Romans 8:1-17

Results of Deliverance: Enjoying the Full Christian Position
Romans 8:1-17
Romans 8. The man in Romans 7 has neither power to live a holy life, nor an object for his heart. But in chapter 8, we have both: (1) Christ is the believer’s object and (2) the Holy Spirit is the believer’s power. The Spirit of God is not mentioned once in ch.7, but is mentioned in 10 out of the first 17 verses of this chapter!
The power for deliverance. A question might arise: if the Spirit of God is such an important part of deliverance, why does the Spirit not come up in Rom. 5:12 – 6:23 while the doctrine of deliverance is being laid out? Romans 5-6 is the mechanics of deliverance; like learning the parts of a lawnmower and how to mow. But Paul holds off on telling us about the power behind the mower until we watch someone try to mow without gas (Rom. 7)! Then he explains the power behind the mower (gasoline) once we have seen the necessity of it. In the same way Paul waits until ch.8 to reveal the power behind deliverance.
How deliverance works.
  • We have an old nature that wants to sin. It is called “the flesh”, or “sin that dwelleth in me”.
  • When Christ died He wrought a victory over sin, and by identification brought us into a new sphere where sin has no power.
  • By laying hold of this truth we find deliverance – something which will never come by our efforts on the basis of law. We do this by “reckoning ourselves dead to sin”.
  • But where does the power come from? Once we have the intelligence of our salvation, we are “sealed” by the Holy Spirit, and He becomes the power of the new life.
  • Then, we need to walk in the Spirit (Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:4) or the Spirit will be grieved, and we can effectively make sin our master again.

Contrasting Terms in Romans 8. Here is a list of contrasting terms that are helpful going into this chapter.

  An Unbeliever A Christian
Two Positions
 standing before God
In Adam” – the standing we had when born (1 Cor. 15:22), an unrighteous, fallen standing. In Christ” – a new standing in Christ’s place before God (v.1) – perfectly righteous.
Two States
in an abstract sense
In the flesh” – a state in which the flesh has undisputed control over one’s life (v.8) In the Spirit” – a state in which the Spirit has undisputed control over one’s life (v.9)
Two Spheres
 our practical walk
After the flesh” – a life lived to gratify the desires of the flesh (v.5a) After the Spirit” – a life lived to please the Lord Jesus Christ (v.5b)
Helpful quotations regarding deliverance:1
“The Spirit must not only be resident, but He must also be president.”
“If we pamper the flesh, we’ll hamper the Spirit!”
“We don’t need more of the Spirit (John 3:34), the Spirit needs to have more of us!”

The Results of Full Salvation Applied to Our Standing (Past) (v.1)

¶ There is then now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. v.1 The believer is set in a new position before God where it is not possible for him to ever come into condemnation. He has been put “in Christ”, that is, in Christ’s place before God. One of the Spirit’s main functions in the believer is to give us assurance of our acceptance before God (John 14:20; Eph. 1:13; 4:30). In Romans we get the negative side of “in Christ”, that is, no condemnation. In Ephesians we get the positive side, that we are “blessed with all spiritual blessings, etc.” 

The Results of Full Salvation Applied to Our State (Present) (vv.2-10)

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and of death. v.2 Two laws. Having received the Spirit, there is a new controlling power in the Christian that is stronger than the flesh. It enables the believer to live a holy life. The flesh is the power of the old nature. The two laws are: (1) “the law of sin and death” which refers to the desires of the sin nature; and (2) “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” which refers to the desires of the new nature (my mind) now under the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. For example: when a balloon is filled with helium, the principle of buoyancy sets the balloon free from the principle of gravity by overcoming it. In a similar way, the new principle (“the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus”) overcomes the power of the old principle (“the law of sin and death”).
Life in Christ Jesus. Sometimes we read this verse like this; “the Spirit-of-life in Christ Jesus”; but it really should be read “the Spirit of life-in-Christ-Jesus”. It is talking about the Spirit of God as the power of Eternal Life! When we were quickened, we received a new life from God that we did not have before. But when we believe the full gospel, and are sealed with the Spirit, that new life is upgraded to the highest character, such that we share the same life as Christ Himself! This life is called “Resurrection Life”, “Abundant Life”, or “Life in the Son”. It cannot be had apart from Christ (hence, “life in His Son”, 1 John 5:11) and it cannot be sustained without feeding on Him. We call it “Resurrection Life” because it is beyond the tomb, and can never be touched by sin or death. The disciples received this life on resurrection day, see John 20:22. Abundant Life is the same life, but in the aspect of the full enjoyment of the characteristics of that life (John 10:10). Eternal Life is that same life again, but the emphasis is on communion; the enjoyment of the fellowship that it brings us into. The difference between eternal life in John’s ministry and Paul’s ministry is that John shows the character of the life in itself (life “in the Son”), whereas Paul is occupied with the position of the believer, the position in which we have that life (life “in Christ Jesus”). Paul more often speaks of eternal life in the future aspect, and a character of life we will enjoy when we get to heaven, but John speaks of it as a present possession.
Summary of doctrine to this point. These two verses (vv.1-2) summarize:
  • v.1, the conclusion to Rom 1:1 – 5:11.
  • v.2, the conclusion to Rom 5:12 – 7:25.
3 For (1) what the law could not do, (2) in that it was weak through the flesh, (3) God, having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin, (4) and for sin, (5) has condemned sin in the flesh, v.3 Deliverance isn’t complete until we see that God has given up on the flesh, and we give up on it as well.
  1. The Law” imposed could not produce righteous behavior from the flesh.
  2. The flesh” was the “weak” link, reacting the moment a law was imposed.
  3. The Mode. God sent His Son as man (a human condition, like “flesh of sin”, but sin apart).
  4. The Purpose. The reason was “for sin”; as a sacrifice for sin in which Christ suffered and died.
  5. The Result. The cross ended the probation of the First Man, proving to faith the utter ruin of the flesh (“sin in the flesh”), and the futility of improving it.
4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law should be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to flesh but according to Spirit. v.4 Grace has succeeded in doing what the (Mosaic) Law could not do; that is, give man the power to walk in holiness. Without being under the Law, we automatically fulfill its righteous requirement by the Spirit! But a question might arise: “What about the 4th commandment? Christians don’t fulfill the Sabbath, right?” Answer: the fourth commandment is the only one of the ten that isn’t part of the moral requirements of the Law. The other nine commandments are part of it, and are found in the New Testament epistles.
5 For they that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh; and they that are according to Spirit, the things of the Spirit. v.5 Two spheres. Those that are “after the flesh” are unbelievers, those that are “after the Spirit” are believers. These two classes of persons live in two different spheres of life, where they pursue two different objects of interest, just as The “raven” and the “dove” that were let out the ark pursued different foods. This explains how v.4 is possible; being sealed with the Spirit allows us to walk in a new sphere that is according to the mind of God.
6 For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit life and peace. v.6 Two End Results. This verse shows where walking in each sphere ends up. Everything connected with the flesh is stamped with death, and leads to death.
7 Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God; for neither indeed can it be: v.7 This verse explains why the flesh can never produce holiness. It is because the flesh is fundamentally opposed to God, it hates God, and is incapable of being “subject to the Law of God,” no matter how much we try to improve it, and no matter how strongly we oppose its desires.
vv.8-9 Two States or Conditions in an abstract sense (1) “in the flesh” and (2) “in the Spirit”.
8 and they that are in flesh cannot please God. v.8 Following the argument of v.7, if the flesh is incapable of submission to God, then a person who is “in the flesh” cannot please God because the only power they have is an evil power!
9a But *ye* are not in flesh but in Spirit, if indeed God’s Spirit dwell in you; v.9a Notice that v.8 does not say “they are in the flesh have the flesh in them.” Here it is a question of controlling power. Someone who is “in the Spirit” still has the flesh in them, but the Spirit is stronger so they are “in the Spirit”. The “Spirit of Christ” refers to the Spirit in the special capacity of forming the features of Christ in our lives.
9b But if any one has not the Spirit of Christ *he* is not of him: v.9b If one is not indwelt by the Spirit he is not in the full Christian position. He is not “of Christ” where He is in the risen and glorified state. He is not part of the privileged company that are sealed “marked” as His. We are not “of Christ” in the new creation order until we receive the Holy Spirit (Heb. 2:11).
10 but if Christ be in you, the body is dead on account of sin, but the Spirit life on account of righteousness. v.10 This is the “if” of argument (c.p. v.9). See John 14:20 where Christ says “ye in me” positionally (Rom. 8:1), and “I in you” morally (Rom. 8:10). It isn’t Christ personally indwelling us. Rather, the life of Christ in all its moral perfection in the believer by the Spirit. The practical result is the features of Christ reproduced in us. In Col.1:26-27 we have the same idea brought out in a collective sense: there “Christ in you” is the practical realization of the union of Christ and the Church, such that Christ is displayed in the Church collectively by the Spirit of God. Here in Romans it is individual. Our bodies indwelt by the Spirit have the potential to produce two components: sin by the flesh and righteousness by the Spirit. The life of Christ in us by the Spirit cancels the motions of one (“body is dead”) and enables the other (“Spirit is life“).

The Results of Full Salvation Applied to Our Bodies (Future) (v.11)

11 But if the Spirit of him that has raised up Jesus from among the dead dwell in you, he that has raised up Christ from among the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies also on account of his Spirit which dwells in you. v.11 Here we find that our deliverance is so complete that even our bodies will be raised. The indwelling Spirit gives us assurance of that (2 Cor. 5:5). Our bodies will be changed into a glorified condition (1 Cor. 15:51-56; Phil. 3:21). This quickening power will eradicate the flesh from our beings.
Note: it doesn’t say we get a new body, but our mortal bodies (the ones we have now) will be quickened. Also, it doesn’t say “quicken your mortified bodies”… but “your mortal bodies”. This is important because even the bodies of believers will be changed (1 Cor. 15:52).

The Results of Full Salvation Applied to Our Communion (vv.12-13)

12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to flesh; v.12 The believer is now under no obligation to the flesh to live after the flesh. Nothing is forcing us to walk in that practical sphere anymore.
13 for if ye live according to flesh, ye are about to die; but if, by the Spirit, ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live: v.13 Now, we have to make a choice; which sphere will we walk in? If we cross over and live our life in the fleshly sphere, our “supply line” of communion has been cut off (John 15:4), and our fellowship with Christ is “about to die”, e.g. Acts 20:9. J.N. Darby said: “Death may be used generally for deprivation of capacity of enjoyment;” i.e. separation from the sphere of what we would normally enjoy. We cannot enjoy eternal life if we live according to flesh. If we walk in the sphere of Christ’s interests (walk “by the Spirit”), we will have the power to not respond to the lusts of the flesh, and fellowship with Christ will blossom.

The Results of Full Salvation Applied to Our Relationships (vv.14-17)

Wisdom: the Leading of the Spirit (v.14)

14 for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, *these* are sons of God. v.14 It does not say “as many as follow” but “as many as are led”. The Spirit leads every believer. Following is a different question. Having been brought into the status of sonship (more in v.15) we are not left to follow our own thoughts and our own wisdom. The very Spirit of God which indwells us has undertaken to lead and guide us though this wilderness pathway. 

Sonship: an elevated status (v.15)

15 For ye have not received a spirit of bondage again for fear, but ye have received a spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. v.15 Rather than going through life in fear as the legalists would have us, Christians enjoy the liberty of sonship.

In Greek, the word 'huiothesian' means 'the place of a son'. It is translated into English as "sonship" or "adoption". Sonship is a privilege that Christians are given because they are justified and stand in Christ's place before God. Sonship is not the same thing as coming into God's family. Due to the modern use of word 'adoption', the original sense of sonship has been lost for many believers. As we see in Galatians 4:1-7, the child becomes a son, showing that sonship has to do with a special place or relationship in the family. We enter God's family by new birth, and this makes us children of God. But adoption gives us an elevated place within the family. For an example of Jewish adoption, see Gen. 48:5 where Jacob took the sons of Joseph as his own. Ephraim and Manasseh were Jacob's grandsons, but he elevated them to the status of their uncles; "as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine". Sonship is the greatest blessing we have as individuals in relation to the Father. There is no higher place than the place of God's Son, and He has given us "the Son's place"!

Read more… We have a “spirit” (or, attitude) of one who is a son of God. We stand in the very place of God’s beloved Son! This “spirit” causes us to cry (1) “Abba” (Aramaic for daddy) which is a cry of intimacy, and (2) “Father” which is a cry of intelligence, knowing that God is more than just there to meet our needs (see v.23). Age and maturity doesn’t change intimacy!

Assurance: the witness of the Spirit (v.16)

16 The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God. v.16 The Spirit also works to make us conscious of our relationship with God as “the children of God.” The thought with “children” is the sense of belonging to God’s family; not so much status as in the thought of “sons“.

Heirship: we will share all that is Christ’s (v.17a)

17a And if children, heirs also: heirs of God, and Christ’s joint heirs; v.17a Being children of God, we will receive an inheritance (Eph. 1:11). Being sons of God, we will share Christ’s inheritance (joint-heirs). What is Christ’s inheritance? The entire universe: every created thing! We are going to reign with Him over it all in the day of His public manifestation, which will begin at His Appearing (Eph. 1:14, 18).

Glorification: we will share Christ’s glorified state (v.17b)

17b if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with himv.17b Due to us having the Spirit of Christ, we suffer with Him (share His feelings) as we see the outrage of man’s rebellion, and the effects of sin on creation. But we also have the knowledge that we will share His glorified state! This will begin at the rapture.
  1. Anstey, B. Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans. Christian Truth Publishing.