“O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. 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. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:24-8:2).
Sanctification by legislation does not result in pristine human holiness. Its outcome is a raging spiritual warfare where my knowledge of right and wrong is better than my practice of it. Therefore, “what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:15). I agree with God and His Law because it is good (v. 16), but I fail to consistently live according to its holy, just, good commandments. Sin has its own law of slavery which I ultimately obey and am helpless to escape from on my own (Romans 7:20-21). What wretchedness!
The purpose of God’s law was to identify sin. That it did quite effectively: “I would not have known sin except through the Law” (Romans 7:7). The legislation, however, cannot eliminate sin. Only grace does.
Grace does not excuse sin; its purpose is to eliminate it. Therefore, Paul asks, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2).
The human heart ought to overflow with God’s praise because the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ our Lord offers freedom from the Law of Moses and from the tyrannical rule of sin and death. It offers an escape from wretchedness and a life of blessed—“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. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
The Law God gave through Moses identifies sin and condemns sinners. The gospel of God’s grace justifies sinners and seeks to eliminate sin from the inside out. The Law identifies my wretchedness; the gospel reveals God’s blessedness.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!