For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Years ago in our church in Kentucky we used to sing a hymn that began this way:
“Free from the law, O happy condition, Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;
Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Grace hath redeemed us once for all.”
I haven’t sung that song for years, but it comes to mind each time I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Is there a contradiction when Paul says we are free from the law and yet Jesus upholds the law? These are not different viewpoints, but complimentary viewpoints.
Christ speaks of the law in terms of its high demands in reflection of God’s righteous character. The law is against sin; whatever is opposite the law represents the commission of sin. John wrote, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Since sin is the transgression of law, sin brings the condemnation of God’s justice. There must be a penalty for breaking the law, and that penalty is death. Jesus Christ is God so He can do no less than to keep all of God’s laws perfectly. This He did through His sinless life.
Now we see where Paul’s viewpoint compliments Christ’s statement. Because we cannot keep the law perfectly, we are under God’s righteous condemnation. However, God in His grace has allowed the life and death of Christ to become our righteousness. Through our faith in Christ, His satisfaction of God’s law becomes our satisfaction. His death for our sins makes us free from the law’s exacting demand which is the penalty of death. Christ’s blood paid sin’s penalty. When we trust the sacrifice of Christ for the payment of our sins, Christ transfers His righteousness to us and we stand perfectly justified before God.
The old hymn also says, “Grace hath redeemed us once for all.” Christ’s sacrifice is all that is needed. We are eternally justified by faith so there is no possibility of falling and coming under the condemnation of God again. This is why Paul says we are free from the law of sin and death.
Have you been set free from sin’s penalty? Have you received God’s full and free pardon? You can be free today through faith in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Then you can sing, “Free from the law, O happy condition!”
Pastor V. Mark Smith