THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
Freedom in the Spirit by the Highest and Strongest Law
In Romans 8 there is a wonderful term: the law of the Spirit of life (v. 2). In this phrase three things are composed together: law, Spirit, and life. This law is the fourth law that Paul mentions in Romans. In chapter seven there are three laws: the law of God, the law in our members, and the law of the mind. The law of the Spirit of life, no doubt, is the law of the divine life. By regeneration we received the divine life into our spirit, and with this highest life, there is the highest law. This law liberates us from the law of sin and death.
As we have seen, the third law, that is, the law of the mind, always responds and corresponds to the first law, the law of God. The problem, however, is with the second law, the law of sin and death. Because the third law is weaker than the second law, the second law always defeats the third law and brings us into captivity. However, the fourth law, the law of the Spirit of life, is the highest and strongest law, which liberates us from the second law and fulfills all the requirements of the first law. This is clearly mentioned in Romans 8:2 and 4.
The Mind Set on the Flesh or on the Spirit
Verse 6 is another very important verse in Romans 8. Nearly every word in it is a key, because it is related to the three lives and four laws. As we have seen, the first law, the law of God, is outside of us and above us. The other three laws are all within us. The second law, the law of sin and death, is in our members. The third law, the law of our mind, is in our mind. The fourth law, the law of the Spirit of life, is in our spirit. This corresponds to the three parts—body, soul, and spirit—of our created, fallen, and regenerated person. In each part of our being there is a law. In our body there is the law of the satanic life, in our soul is the law of the human life, and in our spirit there is the law of the divine life. After God’s creation of man and before man’s fall, there was only one life in man with two laws. Although the law of God at that time was not given yet, it was there already in principle. Man had the created human life with the law of good within him to do the things which corresponded with God’s demand, that is, God’s law.
After the fall, however, a second life came in, and with this life there is an evil law. At this point, the trouble within man began. The law of God makes a demand, and the law of good within our soul, our human life, always tries to respond to God’s law. Because our mind is fallen, however, it does not always stand on the side of good, the side of the law of God. When our mind does not stand with the side of good, the second law will not rise up. However, whenever our mind sides with the side of good, the second law, the law of sin and death, comes in to interrupt and frustrate us. The law of the satanic life frustrates us and wars against the law in the human mind. This satanic law is stronger than the law of our human life. So, the human life with the law of the human life is always defeated. However, at the time of regeneration, we received the strongest life with the strongest law. This law, which is the law of the Spirit of life, can now deliver us. This law sets us free from the law of sin, fulfills the requirements of the law of God, and satisfies the desire of the law of the human life.
The operation of the law of these lives depends on which side the mind takes. The mind can side with the flesh, which has the law of sin in our members, or it can side with the spirit, with the law of the divine life in our spirit. There are two sides, and the mind is in the middle. Our experience depends on what side our mind stands with. Romans 8:6 says, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” Three things are mentioned in verse 6. The flesh is outside, the spirit is inside, and the mind is in the middle representing the soul. Now the mind can stand with the flesh on the outside or the spirit within. For our mind to stand with the flesh brings in death, but if our mind stands with the spirit, we will have life and peace. If we are not clear about this, it will be difficult for us to have real experiences of the Lord.
Because we were created, became fallen, and then were regenerated, the same mind on one occasion can be good and on another occasion not good. Romans 7:22 clearly indicates that the mind delights in the law of God, and verse 25 says, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God.” This means that the law of good in our mind always corresponds to the law of God, but this does not mean that the fallen mind is absolutely good. Other passages in the New Testament tell us that the mind is sinful and evil, such as Ephesians 2:3, which says, “We also all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts.” The mind in Romans 7:25 is mentioned in a good sense. The mind of the spirit in Romans 8:6, however, is the mind set on the spirit.
(General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 2: Romans through Philemon, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)