Spirit, but this [the law of the Spirit] even furnishes those that receive it with the Spirit in large measure.” To these points may be added the incongruity, however the qualifying genitives be construed and the concept paraphrased, of the nomos liberating the believer from the same nomos. Nor does appeal to the context help; as I have argued, it is unlikely that Paul in 7:21–25 refers to a dual role of the Mosaic law.
The “nomos of the Spirit” cannot, then, refer to the Mosaic law. It may, however, allude to the “law written on the heart” (see Jer. 31:31–34), the “law” of the New Covenant that, according to the parallel text in Ezek. 36:24–32, is closely related to the Spirit. But it is not clear that the law in Jeremiah is anything but an internalized Mosaic law; and it is not, in any case, the liberating power of the new age. This also rules out any notion of “the law of the Spirit” being a new, Christian ethical standard that takes the place of the law of Moses (as some interpret “the law of Christ” [Gal. 6:2]). Paul’s use of nomos here may be rhetorically dependent on his customary use of nomos, but he does not use it in order to suggest that the Spirit is, or conveys, a norm that functions like, or can be substituted for, the Mosaic law. Others think the nomos is the gospel, the new “rule” of which the Spirit is the author. This is possible, but the other texts in which Paul uses nomos in a nonlegal manner (3:27; 9:31–32), and especially the immediate context (7:21–25), point rather to nomos meaning “power,” or “binding authority,” with the following genitive specifying that authority or power. Paul always uses nomos with this meaning in contexts where he has been talking about the Mosaic law. This suggests an intentional play on the word, as Paul implicitly contrasts the law of Moses with a different “law,” in this case the “ ‘law’ of the Spirit who confers life.” The actor in the situation is, then, the Spirit himself. It is God’s Spirit, coming to the believer with power and authority, who brings liberation from the powers of the old age and from the condemnation that is the lot of all who are imprisoned by those powers.
More difficult to decide is whether the second nomos in the verse designates the Mosaic law or whether it, too, means “binding authority” or “power.” In favor of the former is the fact that nomos in v. 3a refers to the Mosaic law; and certainly Paul’s discussion in 7:7–25 would justify describing the Mosaic law as, in some sense, a “law of sin and death” (see also 1 Cor. 15:56). Though given by God, the law of Moses comes to sinful people, for whom that law therefore becomes an instrument of sin and death. While this interpretation fits both the context and Paul’s theology, another factor tilts the scales slightly in favor of rendering this second nomos also as “binding authority” or “power.” This factor is the occurrence of the almost identical phrase, “the nomos of sin,” in 7:23, where, because it is called “the other law,” in distinction from the Mosaic law (v. 22), it must mean the “authority” or “power” of sin. That these similar phrases mean the same thing is suggested also by the material relationship between 7:23 and 8:2; we can hardly miss the fact that the liberation of 8:2 is the answer to the imprisonment of 7:23. We might, then, paraphrase this second phrase, “the binding authority of sin that leads to death.”901 The real contrast in the verse is then between the Spirit on the one hand and sin and death on the other. As sin and death are those powers that rule the old age (see chaps. 6–7), so the Spirit and the eschatological life conferred by the Spirit are those powers that rule the new age.
But what is the nature of the liberation Paul depicts here? Since v. 1, as I have argued, has to do with justification, the liberation of v. 2 may also be restricted to the believer’s being freed from the penalty of sin. Others, however, while not excluding justification, think that v. 2 is focusing more on sanctification; for “the law of sin,” it is argued, is the internal, regulating power of sin. Some then conclude that the believer’s freedom from condemnation depends on the continuing liberation from sin in Christian experience.905 But the liberation here is not just from “the law of sin,” but from “the law of sin and death.” And this expanded phrase appears to be deliberately chosen in order to summarize the total situation of the sinner as Paul has described it in chaps. 6 and 7: helpless under sin’s power, doomed thereby to death and condemnation. This being the case, we cannot restrict the application of v. 2 to either “justification” or “sanctification”; indeed, the very introduction of these terms at this point in Paul’s discussion may unnecessarily complicate matters. “No condemnation” is the banner triumphantly flying over all those who are “in Christ” (v. 1) only because “in Christ” we have been set free by the Spirit from that realm, ruled by sin, in which condemnation (= death) is one’s inevitable fate. Verse 2 is speaking directly about neither justification nor sanctification but about that realm transfer that is the presupposition of both. As such, it significantly advances the discussion of chaps. 5–7 by introducing the Spirit as a key agent of liberation from the old realm of sin and death.
2 Verse 2 supplies the reason for the assurance given in verse 1: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death”. The two verses are not only bound together by the particle “for” but also by the repetition in verse 2 of “in Christ Jesus”. Verse 2 unfolds the implication of the union with Christ emphasized at the close of verse 1. The main question is: what is “the law of the Spirit of life”? “The Spirit of life” must, in accord with Pauline and New Testament usage, refer to the Holy Spirit (cf. vss. 6, 10, 11; John 6:63; 1 Cor. 15:45; especially 2 Cor. 3:6, 17, 18; Gal. 6:8). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life because he is the author of life and also because he is life (cf. vs. 10). The question then becomes: what is “the law” in this connection? We can only arrive at the answer by determining what is “the law” with which it is contrasted, namely, “the law of sin and of death”. The context should be regarded as decisive in this case. In 7:23, 25 the apostle had spoken of “the law of sin”. As we found, it is most probably this same law that is spoken of in 7:21. And it is not without significance that, by reason of the activity of the law of sin in his members, he should call his body “the body of this death”. Since the wages of sin is death “the law of sin” must also be the “law of death”. The word “law” is used in this connection as a regulating and actuating power as well as a legislating authority. In view, therefore, of this contrast “the law of the Spirit of life” should be understood as the regulating and actuating power of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of life. It is eminently appropriate that the Holy Spirit should be designated as the Spirit of life because the power he exercises is unto life as distinguished from the power of sin which is unto death. “The law of the Spirit of life” is, therefore, the power of the Holy Spirit operative in us to make us free from the power of sin which is unto death. This deliverance from the power of sin is correlative with that enunciated by the apostle in 6:2–14. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (cf. vs. 9) and it is only in Christ Jesus that the Spirit’s power is operative unto life.
It is not certain whether “in Christ Jesus” in this verse is to be taken with “the law of the Spirit of life” or with “made me free”. In the former case the stress falls upon the fact that it is in Christ Jesus the actuating, life-giving power of the Holy Spirit is operative, in the latter case that it was in Christ Jesus the power of the Spirit made us free. The one views this life-giving law as being in Christ, the other views the action as wrought in Christ.
These considerations indicate that verse 2 is to be interpreted in terms of a power that is operative in us and that the ruling thought has respect to our deliverance from the power of sin—“the law of sin and death”—rather than to deliverance from the guilt of sin. The thought moves in the realm of internal operation and not in that of objective accomplishment. We must not assume, however, that the basis upon which this internal operation rests and from which it derives its power is far from the apostle’s thought. This is clearly in the forefront in the verse that follows.
2 Verse 2 immediately picks up this practical, dynamic aspect by concentrating on freedom from the imperious rule of sin (cf. 6:18) and death (cf. 6:22–23), the two archenemies of humanity. This new freedom is now available to and made possible for the believer through the operation of the Spirit. The word “law” is again probably to be understood figuratively here (cf. 7:21, 23). It seems improbable (though not impossible) that Paul would refer to the law of Moses as “the law of sin and of death,” even though it provokes sin (7:7–8) and produces death (7:9–11; 2 Co 3:6, 7). For Paul, the law in itself remains holy (7:12). In the present passage, therefore, “law” is used in the sense of a “principle” to indicate the certainty and regularity of operation that characterizes sin (which leads to death) on the one hand and the work of the Spirit on the other. Whereas the word “law” (nomos, GK 3795) emphasizes regularity, “life” (zōē, GK 2437) emphasizes both supernaturalness and spontaneity—hence the superiority of the Spirit’s operation over that of sin (cf. L. E. Keck, “The Law and ‘the Law of Sin and Death’ [Romans 8:1–4]: Reflections on the Spirit and Ethics in Paul,” in The Divine Helmsman, ed. J. L. Crenshaw and S. Sandmel [New York: KTAV, 1980], 41–57).
The syntax leaves unclear whether the words “through Christ Jesus” are to be taken with the words “the Spirit of life” or with “set me free.” Probably the latter is to be preferred. “The Spirit of life through Christ Jesus set me free” points to the Spirit as the life-giver (cf. 2 Co 3:6) but only as mediating that which is in, or through, Christ (cf. Col 3:4). Paul has already noted the enslaving power of sin and the freedom from it achieved by Christ (6:18, 22; cf. Jn 8:34–36).
The Reason for Freedom—Justification
for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (8:1b–2)
As noted at the beginning of the previous section, the therefore that introduces verse 1 refers back to the major theme of the first seven chapters of the epistle—the believer’s complete justification before God, graciously provided in response to trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son.
The divine condemnation from which believers are exonerated (8:1a) is without exception or qualification. It is bestowed on those who are in Christ Jesus, in other words, on every true Christian. Justification completely and forever releases every believer from sin’s bondage and its penalty of death (6:23) and thereby fits him to stand sinless before a holy God forever. It is that particular aspect of justification on which Paul focuses at the beginning of chapter 8.
Paul’s use of the first person singular pronouns (I and me) in 7:7–25 emphasizes the sad reality that, in this present life, no Christian, not even an apostle, is exempt from struggles with sin. In the opening verses of chapter 8, on the other hand, Paul emphasizes the marvelous reality that every believer, even the weakest and most unproductive, shares in complete and eternal freedom from sin’s condemnation. The holiest of believers are warned that, although they are no longer under sin’s slavish dominion, they will experience conflicts with it in this present life. And the weakest of believers are promised that, although they still stumble and fall into sin’s power in their flesh, they will experience ultimate victory over sin in the life to come.
The key to every aspect of salvation is in the simple but infinitely profound phrase in Christ Jesus. A Christian is a person who is in Christ Jesus. Paul has already declared that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death,” and that “therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:3–5).
Being a Christian is not simply being outwardly identified with Christ but being part of Christ, not simply of being united with Him but united in Him. Our being in Christ is one of the profoundest of mysteries, which we will not fully understand until we meet Him face-to-face in heaven. But Scripture does shed light on that marvelous truth. We know that we are in Christ spiritually, in a divine and permanent union. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive,” Paul explains (1 Cor. 15:22). Believers are also in Christ in a living, participatory sense. “Now you are Christ’s body,” Paul declares in that same epistle, “and individually members of it” (12:27). We are actually a part of Him and, in ways that are unfathomable to us now, we work when He works, grieve when He grieves, and rejoice when He rejoices. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” Paul assures us, “whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Christ’s own divine life pulses through us.
Many people are concerned about their family heritage, about who their ancestors were, where they lived, and what they did. For better or worse, we are all life-linked physically, intellectually, and culturally to our ancestors. In a similar, but infinitely more important way, we are linked to the family of God because of our relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ. It is for that reason that every Christian can say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).
God’s Word makes clear that every human being is a descendant of Adam and has inherited Adam’s fallen nature. It makes just as clear that every true believer becomes a spiritual descendant of Jesus Christ, God’s true Son, and is thereby adopted into the heavenly Father’s own divine household as a beloved child. More than just being adopted, we inherit the very life of God in Christ.
Martin Luther said,
It is impossible for a man to be a Christian without having Christ, and if he has Christ, he has at the same time all that is in Christ. What gives peace to the conscience is that by faith our sins are no more ours, but Christ’s, upon whom God hath laid them all; and that, on the other hand, all Christ’s righteousness is ours, to whom God hath given it. Christ lays His hand upon us, and we are healed. He casts His mantle upon us, and we are clothed; for He is the glorious Savior, blessed for ever. (Cited in Robert Haldane, An Exposition of Romans; [reprint, McLean, Va.: McDonald, 1958], p. 312)
The relationship between God and His chosen people Israel was beautifully illustrated in the garment of the high priest. Over his magnificent robes he wore a breastplate in which twelve different precious stones were embedded, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Each stone was engraved with the name of the tribe it represented. When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once each year on the Day of Atonement, he stood before God with those visual representations of all His people.
That breastplate was a rich symbolism of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, standing before the Father making intercession on behalf of all those the Father has given Him (Heb. 7:24–25). In what is commonly called His high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed on behalf of those who belong to Him “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:21).
Luther also wrote,
Faith unites the soul with Christ as a spouse with her husband. Everything which Christ has becomes the property of the believing soul; everything which the soul has, becomes the property of Christ. Christ possesses all blessings and eternal life: they are thenceforward the property of the soul. The soul has all its iniquities and sins: they become thenceforward the property of Christ. It is then that a blessed exchange commences: Christ who is both God and man, Christ who has never sinned, and whose holiness is perfect, Christ the Almighty and Eternal, taking to Himself, by His nuptial ring of faith, all the sins of the believer, those sins are lost and abolished in Him; for no sins dwell before His infinite righteousness. Thus by faith the believer’s soul is delivered from sins and clothed with the eternal righteousness of her bridegroom Christ. (Cited in Haldane, Exposition of Romans, p. 313)
The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” appears at the end of verse 1 in the King James, but it is not found in the earliest manuscripts of Romans or in most modern translations. It is probable that a copyist inadvertently picked up the phrase from verse 4. Because the identical wording appears there, the meaning of the passage is not affected.
The conjunction for, which here carries the meaning of because, leads into the reason there is no condemnation for believers: the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Paul does not here use the term law in reference to the Mosaic law or to other divine commandments or requirements. He uses it rather in the sense of a principle of operation, as he has done earlier in the letter, where he speaks of “a law of faith” (3:27) and as he does in Galatians, where he speaks of “the law of Christ” (6:2). Those who believe in Jesus Christ are delivered from the condemnation of a lower divine law, as it were, by submitting themselves to a higher divine law. The lower law is the divine principle in regard to sin, the penalty for which is death, and the higher law is the law of the Spirit, which bestows life in Christ Jesus.
But it should not be concluded that the law Paul is speaking of in this passage has no relationship to obedience. Obedience to God cannot save a person, because no person in his unredeemed sinfulness wants to obey God and could not obey perfectly even if he had the desire. But true salvation will always produce true obedience—never perfect in this life but nonetheless genuine and always present to some extent. When truly believed and received, the gospel of Jesus Christ always leads to the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25–26). The coming kingdom age of Christ that Jeremiah predicted and of which the writer of Hebrews refers is far from lawless. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts” (Heb. 8:10; cf. Jer. 31:33). Release from the law’s bondage and condemnation does not mean release from the law’s requirements and standards. The higher law of the Spirit produces obedience to the lower law of duties.
The freedom that Christ gives is complete and permanent deliverance from sin’s power and penalty (and ultimately from its presence). It also gives the ability to obey God. The very notion of a Christian who is free to do as he pleases is self-contradictory. A person who believes that salvation leads from law to license does not have the least understanding of the gospel of grace and can make no claim on Christ’s saviorhood and certainly no claim on His lordship.
In speaking of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Paul makes unambiguous later in this chapter that he is referring to the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s mind is set on the things of the Spirit (v. 6) and is indwelt and given life by the Holy Spirit (vv. 9–11). Paul summarized the working of those two laws earlier in the epistle: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
When Jesus explained the way of salvation to Nicodemus, He said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). God “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness,” Paul explains, “but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5–6). It is the Holy Spirit who bestows and energizes spiritual life in the person who places his trust in Christ Jesus. Paul could not be talking of any spirit but the Holy Spirit, because only God’s Holy Spirit can bring spiritual life to a heart that is spiritually dead.
The truths of Romans 7 are among the most depressing and heart-rending in all of Scripture, and it is largely for that reason that many interpreters believe they cannot describe a Christian. But Paul was simply being honest and candid about the frustrating and discouraging spiritual battles that every believer faces. It is, in fact, the most faithful and obedient Christian who faces the greatest spiritual struggles. Just as in physical warfare, it is those on the front lines who encounter the enemy’s most fierce attacks. But just as frontline battle can reveal courage, it can also reveal weaknesses and vulnerability. Even the most valiant soldier is subject to injury and discouragement.
During his earthly life, the Christian will always have residual weaknesses from his old humanness, the old fleshly person he used to be. No matter how closely he walks with the Lord, he is not yet completely free from sin’s power. That is the discomfiting reality of Romans 7.
But the Christian is no longer a slave to sin as he once was, no longer under sin’s total domination and control. Now he is free from sin’s bondage and its ultimate penalty. Satan, the world, and his own humanness still can cause him to stumble and falter, but they can no longer control or destroy him, because his new life in Christ is the very divine life of God’s own Spirit. That is the comforting truth of Romans 8.
The story is told of a man who operated a drawbridge. At a certain time each afternoon, he had to raise the bridge for a ferry boat and then lower it quickly for a passenger train that crossed at high speed a few minutes later. One day the man’s young son was visiting his father at work and decided to go down below to get a better look at the ferry as it passed. Fascinated by the sight, he did not watch carefully where he was going and fell into the giant gears. One foot became caught and the boy was helpless to free himself. The father saw what happened but knew that if he took time to extricate his son, the train would plunge into to the river before the bridge could be lowered. But if he lowered the bridge to save the hundreds of passengers and crew members on the train, his son would be crushed to death. When he heard the train’s whistle, indicating it would soon reach the river, he knew what he had to do. His son was very dear to him, whereas all the people on the train were total strangers. The sacrifice of his son for the sake of the other people was an act of pure grace and mercy.
That story portrays something of the infinitely greater sacrifice God the Father made when He sent His only beloved Son to earth to die for the sins of mankind—to whom He owed nothing but condemnation.
 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1625). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ro 8:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1708). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans (pp. 276–277). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Moo, D. J. (2018). The Letter to the Romans. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (Second Edition, pp. 496–500). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 128–129). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
What does it look like to have a biblical prayer life, and what should we do to cultivate one? From one of our Ask Ligonier events, Steven Lawson points us to several places in Scripture that direct the prayers of God’s people.
Ask your biblical and theological questions live online at ask.Ligonier.org.
“A Saint Abroad and a Devil at Home”
Ephesians 5:25–33; 6:4; Colossians 3:19, 21
I have been in his family, and have observed him both at home and abroad; and I know what I say of him is the truth. His house is as empty of religion, as the white of an egg is of savour.… Thus say the common people that know him, “A saint abroad, and a devil at home.”
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Bernard on Infant Baptism
Mark 10:16; Luke 18:15
Let no man object to me that the infant has not faith. For his mother, the Church, communicates to him her own, wrapping it up for him (so to speak) in the sacrament of regeneration, until he becomes capable of receiving it by the positive and explicit concurrence of his own intellect and will.
BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.