Romans 8

There is no condemnation for those in Christ and All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.

Romans 8:1-4

here is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

In Romans 6 we reviewed the blessings that are “in Christ” and found that those who are “in Christ” are those who have gone through “a death like his” and “a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:3-14).  Paul reminded them that this is the significance of baptism and that to have done this means a new way of life (lifestyle) that puts God and Jesus Christ as our masters and us as “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).  In chapter 7, after describing the battle with sin that we all go through (“I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” – Romans 7:15), he cries out, “Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).  Read Romans 8:1-4.  Now the declaration is made that “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  Because we are “in Christ” (see Romans chapter 6 notes) a new law, “the law of the Spirit of life” has set us free from “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2 cf. 6:7).  This is what “God has done” by “sending his own Son” (Romans 8:3) to assure that the “righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled” (Romans 8:4).  This is a description of “propitiation” (see Romans 3:25; also 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 and Colossians 1:21-22).

Romans 8:5-11

For 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. 6To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11If 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.

The key is in the mindset!  Your mind is either set on “the things of the Spirit” or “the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5).  Look at the differences:

The things of the Spirit:           

+  Life and peace (Romans 8:6)

+  In the Spirit (Romans 8:9)

+  The Spirit of God dwells in you (Romans 8:9)

+  The Spirit is life (Romans 8:10)

+  This is because of righteousness (Romans 8:10)

The things of the flesh:  

–  Death (Romans 8:6) 

–  Hostile to God (Romans 8:7)

–  Does not (cannot) submit to God (Romans 8:7)

–  Cannot please God (Romans 8:8)

The promise that comes with this is that God will give life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit dwelling within us (Romans 8:11).  This is the direct opposite of the “wretched man” Paul talked about in Romans 7:24.  Regarding the indwelling of deity, see 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19-20.  Regarding life to our bodies, see 1 Corinthians 15.

Romans 8:12-19

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.

Another way of considering this is to recognize that we don’t owe the flesh anything, because all it will bring us is death (Romans 8:12-13).  However, if we allow the Spirit of God to lead us, we will be accepted as “sons of God” (Romans 8:15).  This is because we received a “Spirit of adoption as sons” that allows us to call out to God using the terms, “Abba!  Father!” (Romans 8:15).  The Holy Spirit himself is a witness with our spirit that we are “children of God” and heirs of God’s blessings by being fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17).  Remember that Christ said it was to our advantage for Him to leave and the Holy Spirit to come (John 16:7-14).  We receive the Spirit when we are baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38 and Romans 6:3-4).  Paul says we should consider the Spirit as our down payment or the “guarantee” of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Romans 8:20-25

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Human beings are not the only things that have to deal with the effects of sin.  The whole creation was subjected to “futility” (Romans 8:20) and to “bondage and decay” (Romans 8:22).   This took place because of the sin of our great grandfather Adam and extended to the whole creation (Genesis 3:17-19).  The creation has been groaning from then to now (Romans 8:22) and is waiting to be set free just as we are (Romans 8:21).  So the creation and we, ourselves, are waiting for the time to come when we will be saved and our earthly bodies redeemed (Romans 8:23).  Although we have not seen it happen, we place our hope in this happening (Romans 8:24-25) and operate on the belief and hope that we will not be shamed (see Romans 5:5).

Romans 8:26-27

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Being caught up in these present circumstances can be difficult and leave us not even knowing what to pray for.  However, we need not despair in weakness about this, because we have the Spirit dwelling in us (Romans 8:11) and he intercedes for us (Romans 8:26).  While the whole creation and we are groaning, the Spirit is groaning before God on our behalf  “with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).  And He (God) who “searches hearts,” that is knows our mindset (Romans 8:5), also knows the mind of the Spirit and allows the Spirit to intercede for us (Romans 8:27). 

To summarize what has been said: We receive the Spirit at baptism (Acts 2:38).   The Spirit is our down payment on heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14) and will be the means of our resurrection from the dead (Romans 8:11).  In the meantime, the Spirit helps us pray as we ought (Romans 8:26) and helps us in our weaknesses here on earth by interceding for us (Romans 8:27).  What a mighty God we serve!

Romans 8:26-27

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

At this point we have one of the greatest assurances that we could ask for, the concept that “for those who love God, all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).  Someone might ask, “Wait a minute, I love God, but how can all the bad things that are going on in the world be for my good?”  There are two separate concepts at work.  The first is that we are a part of the creation that is in bondage to decay and futility.  By being a part of this creation, we need to understand that things that are not good for us will happen.  Paul, himself, in 2 Corinthians 11:24-27 enumerates a whole list of not-so-good things that had happened to him.  He was not under the false illusion that things on planet earth are always going to be rosy.  Certainly he understood Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:45 when he said, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”  He understood the writer of Ecclesiastes frustration when he stated, “It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice.  As is the good, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath.  This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all” (Ecclesiastes 9:2-3).  Paul also came to the same conclusion as the writer of Ecclesiastes when he said, “The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” Ecclesiastes (12:13-14).  This brings the second concept into play, which is that when one looks at the overall circumstances of life, including eternity, we have the assurance that things will work out for the good of those that love God (Romans 8:37-39).  Looking at Paul’s conclusion, it is easy to see because he taught that those who love God will ultimately be “glorified” (Romans 8:30).  To understand the passage one has to look at each of the key words in Romans 8:28-30:

  1. Called according to hispurpose – (see Acts 2:22-23; Ephesians 1:7-10; 1 Peter 1:18-20) God’s eternal purpose, the one he always had in mind, was to provide a way we could be saved and reunited with him.
  2. Those whom heforeknew – (see Acts 1:24; 1 Peter 1:1-2) God knows and searches the hearts of individuals (Romans 8:27).  Consider as examples the conversions of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), Cornelius’ household (Acts 10 and 11) and the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-34).  God knew their hearts and made sure that an evangelist would come into contact with them to preach the gospel to them.
  3. Hepredestined them to be conformed to the image of his Son (see Ephesians 1:5 and 11 and 1 John 3:1).  Notice that the predestination is to be conformed (made like) his son.  When Jesus came into the world this was one of the things that happened (John 1:12).  Paul has told us that this is one of the benefits of being led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14-17).  To be a “fellow heir with Christ, with all its promises, rights and privileges is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith (see Ephesians 3:6).  
  4. He alsocalled – (see Romans 1:6-7; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:14; Hebrews 3:1 and 9:15; 1 Peter 2:9 and 5:10).  The way that one is called is through the gospel (II Thessalonians 2:14 and Romans 10:14).  That calling is to a life of holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7 and Philippians 3:14).
  5. He alsojustified – (see Romans 3:24 and 28; Romans 5:1 and 9; 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Titus 3:4-7).  The word “justified” may be defined as “acquitted” in a legal sense or “declared to be righteous.”  Using a play on words, someone has said, “It’s just-as-if-I’d-never sinned.”  When God justifies us it is just as if we had never sinned.
  6. He alsoglorified – (see 1 Corinthians 15:43 and 49; 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 4:16-18 and Revelation 2:10).  To be glorified is to be saved in the final sense, when we get to heaven.

God’s eternal purpose was to provide a way for human beings to be saved and reunited with him.  The ones who fit into this plan are the ones who love him.  Knowing the thoughts of the hearts of individuals allows him to know which ones fit the love criteria.  Because he knows that they love him, he predestined them to be just like his son, that is to be his children.  So they could be like his son, he called them through the gospel.  When they are called through the gospel, he justifies them and since they are justified, they are going to be saved, reunited with him in heaven.   Therefore, God’s eternal purpose is accomplished.  He has promised that those who love Him are the ones who will be glorified with him when he comes to claim his own!

God has never promised Christians wealth, power, an easy life, or fewer problems than the nonchristian.  Suffering for us and everyone else is a direct result of our great grandfather Adam and the changes that took place at the fall (see Genesis 3:13-19).  There are three reasons why things tend to happen.  Sometimes, it is because God wants it to or causes it to happen.  At other times, it is the direct result of Satan (Luke 13:16; 2 Corinthians 12:7 and 1 Peter 5:8).  The third reason events happen is due to the nature of the world we live in (Luke 13:1-2 and 4).  For example, God is not going to suspend the law of gravity because you fall out of an airplane, even though you love him.  Therefore, bad things can and do happen to good people who love God.  His promise to us, however, is that when we look at the totality, from here to eternity, all things will end up working for the good of those who love him and ultimately, that person will be saved or glorified.

Romans 8:31-39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present

nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all

creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the last section of this chapter (Romans 8:31-39) Paul contemplates the thought that since God will ultimately glorify those who are his, who or what can stand against us? (Romans 8:31).  He describes our “support staff” to help us reach glorification: God (Romans 8:31), Jesus Christ (Romans 8:34) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26-27).  God gave his own Son for us!  If he were willing to do that, wouldn’t he be willing to “give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).  Who can successfully bring any charge against God’s elect?  God is the one who justifies (Romans 8:33) and Christ Jesus is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).  If Christ loved us enough to die for us, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35).  Are bad things that happen to us here on earth going to make any difference?  No, because it is written that while these things can and will happen to us (Romans 8:35-36), they cannot alter the long-term plan of God for those who love him.  When bad things happen, we must remember that, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).  Think of all the things that could happen to you and realize that none of these “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).  When those not so good things happened to Paul (2 Corinthians 11:23-27), he could still remember the long-term picture, which is that he loved God and ultimately would be glorified.

Review Questions:

  1. There is no condemnation for those who have been set free by the law of the Spirit of life.  Where is this law?
  1. How would you describe the basic difference in the mindset of one who has her/his mind set on the things of the Spirit and one who has her/his mind set on the things of the flesh?
  1. Since we are accepted as sons, we have the right to address God using terms such as “____________” (Jewish term) or “_____________” (Gentile term).
  1. Name some of the things that the Spirit does for those who are Christians.
  1. There are at least three possible reasons for events that happen.  What are they?
  1. Who does Paul say is on the support staff of those who love God?

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