Topic: New Life in the Spirit
Text: Romans 8:1-17
Memory verse: Romans 8:1
In Romans 7, we learnt about the believer’s relationship to the law. There we discovered that through the death of Jesus we have died to the law through faith and that Jesus is our new husband and so we obey Him out of faith. The law is then only needed because it points out our sin and that the law of Spirit of life enables us to obey the law and thus please the Lord. Romans 8 climaxes tour studies on the theme of Sanctification. Specifically, we will learn from today’s study that in Jesus we are not condemned neither are we obligated to our sinful nature.
Brief overview of Chapter 8 – (8:1 – 39)
Chapter 8 shows the believer’s “Declaration of Freedom.” In this chapter Paul declares the four spiritual freedoms we enjoy because of our union with Jesus. In this chapter, the apostle writes how the believer is now free from judgment, defeat, discouragement and fear. The study shows that that the emphasis is on the Holy Spirit, who is mentioned 19 times, confirming the words, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
As a climax of the studies on “Sanctification,” Romans 8 supplies the answers to the questions raised about the Law and the sin nature of man. The Holy Spirit dominates the entire chapter, for it is through the indwelling Spirit of Jesus that we overcome the old nature and live a fruitful life as a believer.
We are no more condemned because we are in Christ (8:1-4)
Romans 8:1-4 actually forms the conclusion to the argument in chapter 7. Here, Paul is not dealing with salvation in chapter 7 but with the problem of how the believer can ever do anything good when he has such a sinful nature. How can a holy God ever accept anything we do when we have “nothing good” dwelling in us? It would seem that He would have to condemn every thought and deed. But there is “no condemnation” since the indwelling Holy Spirit fulfills the righteousness of the Law in us.
The Law cannot condemn us because we are dead to the Law. God does not condemn us, for His indwelling Holy Spirit enables the believer to “walk in the Spirit” and thereby meet His holy demands.
It is a joyful moment in the life of the believer when he realizes that God’s children are not under the Law. God does not expect them to do “good works” in the power of the old nature. When the believer understands that “there is now no condemnation,” then he realizes that the indwelling Spirit pleases God and helps the believer to please Him. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” – warns Paul in Galatians 5:1.
We have no obligation to the Sin Nature (8:5-17)
The believer can have two “minds”: he can lean toward the things of the old nature and be a carnal believer. To be “carnal” means to live “according to the old nature” who is at war with God. Or, he can lean toward the things of the Spirit – being a spiritual believer, and enjoying life and peace. The carnal mind cannot please God. Only the Spirit of the Lord Jesus working in and through us can please God.
Paul states clearly that the believer has no obligation to the sin nature:
“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it” (verse 12).
Our obligation is to the Holy Spirit
It was the Spirit who convicted us and showed us our need of the Savior. It was the Spirit who imparted saving faith and who put His new nature within us. He daily witnesses within that we are God’s children. What a great debt we owe to the Spirit. Jesus loved us so much that He died for us. The Spirit loves us so much that He lives in us. Daily He endures our carnality and our selfishness. Daily He is grieved by our sin. Yet He loves us and remains in us as the seal of God and the “deposit” (also, “down payment” or “earnest” – 2 Corinthians 1:22) of the blessings waiting for us in eternity.
If a person does not have the Spirit dwelling within, that person is not a child of God (verse 9). In verse 15, the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of adoption” [or, “the Spirit of Sonship”]. To live according to the old, sinful nature or under law leads to slavery. However, the Spirit leads us into a glorious life of freedom in Christ. Freedom for the believer never means freedom to do as he or she pleases, for that is actually the worst kind of slavery. Rather, freedom in the Spirit is freedom from the law and the sin nature so that we can please God and become what He wants us to become.
A believers we are Heirs of God through Adoption
“Adoption” in the New Testament does not mean what it typically means today, the taking of a child into a family to be a legal member of the family. The literal meaning of the Greek word is “placing a son.” That means, the taking of a child (whether in the family or outside) and making him the rightful heir. Every believer is a child of God by birth and an heir of God through adoption. We are “co-heirs with the Messiah” (verse 17), so that He cannot receive His inheritance in glory until we are there to share it with Him.
Today’s lesson has reminded us of our position in the Lord. Paul notes well that because we are in Christ, we are not condemned. And so our obligation is not to the sin nature but to the Spirit of God who has made us his adopted heirs. It is worth noting that as believers, we have no obligation to the old nature. We are therefore not required to feed it, pamper it or to obey it. Instead, “by the Spirit we put to death the misdeeds of the body” and allow the Spirit to direct your daily life.
1. Why are believers no more condemned?
2. State three things that the Holy Spirit does for Christians
3. What does it mean to be a carnal Christian?
4. What does it mean to be an adopted child of God?