Deliverance through Christ:
Paul’s claim of no condemnation to those in Christ is not an affirmation of the impossibility of apostasy, as many Protestants assert. The promise is subsequently qualified by “who are not walking according to the flesh but according to the spirit” (v.4). The “law of the Spirit of life” (v.2) is the law to which the Christian is amenable. It is: (a) a law of no condemnation due to the justification produced by the atoning death of Jesus; (b) the conduit of life into and within the in-Christ sphere; (c) freedom from the “law of sin and death”; (d) designated the “law of the Spirit” because it has been conveyed by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (it is the equivalent of the “law of Christ” [Gal. 6:2; cf. 1 Cor. 9:21; Jas. 1:25]); (e) in remarkable contrast to the “law of sin and death” (i.e., the Mosaic law primarily but any other law, practically speaking), which could only define and expose sin, but could not permanently remedy it.
The apostle now addresses what the law could not do, in that it was “weak.” It could define and condemn sin, but was without power to deliver from sin on an absolute basis. The antidote to the weakness of the law was the mission of God’s Son, who came in the “likeness of sinful flesh.” He was able to be tempted, though he never yielded (Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22). Additionally, he came “for sin” (cf. Isa. 53:12). By his perfect life and sacrificial death, Christ was able to pronounce a condemnation upon sin. He fulfilled the demands of the law that no sinful human ever could do.
The pattern of one’s life is a reflection of whether he walks after the flesh or after that of the Spirit. The former leads to separation from God; the latter to union with the Creator and blissful peace. Carnality refuses to be subject to God, and those of this disposition simply cannot please the Holy Lord (vv. 5-8). The genuine disciple does not pursue the “flesh,” but the instruction of the Spirit; and that temperament is indicative of whether the Spirit indwells one. And if one does not possess the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ (v. 9). If Christ is a genuine influence in the Christian, his spirit lives even though his physical body is dead (potentially) because such is the common lot of all men (Heb. 9:27). If the divine Spirit dwells in you (in view of your faithfulness), that Spirit ultimately will give life to your mortal body at the time of the general resurrection (v. 11).
Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary
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