The text set forth below would seem to be one of the strongest arguments in the discussion regarding the validity of the Torah. The title of this book is based on it. Actually you should read the text of the letter to the Romans carefully a couple of times, then it becomes clear on its own.
2 Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the “torah” of sin and death. 3 For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did ...(Rom.8:2,3a) CJB
One law and two mechanisms
In one breath the above text refers to three different laws: the law of the Spirit, the law of sin (and death) and the law. The first two, the law of the Spirit and the law of sin are not laws in the same sense in which the Torah is law. The first two are laws of nature in the spiritual realm as gravity is a law in the physical realm. They are fundamental mechanisms underlying certain spiritual phenomenon. By contrast, the Torah is a system of norms and values that holds up to us a heavenly mirror, objective, external to us. Due to the fact that the Torah does not constitute a power at work in us, the above text indicates that it was impossible for the law (the Torah), powerless as it was...
This in contrast to a mechanism, initiated by a force which does in fact work in/on us. So, as in all the laws of nature, there is an input (the force), a process and an output; as a whole that constitutes a law in the sense of systematic order. Such a systematic order/pattern is given a name, for example, the law of gravity or the law of conservation of energy (energy cannot be created or destroyed, the 1st law of thermodynamics). Just as there are laws of nature, there are systematic patterns of spiritual order. There are two, each with its own name:
1. The law of the Spirit
2. The law of sin (and death)
The law of the Spirit is initiated by the power of the Holy Spirit (input). The process that follows takes place in us. The Holy Spirit connects with our new man and has the effect that the works of the Spirit are worked out in our lives (output). The law of sin stands in direct opposition to that, effecting precisely the opposite. It is set in motion by the power of sin that penetrates and has its effect on the old man, also referred to as the flesh. It is sin that is at work, seeking to have the works of the flesh find expression in and through us. This spiritual law or pattern has been in place since the fall.
Since then we speak of ‘fallen man’, man who sins almost automatically because that is his nature. Walking in the flesh is ingrained in us. Original sin would be the appropriate term for this. This nature, the will to sin, we inherit from our parents. Which is why the Bible describes man as the slave of sin (Rom. 6:20).
The law of the Spirit is obedient to the Torah, while the law of sin is exactly the opposite – does not submit to the Torah.
Which is why these two war within us. Paul experiences this battle within.
For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. 23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. (Rom.7:22,23) NET
Paul would like to hold to the law God (Torah), but notices that that systematic spiritual order, the law of sin, seeks to hinder him in doing so. But there is no time lost, for it is evident from the first text referenced that the law of the Spirit is stronger than the law of sin. The power of the Holy Spirit is stronger than the power of sin. We need not per se sin, because we serve another Lord. Sin is no longer the ruling power in our lives, the Holy Spirit rules in us. Amen!
John goes even one step further. He writes that we are no longer able to sin. That goes beyond the familiar idea that we no longer need to sin.
No one who has God as his Father keeps on sinning, because the seed planted by God remains in him. That is, he cannot continue sinning, because he has God as his Father. (1John 3:9) CJB
Such a text quite difficult. The key to living yet not sinning is the ‘seed of God’ in us. As I see it, that refers to the Holy Spirit. Just as Mary becomes pregnant by the Holy Spirit, that is how it is with each person born of God, begotten, fathered by the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-6). In both cases the Holy Spirit is the seed of God, because it is He that creates life. Though stated in other words, the law of the Spirit has freed us from the law of sin.
So it is clear that the law of sin (and death) does not refer to the revelation on Mt. Sinai. We have not been freed from the system of norms and values, but we have been freed from a spiritual law or mechanism that had been a part of our system.
Our new man, directed by the Spirit, wants to embrace the Torah, but the old man, our flesh, does not acknowledge God's law:
For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah — indeed, it cannot. 8 Thus, those who identify with their old nature cannot please God.9 But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, … (Rom. 8:7-9a) CJB
Missing the ball
What a difference in interpretation! I was first taught that the Torah is equal to the law of sin. Now it is evident that the law of the Spirit triumphs over the law of sin. More simply stated: the power of the Spirit triumphs over the power of sin, and as a consequence I can honor and live in accordance with the Torah.
Actually it is a bizarre thought that God's law that leads to life would be the law of sin! That is a slap in God's face – clearly one example of what dogma does. It colors our vision in such a way that we are led astray in our thinking. Due to the immense confusion around the concept of ‘law’ believers can, in all sincerity, completely miss the ball.
This text is a copy of paragraph 8.3 from the Dutch book Vrij van de Wet?
Publisher: Sola Scriptura, Wijngaarden, The Netherlands
Author: E. Noordermeer. Translated by D.A. Schechter