What is the difference between the law of sin and death, and the law of sin in our members?
Paul says in Romans 8: 2: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has delivered me from the law of sin and death.” However, he also says that he is taken captive by the law of sin that is in its members. (Romans 7:23) Can we be freed from sin and at the same time be held captive? What is the difference between these two laws?
The law of sin and death
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8: 1-2) The law of the Spirit of life is the most powerful law. All other laws must be subject to it when it comes into force. We are freed from the law of sin and death when we are in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ is like a fortress in which the devil can not penetrate. When we walk in the Spirit, in prayer and worshiping God, we experience that the law of sin and death does not affect us. Which means, that we can stop committing sin voluntarily.
Additional reading: What is sin?
But in our walk, we can still fall into sin – perhaps because we are weak or not alert enough. When we commit sin and do not clean ourselves immediately by askingforgiveness to God, then the law of sin and death comes and damages our conscience, causing our conscience is no longer so strong. If we continue to sin (deliberately) knowing that something is wrong, we sink deeper and deeper into the law of sin and death, making our conscience no longer affected by doing evil. It takes a long time for this to happen, but through the powerful law of the Spirit in Christ Jesus, we can be delivered from this. The law of sin and death has no authority when we are in Christ Jesus and we walk in obedience according to the Spirit. (Romans 8: 1-2)
The law of sin in our members
However, we have not been released from the law of sin in our members; which is in our body of sin, our flesh – the one we inherited from our fathers, and entered because of the fall in the garden of Eden. Jesus never committed sin, however, He was a man, and as such, was aware of the inclinations of His human nature. He had to hate and make these inclinations die so that they would never enter His heart and make Him impure. And in the same way we have to do.
We are taken captive by the law in our members when we say and do things that we definitely do not want to say or do. It is something that simply comes out of our body. These are the works of the body of sin. For this same reason we experience that sometimes we say things that hurt others, even those we love, resulting in consternation to ourselves.
But then what should we do about it? We are not going to be freed from the law of sin in our members while we are on this earth. As long as we live, we will experience that we do the things we hate. (Romans 7:15) Not consciously, but it is the unconscious part of the body that has not yet been brought to the death that wants to leave.
What we should do
We have to recognize – that’s the way things are. We did what we hate. When we serve under the new regime of the Spirit, God speaks to us through His Holy Spirit of the works we commit with the body of sin. And when we accept, recognize and hate these works, hatred will give light to death. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can make these works die, but we ourselves have to do it, through the Spirit; the Spirit will not do it for us.
“For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. “ Romans 8:13.
We ourselves have to agree with the Spirit, and then we can hate these works and get away from them. We grow in the virtues of Christ. In this way begins sanctification, and if we persevere in it, the virtues will grow more, and therefore will bring as a result: divine nature. This creates better communion.
This is the way of the cross. It is the way of life for all of us. None will escape. As human beings we have been sold to sin, but God saves the miserable. If we recognize how miserable we are, we will be one of those that God saves and blesses. Therefore, do not be afraid because you have sin in your flesh, but remain in hatred when you experience what dwells in your own life. In this way you will live.