This is the 10th part of a series of posts adapted from a paper I presented at a New Covenant Theology think tank in upstate New York in July 2010.
In Romans 8, Paul provides the solution to the wretched state of the chapter 7 man, as he joyfully proclaims, “ There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” (Rom 8:1–2). But that does not mean that the law is now harmless to the regenerate man who nevertheless still has remaining sin – and as we noted above – will continue to have remaining sin in his flesh until glory. Paul issues this stern warning:
 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5–8)
Similarly, in 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us, “ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15:56–57).
To focus on the law in our regenerate state is to set our minds on the very thing that provokes sin in the flesh and to set our minds on the very thing that gives sin its power over our flesh. While the Romans 7 man by chapter 8 now no longer faces condemnation for sin, the Romans 8 man still has not been glorified, and thus he remains susceptible to the effects of sin. To set his mind on the external law of letters and not the internal law of the Spirit of Christ is to condemn him in a temporal sense to a walk beset by sin.
But, says Paul:
 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The same warning was given by Paul to the Galatians. Despite those who would characterize Galatians as warning to unbelievers that they cannot be justified by the law, or who characterize it as a warning to the Galatians not to return to the ceremonial practices of Judaism – practices Paul finds indifferent in Romans 14 – Paul is writing to the church and Paul is making no tripartite distinction within the law. Thus, Paul’s warning is about the whole law and his warning is to those who are believers. “You were running well,” he exclaims. These are not people who are not yet justified; these are people trying to walk the Christian walk, though some individuals would deny the Galatians freedom and return them to a yoke of slavery.
 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?  This persuasion is not from him who calls you.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view than mine, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is.  But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.  I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves! (Gal 3:7–12)
Perhaps the most compelling passage against the law for sanctification is in 2 Corinthians 3. We’ll visit the Spirit/letter antithesis in our next installment.