Paul's Passing Thoughts

Romans Chapter 8:1-13; Why Christians Are Presently Holy and Righteous

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on February 2, 2013

In Romans 8:1, we read the following:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

The word, “condemnation” means a guilty verdict. Christians are presently not guilty. Not only are we guiltless, we are a “holy nation” (1Peter 2:9). Paul precedes this statement with the word “therefore” which means for that reason, consequently. So, we must back up to the previous verses:

Romans 7:25 – I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This is the construct of the new creature in Christ. We serve the law of God with our minds, but with our flesh we serve the law of sin. Literally, our minds are slaves to the law of God. “Serve” is the word douleuo which comes from the word doulos meaning slave. One of the few translations that get this right is the NIV:

Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Paul calls this the “law of my mind” in Romans 7:23. “Law of sin” (also Romans 7:23) is the same as “under the law” as opposed to being “under grace.” When we are transformed, we “delight in the law of God IN my Inner being” (Romans 7:22).  We are enslaved to the law, delight in the law, and serve the law with our minds in the inner being. BUT, the part of us that died with Christ (Romans 6:1-4) was enslaved to sin in the inner being (Romans 6:6-8) and was raised to new life by Christ’s resurrection (Romans 6:4). So, Christians are to consider ourselves both dead and alive. Do Christians have two natures? Absolutely, a dead one and a living one—one dead to sin and one alive to God in Jesus Christ:

Romans 6:11 – So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

The old mind was enslaved to sin; now our new mind is enslaved to the law of God as evidenced by our delight in it. The “inner man” is renewed. Previously, both our inner man and our members were enslaved to sin, but now our mind is enslaved to the law and we do not have to obey sinful desires:

6:12 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 6:17-19 elaborates further:

17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

As Paul states, this is in human terms that we can understand, but it is still a construct that informs our sanctification; in fact, I think it is the apex of sanctification. Understanding this is paramount to spiritual wellbeing and proper functioning in the Christian life. Last week, we discussed how obedience to this construct builds life upon life while disobedience builds death upon death. If we see life being increased in our life, we have confidence that eternal life will be our end; if we see mostly death in our lives, assurance of eternal life is shaken. And remember, this is regardless of circumstances. Circumstance can never take away our ability to obey unto life. Paul states it this way:

Romans 6:19 –  For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

This is why we are indeed righteous in the here and now. We are new creatures who desire to love God by obeying His law. We have righteousness within us (1John 2:28,29, 3:10, 5:18)—in the “inner man.” Yes, we sin, but that doesn’t go against the righteousness that has been imputed to us. The penalty has been paid, and it can’t be judged as sin because we are under grace and not under law (Romans 3:21,22), and where there is no law, sin lies dead (Romans 7:8). Besides, the part of us that is guilty of sin is dead and cannot be judged (Romans 7:1-4, 20).

Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul continues:

Romans 8:2 – For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

We see the difference of relationship between the law of sin (under the law) and the newly introduced “law of the Spirit.” Before salvation, we were enslaved to sin by the law because our mind was hostile towards it. But now that we are in Christ, because we died with Him and are now raised with Him—the “law of the Spirit” (the word of the Spirit; ie., the Bible) SET US FREE from sin and death. This isn’t the only time that the word of God is referred to as setting us free:

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Let’s also take this opportunity to reiterate that when we are speaking of “law” we are speaking of the “word” or the full counsel of God. Notice that James refers to the “word” as “law” in this particular text. To the unbeliever it brings forth bondage and death—to the believer in Christ it brings forth freedom and life. We also learned in the beginning of our study that “gospel” is also the full of counsel of God.

Romans 8:3 – 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.

The law cannot do anything with unbelievers because their minds are hostile to it. The flesh propagates death in response to the law, so God sent Christ to put the fleshly, hostile mind to death. He bore our sins, and died so that we could die with Him. Paul then states the purpose for this:

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.

This is a shocking statement by Paul: a primary purpose of redemption is for fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law in us. Obviously then, we have been enabled to do so. This also lends understanding to what Christ stated in the Sermon on the Mount:

Matthew 5:17 – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

It becomes apparent that Christ was referring to the fulfillment of righteousness in us. The particular Greek word used for “fulfill” can mean “replete.” Verse 19 follows with “Therefore.” The relationship between what precedes “Therefore” and what follows is the idea that those who relax the law are not participating in the fulfillment of it. Those who don’t practice righteousness have not died to the law (Romans 7:4). Therefore, the law provokes them to sin; so they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Furthermore, Christ could not have come to fulfill the law for us instead of in us because as we have noted, law, word, and gospel all pertain to the full counsel of God and the New Testament had not been written yet. Hence, the idea that He came to fulfill the law in our place so His obedience could be imputed to our sanctification is not plausible—there was no completed law to fulfill at that point, and additional revelation had been added—especially the book of Revelation.

Hence, Paul states the following:

8:5 – 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.

Said another way: those who are under the law are subject to the law of sin, and their minds are in bondage to sin leading to death upon death and final death. Those who are under grace delight in the law of God (the law of their mind) in the inner man and their minds are in bondage to righteousness leading to life, peace, and eternal life. Note that the unregenerate are unable to submit to God’s law, and unable to please God, but the saved are obviously able to do both. This is why Paul said that we make it our goal in life to please Him (2Corinthians 5:9). We can also conclude that the law is the “standard of teaching” for pleasing God.

Paul continues:

Romans 8:9 – 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.

This somewhat answers the question of how our mortal bodies can still have life though dead while the inner man is a new creature. Paul states that the Spirit gives our mortal bodies life for the sake of the inner man fulfilling righteousness. I believe in regard to justification, our mortal bodies are dead and maintained by Christ. Our inner man in no way contributes to the finished work of justification, and the old us is dead. Our inner man only contributes to the sanctified life. I believe this is Paul’s point in Galatians 2:20; a verse that is often applied to sanctification:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This does not mean that we don’t live in sanctification. Obviously, from what we just learned in Romans 8, that’s not the case at all. Moreover, preceding verses and verse 21 following make it clear that the context is justification.  But in regard to being justified, we had to die with Christ and stay dead. It’s our death with Christ that justified us. We were not raised to fulfill the law for justification because that is a finished work—we were raised to fulfill the law in sanctification, and thereby destroy the deeds of the devil as well:

1John 3:4 – Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

We have learned yet another valuable principle to implement in our presentations of the gospel: to ask God for salvation is to also recognize that he will transform our hearts to be slaves to his law. Anyone who does not want to be a slave to righteousness will not receive the Spirit. This does not mean that we will obey perfectly because the law of sin still wages war against the law of our minds. But the fact remains that we have the seed of God within us and are therefore righteous and able to please God with our life.

paul

One Response

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on February 2, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

    Like


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