Topic: Two Principles or Laws operating in the life of the Believer

Text: Romans 7: 15-25

Memory verse: Romans 7:25


From the past two lessons on Romans 7 we have been looking at the believer’s relationship to the law. Using the illustration on “two husbands,” we learnt that by our faith in Christ’s death on the cross, we died to the Law and that our new Lord or husband is Christ. And so the law has no control over us. Afterwards we studied about the purpose of the law in the lives of the believer and learnt that the Law, above all things, helps us to recognize sin. Today’s lesson further looks at Paul’s explanation that there are two principles or laws operating in the life of the believer. These are the law of sin and death and the law of the Spirit of life through Jesus the Messiah (see Romans 8:2).

Explaining the two Principles (7:15-25)

Having explained his defeating experience with the Law, Paul concluded in Rom 7:15-25 that there are two principles (or “laws”) that operate in the life of the believer: The Law of sin and death and the Law of the Spirit of life, through Jesus the Messiah


Here, Paul is dealing with the presence of two natures in the child of God. Salvation does not mean that God changes the old, sinful nature. He does not clean it up or reform it. The believer’s old nature is just as wicked and opposed to the Spirit today as the day he was saved.  Salvation means that God gives the believer a new nature and crucifies the old one. The believer still has the ability to sin, but he now has an appetite for holiness. The possibility for sin is still there, but not the desire.

The Law of sin and Death

The law of sin and death is simply the operation of the old nature. Thus, when the believer wants to do good, evil is present. Even the “good things” we do are tainted with evil (verse 21). It is here that you see the difference between the victory of chapter 6 and that of chapter 7. In chapter 6, the believer gains victory over the evil things of the sinful nature. He ceases to do evil deliberately. However, in chapter 7, he triumphs over the “good things” the flesh would do in obedience to law.

God will not accept the sinful nature, for in our sinful nature there is nothing good (verse 18). Jesus said – “The flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). Many believers set up laws for their lives and seek to discipline the old nature into obedience. But God plainly says, “The sinful mind [the old nature] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so” (8:7).

The Law of the Spirit of Life

The law of sin and death is defeated by the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. It is not by submitting to outward laws that we grow in holiness and serve God acceptably. Instead, we grow in Him by surrendering to His indwelling Spirit. This law is elaborated in chapter 8, especially in the first 17 verses. We cannot fulfill the righteousness of the Law by our own strength, but the Spirit of Jesus fulfills it in us by His power (8:3-4).

Practical Application and Conclusion

What is the practical application of all this? It is quite simple. In our new position before God – as dead to the Law – we are not expected to obey God in our own strength. God has not put us under a “Believer’s Law” that we must obey in order to be holy. Rather, He has given us His Holy Spirit who enables us to fulfill the demands of His holiness. Believers may have the victory of chapter 6 and no longer be enslaved to the sin nature, but there is more to the believing life. Shouldn’t we produce fruit for God? Certainly. But the minute we start doing works in our own strength, we discover that we are failures. So what is the answer?

We must accept the truths of Romans 7 — that we are indeed failures in ourselves and that the Law is good but we are unspiritual. Then we allow the Spirit to work out God’s will in our life. May God enable us to reckon ourselves dead to sin (chapter 6), and dead to the Law (chapter 7).  May we then, through the Spirit, enjoy the blessed freedom of God’s children and glorify God with a holy life.


  1. Explain the Law of Sin and Death
  2. What does the Law of the Spirit of Life mean to you?
  3. Who enables us to fulfill the demands of God’s Holiness and how?
  4. We become failures if we start by our own strength and works to produce fruit of holiness for God. Do you agree?

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