As I thought, I just couldn't think of any significant times in my life in which I had used the laws of life I had set for myself. (I had some minor things, but writing about them just seemed like trite bragging.) So I stopped writing and stood back. Often we set rules out for ourselves and we make them as easy to follow as possible, yet still we break them and end up feeling guilty. This problem (termed akrasia by philosophers) is the very problem Paul struggled with in Romans 7.
Luckily he approaches it from the same angle I have to. (I wrote these verses down in my original list) In Romans 8 the first thing Paul does is compare the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus with the law of sin and of death. The two different laws are at war with each other: akrasia. More and more I realise that submitting to one law is rejecting the other. And I can never follow both at once.
"I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?"
When I first got this assignment I was staffing at the Bible camp that I have grown up going to and staffing at (after I turned 14). One theme that the staff has been focusing on this summer is the enemy Christ came to defeat (what we are really freed from). I have always thought of Christ's motives in terms of heaven and hell, and a long time ago God vs. Satan, but the real enemy is sin! Not to say that Christ didn't defeat the devil or free us from hell, but these were all minor battles in the war against sin. Sin is the sting of death; it is the cause of death, it is the problem introduced into the world by Adam's rebellion. John writes:
"Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."In the past I always read this passage as "the Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil", now the emphasis I see is "the works of the devil". And just before that he tells us what those works are: sin.
Look through all the passages you associate with Christ's mission on the world (He came to seek and to save that which was lost, etc.). These passages all point back to the problem philosophers, politicians, religious leaders, teachers, parents, employers, and every day people deal with: sin. John talks about it, Peter talks about it, David talks about it, and all of them have only one answer: God.
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is the only alternative to the law of sin and of death. The Old Testament Laws were all inspired by the Spirit and given by God. Jesus did not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. This is the Gospel we spend so much time talking about. This is the Gospel we need to share. God created men in His image, an image which was marred by man's choice to allow sin in his life. But God didn't let that get in the way of His plan. He sent the Law to show us that we need Him. And He sent grace to save us from the Law of sin and of death. He sent His sinless Son to become sin and to die on our behalf, that His justice might be done, and that He might show us His love. The old path was set. We left it. The boundaries were set. We moved them. And after getting lost and finding we had led ourselves to death's door, He brought us back and showed us the boundaries He had set before time.
"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."