Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation - but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. 29 For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all - how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You may remember an old radio show from a number of years ago called ‘Desert Island Discs.’ It was a light-hearted chat show in which celebrity guests were asked to imagine themselves stranded on a deserted island, and they were given the option of having one only of various items, such as a type of food, a movie, their favourite record and other bits and pieces. One of the things they could take would be only one book.
Many days before the radio show came along, the Victorian author G.K. Chesterton was once asked which book he would like on a desert island, and his classic reply was “P.R. Thomas’ Guide To Practical Shipbuilding.”
If asked a similar question about a single book of the Bible, many Christians would choose the book of Romans, as it encompasses all the essentials of the Christian faith.
In Romans 7:24 Paul says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” And in chapter 8, he gives the answer: the Holy Spirit of God. The blessings He brings make us “more than conquerors.”
To step from the seventh chapter of Romans into the eighth is like stepping from a dark, dismal dungeon into the brilliant warmth of the sun. It is stepping from failure into victory, from despair into hope and from doubt into certainty.
It is going from the power of satan and slavery to the sinful nature into the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Paul introduces this transition by saying, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
This profound opening statement of Romans 8 points back to the past and to all that Paul has said in the first seven chapters.
It points to the present and to the new life we have as a result of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
And it points to the future and to the glory that belongs to every believer. All of this is the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul develops these ideas in the verses that follow.
Firstly, he speaks about how the Spirit brings life to the Christian. He expands upon the theme of the abundant life, life in all its fullness which Jesus speaks about in John 10:10.
This new, abundant life is only available to those who are born of the Spirit. Paul describes this as being “in Christ”, a term which he uses nearly 50 times in his letters. It’s a phrase which builds on Jesus’ words in John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.”
Because we are now ‘in Christ’, all of the barriers to life - the abundant life - are removed. We are now able to look back to the past with joy and a sense of contentment, because all has been forgiven. We’re also able to look at the present with peace and happiness, because there is no longer a sword of judgment hanging over our heads.
And of course, we now look forward with anticipation because death and judgment are removed. If you are a Christian, if you’ve been born of the Spirit and are now in Christ, then you have nothing to fear. The victory is yours in Jesus.
It must be pointed out that Paul does not say that there will be no trials, temptations or failures, but he does say, “there is now no condemnation.” As sinners, our greatest fear is condemnation, and our greatest need is salvation, and because of the cross of Christ, we have salvation, and no more condemnation.
There is a fundamental difference in the way the victorious Christian lives their life in comparison to the rest of the world. The evidence of this new life is seen by the way we “do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit,” (v4).
There is a stark contrast here between life in the flesh, or unregenerate man, and life in the Spirit, the redeemed person. One lives to fulfill the lusts of the flesh and the way of the world. The other lives under the direction of the Holy Spirit and by His power.
When we live under the direction and power of the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is evident: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
This is the only life that is truly satisfying and real to the self, and more importantly, to God.
The world certainly has a completely different standard when it comes to judging how good or bad people are.
There is no doubt that from a simple human perspective, that there are many ‘good’ people out there who are not Christians, but this is what the Bible says in Romans 8:7-8. “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”
The NLT puts it like this: “The sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.”
In other words, you either have and are living a life of victory, or you have nothing, and are living a life which will ultimately result in defeat, and eternal separation from God.
You see, the whole point is not that Christians are ‘good people’, because undoubtedly, many of us are not! The point is what God says, and what He sees. He either sees a person born of the Spirit, or a person still living according to the sinful nature.
So trying to live a good life, but living it without the presence of the Spirit, is ultimately doomed to failure.
One of the benefits of living according to the Spirit is that we receive what Paul calls sonship. He uses the figure of adoption in verses 14 to 17 (NLT again): “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.”
Adoption in this context speaks about the position and privilege that Christians now have. Not only do we live to please God, but He actually draws us into His family. He really does become ‘Our Father.’
I didn’t quote the whole of verse 18 earlier. After describing the wonder of our new adoption, it ends with these words:
“But if we are to share His glory, we must also share His suffering.”
What does this mean?
Quite simply, the Spirit gives help in suffering. Suffering is a part of the Christian life. There are trials and tribulations, sorrows and heartaches, abuse and persecution that must be endured, but we are not alone in them. The Holy Spirit helps us.
One of the promises we read over and over in the Bible is that there is no comparison with the glory that ultimately will be ours. Suffering is temporary, while glory is eternal. God’s Spirit then, gives us patience, understanding and hope in these experiences. Even when we find it hard to pray, in some mysterious, yet glorious way, God’s Spirit prays on our behalf. He intercedes for us, taking our requests and interpreting them before the throne of God.
One of the greatest assurances we have as Christians is that despite what goes on all around us, despite all the confusion and many unanswered questions, there is a bigger picture which we cannot see, but which God can. And He is constantly working, often behind the scenes “for the good of those who love Him,” according to verse 28.
Christians often feel inadequate when we’re unable to answer some of the questions the world asks us, especially the ones that are played like some kind of trump card, designed to stump us.
Remember though, that God is God, and we are not. We are not expected to have all the answers.
Sometimes “I’m sorry – I just don’t know,” is an excellent answer!
The Holy Spirit helps us to understand that God is at work in all things for ultimate good. The Spirit does not say that “all things are good” but rather that God works in all things.
Our task is to draw upon the faith He gives us, and to trust Him. We are called to live a life submitted to, and controlled by the Spirit.
William Cowper was a poet and hymn writer, who died in 1800, and in one of his poems he wrote, “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines of never failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs, and works His sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, the clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break in blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.”
Those are the words of someone who trusted God implicitly to work for the good of those who love Him, but an interesting fact about William Cowper was that he struggled throughout his life with depression, doubts, and fears. Yet he was able to write a poem of such faith.
That’s the victory. Those are the words of a man who is walking by the Spirit, because he trusted Christ.
The purpose of all of this is found in verse 29: Our destiny is “to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.”
This is much more than just being better people. God’s aim for us is to be totally transformed, so much so that we reflect the glory of Christ in everything we do, say and are.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
The theological term for this is sanctification. It is the life-long process of God working constantly in our lives to transform us into the image of Christ. One of the reasons it takes a lifetime and is not an instant fix, is that even though we are forgiven, we still sin. Perfection will not come in this life, but ultimate glory awaits us.
The final point we need to be reminded of today is the security which we have in God’s promises. He is a God who is faithful, and who keeps His promises.
One of the most wonderful statements in the entire Bible is found in Romans 8:31. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The Message Translation says, “With God on our side like this, how can we lose?”
Because of the death of Jesus, the atoning sacrifice He made for us, we have now been freed from condemnation. That is a firm promise, and if you are a Christian, it applies to you. If you don’t believe me, read Romans 8. Then read it again, and again, until God’s Spirit reaffirms those promises in your heart.
Because of Christ, there can be no separation from God. The things of this world - the circumstances of life – cannot and will not separate us from God, both in this life and in the life to come.
We looked at these things in more detail a few weeks ago, but as a reminder, towards the end of the chapter Paul lists 16 things that may threaten but ultimately will not separate us from God: Trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, life, angels, demons, the present, the future, powers, height or depth.
16 Things which might threaten to separate us from the love of God, but ultimately will not, then he then adds “nor anything else,” to reinforce and drive home his point.
We are secure in the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So many believers go through life with doubts and fears, with problems and perplexities when God never intended it to be like that. He has freely given us the Holy Spirit as a witness to us that security and victory is ours in Christ.
Jesus Christ will ultimately be victorious on earth, and that’s why we should serve Him with joyful submission. Someone once said that Christianity is the one place where surrender brings victory.
The ultimate victory of Christ and in Christ will come in spite of our rebellion and sin, and it will come because of the irresistible power of God, however, it will only come to those who respond to the offer of His grace and mercy.
How have you responded to Him?