|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:1-9 Believers may be chastened of the Lord, but will not be condemned with the world. By their union with Christ through faith, they are thus secured. What is the principle of their walk; the flesh or the Spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? For which of these do we make provision, by which are we governed? The unrenewed will is unable to keep any commandment fully. And the law, besides outward duties, requires inward obedience. God showed abhorrence of sin by the sufferings of his Son in the flesh, that the believer's person might be pardoned and justified. Thus satisfaction was made to Divine justice, and the way of salvation opened for the sinner. By the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that in all true believers, which answers the intention of the law. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. Which way do our thoughts move with most pleasure? Which way go our plans and contrivances? Are we most wise for the world, or for our souls? Those that live in pleasure are dead, 1Ti 5:6. A sanctified soul is a living soul; and that life is peace. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself. The carnal man may, by the power of Divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; that must be broken and driven out. We may know our real state and character by inquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or not, ver. 9. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Having the Spirit of Christ, means having a turn of mind in some degree like the mind that was in Christ Jesus, and is to be shown by a life and conversation suitable to his precepts and example.
Verse 2. - For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free (not hath made me; the aorist refers to the time when the Christian became possessed of the Spirit of life in Christ) from the law of sin and death. Here is a distinct contrast to the state described in vers. 14, 23 of ch. 7, and a realization of what was yearned for in ver. 24, "the law of sin and of death" being evidently "the law of sin in the members" previously spoken cf. The ἐγὼ, before in captivity to this law, is now freed from it. And how? Not by its becoming a different ἐγὼ; not by a change of the constituent elements of human nature; but by the introduction of a new law - the law of the Spirit of life - which has emancipated the ἐγὼ from its old unwelcome thraldom. In virtue of this new law, introduced into my being, I am now free to give my entire allegiance to the law of God. Νόμος, be it observed, is here again used in a sense different from its usual one, and we thus have a still further νόμος, in addition to those defined in the note after Romans 7:25. The designation of this new law is in marked opposition to that in which the ἐγὼ was before said to be held; we have life in opposition to death, and the Spirit in opposition to the flesh, as well as freedom in opposition to captivity. The Spirit is, in fact, the Divine Spirit, taking possession of what is spiritual (now at length brought into view) in the inward man, making him partaker in the Divine life, and able to serve God freely. The expressions used bring out strikingly one essential distinction between Law and Gospel, viz. that the principle of the former is to control and discipline conduct by requirements and threats; but of the latter to introduce into man's inner being a new principle of life, whence right conduct may spontaneously flow. Coercion is the principle of the one; inspiration of the other. An illustration may be found in the treatment of disease - on the one hand by attempted repression of specific ailments, and on the other by imparting a new vitality to the system, which may of itself dispel disease. It is shown next how this new state of freedom has been brought about. First, by what God in Christ has done for us apart from ourselves; the subjective condition in ourselves being introduced at the end of ver. 4, τοῖς μὴ, etc.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,.... These words are of difficult interpretation. They may be understood of the Gospel revealing and declaring deliverance from the law of Moses; wherefore there can be "no condemnation", Romans 8:1, by it. The Gospel may be designed by "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus"; which may be called a law, not as succeeding the law of works, by which that is abrogated; nor as requiring conditions to be performed, or as enjoining duties to be observed, or as delivering out threatenings in case of disobedience; but as it is a doctrine, order, and chain of truths, as the Hebrew word signifies, and which is sometimes used for the Gospel, Isaiah 2:3 as is, Romans 3:27. It may be called the law, or doctrine "of the Spirit", because the Spirit is the author of it, and makes it powerful and effectual to the good of souls; by it the Spirit of God is conveyed into the heart; and the substance of it are spiritual things: and the "law of the Spirit of life", because it discovers the way of life and salvation by Christ; is the means of quickening dead sinners; of working faith in them, by which they live on Christ, and of reviving drooping saints; and also it affords spiritual food, for the support of life: and this may be said to be "in Christ", or by him, inasmuch as it comes from, and is concerning him; he is the sum, the substance, and subject matter of it:
the law of sin and death may intend the law of Moses, called "the law of sin"; not as if it was sinful, or commanded or encouraged sin, for it severely prohibits it; but because by it, through the corruption of man's nature, sin is irritated, and made to abound; it is the strength of sin, and by it is the knowledge of it: and it may be called "the law of death", because it threatened with death, in case of disobedience; it sentences and adjudges transgressors to death; and when it is attended with power, it strikes dead all a man's hopes of life, by obedience to it; it leaves persons dead as it finds them, and gives no life, nor hopes of it; by it none can live, or be justified: now, though Christ is the author of deliverance from it, yet the Gospel is the means of revealing and declaring this deliverance; which designs not an exemption from obedience to it, but freedom from the curse and condemnation of it; and this sense well agrees with Romans 8:1; likewise the words are capable of being understood of the power and efficacy of the Spirit of God, in delivering regenerate persons from the dominion and tyranny of sin; and which may be considered as a reason why they "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit", Romans 8:1, "life" may well be ascribed to the Spirit of God, or be called the Spirit of life, because he has life in himself as the Father and Son have; and is the author of life to others, of natural life to all men as creatures, and of spiritual life to the people of God in regeneration; and is a quickening spirit to them afterwards, as he will be to the dead bodies of the saints in the resurrection: by "the law" of the Spirit may be meant, the energy and power of the Spirit in conversion; which work requires power, and a man has no power of himself to effect it; but there is a power in the Spirit, which works irresistibly, though not by any force or compulsion to the will, but it moves upon it sweetly, powerfully, and effectually: and all this may be said to be "in Christ": the life which the Spirit is the author and giver of, is in Christ as the head of his people, the proper repository of all grace, and the fountain of life; the Spirit himself is in him, both as God and as man, and as Mediator, hence the saints receive him and his gifts and graces from him; and the law of the Spirit, or his power and efficacy in working, is "in" or "by" Christ, through his sufferings and death, and in consequence of his mediation: now this powerful and quickening efficacy of the Spirit delivers regenerate persons from the force and tyranny of sin, called here "the law of sin and death"; a "law of sin", because it has power and dominion over unregenerate persons, its throne is in the heart of man, and its laws are many and powerful; and "the law of death", because its reign is tyrannical, barbarous and cruel, it is unto death: and from its governing influence, and tyrannical power, does the Spirit of God free his people in regeneration; not from the being of sin; nor from the rage of it, and disturbance it gives; nor from such power of it, but that they may fall into sin; but so as that sin does not properly reign over them, nor legally, nor universally, or so as to bring a death on their graces, and their persons into condemnation. Once more, those words may be understood of the holiness of Christ's human nature, as a branch of our justification, and freedom from the guilt of sin, and condemnation by it: for as "the law of sin and death" may design inherent corruption, and the force and power of it in the saints; so the opposite to it, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ", may mean the purity and holiness of his human nature. That Christ's human nature is pure and holy is certain, from express texts of Scripture, from its union to the Son of God, from the ends and purposes of its assumption, from the inefficacy of Satan's temptations, and from the whole course of his life and conversation; for though he was in the likeness of sinful flesh, was reckoned a sinner by men, was attended with infirmities, the effects of sin, though not sinful, had all the sins of his people imputed to him, and endured afflictions, and at last death; yet his nature was pure and untainted: for he did not descend from Adam by ordinary generation; and though made of a woman, yet the flesh he took of her was sanctified by the Holy Ghost; his body was prepared by God, and curiously wrought by the Spirit, from whom his whole human nature received a fulness of habitual holiness: and this may be called "the Spirit of life" in him, because he is a quickening Spirit in regeneration, justification, and the resurrection from the dead; "the law" of it, because the holiness of his nature lies in, arises from, and is conformable to a law that is within him, written on his heart; and because, together with his obedience and death, it has a force, power, and authority, to free from condemnation; for this is not a mere necessary qualification of him to be the Mediator, or what renders his obedience, sacrifice, and intercession, efficacious and valuable, or is merely exemplary to us, but is what is imputed to us, as a part of our justification. The law requires a holy nature of us, we have not one, Christ assumed one for us, and so is the end of the law, or answers the requirement of the law in this respect, as well as in all others: and hence, though sanctification begun in us, does not free us from the being of sin, and all its force and power, yet perfect sanctification in Christ frees from all condemnation by it.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free—rather, "freed me"—referring to the time of his conversion, when first he believed.
from the law of sin and death—It is the Holy Ghost who is here called "the Spirit of life," as opening up in the souls of believers a fountain of spiritual life (see on Joh 7:38, 39); just as He is called "the Spirit of truth," as "guiding them into all truth" (Joh 16:13), and "the Spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord" (Isa 11:2), as the inspirer of these qualities. And He is called "the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus," because it is as members of Christ that He takes up His abode in believers, who in consequence of this have one life with their Head. And as the word "law" here has the same meaning as in Ro 7:23, namely, "an inward principle of action, operating with the fixedness and regularity of a law," it thus appears that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" here means, "that new principle of action which the Spirit of Christ has opened up within us—the law of our new being." This "sets us free," as soon as it takes possession of our inner man, "from the law of sin and death" that is, from the enslaving power of that corrupt principle which carries death in its bosom. The "strong man armed" is overpowered by the "stronger than he"; the weaker principle is dethroned and expelled by the more powerful; the principle of spiritual life prevails against and brings into captivity the principle of spiritual death—"leading captivity captive." If this be the apostle's meaning, the whole verse is to this effect: That the triumph of believers over their inward corruption, through the power of Christ's Spirit in them, proves them to be in Christ Jesus, and as such absolved from condemnation. But this is now explained more fully.
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