Summary: This is the 14th of 30 Studies on the Book of Romans and deals with the importance of being led by the Holy Spirit.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Paul had just thanked God for delivering him from this ‘body of death,’ (slavery to sin), and had mentioned that living life being led by the flesh would result in sin, but if we decided (using our minds) to be led by the Holy Spirit, then we could serve God the way He expects us to. He then goes on to elucidate further, what it means to serve God with our minds.
Paul says that a believer in Christ is not under condemnation provided we don’t continue to be led by our flesh (sinful nature), but rather (choose with our minds to be) led by the Holy Spirit. We are now delivered from the bondage of the written code to lead our lives, as it couldn’t provide us with the freedom from sin, and now we have the privilege to be filled with, and led by the Holy Spirit of God, so that we can lead holy lives, pleasing to Him in every way.
Paul just explained how he desired to live a good life pleasing to God, but could not, but then continues to explain how he can now live a life pleasing to God, being filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s the same for every believer in Jesus – we are able to not only decide to live odly lives, but also to actually live Godly lives, and this is only possible because of God’s Holy Spirit who indwells us now.
Paul then goes on to say that when we are led by, what he refers to as ‘the law the Spirit of life in Christ,’ we are free from the law of sin and death. He uses the word, ‘law of the Spirit of life,’ to mean the submission to the Holy Spirit. It’s not a non-volitional slavery to the Holy Spirit, but a willing submission to be led by the Holy Spirit. When we make that volitional decision to be led by the Holy Spirit, we are no longer controlled, or in bondage to the law, which resulted in us committing more sin, which led to death.
He goes on to say that the law could not free us from sin since it was weak on account of our sinful nature which kicked in, and increased our sinful living. But God sent His own Son Jesus to live as a human just like us sinful people, though He Himself was sinless. He came to deal with sin, and instead of being becoming a sinner and being condemned by sin, He lived a sinless life, and thereby condemned sin in the flesh (in human likeness). By Jesus living the righteous life, and then serving as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, He was the only One who was righteous. He then offers this righteousness to all of us who believe in Him. We are now made righteous, and we need to walk, not being led by our sinful nature, but by being led by the Holy Spirit. If we do so, we will continue to live life not being condemned by God.
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Paul goes on to say that those who live their lives being led by their sinful nature, do so because that’s what they set their minds on (think about all the time). Just a short while back, Paul had said in Romans 7:25, “So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” He seems to be saying the same thing in a slightly different way here. He says that how we live our lives depends on what we set our minds on. If we set our minds on sinning, that’s what we will do, but if we set our minds on the things of the Spirit (pleasing God and living holy lives), then that’s what we will do. He isn’t saying that it’s all in the mind, but he is saying that we can decide what or who we follow – the flesh or the Holy Spirit.