A group of children were selected to participate in an eight-year campaign against smoking. At the same time a control group was selected to check the results of the study. The students who participated in the campaign participated in an educational program that exposed them to the dangers of cigarettes. The control group did not. A decade later when the two groups were compared, the results showed that a little over 25 percent of those who went through the anti-smoking campaign smoked regularly—the same as those who did not participate in the program.
Knowing what is good for us is no guarantee that we will act accordingly. In the previous chapter Paul showed that this is certainly true when it comes to God’s Law. The law of sin has the power to circumvent our good intentions when it comes to the Law of God. Fortunately, there is a third law, the “law of the Spirit of life” (v. 2). Believers have been given the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to counteract the sin principle that keeps them from doing the good they want to do.
Christians enjoy a two-fold freedom, first as a result of the death of Christ and second because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s death has freed us from the condemnation of the law and the dominion of sin. It “condemned sin in sinful man” (v. 3). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit gives us the freedom to obey. As the Holy Spirit enables us, we obey God from the heart and keep the true intent of God’s Law. We are not bound under the law, but the moral principles of the law are implanted in us by the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit also provides us with assurance that we belong to God. It is only by the Spirit that we are truly able to address God as “Abba,” a word that means “father” (v. 15). Paul describes the Holy Spirit’s interaction with our spirit as a kind of call and response in which the Holy Spirit and our own spirit witness together that we are the children of God.