Romans 8 - Part 1
"Our spirit can and must prevail over our flesh. We must not walk (pattern our life) after our flesh, but after our spirit; and God helps those who truly give their hearts to Him. From the first, Paul assumes the saint's heart has been captured for Christ (Cf. 2 Cor. 8:5). God's law is written there (Heb. 8:10); so he can say "to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (8:6). But he does not leave any to think subjective feelings are our standard. We are "in the spirit" only if our spirit is led by the Spirit of God (8:14), this text makes it clear Christ must also be in us. Other scriptures speak of God, the Word, and faith indwelling saints, to the extent they accept divine truth and allow it to influence their lives (see Eph. 4:17f). Here, Paul is urging the saints to allow their instructed spirits to prevail over their flesh.." We need to keep in mind that Paul is still presenting arguments against those that claimed the gospel that he preached encouraged immoral living. Verse 12 in this chapter is a summary of his argument up to that point and it clearly shows that he is dealing with the issue of Christian responsibility.
Romans 8:1 "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus". What good news! I can be right with God, right now! The term condemnation means "to give a judgment against, pass sentence upon, hence, to condemn. Condemnation with a suggestion of the punishment following". Outside of Christ, both Jew and Gentile found themselves under condemnation (Romans 3:9,23). "In Christ Jesus": "And who is this blessed immunity for? To people in Christ Jesus. And how does one get "into Christ Jesus"? (Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 3:26-27). The book of Romans clearly stresses the importance of faith and baptism, for baptism is the last condition before one enters "into Christ Jesus". Here is one more passage that stresses the fact that only 'in Christ' is salvation found(John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 1:3). If such a person lives for God (8:6 "mind set on the Spirit is life and peace") he will escape future condemnation, but if a Christian obeys the lusts of the flesh (and refuses to repent), he will find himself under condemnation again (8:13"for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die.."; Hebrews 10:26ff). Therefore this verse is not teaching that once you are in Christ you can never lose your salvation.
Romans 8:2 "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death" "For"-Why are those "in Christ Jesus" no longer under condemnation?
"Law of the Spirit of life"-this must be the Gospel message (1:16). "It would be absurd to think that Paul started in to prove that the gospel is God's power for saving people, and then reached the conclusion that some other law saves us, or frees us, from sin and spiritual death." The gospel message is the 'law, rule, principle or authority' revealed through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:3-5), which brings "life" to those that obey it.
"Why does he bring the Holy Spirit in at this juncture? ...he wishes to introduce the Spirit at this point .. to connect it with the coming redemption of our bodies (8:23) and to mention that he is on our side in the struggle against sin"
"Law of sin and death"-this isn't the Law of Moses, for that was good (7:12,14,22). Neither can this be universal moral law, for such 'morals' were incorporated into the Law of Moses and the Gospel (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). In addition, Paul had already spent almost half of a chapter exonerating the law from any blame. "From the rule of sin that kills" (Beck); "Of the old vicious circle of sin and death" (Phi). The gospel message has liberated us from the bondage of sin that brings spiritual death, (6:6 "no longer slaves to sin"; 6:14 "for sin shall not be master over you"; 6:16 "sin resulting in death"; 6:17-18 "you were the slaves of sin... and having been freed from sin").
Romans 8:3 "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh"
"The law could not do"-The moral law of God whether expressed in the Mosaic Scriptures, or as it was taught among the Gentiles could not release one from sin (3:9,23). Neither law could bring people to a state of no condemnation. "Weak through the flesh"-"thwarted as it was by human frailty" (Wey). Nothing was wrong with the Law that God gave (7:12). " It was only "weak" in relation to the flesh. The holy law depended on unaided human moral performance to get what it aimed at (flawless obedience). It failed to get it. Not because it was bad or poor in itself, but because the people who were under that Law failed to live up to it." Compare with Galatians 3:10; Hebrews 8:7.The Hebrew writer says that the "fault" that God found in the First Covenant, was with the people under it.
"God, sending his own Son"-What the Law couldn't do, God did. And God did it by giving His only Son! So much for those that complain that God hasn't done anything for them!
The term "likeness" means resemblance, similitude. The Son of God entered this world in a body like ours (John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14,17; Phil. 2:7-8).
"Sinful flesh"-"The idea of evil attaches to the flesh not in virtue of what it is essentially, but from the undue preponderance which is given to it.."Flesh" is spoken of as "sinful" because of the universal "giving in of the flesh" to sin, which is characteristic of mankind. It is the same adaptation of terms that allows "worldly" to mean sinful..not that God's creation is sinful of itself..Flesh, per se, is not sinful". Adam had a flesh and blood body before He sinned (Genesis 2:7; 1:28,29; 2:9; 3:6). Jesus partook of a flesh and blood body, and yet didn't sin(Heb. 2:14,17; 1 Peter 2:22-24). "When Adam and Eve were first created, they had all that belongs to human nature. Sin came into their lives as "a foreign element". "Sinful flesh" is human nature prostituted. It is people using their bodies and faculties for wicked purposes.""For sin"-to deal with sin (John 1:29). "Condemned sin in the flesh"-"He condemned the sin of men and the condemnation took place in the flesh of Jesus" (Robertson p. 372). "Christ's death exhibits God's condemnation of sin in the flesh" Some people look at the cross and think, "Jesus took care of everything, now I can sin all I want and still be automatically forgiven". Paul sees a very different picture. The fact that the Son of God had to die because of the sins that people had committed, SHOULD ONCE AND FOR ALL REVEAL GOD'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS SIN, IT IS CONDEMNED! "Jesus came and lived a sinless life (in the flesh) of resistance to Sin THUS condemning sin in us. We didn't need to let sin rule in us; but we did. There can be no excuses (ultimately). Into the world came one who, fighting with our weapons (Matthew 4), resisted sin and wouldn't permit it to rule". Thus the foolishness of arguing that the Christian can continue in sin can be seen. How can we honestly continue in sin, when the very Son of God that we claim to serve had to die for our sins?
Romans 8:4 "That the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit"
"That"-in order that, with this purpose in mind. God sent His Son to die for sin, "in order that". "Ordinance"-"righteous requirement of the law" (Rhm). The requirement of the law was sinlessness, perfection, and flawlessness (Gal. 3:12). The complete fulfillment of all the statues in the law. "Paul is making it very clear that his doctrine doesn't oppose a life of holiness and logically lead to a life of sinning (6:1). Indeed not. What the Law condemned (violations of it, sin) was condemned in Christ (8:3). What the Law wanted (innocence, absence of guilt due to flawlessness) was secured in Christ The Law sought for God, acceptable service. The Law couldn't get acceptable service from sinners for it demanded sinlessness. But in Christ, not only was a sinless record gained for the believer (8:1) (through obedient faith and forgiveness) but a life of practical holiness.."
"Who walk not after the flesh"-to walk is to live or conduct oneself in a certain way. "After the flesh"-"To live in or after the flesh is to live as though there were nothing but the flesh." It is to allow our physical body to be used as the instrument of sin (6:13,16); it is to allow our desires to be corrupted (Gal. 5:16); it is to place too much importance upon the world (1 John 2:15); to set our minds on earthly things(Col. 3:2); to make the things of the material world our highest ambition (Phil. 3:19; Matthew 6:19,32). It is to depend utterly upon oneself."But after the Spirit"-remember, it was the translators who decided when to capitalize the word "Spirit". The Christian is to follow (walk)after the instructions of the Spirit revealed in the Gospel (1 Cor. 2:13; 14:37); but the Christian's own spirit (inner man) must cooperate(7:22; Colossians 3:1-2).
Note: The righteous requirement of the Law is ONLY fulfilled in Christians who "walk after the Spirit".. It is only in this condition that the blood of Christ forgives sin and thus enables you to remain in a state of "no condemnation". Paul offers no comfort for the unfaithful (those who persist in sin and refuse to repent (Heb. 10:26ff) (8:8,9,13). **Paul is talking to Christians in these verses, Christians that could walk after the flesh, if they so decided.
Romans 8:5 "For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit"
"Mind"-to give our time and attention to (Whiteside p. 171). "People who are controlled by the physical, think of what is physical"(Gspd). To think, to put the mind on (Robertson p. 373). Their moral interest, their thought and study (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 646). To direct the mind to something, and so to seek or strive for (Matthew 16:23; Phil. 3:19; Col. 3:2)(Vincent p. 90). "The things of the flesh"-such things as listed in Galatians 5:19-21 and Matthew 6:32. Note: Some argue that sin is permissible, "Just so long as your heart is right". Paul disagrees. One ends up committing sin for the very reason that their heart or mind is not in the right place. Jesus agreed. (Mark 7:20-23)James pointed out that one sins, gives into temptation, when they allow themselves to be "carried away" (something that happens in the heart) by their own lusts (James 1:14). "After the Spirit"-who walk after the Spirit. The desire to serve God is futile apart from the directions of the Holy Spirit (8:14-16). "The things of the Spirit"-"They who live after the spirit, give their attention to spiritual things" (Mon). For starters, such things as are found in Galatians 5:22-23 and 2 Peter 1:5-11. This verse reveals that people accomplish spiritual things because that is where their attention, focus, interest, heart, and mind is! The person who argues, "Well, I really wanted to be at services, I was planning on coming.. but somehow the day got away from me or somehow I didn't make it', isn't telling the truth".
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017