David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
Romans 8:1-39 - A NEW AND WONDERFUL LIFE IN THE SPIRIT
A. Life in the Spirit contrasted with life in the flesh.
1. (Romans 8:1) No condemnation.
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.
a. There is therefore now no condemnation: The simple declaration of no condemnation comes to those who are in Christ Jesus. Since the Father does not condemn Jesus, neither can He condemn those are in Him. They are not condemned, they will not be condemned, and they cannot be condemned.
i. Paul’s therefore is important. It means that what he says comes from a logical argument. It’s as if Paul begins, “I can prove what I say here.” This is what he proves: if we are one with Jesus and He is our head, we can’t be condemned. You can’t acquit the head and condemn the hand. You can’t drown the foot as long as the head is out of water. Joined to Him, we hear the verdict: “no condemnation.”
ii. In Christ: “This phrase imports, that there is a mystical and spiritual union betwixt Christ and believers. This is sometimes expressed by Christ being in them . . . and here by their being in Christ. Christ is in believers by His Spirit, and believers are in Christ by faith.” (Poole)
iii. The verdict is not “less condemnation.” That’s where many of us are at - we think that our standing has improved in Jesus. It hasn’t improved, it’s been completely transformed, changed to no condemnation.
iv. We perhaps need to consider the flip side: If you are not in Jesus Christ, there is condemnation for you. “It is no pleasant task to us to have to speak of this matter; but who are we that we should ask for pleasant tasks? What God hath witnessed in Scripture is the sum and substance of what the Lord’s servants are to testify to the people. If you are not in Christ Jesus, and are walking after the flesh, you have not escaped from condemnation.” (Spurgeon)
b. No condemnation: This place of confidence and peace comes after the confusion and conflict that marked Romans 7:1-25. Now Paul looks to Jesus and he finds his standing in Him. But this chapter is more than just the answer to Romans 7:1-25; it ties together thoughts from the very beginning of the book.
i. Romans 8:1-39 begins with no condemnation; it ends with no separation, and in between there is no defeat.
c. Who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit: These words are not found in the earliest ancient manuscripts of the Book of Romans and they do not agree with the flow of Paul’s context here. There were probably added by a copyist who either made a mistake or thought he could “help” Paul by bringing in these words from Romans 8:4.
i. While it is true that those who are in Christ should not and do not consistently walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, this is not a condition for their status of no condemnation. Their position in Jesus is the reason for the standing of no condemnation.
ii. “The most learned men assure us that it is no part of the original text. I cannot just now go into the reasons for this conclusion, but they are very good and solid. The oldest copies are without it, the versions do not sustain it, and the fathers who quoted abundance of Scripture do not quote this sentence.” (Spurgeon)
d. We receive this glorious declaration from God’s court: “no condemnation.” We don’t receive it because we don’t deserve condemnation; we certainly do deserve condemnation. We receive it because Jesus bore the condemnation we deserved, and our identity is now found in Him. As He is condemned no more, neither are we.
2. (Romans 8:2-4) The contrast between life in the Spirit and life in the flesh.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 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, 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.
a. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death: The law of the sin and death was a strong and seemingly absolute law. Every sin we commit and every cemetery we see proves it. But the law of the Spirit of life in Christ is stronger still, and the law of the Spirit frees us from the law of sin and death.
i. We are free from the law of sin. Though he inevitably does, the Christian does not have to sin, because he is freed from sin’s dominion. We are free from the law of death; death no longer has any lasting power against the believer.
ii. Romans 8:1 tells us we are free from the guilt of sin. Romans 8:2 tells us we are free from the power of sin.
b. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh: The law can do many things. It can guide us, teach us, and tell us about God’s character. But the law cannot give energy to our flesh; it can give us the standard, but it cannot give us the power to live pleasing to God.
i. Morris, quoting Manson: “Moses’ law has right but not might; Sin’s law has might but not right; the law of the Spirit has both right and might.”
ii. “The law is weak to us, because we are weak to it: the sun cannot give light to blind eye, not from any impotency in itself, but merely from the incapacity of the subject it shines upon.” (Poole)
c. In that it was weak through the flesh: The law is weak because it speaks to our flesh. It comes to fleshly men and speaks to them as fleshly men. But the work of the Spirit transforms us by the crucifixion of the old man and it imparts the new man - a principle higher than the flesh.
i. “A vine does not produce grapes by Act of Parliament; they are the fruit of the vine’s own life; so the conduct which conforms to the standard of the Kingdom is not produced by any demand, not even God’s, but is the fruit of that divine nature which God gives as the result of what he has done in and by Christ.” (Hooke)
d. What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son: 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.
i. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh: In order to defeat sin, Jesus had to identify with those bound by it, by coming in the likeness of sinful flesh. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul carefully chose his words here, indicating that Jesus was not sinful flesh, but He identified with it entirely.
ii. We could not say that Jesus came in sinful flesh, because He was sinless. We could not say that Jesus came in the likeness of flesh, because He really was human, not just like a human. But we can say that Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh because although He was human, He was not sinful in Himself.
iii. He condemned sin in the flesh: Sin was condemned in the flesh of Jesus as He bore the condemnation we deserved. Since we are in Christ, we have already had that condemnation come and pass us over.
e. That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us: Because Jesus fulfilled the righteous requirement of the law, and because we are in Christ, we fulfill the law. The law is fulfilled in us in regard to obedience, because Jesus righteousness stands for ours. The law is fulfilled in us in regard to punishment, because any punishment demanded by the law was poured out upon Jesus.
i. Paul does not say that we fulfill the righteous requirement of the law. He carefully says that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us. It isn’t fulfilled by us, but in us.
ii. Simply put, Jesus is our substitute. Jesus was treated as a sinner so we can be treated as righteous.
f. In us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit: The people who enjoy this are those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Their life is marked by obedience to the Holy Spirit, not by obedience to the flesh.
i. God wants the Spirit to rule over our flesh. When we allow the flesh to reign over the Spirit, we find ourselves bound by the sinful patterns and desperation that marked Paul’s life in his “Romans 7:1-25” struggle. Our walk - the pattern of our life - must be according to the Spirit, not according to the flesh.
ii. Walking in the Spirit means that the course, the direction, the progress of one’s life is directed by the Holy Spirit. It is a continued and progressive motion.
iii. “Observe carefully that the flesh is there: he does not walk after it, but it is there. It is there, striving and warring, vexing and grieving, and it will be there till he is taken up into heaven. It is there as an alien and detested force, and not there so as to have dominion over him. He does not walk after it, nor practically obey it. He does not accept it as his guide, nor allow it to drive him into rebellion.” (Spurgeon)
3. (Romans 8:5-8) The futility of trying to please God in the flesh.
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. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
a. Set their minds on the things of the flesh: Paul gives an easy way for us to determine if we walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh - to simply see where our mind is set. The mind is the strategic battleground where the flesh and the Spirit fight.
i. We shouldn’t think of those who set their minds on the things of the flesh are the notorious sinners. They may be noble people who have good intentions. Peter meant well when he told Jesus to avoid the cross. Jesus responded to Peter with these strong words: you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men. (Matthew 16:23)
b. For to be carnally minded is death: When our minds are set on the things of the flesh (carnally minded) we bring death into our lives. But walking in the Spirit brings life and peace.
i. We must, however, guard against a false spirituality and see that Paul is talking about the flesh insofar as it is an instrument in our rebellion against God. Paul is not talking about normal physical and emotional needs that we may think about, only the sinful gratification of those needs.
c. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: The flesh battles against God, because it does not want to be crucified and surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ. It does not want to live out Galatians 5:24 : those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. In this battle to tame the flesh, the law is powerless.
i. Paul didn’t say that the carnal mind was at enmity with God - he put it even stronger than that. The carnal mind is enmity against God. “It is not black, but blackness; it is not at enmity, but enmity itself; it is not corrupt, but corruption; it is not rebellious, it is rebellion: it is not wicked, it is wickedness itself. The heart, though it be deceitful, is positively deceit; it is evil in the concrete, sin in the essence, it is the distillation, the quintessence of all things that are vile; it is not envious against God, it is envy; it is not at enmity, it is actual enmity.” (Spurgeon)
d. It is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be: We can try to do good in life without being subject to the law of God. We may hope to put God “in debt” to us through the doing of good works, putting God under obligation to us. But it doesn’t work. In the flesh we cannot please God, even if the flesh is doing religious things that are admired by men.
i. Newell on Romans 8:7 : “Perhaps no one text of Scripture more completely sets forth the hideously lost state of man after the flesh.”
4. (Romans 8:9-11) Christians are empowered to live in the Spirit.
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. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
a. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you: Because the Holy Spirit is given to each believer when they are born again, every Christian has within themselves a principle higher and more powerful than the flesh.
i. “Many sincere people are yet spiritually under John the Baptist’s ministry of repentance. Their state is practically that of the struggle of Romans Seven, where neither Christ nor the Holy Spirit is mentioned, but only a quickened but undelivered soul in struggle under a sense of ‘duty,’ not a sense of full acceptance in Christ and sealing by the Holy Spirit.” (Newell)
b. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His: This means that every believer has the Holy Spirit. It is a misnomer to divide Christians among the “Spirit-filled” and the “non-Spirit-filled.” If a person is not filled with the Holy Spirit, they are not a Christian at all.
i. However, many do miss out on living the Christian life in the constant fullness of the Spirit because they are not constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit as Paul commanded in Ephesians 5:18. They have no experience of what Jesus spoke about when He described rivers of living water flowing from the believer (John 7:37-39).
ii. How do I know that I have the Spirit? Ask these questions:
· Has the Spirit led you to Jesus?
· Has the Spirit put in you the desire to honor Jesus?
· Is the Spirit leading you to be more like Jesus?
· Is the Spirit at work in your heart?
c. And if the Spirit of Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin: Because Jesus lives in us, the old man (body) is dead, but the Spirit lives and reigns, and will live out His salvation even through our mortal bodies through resurrection.
i. Not only are we in Christ (Romans 8:1), but He also is in you, and because God cannot abide a sinful home, the body (old man) had to die when Jesus came in.
B. Our obligation: to live in the Spirit.
1. (Romans 8:12-13) Our debt is to the Spirit, not to the flesh.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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.
a. We are debtors - to the flesh, to live according to the flesh: The flesh (again, in the narrow sense of sinful flesh in rebellion against God) gave us nothing good. So we have no obligation to oblige or pamper it. Our debt is to the Lord, not to the flesh.
b. For if you live according to the flesh you will die: Paul constantly reminds us that living after the flesh ends in death and we need the reminder because we are often deceived into thinking that the flesh offers us life.
c. By the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body: When we put to death the deeds of the body (force the sinful flesh to submit to the Spirit), we must do it by the Spirit. Otherwise we will become Pharisees and spiritually proud.
i. Paul tells us that not only are we saved by the work of the Spirit, but also we must walk by the Spirit if want to grow and pursue holiness in the Lord. We cannot be like some among the Galatians who thought they could begin in the Spirit but then find spiritual perfection through the flesh (Galatians 3:3).
2. (Romans 8:14-15) Living in the Spirit means living as a child of God.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
a. It is only fitting that the sons of God should be led by the Spirit of God. However, we should not think that being led by the Spirit is a pre-condition to being a son of God. Instead, we become sons first and then the Spirit of God leads us.
i. Paul didn’t say, “As many as go to church, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as read their Bibles, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as are patriotic Americans, these are the sons of God.” He didn’t say, “As many as take communion, these are the sons of God.” In this text, the test for sonship is whether or not a person is led by the Spirit of God.
ii. How does the Holy Spirit lead us?
· We are led by guidance
· We are led by drawing
· We are led by governing authority
· We are led as we cooperate with the leading. “It does not say, ‘As many as are driven by the Spirit of God.’ No, the devil is a driver, and when he enters either into men or into hogs he drives them furiously. Remember how the whole herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea. Whenever you see a man fanatical and wild, whatever spirit is in him it is not the Spirit of Christ.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Where does the Holy Spirit lead us?
· He leads us to repentance
· He leads us to think little of self and much of Jesus
· He leads us into truth
· He leads us into love
· He leads us into holiness
· He leads us into usefulness
b. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption: Living as a child of God means an intimate, joyful relationship with God, not like the bondage and fear demonstrated by the law. A child of God can have a relationship with God so close that they may cry out, Abba, Father! (Daddy!)
c. We cry out, “Abba, Father.” It is easy for us to see Jesus relating to the Father with this joyful confidence, but we may see ourselves as disqualified for it. However, remember that we are in Christ - we have the privilege of relating to the Father even as Jesus Christ does.
i. “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.” (Bruce)
ii. 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 any more.
3. (Romans 8:16) The evidence we are children of God: the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
a. The Spirit Himself bears witness to our spirit that we are children of God: Plainly put, Paul says that those who are God’s children, born again by the Spirit of God, know their status because the Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that this is so.
i. This is not to say that there are not those who wrongly think or assume they are God’s children apart from the Spirit’s testimony. There are also Christians whose heads are so foggy from spiritual attack that they begin to believe the lie that they are not God’s children after all. Nevertheless the witness of the Spirit is still there.
b. We are children of God: We don’t have to wonder if we are really Christians or not. God’s children know who they are.
i. Jewish law stated that at the mouth of two or three witnesses everything had to be established (Deuteronomy 17:6). There are two witnesses to our salvation: our own witness and the witness of the Holy Spirit.
4. (Romans 8:17) The benefits and responsibilities of being God’s children.
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
a. And if children, there heirs: Because we are in Christ, we have the privilege of relating to the Father as Jesus does - therefore, we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.
i. Being a child of God also means having an inheritance. In Luke 18:18 the rich young ruler asked Jesus, what must I do to inherit? But the rich young ruler missed the point because inheritance is not a matter of doing it is a matter of being - of being in the right family.
b. If indeed we suffer with Him: Because we are in Christ, we are also called to share in His suffering. God’s children are not immune from suffering.
c. If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together: In fact, our sharing in present suffering is a condition of our future glorification. As far as God is concerned, it is all part of the same package of sonship, no matter how our flesh may want to have the inheritance and the glory without the suffering.
C. Life in the Spirit enables us to understand and endure suffering.
1. (Romans 8:18) Paul’s analysis of the present suffering and our future glory: they cannot be compared to each other.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
a. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared: Paul was not ignorant or blind to the sufferings of human existence; he experienced more of them than most any of us today. Yet he still considered that the future glory far outweighed the present sufferings.
b. The glory which shall be revealed in us: Without a heavenly hope, Paul considered the Christian life foolish and tragic (1 Corinthians 15:19). Yet in light of eternity it is the wisest and best choice anyone can make.
c. Revealed in us: This coming glory will not only be revealed to us, but it will actually be revealed in us.
i. God has put this glory into the believer right now. When we are in heaven, the glory will simply be revealed. “The glory will be revealed, not created. The implication is that it is already existent, but not apparent.” (Morris)
2. (Romans 8:19-22) All of creation is awaiting and anticipating this coming glory.
For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
a. The earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits: Paul considers that creation itself is eagerly awaiting the revealing of the sons of God; because the creation was subjected to futility because of man’s sin, and will benefit from the ultimate redemption of men.
i. Isaiah 11:6-9 describes this redemption of creation in that day: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
b. Him who subjected it in hope: Only God could subject creation in hope. This was not ultimately the work of either man or Satan.
c. The promised glorious liberty of the children of God benefits not only the children of God themselves, but also all of creation. Until that day, creation groans and labors with birth pangs.
d. The revealing of the sons of God: Certain groups with a “super-Christian” mentality have taken the idea of the revealing of the sons of God to say that all creation is waiting for their particular group of super-spiritual Christians to be revealed in incredibly powerful fashion. This is a purely egotistical fantasy.
e. The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now: “Creation is not undergoing death pangs . . . but birth pangs.” (Morris)
3. (Romans 8:23-25) We also groan and wait with perseverance for the coming glory.
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
a. We, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, have been given a taste of that glory to come. Can we be faulted if we long for the fulfillment of what we have received in the firstfruits?
b. Eagerly waiting for the adoption: We are waiting for our adoption; though there is definitely a sense in which we are already adopted (Romans 8:15), there is also a sense in which we wait for the consummation of that adoption - the redemption of our body.
i. God does not ignore our physical bodies in His plan of redemption. His plan for these bodies is called resurrection, when this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53)
ii. God’s concern about our physical bodies in the here and now is reflected in passages like 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 : Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
c. We eagerly wait for it with perseverance: The fulfillment of our redemption is something still distant, yet we hope for it in faith and perseverance, trusting that God is faithful to His word and the promised glory will be a reality.
i. Morris on perseverance: “It is the attitude of the soldier who in the thick of battle is not dismayed but fights on stoutly whatever the difficulties.”
4. (Romans 8:26-27) God’s help through the Spirit is available to us now.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
a. Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses: When we are weak, and do not know exactly how we should pray, God Himself (through the Holy Spirit) helps by making intercession for us.
b. The help that the Holy Spirit brings to express our groanings which cannot be uttered may include praying in the spiritual gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:14-15), but it is certainly not limited to praying in an unknown tongue.
i. The idea is simply of communication beyond our ability to express - deep groanings within us, which cannot be articulated apart from the interceding work of the Holy Spirit.
ii. This, of course, is the purpose of the gift of tongues - to enable us to communicate with God in a manner that is not limited to our own knowledge or ability to articulate our heart before God. The purpose of tongues is not to prove that we are “filled with the Spirit” or especially spiritual.
c. The Holy Spirit’s help in intercession is perfect, because He searches the hearts of those whom He helps, and He is able to guide our prayers according to the will of God.
5. (Romans 8:28-30) God’s help is an enduring promise; He has the ability to work all things for good and to see us through to glorification.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
a. And we know that all things work together for good: God’s sovereignty and ability to manage every aspect of our lives is demonstrated in the fact that all things work together for good to those who love God, though we must face the sufferings of this present time (Romans 8:18). God is able to even make those sufferings work together for our good and His good.
b. God is able to work all things, not some things. He works them for good together, not in isolation. This promise is for those who love God in the Biblical understanding of love, and God manages the affairs of our life because we are called according to His purpose.
c. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son: The eternal chain of God’s working is seen in the connection between foreknew, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. God didn’t begin a work in the Romans simply to abandon them in the midst of their present suffering.
i. “Paul is saying that God is the author of our salvation, and that from beginning to end. We are not to think that God can take action only when we graciously give him permission.” (Morris)
ii. “Of course I believe in predestination, since it’s plainly taught in the Scriptures. The doctrine could be assumed, even if the word was never explicitly used. It’s a thrilling truth that doesn’t upset me at all. The fact that He chose me and began a good work in me proves that He’ll continue to perform it. He wouldn’t bring me this far and them dump me.” (Smith)
d. To be conformed to the image of His Son: However, our participation in this eternal plan is essential, reflected in its goal: that we might be conformed to the image of His Son; and this is a process that God does with our cooperation, not something He just “does” to us.
e. The reason for this plan is expressed in that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. God has adopted us into His family (Romans 8:15) for the purpose of making us like Jesus Christ, similar to Him in the perfection of His humanity.
D. The triumphant victory of the life in the Spirit.
1. (Romans 8:31) Paul begins his conclusion to this section: If God be for us, who can be against us?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
a. If God is for us, who can be against us? If all we had were the first few chapters of Romans some might believe that God was against us. Now that Paul has shown the lengths that God went to save man from His wrath and equip him for victory over sin and death, who can doubt that God is for us?
i. “Our weak hearts, prone to legalism and unbelief, receive these words with great difficulty: God is for us . . .They have failed Him; but He is for them. They are ignorant; but He is for them. They have not yet brought forth much fruit; but He is for them.” (Newell)
ii. Most all men say or think that God is for them - terrorists commit horrible crimes thinking that God is for them. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit guards this statement with an “if,” so we may know that just because a man thinks God is with him does not make it so. God is only for us if we are reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ.
b. Who can be against us? Likewise, despite the suffering Christians face, if God is for them, what does it matter if others are against them? One person plus God makes an unconquerable majority.
c. We certainly can be deceived into thinking that God is for us when He actually is not (as do cultists and those like them). Yet it cannot be denied that for those who are in Jesus Christ, God is for them!
2. (Romans 8:32) Evidence that God is for us: the gift of Jesus Christ.
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
a. He who did not spare His own Son: If the Father already gave His ultimate gift, how can we think that He won’t give us the smaller gifts?
3. (Romans 8:33-39) The security of the believer in God’s love.
Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
a. Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? We are secure from every charge against us. If we are declared “not guilty” by the highest Judge, who can bring an additional charge?
b. Who is he who condemns? We are secure from all condemnation. If Jesus Himself is our advocate, promoting our benefit, then who can condemn us?
c. In fact, none of the sufferings of this present time can separate us from the love of God. No matter what the circumstance, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
i. Newell on loved us: “It is this past tense gospel the devil hates . . . Let a preacher be continually saying, ‘God loves you, Christ loves you,’ and he and his congregation will by and by be losing sight of both their sinnerhood and of the substitutionary atonement of the cross, where the love of God and of Christ was once for all and supremely set forth.”
ii. Earle on nakedness: “This term today suggests indecency on parade. Then it meant a lack of clothes simply because one had no ways or means of getting any.”
iii. Sword: This word implies execution. It is the only item on the list that Paul had not yet personally experienced in the course of living for Jesus and preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:30).
d. More than conquerors: How is the Christian more than a conqueror?
· He overcomes with a greater power, the power of Jesus
· He overcomes with a greater motive, the glory of Jesus
· He overcomes with a greater victory, losing nothing even in the battle
· He overcomes with a greater love, conquering enemies with love and converting persecutors with patience
e. Nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord: Nothing which appears to be good or nothing which appears to be evil can separate us from the love of God.
i. Spurgeon speaks of the confidence great men and women of God had in God’s love in ages past: “They did not speak of Christ’s love as though it were a myth to be respected, a tradition to be reverenced; they viewed it as a blessed reality, and they cast their whole confidence upon it, being persuaded that it would bear them up as upon eagles’ wings, and carry them all their days; resting assured that it would be to them a foundation of rock, against which the waves might beat, and the winds blow, but their soul’s habitation would stand securely if founded upon it.”
Sunday, March 26th, 2017
the Fourth Sunday of Lent
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