Romans 8:1–11, Lesson 12. The Final Solution.
Key Notes: The Holy Spirit enables us to do the Law. The things of the Spirit. If anyone has not the Spirit....
Someone has said that if Romans is the Sovereign’s ring, the eighth chapter is the faceted gem and the first and last verses are the glint in the stone. It is impossible to overemphasize the importance of the conclusion Paul comes to.
First, we return to the dilemma. Paul is agonizing over his failure to conquer sin in his own life. “Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” 7:24
8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” That rings a familiar note.
“For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification.” (5:16)
We rejoice in this clear declaration. Christians have escaped from God’s wrath into grace. (5:1, 9, 11). We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness, servants of God. We are not under condemnation.
8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
Paul uses the word “law” in more than one way.
It is first the Law of Moses, referred to many times in Romans (e.g. 8:3).
But it is also “a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” (7:21)
1. “the law of works” vs. “the law of faith” (3:27)
2. “the law of my mind” (7:23)
3. “the law of sin” (7:23) or “the law of sin and death” (8:2)
4. “the law of the Spirit of Life” (8:2).
So “law” is a rule, a principle, an ordered set. Chemical reactions follow laws; they are orderly. The law of gravity determines that if you drop something, it will fall. There are rules for propagating fruit-flies and making bread. The human mind works in well-characterized ways. Some things just have to be accepted; "that's the way it is."
But "the way it is" -- "the law of sin and death"--has been overridden by "the way it must be".
8:3 “For God has done what the Law, weakened by the flesh, could not do.” God has overridden the Law-Flesh domain which could not make us righteous.
“Sending His Own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.”
Paul is very careful in his choice of phrase: "the likeness of sinful flesh".
*Christ came not “in the likeness of flesh.” That would make Him only appear to be human. The error is called Docetism (Gr. dokeo, to appear). It was popular among the Gnostics who believed that matter was intrinsically evil while good resided in spirit.
“…and for sin....” means for our sin, to be sin for us (II Cor. 5:21), to be our sin offering.
8:4 “…in order that the just requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
This is the key expression. The task of holiness is to obey the will of God. The will of God is stated in the Law of God, especially the Ten Commandments. It has not gone away. It only has to be given up for salvation because it is useless in itself to create holiness. The Holy Spirit is the dynamic factor. It is His power that enables us to live the way we ought to, having the just requirement of the Law fulfilled in us.
8:5–7 “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
When Peter argued with Jesus about the cross, Jesus said, “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Matt. 16:23, NIV
What are the things of the Spirit? How do we set our minds on the things of the Spirit? How does one walk according to the Spirit? What are we supposed to do? We have to work eight hours a day and sleep eight hours a night and the remaining eight hours are full of obligations. Our time commitments do not match our priorities.
The sum of God’s will for our lives is to love Him with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves. (Matt. 22:36–39). That is fulfilling the Law. It is a prayer we need to pray always and to walk with. “Lord, help me to love You more.” That pivotal focus will order the rest of what we have to think and do and say. See I John’s triangle of obeying, loving and knowing.
Then we may dwell on "the things of the Spirit"--
*The fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Gal. 5:22
*The gifts of the Spirit—knowledge, wisdom, faith, , healing, miracles, prophecy, etc. I Cor. 12:4-
*Work done by the Spirit—teaching, convicting, reminding. Jn. 16:8–15
8:9–11 “You are in the Spirit if…the Spirit of God dwells in you.”
“Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.”
“But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you….”
The indwelling Holy Spirit is the sine qua non, the absolute necessity of the Christian life. Without the Holy Spirit’s presence, we are not Christians. With the Holy Spirit’s presence, the power of God is available to us so that we do not live according to the Flesh but according to the Spirit.
There are two Christian groups that have a problem here.
Roman Catholics speak much of the Holy Spirit, but the term “indwelling” is not found in the catechism. It is also missing from the Documents of Vatican II, along with the words "assurance" and "perseverance". Consequently, works are necessary for salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit is the missing dynamic of holiness.
Pentecostals have a different problem.
*Is the Holy Spirit the goal of the spiritual life or its source? [I would say its source.]
*Is the filling of the Holy Spirit a gift or an achievement? [A gift.]
*Can you receive the Holy Spirit with sin in your heart? [None of us started the Christian life sinless.]
*As sinners we receive Christ. Do we as saints receive the Holy Spirit? [We receive the Holy Spirit as sinners.]
*Can anyone receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit without complete obedience to all the known will of God? [Scripture has no such precondition.]
* “Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by the works of the Law or by hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:5) [By the hearing with faith]
Let us be clear that the Holy Spirit is our seal, our guarantee of salvation. (Eph.1:14). Without Him we are nothing, still dead in our sins. We cannot earn Him. The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us. Acts 2:38
This is not to deny that many Christian leaders have described a spiritual crisis in which, after much spiritual anguish and prayer, they have reached a new level of spiritual power. It is only to say that that does not appear to be a clearly Biblical teaching.
(They Found the Secret. V. R. Edman; Zondervan,’60).
(For an extended discussion, see “A Theology of the Holy Spirit.. F.D. Bruner;. Eerdmans,’91).
See also notes on I Corinthians. Paul says the Corinthians have been baptized in the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:13), yet their lives are marked by pride, lack of love, sexual impurity and disorderly worship, even errors in doctrine. Instead of exhorting them to go deeper with the Holy Spirit, he admonishes them to work on the basics, humility, sexual continence, and rejection of idols.
Paul exhorts us also, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing each other in psalms and hymns….” (Eph. 5:18–19). I think he means just that.
Depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit’s power so that you overcome sin in your life.