1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

Romans 8:1-10

It is everywhere. It is all over the world. It affects everything. It is affecting you right now. And it is affecting me. Of course, I am talking about gravity…why did you think I was talking about something else? According to Wikipedia, “Newton’s law of universal gravitation is usually stated that every particle attracts every other particle in the universe with a force which is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between their centers.” In other words, the law of gravity affects everything. The truth is, many laws are constantly at work in our lives. Some of the laws that affect our lives keep us safe, others get us into trouble and some laws keep us “grounded.”

One of the laws or guiding principles in a family is for parents not to pick favorites when it comes to their children. This law is good for parents to follow because it helps keep all their children humble. If a parent would show favoritism toward one child, then sadness, tears and fights would break out and the parent’s love would come off as unfair, biased and make their children feel unaccepted. Breaking laws or guiding principles that are good for our lives always leads to heart break, pain and suffering. In our reading from Genesis 37, a man named Jacob had twelve sons and treated one of them as his favorite. Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son, and when his brothers saw how their father treated him, they hated him. Then, God sent Joseph dreams in which his father and brothers bowed down to him. After Joseph shared his dreams with his family, Genesis 37:11 “His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” The dreams God sent were good and revealed the future when Joseph would be in a position of power in Egypt to save his father and brothers, but their jealously kept them from trusting God would work through their brother.

Bad things happen when we go against the many good universal laws in our lives, and all of that law breaking and bad comes from sin. God explained through the Apostle Paul how our sinful flesh causes us to go against what is good. In our reading from Romans 8, we heard, 6 “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” In these verses, Paul spoke to the Christian congregations in Rome. He shared with them a universal law affecting all who believe in God. Every Christian has both a sinful flesh and the Spirit of God inside them. The sinful flesh wants to rule the mind in a way that leads to death, but the Spirit of God wants to rule the mind in a way that leads to life. These two are at war inside all who believe in Jesus as their Savior.

You face constant danger as your hostile sinful flesh fights against pleasing God. Pleasing God is keeping his law. And, God’s law is good. He created the universe, gravity, people and he put in place laws that are good for us to follow, but we break them because of our sinful nature. When God tells you to honor and respect the government, your sinful nature quickly criticizes how the government responds to a pandemic and attacks leaders of a different party rather than trusting they have your best interests in mind and the last thing you think to do is pray for your government or leaders of any party to make decisions that are good for the people they serve. When God calls you to trust in him and love others, your sinful nature creates cabin fever and in isolation your mind is filled with fear from listening to opinions rather than facts, and you quickly lose your temper unwilling to share space with loved ones or give up lazy, hurtful, unproductive and perverse habits. When God tells you that you are valuable to him, your sinful nature fills you with every desire to find value for your life in how you dress, what you eat, where you work, how much toilet paper you have, how healthy you are, how much you can drink, how badly you can hurt yourself, how many rules you can break, etc. When God calls you to spend time in his Word, loving him and others, your sinful nation wants to spend time in what is evil, hurtful, short lived, unfulfilling, dangerous, etc. This is the law of sin, this is what it means to be lost to the law of sin and this is what leads to death and hell, not to peace and life with God.

You need Jesus to free you from the law of sin. The universal law, principle and truth you need is one that frees you from your sinful nature and what is waiting for you because you have not kept all of God’s good law. This is the message of Romans 8, 1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” You are not condemned because of Jesus. You are not going to suffer in hell. You are not going to lose the fight against the sinful nature because Jesus freed you from the law of sin to live by the Spirit.

You are alive because Jesus isolated himself for you. You are surrounded by countless stories, posts and interviews some helpful, some humorous and some harmful, but Jesus is the one headline to always keep in front of you. In our reading from Matthew 20, Jesus said, 28 … “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus served you by taking your sin, the virus that has affected you from the moment you were conceived, a virus that ends in death. He isolated himself from God the Father and became the sin of the world on the cross. There on the cross, he traded your infected flesh and blood, for his good, healthy, perfect flesh and blood, and he died in your place. His isolation meant you were freed from sin and death, his isolation put you at peace with God and his isolation means you have life.

You do not have to worry about those times you have lost the fight with sin and hostility toward God because Jesus kept the law for you. Again, God’s law is good, but our sinful nature keeps us from keeping it perfectly and in a way that leads to life. Jesus did not have a sinful nature, so he was able to keep God’s law perfectly and in a way that leads to life. In our reading from Romans 8, we heard, 3 “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” You and I are alive by the Spirit. We are alive because we trust Jesus kept God’s law for us and he was punished for each time we break God’s law. Living according to the Spirit means living with faith in Jesus. This new life is a new law or principle, one that God established. It is the law that states you and I have peace and eternal life with God through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

You are alive in the Spirit and live according to this new law. In your life, you both keep God’s law, thanking God for Spirit’s work in and through you, and fall into the control of your sinful flesh, but by the Spirit return to God asking for his forgiveness because Jesus’ sacrifice freed you from all sin and death. We have this encouragement in Romans 8 for any worry as to whether we are alive, forgiven and filled with the Spirit, 9 “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.” You have the Spirit of God living in you because God has replaced in you the fear of an unknown future with faith in a future with Jesus. God has replaced your cabin fever and destructive isolation with joy and thankfulness to be cut off from the world to actively reconnect with your family and learn what is on their hearts and show them love by listening, encouraging, laughing, crying, guiding, scolding and forgiving. The Spirit of God living in you means taking the virus headlines and using them as an illustration of sin, so that you can cure people of their sin with the message of Jesus’ sacrifice, forgiveness and eternal life.

It is everywhere. It is all over the world. It affects everything. It is affecting you right now. And it is affecting me. Of course, I am talking about the Spirit of God…why did you think I was talking about something else? The truth is, many laws are constantly at work in our lives, but the one law, principle and truth that keeps you safe, keeps you out of trouble and keeps you grounded even when the world is falling apart is Jesus’ forgiveness for you, the peace he won for you at the cross between you and God, and the eternal life that is yours with him in heaven. May the Spirit of God live in you so that you are not controlled by sin, but by the Spirit of life and peace. May you and your family remain connected to the Word of God, and the message that Jesus freed you from the law of sin to live by the Spirit. Amen.