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.
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.