Spiritual Law of Sin and Death

The Apostle Paul wrote of being set free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2). Since spiritual death is what a person earns or deserves for engaging in sin (Rom 6:23), the “law of sin and death” in effect is also the “law of sin,” which we see referenced much more frequently in the New Testament.

This spiritual law specifies that anyone who violates God’s standard of righteousness will receive the judgment prepared for Satan and those who follow him: eternal separation from God and unimaginable torment (Mt 25:41). But God loved everyone in the world so much that he gave his Son Jesus, so that everyone who believes in Jesus’ death for their sin will have eternal life instead of eternal death (Jn 3:16).

Christians are those who believe in Jesus and are set free from the law of sin, so that law is relevant only to those who reject Jesus as Savior (Rom 8:1-2). Because a Christian is born again spiritually, his spirit is set free from slavery to sin and released from the law (Rom 6:6; 7:6). Yet Paul admits our flesh — our physical bodies plus our way of thinking focused on the world and its way of doing things — can still be enslaved to sin after we become Christians (Rom 7:23, 25).

Before conversion, we were sinners, enslaved to impurity and increasing wickedness (Rom 6:19). After our spiritual conversion, our physical bodies still are not redeemed, so they remain under sin’s influence. We’re to renew our minds by repenting or conforming our thinking to the Bible (Rom 12:2). As we do that, our thinking becomes more like God’s and less like the world’s, so we’re less inclined to sin. Though we’re free from the law of sin and its judgment as Christians, our minds and bodies remain affected by sin, but we’re renewing our minds and learning to live according to the Spirit of God and our redeemed human spirits (Rom 8:4, 9-10).

When we were sinners, we could do nothing but sin because we were enslaved to it, and the law of sin and death guaranteed our eternal punishment. But Christians are not slaves to sin or affected by that spiritual law.

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