Four Laws that Govern Our Lives
The Law of Sin and Death
Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJV)
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.
- The Greek word for “law” is νόμος (nomos) and it is used 158 times in the New Testament. While the theme and the idea of the law is found throughout the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, the first time that the word law is explicitly used in the New Testament is in Matthew, Chapter five, where Jesus speaks about the immutability of the Law. He stated clearly that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill all that had been written in the Law and the Prophets. “I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”
- Although Jesus was referring specifically to the Mosaic Law in Matthew, Chapter 5, God has established many laws which govern our lives. Some are natural laws and others are spiritual laws. Even if we are ignorant of these laws or choose to disregard them does not mean that we are not subject to them or the consequences of breaking them.
- The different laws have varying and multiple purposes. Some are directive, instructing us what to do. Some are prohibitive, telling us what not to do. Some provide boundaries, telling us in what areas we can operate. Some provide moral models, telling us how we should live and behave.
- Believers as well as unbelievers are subject to the laws of God such as the law of sowing and reaping. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (Galatians 6:7-9).
- The law of sowing and reaping is neutral. It applies equally to whatever we sow. Depending on how we live our lives it will result in great blessings and fruitfulness or tragic suffering and losses.
- The law of sowing and reaping reveals a number of principles that help us to understand how God’s other laws operate.
- The first principle is the sowing and reaping principle. We reap exactly what we have sown. If we sow a bad crop of thorns and briers we can’t expect a good crop of wheat or barley. However, if we sow good things we can expect and be assured of a good crop of God’s blessings. “for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
- The second principle is the multiplication principle. The ensuing harvest will always be many times greater and larger than what we originally sowed.
- If we sow to the flesh it will result in great turmoil and loss. “They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7a).
- If we sow into the things of God it will result in an abundance of fruitfulness and blessings. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38).
- The third principle is the importance of sowing generously into God’s work. If we sow stingily into God’s kingdom we will reap sparingly. If we sow into God’s work generously we will reap a bountiful harvest for all eternity. “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Our attitude will govern how much we sow and consequently how much we reap.
- The fourth principle is the timing principle. There is a lag time between the sowing and the reaping. Between the sowing and the harvest the crop requires time to grow and develop.
- This time lag may deceive those who sow to the flesh into thinking that they will not experience negative consequences and losses for their actions and choices. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
- Those who sow into God’s kingdom will require patience and perseverance while the seeds they have sown grow and mature to bring forth eternal fruitfulness for God’s glory. “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”
- We can sow into God’s work through prayer.
- We can sow into God’s work by labouring in His Word.
- We can sow into God’s work through faith and patience.
- We can sow into God’s work through the resources God has given us whether it is through our finances, time, energy, or talents.
- As believers it is important for us to understand all of God’s laws and apply them correctly to our lives.
- One may want to disregard the law of gravity but it still governs our physical existence. Ignorance of God’s spiritual laws does not mean we are not subject to them. Breaking His laws causes needless suffering and loss, while following His laws brings blessings and fruitfulness.
- We need to understand God’s laws and principles and apply them to our lives. That is why God exhorts believers to read, study, and mediate on His Word and to apply its principles to their lives. “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2).
- If we follow the Laws of God we will live victorious lives that will bring much eternal fruit for the glory of God. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8).
- It is not sufficient to simply know God’s laws. We need to understand how to correctly apply them to our lives. “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully.” (1 Timothy 1:8).
- For example, the purpose of the Mosaic Law was not to instruct us in how to become righteous through our own works but to reveal our lost and sinful state and point to Jesus who would redeem us. “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Galatians 3:24-25).
- Keeping the Law was never God’s plan of salvation; Jesus Christ is God’s plan for salvation.
- The Mosaic Law itself testifies that it was incapable of making a sinner righteous, but the Law and the Prophets did testify that righteousness comes solely through faith in Jesus Christ. “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.” (Romans 3:21-22).
- If a Christian tries to keep the Mosaic Law he is actually using the Law unlawfully and not for God’s intended purpose. “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”” (Galatians 3:10-11).
- “But now we have been delivered from the (Mosaic) law.” (Romans 7:6). The New Covenant made the Mosaic Covenant obsolete and it no longer has any legal authority.
- Jesus Christ fulfilled the entirety of the Mosaic Law, and in doing so, He made the Mosaic Covenant obsolete. Paul referred to the Mosaic Covenant as a “ministry of death, written and engraved on stones.” (2 Corinthians 3:7). Jesus’ fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant and His death brought a ministry of life.
- The laws of God run as a central theme through the book of Romans. In the New Testament, the book of Romans deals most extensively with the law. Of the 158 times the word law is used in the New Testament it is found 51 times in Romans.
- While there are many different laws spoken about in Romans we are going to focus on four laws found in Romans which apply to each one of us on an individual basis. Two laws came into effect at our physical birth and two laws come into effect at our spiritual birth. As Christians we are subject to these four laws and if we apply them correctly it will result in an overcoming life.
- The first two laws come into effect at our physical birth: the Law of Sin and Death (Romans 7:23, 25; 8:2), and the Law of the Mind (Romans 7:23). These two laws will either produce bondage and death or freedom and life depending on how we apply them.
- The second two laws come into effect at our spiritual birth: the Law of Faith (Romans 3:27), and the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:2). Applying these second two laws to our lives will result in a victorious and fruitful life.
- For us to see God’s grace, redemption, and victory released in our lives in respect to each of these four laws we need to operate according to another principle—recognizing the power of our tongues and the confession of our mouths.
- As we study each of these four laws we will see there are four types of confession that relate to each of these laws. An appropriate type of confession in relationship to each of these laws will result in these laws releasing God’s grace in our lives.
- We need to understand the authority God has given us through the words we speak. Being conscious of the confessions of our mouths and deliberate in the words we speak will cause these four laws to be used in the way that God intended.
Proverbs 18:20-21 NKJV
20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
- The words of our mouths will fill us. Depending on what words we speak will determine whether we will be filled with satisfaction, joy and contentment or murmuring, resentment, and bitterness. “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.”
- When we speak negative and hurtful words of unbelief and anger it tears down others as well as ourselves. Negative words fill us with hopelessness and despair and bring death to our relationships with others. However, words filled with love and faith fill us with hope and strength and bring healing and strengthen our relationships with others. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Romans 10:8–10 (NKJV)
8But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):
9that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
- The Greek word homologeo is often translated as “confession” and it has the meaning “to say the same thing, to agree to something; an affirmation, to acknowledge, to declare” and it can relate to confessing one’s sins or declaring God’s praises.
- The relationship between confession and salvation is evident in “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
- When we confess the Lord Jesus and believe that God raised Him from the dead we are coming into agreement with God which releases God’s grace resulting in salvation.
- With our words we can either come into agreement with God through our confession resulting in a release of grace and freedom or agree with our flesh resulting in oppression and bondage.
- The confession of our mouths either yokes us with things that bring life and peace or yokes us with things that bring death and destruction. The words we speak either align us with being spiritually minded or carnally minded. “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6).
- One of the greatest indications of spiritual maturity is when we have learned to no longer speak words rashly or carelessly but are thoughtful and intentional in order to bring life to ourselves and others and glory to God. “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” (James 3:2).
- The importance of confession is both simple and profound. Our words set the direction for both our mood and our lives. “Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.” (James 3:3-4).
- The words of our mouths do not have some mystical power but neither are they devoid of power. Vain repetition will not cause things to miraculous happen. However, choosing to speak words that agree with God’s Word and His purposes will change the atmosphere in our hearts and release God’s grace in our lives.
- The first law that we experience when we are physically born into this world is the law of sin and death. Through Adam’s sin and rebellion we are all born with the same rebellious and sinful nature. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12).
- Because of the law of sin no matter how beautiful and innocent a new born baby appears, deep within that child there is a sin nature that slowly begins to develop and manifest sinful, selfish, and rebellious attitudes and habits that wreak havoc and destruction, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23).
- This sin nature will manifest in our hearts as surely as weeds will spring up in our garden.
- God established the Law of Sin and Death not only because He is the Holy righteous judge who cannot allow sin and evil to continue unchecked, but also because He is loving and merciful, desiring to redeem and save mankind.
- As we study Genesis we see that through the Law of Sin and Death there is not only judgment but also salvation. Each person’s response to God will determine if the Law of Sin and Death will result in bondage and damnation or redemption and salvation.
Genesis 2:16–17 (NKJV)
16And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
- “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” – The consequence and penalty for Adam’s rebellion against God’s commandments and eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was death, and through Adam’s single act of rebellion death came into the world.
Genesis 3:21–23 (NKJV)
21Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
22Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—
23therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.
- “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” – In spite of Adam and Eve’s rebellion we witness God’s care and tenderness toward them as He clothed them in tunics of skin to hide their shame and the nakedness of their sins.
- From the beginning of man’s rebellion, God’s motivation and actions speak clearly of His love for them and His desire to protect and redeem them.
- “And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” – In an apparent contrast to God’s care for Adam and Eve found in the previous verse, He barred their way to the Tree of Life to prevent them from living forever.
- Although death was the consequence and punishment for choosing to rebel, death was also the path for their redemption.
- When Adam chose to rebel against God and obey Satan, not only did physical death begin to operate in his mortal body but an even more hideous death resulted. Adam experienced spiritual death as Satan’s demonic rebellious nature was implanted in his flesh.
- The rebellious nature of Satan was implanted into mankind, which produces all the evil fruit which the Bible calls the works of the flesh. (Galatians 5:19-21).
- If man had eaten of the Tree of Life and lived forever, the sin nature of Satan would have remained within mankind for all eternity. The sin nature would have continued to grow within each individual until all the vileness of Satan would have been fully manifested in their souls forever.
- Without death there would have been no possibility for redemption.
Romans 5:10 (NKJV)
10For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
- “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” – Through Jesus’ death we were reconciled to God. Without death Jesus couldn’t have died for us and we would have been irreversible and eternally separated from God—our lives would have been literally a living eternal Hell.
Galatians 2:19 (NKJV)
19For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
- “that I might live to God” – Through Jesus’ death for me, I am now free to live my life for God.
Romans 6:5 (NKJV)
5For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
- “certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” – Our faith in Jesus is not a dead end. Because Jesus Christ is resurrected from the dead, we also will be resurrected.
- Through physical death, these corruptible bodies so defiled by sin, sickness, disease, and pain will be discarded and we will put on immortal incorruptible glorious bodies. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-54).
- The Law of Sin and Death states a foundational spiritual principle that each person is subject to—if we sin then we will be enslaved to that sin. “Jesus answered them, Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” (John 8:34).
- The Law of Sin applies to both unbelievers and Christians—whoever sins becomes enslaved to that sin and the more one sins the greater that sin becomes entrenched within them and the greater the degree of spiritual bondage and enslavement they will experience.
- The Law of Sin and Death explains why sometimes after a person repents and receives Christ, later on they find themselves back in bondage. It is important for Christians not to play with temptation or dabble with sin or we will find ourselves overcome by sin and once again enslaved by sin. “for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19b).
- Once we have repented and put our faith in Jesus Christ we have been justified and freed from the penalty of sin which is eternal damnation. However, now we need to learn to walk in the spirit so we can grow in our sanctification and find freedom from the power and bondage of sin. The Law of Sin and Death will not affect our justification but it can impinge upon our sanctification.
- The moment we received Christ we made a choice to turn away from the slavery of sin and to obey God. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” (Romans 6:17).
- However, as believers we have to choose whether we will yield to Christ and serve Him in the freedom of the Spirit or yield to sin and serve the oppressive taskmaster of sin. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).
- The Law of Sin and Death also explains the relationship between sin and death. Death is the result and final destination of sin. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15). The Apostle James warned us not to deceive ourselves into thinking that if we sin we will not experience the destructive consequences that sin produces. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” (James 1:16).
- Christians sometimes harbour unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, pride, or any of an innumerable list of sins. Then they seemed perplexed why their lives are unfruitful and devoid of love, joy, and peace and eventually end in complete ruin.
- For unbelievers the Law of Sin and Death will ultimately result in eternal damnation.
- Believers who disregard the principles found in the Law of Sin and Death will experience the destruction of God’s purposes for their lives on this earth. Ultimately they will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and experience eternal losses of the rewards, crowns, and inheritances which He wished to give them. “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).
- What is the confession that deals with the Law of Sin and Death in order to produce life, freedom, and redemption? It is the confession of our sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9).
- The Bible teaches us that we are not only to confess our sins to God but to one another. “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16).
- When we confess our sins and faults to someone whom we can trust it weakens the grip that sin has on our lives. Sins are like mushrooms—they both grow best in the dark.
- When we confess our sins to one another it provides accountability, encouragement, and spiritual support as we go through the process of sanctification and overcome those sins. We can pray for one another which will result in a release of God’s grace to bring healing to our lives. When we are isolated from godly fellowship we can easily stumble and become discouraged.
- The converse of confessing our sins is to deny that we have sinned which results in self deception. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8).
- When we deny that we have sinned or choose to ignore our sins the Law of Sin and Death is set into motion to intensify the bondage and magnify the havoc and destruction which sin is producing in our lives.
- When we confess the truth it produces life and freedom and when we speak lies it produces bondage and death.
- Jesus’ sacrificial death and His glorious resurrection did not abolish the Law of Sin and Death, but made it possible for it to be applied in a redemptive way. Through the Law of Sin and Death, Jesus was able to die for our sins. Through Christ’s death we can confess that we are dead to sin and alive to God. “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:10-11).
- When we confess daily that we have been crucified with Christ we are saying “no” to sin and our fleshly selfish sinful desires and “yes” to having Jesus live through us. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).
- The confessions we make, whether a confession of our sins or a denial of our failures, will determine the way the Law of Sin and Death will operate in our lives. We will either be dead to sin or dead to God’s purpose for our lives. Our confession will determine how we align ourselves—with God or with our flesh.
- In the following weeks we will look at the other three laws.
- The Law of the Mind will teach us the principles of how our minds work in either a redemptive way or a destructive one.
- The Law of Faith and the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus will provide us with the keys to live a victorious and overcoming life.