Romans Chapter 8

In Rom 8 Paul answers the question of how and when we will be rid of the flesh. But first, he addresses the question of whether we die spiritually if we cannot overcome the flesh in our struggles with it. He says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ even if they sin. This is because we are no longer under the law of sin and death but under the law of the Spirit, which is the law of life in Christ Jesus. That is, you are saved, not because you keep the Law but because Christ died for you.

In Rom 8:4-14 Paul describes what it means to be in Christ Jesus. It means that we must desire to stop sinning and the proof of our desire is that we fight against the flesh when tempted to sin.

In Rom 15-39 Paul talks about what is in store for those who are not condemned. He talks about our hope. We hope that when Christ returns we will receive a glorified body that will not even be tempted. That is when we will get rid of the flesh. That is wonderful. Therefore, Paul says, don’t let anyone condemn you if you belong to Christ. Nothing (except yourself) can separate you from the love of God.

1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

There are two phrases in this statement. One is ‘there is no condemnation’. The other is ‘those who are in Christ Jesus’.

The ‘therefore’ tells us that the rest of the statement is true because of what Paul has explained in the first seven chapters of Romans.

In verses two and three Paul tells us why this statement is true. Then in Rom 8:4-14 Paul explains what it means to be in Christ Jesus. Next, in Rom 8:15-39 Paul explains what it means to not be condemned. That is the structure of this chapter.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

The law of sin and death is simple: if you sin then you will die spiritually. Those who are in Christ are free from it, which means that if they sin they do not die spiritually. This is possible because they are under the law of the Spirit. The law of the Spirit says that spiritual life is obtained by being in Christ Jesus (instead of by not violating the law). In Rom 8:2 this is called the law (of the Spirit) of life in Christ Jesus. It is the law of the Spirit because it was brought about by the Holy Spirit.

3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God {did:} sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and {as an offering} for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The Law requires that in order to obtain life a person must keep the whole Law. That is the requirement of the Law.

The Law could not give people life. This is because nobody could keep the law. Nobody could keep the law because we all have a flesh that tempts them to violate the Law, and we do not have the power to overcome that temptation on their own. The Law was weak through the flesh in the sense that it could not be kept because of the presence of the flesh.

When we give in to temptation that comes through our flesh we have violated the Law. When the Law is violated sin occurs. The power of sin is spiritual death. That is, when sin occurs the sinner dies spiritually.

To condemn sin in the flesh is to take away the power of sin to cause spiritual death due to temptation that is possible because of the presence of the flesh.

God condemned sin in the flesh by paying the price for the sin. God did this by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (that is, God sent His Son as a man who had a flesh through which He could be tempted), and then putting the sins of the world into His Son’s account, and then letting His Son experience spiritual death for the sins imputed into His account. That is how the Son of God because an offering for sin.

The fact that Jesus, God’s Son, came in our own flesh, made it possible for God to put our sins in Jesus’ account. The transfer or substitution could take place only because He was man just like us in the area of temptation to sin.

When our violations of the law are put into Jesus’ account our account then our account becomes free of violation. In other words, the requirement of the law is fulfilled in us. That is, we are seen as if we ourselves have kept the law.

The point is that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus applies only to those who are in Christ Jesus. Such people are those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4). In them, the requirement of the law is fulfilled because of the payment for sin that God made by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as offering His sin (Rom 8:3). In doing so God condemned sin in the flesh. That is, God took away the power or sin (i.e. sin that occurs when the law is violated) to cause spiritual death (Rom 8:3). That is why those who are in Christ Jesus are free from the law of spiritual death caused by sin.

Note carefully what is written if Rom 8:4. The requirement of the law is fulfilled IN the people who walk (present tense) according to the Spirit and do not walk according to the flesh. A person can be walking according to the Spirit for many years and then he forms a bad habit and sets his mind to continue in it for the rest of his life. Now he has set his mind on the flesh and therefore is no longer walking according to the Spirit but according to the flesh (Rom 8:5). Paul says that such a person is not in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:6-9). He may have once been in Christ Jesus, but the moment he began walking according to the flesh he stopped being in Christ Jesus.

As an aside, walking according to the flesh is different from being carnal. A carnal person is one who does not have victory over even the simplest of sin. A spiritual person is one who does. It is possible to be carnal and yet be a believer.

These verses show that repentance is a requirement for salvation. To be repentant is to want to stop sinning. It is the same thing as to not set your mind on the flesh, but to set your mind on the Spirit. It is to want to stop pleasing the flesh (or to put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Spirit (Rom 8:13)) and to want to please the Spirit (or to be led by the Spirit (Rom 8:14)). Even though such a person may fall into the same sin repeatedly, as long as he genuinely wants to stop doing it he is repentant and walking according to the Spirit. Such a person is still saved. However, the moment he decides to stop fighting against that sin he has stopped walking according to the Spirit and begun walking according to the flesh. Then he must die spiritually (because he is no longer keeping his obligation to not live according to the flesh (Rom 8:13)).

5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

To set your mind on the flesh means to want to do what the flesh wants you to do. To set your mind on the Spirit means to want to do what the Spirit wants you to do.

6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

Clearly the death referred to in Rom 8:6 is not physical death just as the life referred to in Rom 8:6 is not physical life. If the life were physical life then godly people (who set their mind on the Spirit) should never die physically. Since godly people die physically the life is spiritual life, and consequently the death is spiritual death in Rom 8:6.

7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able {to do so,}

8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

To be in the Spirit is the same as to not be in the flesh. To be in the flesh is to set your mind on the things of the flesh. If the Spirit of God dwells in you then you are in the Spirit.

The Spirit of Christ is the same as the Spirit of God, which is also the same as the Spirit. In order to belong to Christ you must have the Spirit of Christ. That is, the Spirit must dwell in you. If the Spirit dwells in you then you must be in the Spirit.

To summarize, if you are in the flesh you do not belong to Christ, because if you are in the flesh you cannot be in the Spirit. If you are not in the Spirit, then the Spirit of God does not dwell in you. Therefore, you do not belong to Him. Therefore you are not saved (if you are in the flesh).

10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.

This verse tells us that if Christ is in us we are spiritually alive or saved.

The implication of the body being spiritually dead is that it cannot be resurrected in the form that it is.

Now in Rom 8:10-11, note the present tense used in "though the body IS dead because of sin". Paul is talking about the body being dead in a person who is physically alive. Therefore, the death of the body here is not referring to physical death. That should be clear. Rather, the death here is referring to fact that our bodies tempt us to sin. Because of that it is `perishable' or `dead'. That is, because our body is a source of temptation to sin it cannot partake in the resurrection.

Our spirit is alive because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us. Nothing changes there during the resurrection.

Further, God will raise us from the dead (physical death) just as He raised Christ from the dead (physical death) if the Holy Spirit dwells in us. This resurrection (referred to in Rom 8:11 as the giving of life to our mortal bodies) is what we can expect if the Holy Spirit dwells in us. It should be clear that the subject of these two verses is the resurrection. Our current body is not fit for our dwelling in God's presence. But because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, when the call for resurrection comes we will be resurrected too. That is why the Holy Spirit dwelling in us is called a seal (or a mark of identification).

That is why Paul says in verse 12 [ the post context ] that we should not live according to the flesh. If we do, we will not be resurrected because the Holy Spirit will not be dwelling in us (verse 9 [ the pre context ] says that if you live according to the flesh then the Holy Spirit does not dwell in you). If the Holy Spirit is not in us we have no seal to identify us as persons to be resurrected, and hence we must die (spiritually).

The reason why one can get confused about which death is being spoken of is because different types of death are mentioned in the same sentence. That is why the context is important.

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

That our body is spiritual dead is not a problem to God. It is not a problem because God will raise us in a body that is spiritually alive (that is, He will give life to our mortal bodies) just as He did for Jesus.

He will do this through the Spirit. He will do this because the Spirit dwells in us. That is, one reason why the Spirit dwells in us is to identify us as those who will be resurrected with a spiritually live body. This is how the Holy Spirit acts as a seal, and we are said to be sealed (marked for identification) by the Holy Spirit.

12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--

13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

In order for us to be resurrected we must ensure that we do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. To live according to the flesh is to set your mind on the things of the flesh. It is also the same as being in the flesh.

To be in the Spirit is to live in the Spirit or be led by the Spirit or to set your mind on the things of the Spirit or to be putting to death the deeds of the body. If we are doing this then we will be raised with a spiritual body and become sons of God.

14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with {Him} so that we may also be glorified with {Him.}

Paul began this chapter by saying that there is no condemnation for all those who are in Christ Jesus. He now terminates his description of how to identify those who are in Christ Jesus – that is, how to identify the sons of God.

Paul says that the sons of God will be led by the Spirit of God to put the deeds of the flesh to death. Therefore, if you are following the Spirit’s leading then you are a son of God and there is no condemnation for you. You don’t have to fear condemnation when you sin. The Spirit of God who dwells in you will tell you from within that you are a child of God.

If we suffer with Him in the flesh by putting to death the deeds of the flesh then, being a son of God, we will be heirs of God and will receive what God has (i.e. God’s character).

A person’s glory is that part of him that is the best part of him. God’s glory is His nature / character. So when Paul says that we will be glorified with Christ he is saying that we will receive God’s character. This glorification also includes resurrecting you in a body in which you cannot be tempted.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Paul says that the doing away of our flesh (the part through which we are tempted) and receiving the character of God is worth more than all our present sufferings.

19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope

21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for {our} adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.

24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he {already} sees?

25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for {us} with groanings too deep for words;

27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to {the will of} God.

The hope of the Christian is the hope that we will be raised without the flesh and in a body that has the character of God.

The entire creation is waiting for this to happen because at that time they too will be liberated from constant pain and suffering and death.

28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose.

29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined {to become} conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God {is} for us, who {is} against us?

32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

33 Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;

34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36 Just as it is written, "FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."

37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Paul is ecstatic about the fact that we can be done away with our flesh and be raised in a body in which we cannot sin. If God is going to do that much for us, he is willing to endure anything for God’s sake – tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril and even sword (i.e. physical death). Nothing – except we ourselves – cannot separate us from God.


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