Following Romans 1-5, the Apostle Paul continues by explaining that the new humanity created by and united with Christ will still battle with sin, the law, the flesh and death. This is the tension in the already/not-yet in full formula. While reconciliation and transformation into the new humanity has already happen, this decisive act by God is not yet complete. Humans will still experience the weaknesses of the sinful flesh and the exertion of sin in their lives. Thus, in Romans 6-8, Paul explains the already reality in Christ and then how people should live in the not-yet conditions.
There is an ongoing battle with sin in this transitory life, but Christians can battle with confidence knowing that Christ has delivered them from the tyranny and oppression of sin. Christ’s death and resurrection broke sin’s powerful hold on humanity rendering it powerless in dictating terms to those who have identified themselves, through baptism, with Christ in his death and resurrection. Therefore, Christians must not tolerate or cooperate with sin, and their living should be directed toward and determined by Christ who is their new righteous and better master (6:1-23).
In 7:1-23, Paul addresses the Law and explains that Christians are dead to and released from the legal code and transferred to the new life of the Spirit. According to Paul, the problem with the Law is that it has become the instrument of the sin that it was intended to thwart. The Law made the situation worse instead of better for the people. The Law has become a curse on those who attempt to keep it. The Deuteronomic promise of life based on the Law actually provoked the opposite effect of death. However, Paul is quick to explain that the Law should not be blamed, but rather the Law and the flesh have been manipulated by sin. Sin has distorted the Law and humanity.
Paul explains in Romans 8 that the curse of the Law has been reversed to blessing for those whose faith is in Christ. God has accomplished in Christ what the Law could not because of sin and death and the weakness of the flesh. Moreover, those who are in Christ receive the Spirit of Christ and are assured of final victory over death and over the flesh. They become God’s children and must live out this reality while being assured that nothing can separate them “from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:39).