There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For The law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
— Romans 8:1–4
When you hear the word religion, different thoughts come flooding into your mind. Thoughts about what the word means to you, memories of church growing up, and many others. Loosely defined, religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics or organizations that relate humanity to supernatural, transcendental or spiritual elements. I will focus on the part that says “a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices.” When I read designated behaviors, I think of rules and regulations. Most of us can probably all think of rules that we have heard in church — rules about attendance, about Bible reading, about living with all of these specific guidelines.
What this passage is saying, however, is that we should not be walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. “Flesh” refers to a man in his natural state apart from the work of God’s Spirit. Verse 3 says that the law is “weakened by the flesh.” This passage makes it abundantly clear that any rules and regulations that we create can not and will not be fulfilled. The passage says that God has done what this flesh-weakened law could not do, he sent his Son down “in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” He did this why? So that we who walk with him, may live righteous in him and not in the flesh.
I say all of that to bring forward this point: we, as a church, should not live our lives by rules and regulations. We should live in celebration and in relationship with our fellow believers. We have been freed from the law of the flesh, and he has fulfilled us with his righteousness. We should live in a spiritual relationship with him, and with each other, and not according to rules that diminish his works. Galatians 2:21 says, “if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Righteousness is not through the law, but through our faith in Jesus. Church should be the same way: by our relationships, and not by the law.