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The passage starts off with drawing a distinction between the law

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

And it appears the law, through Christ, if we remain in Him, is fulfilled in us, but the law seems to be the same law νόμος; it’s the means of execution that changes its efficacy, namely via the flesh or via the Spirit. (Please confirm or deny)

“in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Romans 7:4 says we are dead to the law but 7:6 says we serve in a new way of the Spirit. Despite the righteous requirement of the law being fulfilled in us, v7 mentions

“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The antithetical of v7 appears to say that those who have their minds set on the Spirit do submit to God’s law, even though the law is already fulfilled in us. On an ongoing basis are we to continue to submit to God’s law? Or to the law of the Spirit of life? Or is the antithesis no law?

“But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve tried to remain ambiguous as to not inject my views into the question regarding the question about God’s law in v7

So what law/s is being spoken of and what relevance does it have to a born again believer to submit to God’s law in v7, if any, if indeed we are no longer under the law (Galatians 5:18) or is Galatians speaking of an entirely different law “works of the law” or “Miqsat Ma‘ase Ha-Torah” (MMT) from the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS)? (Are we under God’s law even after the point of conversion but not under God’s law in regards to our entrance into salvation, which is by grace through faith? The passage into salvation not being God’s law but faith.)

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  • It’s not intended to hinge on it that’s why I said confirm or deny immediately afterwards. I don’t know how to word it differently. Should I just delete that paragraph? I prefer to leave it on the table because there are different views. And there are multiple tiers that this can be analyze from i.e. spirit, soul or body. Mar 15, 2019 at 19:23
  • “"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭5:17‬ Therefore in Christ the law is not abolished but fulfilled, that’s how we fulfill the law by remaining in Him. That doesn’t sound like being exempt from God’s law, it simply means we cannot fail if we remain in Him. Mar 15, 2019 at 19:31
  • That’s true, exempt from the old codified way “But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:6 but not exempt from serving in the new way of the Spirit Mar 16, 2019 at 0:29
  • I don’t know what you’re saying quite honestly. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:10‬ there is a distinction made about having faith to enter into Christ, but once inside if you merely have faith and no works then your faith is as good as dead. Faith without works is dead. That’s why five virgins missed out, the one guy with one mina missed out and the guy with one talent missed out. They got in by faith and then did nothing more. No work is bad Mar 16, 2019 at 3:15
  • FYI the comments above were in response to comments that have since been deleted. Also could the downvoter please explain what they disagree with the question. Thank you for the vote. Mar 16, 2019 at 21:49

5 Answers 5

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From its inception, humanity was faced with two ways of living : the tree of life in the garden of Eden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. No other means exist - one is a way of life, the other is fatal. One was there, in the midst ; one, God warned against and a serpentine spirit invited, Genesis 2.

Humanity, in Adam, chose the way of sin and death. For by the law is the knowledge of sin. Paul says that he would not have known sin, except the law had said 'thou shalt not covet'. Paul discovered a principle, a rule, that when he would do good, evil is present with him and the good he would, he does not. The evil that he would not, that does he, Romans 7.

But there is another principle, another rule :

ο νομος του πνευματος της ζωης εν χριστω ιησου [TR]

the law of the Spirit - of the life in Christ Jesus.

This is usually translated 'the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' meaning 'the law of the Spirit of life (which is in Christ Jesus).

I do not think that emphasis is correct, myself. I understand that Paul is stating a principle or a rule - and this rule (of the Spirit) is that life is in Christ Jesus.

This is the Tree of Life. This is what was in the midst in Eden. This is what mankind, in Adam, chose to either misunderstand, or to ignore or to reject. (Or, perhaps all three.) This is the only way of life that is possible to humanity.

It is not another law. It is not another way of expressing law. It is not another means of appropriating or accommodating law. It is another way of life altogether.

Rather than the creature, from within itself - from within its own created resources - should apply itself to knowledge, thereby to live out of its own independent 'righteousness' (the will to choose); rather than that, the other way is a way of life.

The other way is to be born again. The other way is to be in union with the Creator, not independent of the Creator. The other way is faith (not works).

It is another way altogether, not just a different way of obeying law.

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    That was very profound, reading your response. I’ve not consciously made the connection in the same way you’ve articulated with the two trees. Thank you. Mar 16, 2019 at 15:57
  • @Autodidact You are most welcome.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 16, 2019 at 15:59
  • Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭7:4‬ even in the garden prior to the fall, working was commanded or expected by God. God did not attach a punishment to lack of work because in a non fallen state, it didn’t make sense that you could reject the instruction. A born again believer that does not produce fruits, work out his salvation, bring at least one additional mina does not inherit eternal life >>2 Peter 1:8 Mar 16, 2019 at 16:07
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    @Autodidact Faith works by love. Works of faith and love proceed from a regenerate heart. Love, faith and good works proceed out of gratitude to a faithful Saviour. These are the works which please the Father who brings many sons to glory.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 16, 2019 at 16:10
  • 1 Corinthians 13 Mar 16, 2019 at 16:16
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Nobody can have their minds set on the things of the Spirit until they have been set free from the law's condemnation of sin. For that is what God's law does - it condemns all who break it, and everyone breaks it, for we are all sinners (Rom. 3:20, 2 Cor. 3:7). That is why all the previous chapters have been building up to show the significance of God's law for those who have been transformed by grace so as to have "the mind of the Spirit". Until they are liberated from slavery to sin, they are dead in sin.

You quoted Romans 8:2 which contrasts "the law of the Spirit" with a different law. It is the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus that triumphs, causing the person to now live in Christ, for they have died to sin and now live to Christ. His death, they died. His life, they now live. They no longer have a carnal mind: they have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). This is the renewed mind that is no longer at enmity with God as previously, when it was a carnal mind.

The law is fulfilled in Christ - "For Christ is the end of the law" (to believers, Rom. 10:4-5) The law is not fulfilled in us trying to do deeds of the law, because no sinner can keep the perfect law of God - "By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Rom. 3:20) & "The strength of sin is the law" (1 Cor. 15:56). The law pointed to Christ, who is the reality (not the shadow, as is the law). The law was a sign, but Christ was what was signified. The need is to look in faith to what was signified, and not cling on to the sign. Some try to have a foot in both camps - half of each. That never works, for nobody can serve two masters. If Christ is our Master, we have been liberated from legalism, for Christ has nailed the hand-written code to the cross (Col. 2:13).

Now, the law is righteous, but we are told that "If righteousness came by the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal. 2:21). Further, "as many as are under the works of the law are under the curse" (Gal. 3:10). So, what, indeed does it mean in Romans 8:7, that the righteous requirements of the law be met in those who now have the mind of the Spirit?

"But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness." Isaiah 5:16 K.J.V.

God's righteous judgment against sin was poured out on Christ at Golgotha. This exalted God and sanctified him, for he is righteous. Those who bend their knees in faith before the Lamb of God bearing the righteous wrath of God against all sin of the redeemed, are evidence of the righteous requirements of the law having been met.

"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition. Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace... in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit." Ephesians 2:13-15 & 22 K.J.V.

We have now come full circle in this answer. We started with the initial requirement to have a carnal mind replaced with the things of the Spirit, and now we see that because of what Christ did abolishing in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments, those who see the righteousness of God in all of that and bow to it, are inhabited by God through the Spirit. If we abide in the holy, righteous Saviour, we will be living witnesses to his holiness and righteousness, for we will no longer have a carnal mind. A transformed mind leads to a transformed life. Others will see this, and give glory to God. There is the significance!

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We are called to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law even if we are no longer bound by the letter (Rom 7:6, Rom 3:31). Indeed, it was for that very purpose that Christ was sent into the world, the subjunctive of the verb “might” in Rom 8:4 indicating “purpose of” or “reason for” (ntgreek.org).

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. – 8:3-4

The ”righteousness” of the law is that which underlies the letter of the law as well as the workings of man’s conscience. It is the righteousness of God “apart from the law” (Rom 1:17, Rom 3:21) that is manifest in Christ and the gospel, the standard against which humanity will ultimately be judged.

for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) 16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. – Rom 2:14-15

Expositor’s commentary on Rom 3:21-26 :

Law contributes nothing to it, though it is attested by the law and the prophets; it is a righteousness which is all of grace. Grace, however, does not signify that moral distinctions are ignored in God’s procedure: the righteousness which is held out in the Gospel is held out on the basis of the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. It is put within the sinner’s reach at a great cost.

Regarding the meaning of “law” in Rom 8:2, the word here is used in a generic sense to denote a “force or influence impelling to action” (Strong’s 3551). When we are under the influence of the flesh (Rom 7:23), we are governed by the law of sin. Only by the rule of the Spirit can we be freed from sin’s power (See Barnes commentary on Rom 8:2).

Reflecting on the OP’s question, the law was only ever meant to be a guide for men, not his master. It is neither the end, nor is it the means. In contrast, the righteousness of God is both the goal toward which we walk and the way by which we get there.

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I suggest that "God's law" is to be found in Matthew ch22 vv37-40;

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets" (RSV).

I believe that this is the NOMOS of faith being contrasted with the NOMOS of works in Romans ch3 v27. It is the "way of the Spirit" being contrasted with the written code in Romans ch7 v6. More controversially, I believe that this, rather than the "written code", is the law which is not going to be abolished in Matthew ch5 v17. It is the true law "of the Spirit", because that is what the Spirit would want us to do.

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Romans 8:7 simply presents a general truth of what kind of people are disobedient to God. The law here means the general law or commands of God.

[1Cor 2:14-16 WEB] 14Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one. 16“For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?” But we have Christ’s mind.

The law under which the believers are is called law of Christ, royal law. Paul says, the law cannot justify any more after the replacement of the law. The Jewish church kept the basic Jewish customs out of maintaining the tradition. The reference to “Miqsat Ma‘ase Ha-Torah” is not useful, as the NPP camp's interpretation of the Jewish law is completely misguided as Luther's was.

Romans 8 says, those in Christ are justified as long as they walk in Spirit and denounce flesh. The law as in the principle of Spiritual life in Christ as freed us from the Mosaic law of sin-offering. Believers fulfil the law spiritually by accepting Christ. Nothing anywhere suggests about the validity of the law after the coming of new covenant.

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  • I struggle to understand why you quoted 1Cor2:14 when the verse is speaking to natural, carnal, immature born again babies, who cannot discern anything because they are not spiritually mature as per verse 6 and they do not yet have the mind of Christ. I’m assuming you want to extrapolate it to the general public that are not born again. May 20, 2023 at 20:57
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    It's just cross ref like Galatians 5. It's not about unbelievers. Those who despite knowing about Christ, follow law are being fleshly myopic un spiritual.
    – Michael16
    May 21, 2023 at 1:52

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