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  • Brian O'Kelly

Romans 8 (Part 1) - No Condemnation


Romans 8 (Part 1)

3.1. Chapters 1 through five Paul explains the sin problem and how it is universally applied as well as how it is universally cured through grace. Chapter 6 and seven are an expansion on his theme in chapter 5. Now here in chapter 8 Paul begins to offer the solutions to the sin problem.

4. Today’s text

4.1. 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. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 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. 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, 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.

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. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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. 12 Therefore, brethren, 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 as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 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.” 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 joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. 18 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. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits 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 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

5. No condemnation

5.1. 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.

5.1.1. This therefore is related to the end of chapter 5. Remember chapters that 6 and seven, in my view, are a parenthesis to explain chapter 5.

5.1.2. Chapter 5 ends with the following: Romans 5:20 20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

5.1.3. Chapters 6 and seven are spent explaining this very concept, using the analogy of the slave market and the analogy of a woman remarrying and how in both cases the person is no longer subject to their prior master as the example of how where sin used to reign, now grace reigns.

5.1.4. The problem is that when one is in the habit of being in bondage, or subjection to, a boss, a master, a spouse, etc., they often find the old habit difficult to break. Many times, people lapse into the prior pattern. Even more so in the case of sin or we have a natural tendency toward the flesh, and toward self-will.

6. Free From Sin and Death

6.1. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

6.1.1. The key to this verse are the words “in Christ Jesus” it is only in Him that we are free from the law of sin and death. Paul explains this in some detail in chapter 11 with the concept of being in the vine, connected to the life or not in the vine and disconnected from the life.

6.1.2. This is one more reason that I reject the reform concept of persistence of the saints. The “Spirit of life” is when we are “in Christ Jesus” if we are not in Christ Jesus, we don’t have the Spirit of life. The idea that little Johnny could get saved at an altar call at eight years old or 12 years old and then live the rest of his life as though he were divorced from Jesus, shaking his fist at God and still be in Christ Jesus and having a spirit of life is foolhardy at best.

7. The Law was too Weak - The Spirit is strong

7.1. 3 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,

7.1.1. Here Paul reiterates the idea that to keep the law was dependent on the strength of the flesh something that no one had until Jesus. Jesus had sufficient strength because of his perfect relationship with the Father which gave him the ability to walk in the spirit.

7.1.2. The Greek word here that is used for likeness is “Homayah”. Homayah means, “form of, image, resemblance, a resemblance that is so near as to nearly be identical”

7.1.3. Jesus as a man was fully human as we are. Nearly identical. Of course, he was fully God as well. The significant difference in his humanity was that he also had a past and perfect relationship with the father as part of the Trinity. In this way, he was not like us at all. We have no past prior to conception, and we have an imperfect relationship with the father.

7.1.4. God himself couldn’t demonstrate what it was like to live a life in the Spirit that would be sinless as a result. God Himself is Spirit. But when God amalgamated His Divinity with the weakness of human flesh, he could demonstrate the life that was in spiritual communion with God in such a way as to be completely sinless.

7.2. 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.

7.2.1. The righteous requirement of the law was death that as a result of sin, a permanent separation from the Father.

7.2.2. The righteous requirement is then fulfilled by walking in the spirit because walking in the flesh can’t do it.

7.2.3. Paul tells the Galatian Church: Gal 5:16-17 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

8. Set your Mind

8.1. 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, the things of the Spirit.

8.1.1. Paul indicates here that what we put our minds on, what we focus on is what gives us the result that we get. We are focused on our flesh, that is on our selfishness, we are not focused on the things of the spirit, that is on unselfishness. This is something you do, not something done for you.

8.1.2. Jesus was a man for others. In Matthew 20:28 Jesus says: “28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

8.1.3. Remember the story at the Last Supper when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet. He wanted to demonstrate that even more than they had come to see him, he had come for them.

8.1.4. The life of Jesus is the best example we have of what it looks like to walk in the spirit. To surrender our own wills to the will of God

8.1.5. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

8.1.6. Paul is explaining to the Corinthian church that we are not going to win the war against sin, the war against selfishness and self-focus with weapons of the flesh. We are going to win the war against the flesh and against our own selfishness with the Spirit indwelling us. When he says “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” many think he is only talking about the devil or demonic powers, and perhaps he is, but I also think that our own selfishness, our own self-love, is perhaps the thing that we think is highest in exalting ourselves against the knowledge of God.

8.1.7. I don’t know but you, but I often, in fact too often, find myself in a place of willing disobedience to God. This is why we identify so easily with Romans 7:15 “15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” I know better, and yet I choose the wrong thing and at that moment I am exalting my own authority against the knowledge of God that I have.

9. Be Spiritually Minded

9.1. 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.

9.1.1. When we focus on our own desires over the knowledge of God we are carnally minded and being self-focused is not pleasing to God.

9.1.2. So it is a matter of fixing our minds on God instead of on ourselves. Not a matter of fixing our minds on the rules of God or on the “dos and don’ts” of the Christian life, but on God himself and his presence.

9.1.3. I was recently thinking about the way I would look at my children sleeping when they were little. For those of you who are parents, you understand what I’m talking about. For those of you who are not I apologize that this example may not be accessible to you. But for those of you who are parents, remember how you would watch your children sleep, and you would feel this nearly overwhelming sense of how much you love them. I believe this gives us a small glimpse of the love of God toward us. This is why as your children grow and become adults, while often times we may find ourselves angry or frustrated with them we don’t find ourselves unloving toward them. I believe the love of God for us is like that except exponentially more so. We know that God becomes angry, and He often laments through the prophets His disappointment with Israel, but he never stops loving those who he becomes angry or frustrated with.

9.1.4. For those of you who have aging parents, and this is the case with me currently, you may experience similar feelings when you find one of your parents or grandparents in a place of diminished capacity, either physically or mentally. For those of you who’ve been wondering where I’ve been the last few weeks and why there has been an interruption in our study of Romans, I’ve been attending to my mom’s needs. She has reached a place in her life where she needs more support and can’t really continue to live independently. Last week we moved her to an assisted living facility where she can get the support she may need 24 hours a day. Prior to that for a few weeks I was spending the night at her house so that she would not be alone in case of a need for support at night. The reason I tell this to you is because I had a similar experience to watching my kids sleep. At bedtime I would tuck my mom into bed. At times I would watch her sleep and nearly the same feeling as when my kids were sleeping overcame me. Not the same feeling, but one that was even richer. You see, my kids when they were little hadn’t done anything for me except respond to my love for them. But my mom has continually sacrificed her own self-interest and her own resources and many ways her very life for me and for my siblings. I believe that this gave me a glimpse of how I am supposed to love God who has done all for me they can be done. He has given me everything including the life of His own son. I would’ve rather been home in my own bed where I’m comfortable, where I’m used to being. This quite literally was my self-interest. But in the interest of one whom I love my own interests became secondary. My interest in good sleep, my regular schedule, my work, this podcast and 100 other things were subordinated not to the interests of my mom as in “dos and don’ts” but as in what it meant to love and serve her. I believe this is how we are to subordinate our own interests, not to God’s rules but to loving and serving him.

9.1.5. Let me give you another example. Recently the young daughter of my manager at work became sick with an ear infection late at night. She was crying and in pain. So even though it was 11:30 at night they took her to a 24-hour urgent care clinic. He was expected to be at work in the morning but was up most of the night. He called his boss to let him know that he was coming in later than expected. So, his boss rearranged his plans to accommodate the team as needed. When my manager came in late, he was exhausted from being up all night with his daughter. I’m quite sure that his manager had set aside his self-interest to accommodate the interest of the team. My own manager sacrificed his self-interest of getting some sleep in favor of the best interests of our whole team.

9.1.6. I recognize that these examples fail to communicate entirely how we are to set aside our own self-interest or “carnal mindedness” to the interests of God and as a product of our love for him. But I believe that this is what Paul is communicating when he talks about walking in the flesh as opposed to walking in the spirit. When we walk in our own self-interest, we find ourselves living in a fashion that ultimately is not pleasing to us and certainly not pleasing to God.

9.1.7. This is why many Christians throughout the last 2000 years have found the act of morning devotions to be so useful. It is valuable to begin our day with the focus on God and our love for him and our desire to live in the spirit and not in the flesh. I’d like to encourage you if you don’t have this habit to begin your day at least a small amount of Scripture and a time of focusing not only on how much God loves you and what God has done for you but also and especially how much you love God as a result.

9.1.8. You may find as you begin this process that you don’t really love God very much at all. What you really love is the idea of not going to Hell, that you love forgiveness, that you love feeling less guilty because of the cross. As they say in AA, the first step is admitting you have a problem. Go ahead and confess this to God, he already knows, he’s not surprised, and he loves you anyway. It’s entirely okay to tell God that you know you don’t love him the way you should and that you desire to correct that. It’s okay to tell God that you really don’t want to be obedient, that you really don’t like his ways. Verse seven says “the carnal mind is enmity against God”. We are built for disobedience and for self-interest. God wants to see you have a spiritual mind. A mind that is focused on him and not on self.

10. Do you belong to Jesus? What is the result?

10.1. 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. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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.

10.1.1. What does it mean to not be “in the flesh”, but in the spirit? What does it mean for the body to be dead? What does it mean when he says, “the Spirit is life”? What it means, as nearly as I can tell, is that once we become Christians and “have the spirit of Christ” we gain the ability to overcome our own self-interest. Not through the process of dominating our interest through self-will but rather through a shift in our affections. We become attracted to the things of God and his spirit. It is this shift in affection away from our own desires and the things which attract us to the desires of God.

10.1.2. Before we were Christians, we are still subject to natural law as described in Romans chapter 1. We did know right from wrong, and we often pursued wrong anyway. We had become practiced at ignoring our conscience. As believers we now have something that might be called “conscience plus”. It is not only the knowledge of what is right and wrong that all men possess but additionally spiritual insight and spiritual empowerment that Paul here says will “give life to your mortal bodies”. And this doesn’t happen in some kind of a “genie in the lamp” transformation. But it does happen because of practiced focus on the goodness and the love of God.

10.1.3. Paul says later in this book in Romans 12:2 “2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is the renewing of our minds that allows us to not be conformed to this world. This process of focusing on and remembering God’s goodness toward us and our love toward him that is transformative.

11. Next episode

11.1. In chapter 8 Paul will begin to offer the remedy for sin

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