In verse 2 of Romans 8 Paul gives the first reason why there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. There is no condemnation because “the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death.” What is “the law of the Spirit of life?” Paul has taught us this earlier in Romans 7. In Romans 7:6 Paul taught that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. We noted in that lesson that the “written code” or “the letter” is used by Paul as a reference to the Law of Moses and the Ten Commandments. The contrast, therefore, is the new covenant. The law of Christ, the new covenant, was promised by the Holy Spirit in which those who are in the covenant will obey God from the heart. God’s people will have the heart of obedience under the new covenant. Paul is revealing that people are set free from the Law of Moses which condemned them to sin and are now under the new covenant, the Law of Christ.
There is much debate about what “the law of sin and death” is. Chapter 7 taught that the Law of Moses was holy and good. But sin used the Law of Moses to kill. Paul merges the problem of sin with the Law of Moses. The Law was not the problem. But people are condemned under the Law because no one has obeyed it completely and perfectly. When Paul writes that he “serves the law of sin” he is not saying that he is condemned because he serves the Law of Moses. Paul is condemned because he did not obey the Law of Moses. The Law condemns and through the Law people become enslaved to sin. This is why Paul can speak of the Law of Moses as the law of sin and death. The effect of the Law of Moses was the sin and death of every person. The Law of Moses condemned the Jews and shut out the Gentiles. This is why Paul can use the Law of Moses as a universal problem. The Law of Moses condemned every person that was under the Law, that is, Israel. But the Law also excluded the Gentiles from the hope of salvation. Sin and death were not the purposes of the Law, but these were the result of the Law. However, in Christ and through his law of life, we have been set free. The Law of Moses did not offer justification. Christ and his covenant does offer justification.