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Various laws are detailed in the book of Romans, principally via contrasts, e.g. the law of sin and death versus the gift of eternal life (as in 8:2), and the law of works versus the law of faith (as in 3:27).

Contrasts are linked: God's righteousness with our unrighteousness (as in 3:10, 21), God's judgments with man's judgments (as in 2:1, 5, 16), Obedience with disobedience (as in 5:19), and Grace with works (as in 11:6).

Now, all those major, thematic contrasts and links are clear enough, but I'm not clear on whether the law of faith is meant to be linked with the law of the Spirit, or whether it's a contrast. I doubt if it's the latter because of John 7:37 and 1 Cor.10:4 and Gal.4:6 and 1 Pet.1:11 and Gal.6:8.

However, to obtain clarity, there's a need to be clear what "the law of faith" is, as well as "the law of the Spirit". Here they are, as in the texts I ask about:

"Where is the boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith." (Romans 3:27)

"For the law of the Spirit of the life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:2)

The only theological commentary I have found relating to this was regarding 2 Corinthians 3:1-9 where the law of Moses (written on tablets of stone) was contrasted with the law written by the Spirit (on the heart). Then the comment was made:

"The law that God puts into the hidden parts is shedding abroad his everlasting love in our hearts (love being the fulfilling of the law) by the Holy Ghost given unto us. Writing his law in the mind, is persuading us by his Spirit, and working in us the law of faith... God writes on the fleshy tablets of our hearts, by justifying us and giving us faith and life; and in this the vision speaks in our conscience, 'The just shall live by his faith'." (Divine Meditations, p35, William Huntington, The Publishing Trust, Buckinghamshire, 1991)

This prompts my question as I seek clarity on what those two phrases mean, "the law of faith" and "the law of the Spirit". Can anyone who believes in there being such things as the law of faith and the law of the Spirit help sort out my muddle?

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    I wonder if this should be called "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" rather than just "the law of the Spirit". Feb 24 at 20:13
  • God wrote his moral law on our hearts and in our minds...this is the 10 commandments. They are summed up by Jesus in Love for God (commandments 1-4) and love for our neighbour (commandments 5-10). Read Exodus 20 carefully and Catalog the commandments...you will clearly see they are according to the above 2 groups and that Jesus remained true to them.
    – Adam
    Feb 24 at 21:30
  • Also God's law existed in the garden of Eden before sin... PRIOR to the fall of man...he "commanded" Adam not to eat of the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16&17)
    – Adam
    Feb 24 at 21:34

2 Answers 2

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In Romans 3:27 Paul contrasts the 'law of works' with 'the law of faith'.

Since works are not required by the law of faith (because it is of faith) therefore works are excluded. For if boasting is excluded, as Paul insists it is, then works must also be excluded.

For faith is not works. And works are not faith.

Yes, it is true that good works will, indeed, flow from faith if the faith be genuine. But they will be 'the work of faith' and 'the labour of love', 1 Thessalonians 1:3. They will not be legal works aimed at self-justification. For by faith, one is already justified and if that faith is the 'Abraham' kind of faith, then a witness will be received (as Abel received, Hebrews 11:4) that one is, in God's sight, 'just' or 'justified'.

Then what rule shall one walk by ?

Paul answers the question in Romans 8: 1 and 2.

There being, now, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus (for they are dead with Christ who are 'in' Christ Jesus and they are no longer under the law, that being dead - the old humanity - wherein they were, in times past, held, Romans 7:6) who walk not after the flesh (for if we live in the flesh we shall die, Romans 8:13, for the law will speak to us and sin will rise up, see Romans 7, and will slaughter us, all over again, as we know by bitter experience) but after the Spirit.

Walking thus, after the Spirit and (as Paul diligently makes very clear in the Galatian epistle, Galatians 2:19 for example, and in Romans, 7:1-6, for example ) freed from the law (for the flesh is dead, in Christ, Romans 8:6 and 10) we need a rule to walk by.

And there it is, Romans 8:2 'the law of the Spirit'.

And the rule of the Spirit is that 'life is in Christ Jesus'.

Running the words together as 'the spirit of life in Christ Jesus' is ungrammatical. If the meaning was that the 'life in Christ Jesus' had a spirit, the wording would not be as Paul dictated to Tertius to write down on the page. It is νομος του πνευματος της ζωης εν χριστω ιησου.

There is an article before 'life' : it is 'of the life' or (since the Greek article derives from the demonstrative pronoun, this/that, see Daniel B Wallace) one could say 'rule of the spirit of that life in Christ Jesus'. The rule of the Spirit relates to that life which is in Christ Jesus.

The rule of the Spirit - of the life in Christ Jesus - is the same rule as the rule of faith.

Faith excludes legal works.

And so does the rule of the Spirit.

For life is not by law. We learned that (or we should have learned it) in Eden. It brings death : inevitably. Because (prior to a new birth) we are creatures.

Life is in Christ Jesus.

And this is a 'rule' : it is, indeed, a 'law' just as the 'law' of gravity is a 'law'. It is a rule. It is invariable. It always works. It is never otherwise. The word νομος, nomos, is a broad concept in Greek and is used in that sense in the bible. It does not (as some seem to want it to do so) invariably and universally mean 'the law of Moses'.

But this is not a new 'law' to burden us and to bring us back under bondage. It is a rule to walk by : that life is in Christ Jesus.

'Take my yoke upon you and learn of me' saith Jesus ' for my yoke is easy and my burden is light', Matthew 11:29.

But this old nature that we still carry with us, like a rotting carcass, will, ever and anon, lead us back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which is where we all went wrong in the first place, in Adam, in the beginning of humanity.

But the baptism of repentance, as ministered by John the Baptist, the Messenger of Preparation, see Malachi 3:1, will fill us up, like six waterpots of stone, until, filled, the water turns to wine, John 2:1-11.

This birth is not only a 'birth again' (anagenesis, 1 Peter 1:23) and a 'birth from above' (anothen, John 3:3) it is also a 'reversal birth' (paligenesis, Titus 3:5).

The new birth reverses the old birth and goes clean against the old nature and its inclinations to self-righteousness and independence of the Spirit. And this new birth leads us to the rule of the Spirit.

Which is : that Life is not in the tree of knowledge (of good and evil).

But Life is in Christ Jesus - the tree of life in the midst of the garden.

There is no life in law. It has none to give. It only has a commandment, 'This do - and thou shalt live', Luke 10:28. But I have no life to 'do' . . . .

. . . . for Life . . . . . is in Christ Jesus.

'In him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.' And if we walk by the rule of the Spirit, then we shall we walk in the Life that is of Christ (as raised from the dead, in Him, Ephesians 2:5) and we shall see where we are going for 'in thy light shall we see light', Psalm 36:9 . . . .

. . . . and we shall not stumble.

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OP This prompts my question as I seek clarity on what those two phrases mean, "the law of faith" and "the law of the Spirit". Can anyone who believes in there being such things as the law of faith and the law of the Spirit help sort out my muddle?

The two laws are not the same, but the two are linked.

Paul speaks of various laws in Romans. One is “the law”, which refers to the Mosaic Law (Rom 2:12, 2:17, 2:25, 3:21, and other laws.

But now the righteousness of God without the [Mosaic] law is manifested, being witnessed by the [Mosaic] law and the prophets; Rom 3:21

It may help to understand that the Mosaic Law was to be their righteousness.

And it [Mosaic Law] shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us. Deut 6:25

Paul contrasts the law’s righteousness of doing, of works, with the law of faith, of believing.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Gal 3:11

Law of Faith and Spirit

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Rom 3:27

What is the setup, the point? Again, Paul contrasts the works of doing from the Mosaic Law and the law of faith of hearing and believing in terms of righteousness.

Verses 24-27 Being justified freely by his [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Grace is unmerited favor through which those who have faith in His blood are declared righteous before God. By what law? Works, the Mosaic Law? No, but the law of faith.

As an aside, this is particularly powerfully freeing for those who worry they will never be good enough or will suffer in purgatory or understand their own fallen nature. The LAW of faith. Established by God.

but the just shall live by my [God’s] faith. Septuagint Hab 2:4 Law of Spirit

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:2

What is the law of sin and death? Again, the doing of (and the failing to keep the whole perfectly) Mosaic Law is contrasted with the law of the Spirit, just as it had been with the law of faith.

This leads to the question of how did you receive the Spirit?

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Gal 3:2

So, once you have Him (the Spirit), you have His law of faith. And, once you hear and believe by faith, you have the Spirit.

You received the Spirit through faith. That Law of Faith is thus tied with the Law of the Spirit. The Law of Faith tells you how to live, while the Law of the Spirit enables you to live by faith.

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