Margin notes: A Conflict of Laws


Romans 8:1–2 (ESV) — 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

The book of Esther presents a wonderful way of illustrating this short but all-important passage. You will remember that a high ranking official in the Persian Empire by the name of Haman, was an enemy of the Jews. Haman nudged the King into making a decree that on a certain day of the month later in the year, everyone was free to kill and plunder their Jewish neighbors throughout the kingdom. He had led the King to believe the Jews were enemies of his rule and bad for the state. This was really driven by his own animus against a godly Jew named Mordecai.

Mordecai had raised his orphaned niece Hadassah (Esther) and she had recently become Queen. But this edict inspired by Haman would mean the slaughter of her people. Esther exposed Haman’s plan to the King. Haman was executed and the Queen then asked that the edict be repealed. But there was a problem. The law of the Medes or the Persians said that no edict of the King could be changed once it was signed and sealed. It was irreversible. It appeared there was no answer. But God gave an answer to Mordecai and Esther. The King let them write another edict, that he also signed. This one said that on the day the Jews were scheduled to be slaughtered, they were allowed to take up arms against their persecutors and plunder their goods! And so the tables were completely turned and the Jews were saved while 75,000 of their enemies were killed.

What does this have to do with Romans 8? The Law of sin and death which God set in place, cannot be abrogated, just like any law of the Medes and Persians. “Sin and you will die” the law reads. It was given in the Garden, and remains true to this day. How then can anyone be saved? By another law. The law of the Spirit of life in Jesus Christ. This law reads: “Believe, and you will live.”

The old law is still in effect. But where that law abounds, the law of grace much more abounds. And those condemned under it are not only spared, but granted eternal life in Christ, and the promise of ruling and reigning with Him for all eternity.

No, God’s demand of perfect holiness has never gone away. But it was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Fulfilled in His life, death, burial and resurrection. And all those in Him are now free from the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus.

And that dear friend, is the good news of the Gospel.

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