“So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin.”
~Romans 7:25b (NRSV).
The Apostle Paul, here, is identifying with the unregenerate Jew, not so much the everyday, reborn Christian — he recalls what it was like, pre-Christ, to struggle interminably against the power of sin that would even contort the holy law to bring a person to their spiritual death.
We can thank God, indeed! (Verse 25a)
It should be clear to us all that sin has sufficient potent power to destroy something so perfect as well-designed manifestations of God’s holy law.
Christ – the Missing Link
So, to the contrastive evil of sin, God has given humankind the Mosaic Law.
It was, and always is, the means to obedience in the realm of the Spirit. But the Law is always, summarily, incomplete without the goodness-power of the Holy Spirit to complete it. Jesus Christ, our God-incarnate intercessor, came as the holy transactor — to construct, at the Father’s re-engineering will, a new arrangement. This new arrangement meant we were no longer hemmed-in against a perfect law without power; this gift of God’s flipped against us.
At this point it’s best to understand the reality that sin is of its own kind, a law; it’s a force against the Law.
So, the Law, and the sin against the Law — that was the reality for the Jews in Jesus’ and Paul’s time. So it is for the unregenerate human being today; the one wanting to do good. It’s the reality for anyone driven by a works righteousness devaluing grace. For us, what’s outstanding is the issue of legalism that will forever undermine the strength of the Spirit, and our faith, as we’d refuse to draw upon such holy power.
Access to Power – One Borne of a New Mind
In the reality of the Spirit, then, we have access to this power. It crushes sin plainly because it right-aligns, and justifies, the Law. The Holy Spirit is the one giving the Law, teeth.
The muscle behind the Holy Spirit is the power of the mind to think well, to think right — that is sacrificially — and to be able to read and discern the Word and will of God — which is intelligence of the moral variety.
Splitting the two we can see that the Law is the intellectual property, but the mind, empowered by the Spirit, is now supercharged with the supreme ability to think like God. Together with this we’re empowered to obey God perfectly, if it’s our will.
Romans 7:25b can be a difficult passage to understand. Without Paul’s context we cannot understand it.
With our Spirit-indwelt minds we’re no longer constrained as slaves to this wholly-good Law, unable to please God because of our ever-underpinning sin. No, with the Holy Spirit, thanks be to Jesus our Lord, we have both knowledge and choice.
It’s knowledge to know that sin is dealt with; choice, then, to obey or not.
And what a marvel it is, that even our choice doesn’t condemn us; not in the realm of our salvation. Not that we’d aberrantly sin!
With nothing against us, and everything now for us, thought for the things of God has never been more joyous and palatable. There remains truly no one against us whilst God is eternally for us.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.