Simply called Romans, the apostle Shaul (Paul) wrote a powerful letter where he, by the inspiration of the Ruach Kodesh (Holy Spirit), masterfully expounded on several mysteries of the Kingdom of God to his fellow Israelites who were living in the diaspora in the great ancient city of Rome. At Rome, there were thousands of Jews and Gentiles who believed in Messiah Yeshua as well as thousands of religious Jews who did not believe.
The teachings that Shaul conveyed in the epistle to the Romans are filled with historical and prophetic references to the writings of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms; skillfully interpreting and revealing things that had been hidden from the man’s comprehension for hundreds and thousands of years, even before the foundation of the world. By revelation, Shaul would show the contemporary applications of the TANAK (Old Testament) and ultimate restoration and unification of the nation Israel through the life, ministry and reign of Messiah Yeshua.
However, in the aftermath of Shaul’s letter to the Romans, there has been much confusion for nearly two thousand years about his use of the word law (Greek, nomos). Many people to not realize that in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he’s not writing about just one law – as a matter of fact, he makes mention of six distinct laws. The confusion comes when people assume that every time he uses the word law he’s writing about the same law when in fact he’s not.
In the epistle to the Romans, there are six distinct classes of law mentioned by Paul, they are:
- The Law of God: (Rom. 3:31; 7:22-25; 8:7)
- The Law of Sin: (Rom. 7:23-25)
- The Law of Sin and Death: Rom. 8:2)
- The Law of the Spirit of Life: (Rom. 82)
- The Law of Faith: (Rom. 2:27)
- The Law of Righteousness: (Rom. 9:31)
As you should be able to clearly see, not every application of the word law is the same. To apply the meaning of the law of sin to the law of God will result in doctrinal error and lawless behavior.
We were forewarned by the apostle Peter of the potential for misunderstanding Shaul’s letters and of the devastating consequences of such misunderstanding. Peter said:
“And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (II Pet. 3:15-16)
We must be very careful about how we read and interpret all of Shaul’s letters. Just because someone holds an advanced degree the Theology or has a ministerial title does not mean that they are accurately interpreting Shaul’s wisdom and revelation. Shaul was a brilliant scholar in the TANAK; he studied under the great Torah scholar Gamaliel; moreover, he was filled with and taught by the Ruach Kodesh (Gal. 1:15-17).
The faith of many has been destroyed by teachers of the various religious traditions (Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Messianic, etc.) who do not understand Shaul’s writing – some have even falsely accused Shaul of saying things that he actually did not say; they accuse him of being a false apostle, and some have even denied the faith in Messiah Yeshua because of an erroneous teaching that someone attributed to Shaul. Why? Because, as Peter said, they (the teachers and those who listen to them) are unlearned and unstable! As it is written by Shaul, they are “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Tim. 2:3).
Definition of Law
Simply speaking, the Hebrew word that is often translated into English as law is the Hebrew word torah, which means instruction. God’s laws are instructions. However, in life there are other sources for instructions; for example: a person standing in a grocery store who is both very hungry and very poor might know God’s instruction that tells him not to steal, but due to the strong sense of hunger he most definitely will be aware of another instruction within him prompting him to steal so that he might eat. Is the instruction to steal, the instruction of God? Absolutely not! However, we are not to despise a man if he steals to satisfy his soul because he’s hungry (Pro. 6:30). We should do our best to help him.
So, let’s look at a basic definition of these six classes of law that Shaul speaks about. I’ll use the order and definitions provided by 119 Ministries.
Six Classes of Law in Romans
1. The Law (Instruction) of God: (Rom. 3:31; 7:22-25; 8:7)
“Quite often, we simply refer to this as the Torah of God, or the Torah for short. The Law of God defines what sin is and what sin is not. This instruction comes from God. To do the law of God is obedience. To break the law of God is sin.” 119 Ministries
2. The Law (Instruction) of Sin: (Rom. 7:23-25)
“The Law of Sin is something that we all followed before we came into the faith. This instruction comes from ourselves, or more specifically, it comes from our flesh. It is our flesh nature that hates the law of God. This nature is the desire to do things our own way instead of God’s way. After we come into the faith, there is a battle inside of us between the Law of God and the Law of Sin.” 119 Ministries
“The Spirit in us directs us or instructs us toward the Law of God. The Flesh directs or instructs us toward the Law of Sin. At the resurrection, the Law of God will finally completely prevail over us and the battle and internal struggle between the flesh and the spirit will be over for us. The race will have been run and won. However, before that happens, we are in sin, and sin leads to death.” 119 Ministries
3. The Law (Instruction) of Sin and Death: Rom. 8:2)
“The instruction of the flesh, or sin, leads us to death, and this is known as the Law of Sin and Death. We were all under the law of Sin and Death before we enter the faith, yet we did not realize it at the time. Our flesh call the Law of Sin freedom, when in reality, sin is bondage that leads to death. The instruction of sin from our flesh leads to the instruction from God that demands our death because of our sin. We live our lives under the Law of Sin and Death until we have a desire for truth; that desire comes not from the flesh, but from the Spirit.” 119 Ministries
4. The Law (Instruction) of the Spirit of Life: (Rom. 8:2)
“The Law of the Spirit tells us that the Law of God is truth once it is heard. It leads us toward the law of God, and away from the instructions of the flesh. The Spirit exposes the flesh and its natural predisposition for sin. Thus, it is the moment when the Law of the Spirit enters into us that we immediately realize we are under the Law of Sin and Death.” 119 Ministries
“It is then that we realize that we are in prison and bondage to our own sin. We then understand that we are in a hopeless state. Once we realize that we are in prison, we desire a way out. We then look to our Creator for the way out. The Spirit or desire for truth and desire for freedom causes us to establish the faith in our Creator and His eternal and authoritative unchanging Word.” 119 Ministries
5. The Law (Instruction) of Faith: (Rom. 2:27)
“The Law of Faith is to conform your way of thinking to the Word of God. Paul refers to this a becoming the new man. In the faith, one adopts the Word of God as the authority over their lives. This is contrary to the flesh as your authority, which sees the Word of God as bondage. This is not a mental assent, but in fact, a transformation of our core beliefs and foundation that directly impacts how we perceive the world and interact with it.” 119 Ministries
“In obedience to the Law of Faith, we see the Word of God as freedom and the way to live. It is also once we enter into this faith, and run the race in the faith, that we are granted eternal life through His grace. It is our internal transformation and spirit or desire for His Word that leads to salvation from the Law of Sin and Death. This is occurring before we do anything, which also demonstrates that salvation is not a matter of works, but a new creation in us. However, that new creation in us causes us to want to practice righteousness.” 119 Ministries
6. The Law (Instruction) of Righteousness: (Rom. 9:31)
“The Law of Righteousness is the instruction to live out our faith, it simply means to practice righteousness. It is the doing of the right ways of our Creator. This is an effect of our faith. Because we believe the Word of God to be the truth and the right way to live, our lives should resemble living righteously. This is in contrast to living in the flesh, which is after our own ways, which are like filthy rags to our Creator.” 119 Ministries
“Our Creator’s ways are righteous, and the righteousness we practice is the evidence or fruit of our faith. This righteousness, or right way to walk out the Law of God, has been evidenced in the lives of many throughout the ages. The most popular is through Jesus Christ, or in Hebrew, Yeshua Ha’Machiac.” 119 Ministries
Paul’s Seventh Law
We have seen the six classes of law that Shaul wrote about in his letter to the Romans. There is however a seventh law that Shaul speaks about. It can be found in one of his letter to the believers in the city of Corinth. It is call The Law of Christ-Messiah (I Cor. 9:21) Again, I will quote from 119 Ministries.
“The Law of Christ is his instructions, as an example, to follow the Law of God in the faith. Our Messiah never once spoke His own instructions from His own authority. He simply repeated and practiced the valid interpretation of the eternal unchanging Word of God that has existed since the beginning. It is in Yeshua that all of these laws are reconciled and understood. Yeshua taught us the Law of God as the truth.” 119 Ministries
“Yeshua pointed out our sin, teaching us that our sin leads to death. He told us that we need to be saved from the Law of Sin and Death. For that to happen, we need to listen to the Spirit to enter the faith in the Word of God. Our Messiah lived His life in the Word of God perfectly. That enabled two things: One, He now serves as the perfect example on how to walk out the Torah, or Law of God; Two, because He did not sin, and never was under the Law of Sin and Death, but took on death anyway as instructed by our Father, the death we deserve is removed from us in His grace. We can live practicing righteousness in His faith and live out the Word of God in our lives, dying to our flesh daily that is against the Word of God. In the end, we are resurrected into a new body, permanently removing the flesh and desire to sin. We then walk in the freedom of the Law of God forever.” 119 Ministries
For further teaching on this subject, please visit 119 Ministries and view the video series called The Pauline Paradox. http://119ministries.com/pauline-paradox-series-part-4-which-law-paul
Charles J. Shields
Now Arise Ministries