There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
What is this law of the Spirit? It is the Golden Rule, but it is also something more. Paul came from a rigorous religious background; he was well versed in Law — in the laws of his sect and the Roman laws of the land. He knew what it meant to live by the law — it meant attention to detail, and a focus on avoiding unclean things and illegal activities.
The law of the Spirit, on the other hand, does more than to merely follow the commandments of Christ. Paul said this Spirit — capital S — is the Spirit of God, which raised Christ from the dead, and the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us.
Paul spends much of the book of Romans contrasting life in the Spirit vs. life in the flesh. The flesh, he said, is where the struggle is, and it is also where we fail. Paul said, “the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But aren’t we all in the flesh? The answer is in part, yes, and in the same part, we cannot please God. God gave humanity a law for the flesh, and the flesh broke that law; now, all flesh suffers the consequences.
Paul would say that no good thing dwells in the flesh, and that the flesh has no hope of doing good. That’s where he said, “O, wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”
No, Paul was not endorsing sinful behavior. His body serves the law of sin in its imperfection, demonstrating the wages of sin, both his own and those that are heaped on all of us through the accumulated sins of humanity. His body serves the law of sin and death, and it will die.
But notice how he serves the law of God — with his MIND. He is consciously serving that law, intentionally, with his will.
I went to this scripture in search of something that isn’t there. I wanted to find a message about the value of motive, as in when we get “in the spirit.” I was looking for a message of “love is all you need.” That isn’t what I found.
To Paul, this Spirit is the literal indwelling spirit of God and Christ and of Christ in us. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” Paul’s obedience to the law of the Spirit comes from a communion with that indwelling Spirit, from an awareness of the Spirit of God in Christ that dwells within him.
To Paul, his obedience is to a Spirit that is his very Creator and constant companion. And, it is a spirit that he serves with his Mind — that is, with intent, planning and forethought.
This is the Spirit of God Himself. The Law of God, or the Law of the Spirit, is not a the former set of rules to be followed. Rather, it is a life to be led, a life in which the Spirit leads the flesh, and not vice versa. It is living with heightened awareness of the very presence of God, and of His Spirit within us. It is trusting that Spirit to dwell within us and striving to give the Spirit complete control.
I can’t give you a formula for this walk in the Spirit. It is not a matter of maintaining an attitude, or following a set of rules. It is a spirit to Spirit relationship, our spirit to God’s Spirit, and it is a conscious, mindful relationship. It is what Jesus was illustrating when a disciple asked, “Show us the way,” and He replied, “I AM the Way.”
Some of us resist the concept of a “personal” relationship with God, but I think that’s what this walk in the Spirit is. If we get personal with God, setting personal goals to know Him and to serve Him, it will impact us at the very core of our beings, from the inside out.