Romans Chapter 8
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
This week I’ll be looking at Chapter 8 of Paul’s letter to the church in Rome. In looking back over previous messages, I see that I’ve been in Romans for well over a year! Time flies when you’re having fun. Each successive chapter in Romans has been my favorite but Chapter 8 is truly a key chapter in Christian doctrine. Let’s take a look at it now.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
The first thing I notice in the passage is the very important word "now". Paul says there is "therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…" This word "now" implies that prior to the moment being referred to, there was condemnation. Furthermore, Paul says quite plainly that there is "now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…" This relief from condemnation is not universal but is applied only to those who are in Christ. Paul’s statement is not unique to him. Jesus says the same thing while talking to Nicodemus in:
John 3:17-18 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Read this passage very carefully. Jesus says "…he who does not believe is condemned already…" It is a myth that man is a moral free agent. That is, it’s a myth that, until he makes a conscious decision for one or the other, that man belongs neither to the devil or to God. We’re going to see this again a little later in this chapter, but the truth of the matter is that a Christian is a person who is saved. Prior to salvation, they are lost and by lost, I don’t mean wondering around wondering which way is north or which way is south, but I mean they are lost to the fires of hell. Again, listen to what Jesus says: "…he who does not believe is condemned already…"
But, God be praised, that there is a way to be saved: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…" No man has to suffer loss but all who are willing can come to Christ and be saved.
So, how can a person know where he or she is? Paul’s going to tell us. He says "…who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." A characteristic of those who are in Christ is that they walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. We’ll cover this in a little more detail in a bit. Right now, though, Paul wants to pursue another point.
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
The law does not produce righteousness in a person but rather exposes his unrighteousness. This point has been covered in nearly every chapter of Romans up to this point. A few passages for illustration are:
Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 4:15 because the law brings about wrath….
Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, "YOU SHALL NOT COVET."
God’s law exposes our unrighteousness and declares us guilty. Since all men are guilty of breaking God’s law, all men therefore deserve condemnation. As Paul said in Chapter 3:
Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
And in Chapter 6:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Well, it should be clear that all have sinned and all are deserving of condemnation. This again points back to what Jesus said "…he who does not believe is condemned already…" The unsaved man is not condemned because of a random occurrence or because God is just a big meanie, but he’s condemned because his nature is unholy and he has expressed that nature in his disobedience of God’s commands. If God did not punish this disobedience, then God would not be just and holy. If God did not offer an alternative to this punishment, then I could fully agree that He is a big meanie. But, God did offer an alternative and that alternative is Jesus Christ. Let’s look again at verses 1-2 in Romans Chapter 8:
Romans 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
Do you see the words "no condemnation" and "free from the law of sin and death"? That’s what God offers in Christ. Does God have to offer Christ to save us? No, He does not. In addition to his other sins, man often has the attitude that God owes us something. The truth is that God doesn’t owe us a thing. God offers salvation through Christ because, as John says:
John 3:16-17 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
God offers salvation in Christ because of His love for the world and this salvation must be accomplished through Christ because we, as flawed humans, cannot manufacture it ourselves. To make this point, Paul says:
Romans 8:3-4 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, (4) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The law could not accomplish salvation because of the weakness of our flesh. We are simply incapable of meeting God’s standards. If you study and glimpse the attributes and standards of God, you’ll see why this is so. In Revelation, for instance, we see this picture:
Revelation 15:3-4 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! (4) Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested."
God alone is holy, and all other things, including man, fall short. Therefore, it is impossible for man to achieve righteousness by his own works done under the law. Something else must be done and Paul tells us what that is in:
Romans 8:3-4 … He condemned sin in the flesh, (4) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled by Christ and laid to the account of those who walk according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh. Recall this passage again:
Romans 3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight….
Regarding the flesh, Paul tells us this:
Romans 8:5-8 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, the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. (8) So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
This seems clear to me, but it’s also a slap in the face to those who think they can please God by their own works. "The carnal mind is enmity against God…those who are in the flesh cannot please God." There’s not much leeway in that "cannot". A person must walk in the Spirit and by the Spirit, though Jesus Christ. As Paul says "to be spiritually minded is life and peace" and it’s clear from the context of the passage that by "spiritually minded" he’s not talking about a general New Age spiritually, but about the Holy Spirit. In fact, Paul will be very clear about this in the next passage:
Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
Paul has just said that if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, then that person is not God’s. In that case, then who does the person belong to? Here’s what Jesus says, in speaking to those who claim Abraham as a father:
John 8:42-47 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. (43) Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. (44) You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. (45) But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. (46) Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? (47) He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
Again, this passage seems very clear. A person has either the Spirit of Christ and belongs to God, or he does not. They are either spiritually minded or carnally minded. Yet we know that the carnal mind is- as Paul said earlier- "enmity against God". Therefore, a person either seeks the will of God or is an enemy against it. Which are you? Are you an enemy of God or have you sought the reconciliation that is in Jesus Christ and Him alone? Consider this question carefully.
Forward to Part 2