"1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For 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, 4 in 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. 5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, 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. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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 dwells in you. 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For 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. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For 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!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,17 and 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. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And 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. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. 26 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. 27 And 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. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For 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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He 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? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.34 Who 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. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor 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."
Historical Context & Message
"Romans 8 begins with no condemnation; it ends with no separation, and in between there is no defeat." When we ended chapter 7, Paul was discussing how he does what he hates (sin) and doesn't do what he longs to do (obey God). He is in utter turmoil within his soul and finally comes to the end of himself when he turns to God to strengthen him to obedience to His commands. The opening verse of Romans 8 is his glorious declaration of the freedom he has found in living out of a place of total surrender to and dependence on God. So what does 'no condemnation' mean? To condemn someone means "to pronounce them guilty, to sentence to punishment, to declare incurable, to indicate strong disapproval of." So, in Christ, we are declared innocent and are free of the punishment of sin. We have God's stamp of approval on us because when God looks at us, He sees the blood of Jesus Christ covering over our sin. This is the freedom found in a life with Christ.
Remember as we've studied in the previous weeks, "The law could not defeat sin; it could only detect sin. Only Jesus can defeat sin, and He did just that through His work on the cross." To give freedom to sinful humans from the condemnation of sin, Jesus came and conquered sin in His fleshly body. Still fully God, He also became fully man. He came in the flesh to identify with man in the struggle of sin, but He Himself remained without sin. This is how he conquered sin and defeated the grave. He lived a blameless life in a sin-filled and temptation-ridden world, something we have not the power to complete. He did this on our behalf and extends the benefits of His victory to those who believe in Him. As Christians we have been set free from the punishment of sin; but, when we choose to walk according to the flesh, we willingly subject ourselves to the bondage of sin (reminiscent of Paul's inner struggle in Romans 7). When we choose....we can choose to walk in the Spirit or to walk in the flesh. "The mind is the strategic battleground where the flesh and the Spirit fight." This is why it is so important to renew our minds in the Spirit of God, to fix our eyes [minds] on Christ, and to guard and protect our minds. Living life in the Spirit means that our lives are directed and controlled by the Holy Spirit. Everything we do and say, every step we take is ordained by God's Spirit living in us. Living life in the Spirit doesn't mean denying our physical bodies and emotional selves the needs we have, that's not the kind of flesh Paul is talking about here. But, it does mean not acquiring those needs through the "sinful gratification" of the self.
When we accept Christ as our Savior, we become the adopted children of God (vs. 14-15). “In the Roman world of the first century ad an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was no whit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature. Under Roman adoption, the life and standing of the adopted child changed completely. The adopted son lost all rights in his old family and gained all new rights in his new family; the old life of the adopted son was completely wiped out, with all debts being canceled, with nothing from his past counting against him anymore." Verse 17 even goes so far as to state that we are joint heirs with Christ. We have a heavenly inheritance that is given to us just because of our status as God's children - there is nothing we must do or say to receive this inheritance and blessing. It is given to us freely when we choose Christ as our Savior.
As co-heirs with Christ and children of God, we are not exempt from suffering, trials and pain. Christ subjected Himself to a death on a cross to save our souls. We, too, will encounter much pain, trials and suffering in this life. Paul's encouragement to us is that our reward in heaven is worth so much more than what we may endure on earth (eternal perspective). It's worth it - all of it. Paul was speaking out of a place of experience here. He endured so much suffering and persecution because of His love for Jesus. And, he still found that all the pain and heartache couldn't even compare to the awesomeness of what awaits us as children of God. He even points out that creation was subjected to suffering when sin entered the world. The earth waits expectantly for the revealing of the sons of God - for sin and Satan to be shut away forever and for Christ to reign so that they might be restored to their former glory. This is the heavenly, eternal perspective we, too, should possess - looking forward to what awaits us rather than focusing on the world and what it offers, anticipating our restoration and the redemption of our physical bodies, rather than focusing on the fleeting pleasures of the flesh. Waiting isn't fun, and as culture we don't do it well. We are the fast food generation, the technology generation; we want everything faster than it was previously. How can we wait, patiently and expectantly? How do we suffer and praise God simultaneously? We allow the Holy Spirit to help us. That's His job - He's our Helper (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit Helps us in our weakness. When we don't know what or how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God (vs. 26-27). The Holy Spirit empowers us to live life in the Spirit.
We have this hope here on earth, that no matter what we endure God is always with us. We also have the golden promise of God that nothing is wasted - EVER. In verse 28, we are told that God works ALL things together for our good and His glory, for those who love Him. Our pain and suffering doesn't go unnoticed. It isn't forgotten. God will take it, use it and redeem it to bring about His glorification. He will always love us. Nothing and no one can alter, destroy or separate us from His love. Just as we (as parents) will always love our children, how much more so do you think God loves you and I? He has so much more capacity for love because He is love (1 John 4:8). We love as best as we can, but it's not perfect by any means. God's love is perfect and unconditional (1 John 4:18-19). We have been declared as more than conquerors through Christ because we get to freely enjoy the benefits of salvation without having to pay the penalty of our sins. Christ absorbed all of our punishment and set us free from the slavery of sin so that you and I could enjoy and live life in the Spirit; so that we could share in our heavenly inheritance with Him; so that we could know we are children of God; and, so that we could experience the full, complete and perfect love of God.
My challenge to you today is to choose to live life in the Spirit. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Let us not wallow in our old ways, but hold fast to our salvation in Christ. Let us not live life in the flesh, as slaves to sin. But, let us live life in the Spirit, as sons and daughters of God. When you are made free, you don't walk around in shackles. That's illogical and foolish. When you are made free, you run around and shout with your hands waving in the air that you have been set free! You're excited and alive, not defeated and numb. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of you and me, as believers in Christ. We have no excuse to live life in bondage. Pursue Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit directing your steps, get in His Word and live it out. This is life in the Spirit; this is freedom from sin; this is the fullness of the love of God.
1) How does a child, sure of his father's love, differ from a child who is unsure of or doesn't know of his father's love? Talk about the characteristics of an orphan - how does it differ from a child who is raised in a loving family? In the same way, in what ways do you walk in your identity as a daughter of God, and in what ways do you walk in an orphan mindset? Discuss your identity as a child of God.
2) Turn on some worship music and spend time in prayer and worship, asking God to reveal Himself and His love to you.
Father God, this is my all-time favorite chapter in your Word. It's so beautiful and reveals so much of your character. You are a God of love. Not just any love, but perfect love for your children. You have gone to such lengths that we might know and experience your love in its fullness. Father, thank you. I pray you would reveal your love to me in such a way that I am left speechless in its wake. Continue to show me your character for it strengthens my faith and ignites my hope. Father, I pray you would show me the areas of my life that I am still living in bondage to sin, entertaining unholiness. Point it out and strengthen me to overcome as more than a conqueror. Let me behave as your child. I pray you would empower me to live life in the Spirit. Grant me an eternal, heavenly perspective to put this life on earth in the right perspective. I love you Lord and thank you for all you are. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen!