Romans 8, Part 1
Nov 15, 2010
Romans 8:1 and 2 says,
(1) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Paul's use of the term "therefore" shows us that this is a conclusion from what he has said earlier. The law no longer condemns us to death. Why? On what grounds? Because the Law has already killed us--that is, the old Adam in us. We have reckoned (imputed) death to our old Adamic identity by identifying with Christ's death on the cross. Our new life in Christ has begun through our Christ Identity, which has been, as it were, raised from the dead.
This new Christ Identity does not sin, for God is his Father. In other words, this new Christ Identity does not violate the Law, for it is in perfect conformity to the mind of the Father as expressed in the Law and applied by the prophets and apostles.
(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) in order 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 was indeed weak. It was incapable of giving life to any man, on account of "the flesh." It is not the Law that was fleshly, for Paul says it is spiritual (7:14). It is the Adamic man that is fleshly or carnal. For this reason, the Law could not find a way to give us life, even though, Paul says, that was its intent (7:10).
Another way had to be found. God sent His Son "as an offering for sin . . . in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us." That requirement is perfection, and where there is sin, the Law's requirement is death. Hence, we have put to death that Adamic "I" that so well deserved to die.
Does this, then, give us a license to violate the Law? No, it means that inasmuch as we are identified with the Christ "I" we will NOT sin. That is what it means to walk according to the Spirit. Paul is referring to the spiritual "I" as opposed to the fleshly "I."
(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. (6) For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (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.
The mind of the flesh will always be "hostile toward God." This brings us back to the Law of Tribulation in Lev. 26, where God warned Israel about continuing in sin. He warned them that such fleshly action would result in captivity and even deportation to foreign lands. Their captivity would not end until they had confessed their hostility against Christ, as it says in Lev. 26:41,
(41) If they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their forefathers, in their unfaithfulness which they committed against Me, and also in their acting with hostility against Me--
Hostility toward the Law was what brought about Israel's deportation to Assyria and Judah's deportation to Babylon many years earlier. Even in Jesus' day, the Jewish carnal mindset ran contrary to the Law of God, for they misinterpreted it by the mind of the flesh and turned the Law into the traditions ("precepts") of men. Hence, Jesus told them in Matt. 15:7-9,
(7) You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, (8) This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. (9) But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
Paul was well aware of the Jewish hostility against Jesus Christ and against all those who preached the gospel of Christ openly. He shows that such hostility comes from the carnal Adamic identity, the "old man," which Christians have put to death by identifying with Christ.
To be hostile toward the Law is to have a mind that is contrary to the mind of Christ and the mind of the Spirit. Hence, "those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8). Paul says in Heb. 11:6, "without faith it is impossible to please Him." Every religious person believes that he has faith in God, but it is only faith in the sacrifice of Christ that can please God. Only by such faith does a person fulfill the Law by putting to death the old man and being raised as a new creation in Christ.
(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.
Some Pentecostals have used this verse to prove that one must have a Pentecostal experience in order to be a true Christian. But a simple look at the pattern of "the church in the wilderness" proves otherwise. The Israelites were justified by faith through Passover, not Pentecost. They were led by the Spirit from the day of Passover, not Pentecost (at Mount Sinai). Exodus 13:20-22 says,
(20) Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness. (21) And the Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. (22) He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
The Israelites were thus "led by the Spirit" day and night from Day One--Abib 15, Passover. Our justification, which comes through Passover-Faith, begins our journey as we are led by the Spirit. Our sanctification, which comes through Pentecost, is an enhanced level of Faith and a second experience with God. However, we should be careful to distinguish the two experiences and to understand the importance of each.
(10) And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of [with respect to] righteousness. (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 indwells you.
When Paul distinguishes between the old man and the new man, the old man is sentenced to death, while the new man is alive with immortality. Verse 11 continues this concept of the internal resurrection, where the new man is raised immediately upon the death of the old Adamic flesh-man. He says that God "will also give life to your mortal bodies."
Some believe this means that if we are truly led by the Spirit, then we will never die in our current bodies. They point to the example of Enoch, and perhaps Elijah as well. I have met many who believed they would never die, but given enough time, they continue to age and many of those mortal bodies are now decomposing in the ground. I have no doubt that their spirit is alive unto God, for He is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Paul's use of the phrase "your mortal bodies" seems to suggest that he was not referring just to an immortal spirit, or the Christ "I." Our Christ Identity is not our mortal body, even if it is located within it. Certainly, not all shall "sleep," but all will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51). So whether this change is subject to an appointed time in history or is subject only to one's spiritual growth is a matter for debate.
This is the first part of a series titled "Romans 8." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones