Setting

Whereas in chapter 7 Paul depicted man’s captivity by sin under the law, in the present chapter Paul speaks of the believer’s triumph through Christ. The previous chapter ended with a exclamation of thanks that Jesus Christ is the answer to the wretchedness of being under sin’s control. The present chapter continues with this thought and discusses how we have been empowered by God’s Spirit to be victors in Jesus Christ in our daily walk.

Key Verse

(8:1-2 ESV)

Did You Know...?

“To set the mind” (6, 7): This phrase is actually a noun in Greek (phronēma). It means “way of thinking” or “mindset.” [ref]

Outline

  • No Condemnation for Those Who Are in Christ Jesus
    (8:1-8)
  • Life through Indwelling of the Spirit
    (8:9-11)
  • Being Children and Heirs
    (8:12-17)

General Analysis

  • 1.

    Observe how the Spirit of God is central to the entire passage.

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    • It is the law of the Spirit of life that sets us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (v. 2). This is the key to the victory discussed in this passage.

    • The passage repeatedly speaks of the need for Christians to live according to the flesh and set their minds on the Spirit (vv. 4–6).

    • The second segment (vv. 9–11) uses many conditional statements to stress the necessity of having the Spirit of God dwell in us.

    • The third segment (vv. 12–17) again speaks of living according to the Spirit, but includes other important concepts related to the Spirit, such as by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body, being led by the Spirit, and the Spirit being the Spirit of adoption.

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Segment Analysis

  • 8:1–8

    1.

    How did God accomplish what the law could not do? Elaborate with supporting Scriptures if possible.

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    As discussed in earlier chapters of Romans, the law is unable to justify us but can only make us aware of sin (Rom 3:20). Not only so, sin uses the law and takes us captive (Rom 7:5, 8–20). But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law (Rom 3:21). God sent His Son Jesus Christ as the propitiation so that through the redemption in Christ we may be justified freely by faith (3:22–26; 8:3; cf. Gal 3:13). Furthermore, as chapter 8 of Romans expounds, those who are in Christ Jesus are set free to live according to the Spirit rather than the flesh. In doing so they can be victorious over sin and death.

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  • 2.

    How did God “condemn sin in the flesh” (v. 3)?

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    To overcome sin, God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom 8:3). Jesus partook of the same flesh and blood as human beings so that through death he might destroy the devil, who holds the power of death (Heb 2:14). Being in the flesh as the Son of Man, Jesus obeyed the Father’s will in all things (Heb 5:7–8; 10:5–9; cf. Rom 5:19). Finally, He bore our sins in his body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet 2:24). After He had died for our sins and was buried, Christ was raised to life for our justification (Rom 5:25; 1 Cor 15:3–4). By coming in the flesh as man and being obedient unto death, He has become our Redeemer to deliver us from darkness. God condemned sin in the flesh because of what Christ had done in the flesh.

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  • 3.

    What is the one condition for finding freedom from condemnation in Jesus Christ?

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    The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in those who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4). Walking according to the Spirit is the condition for finding freedom from condemnation.

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  • 4.

    Identify the numerous contrasts in this segment.

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    • The law of the Spirit of life vs. the law of sin and death (v. 2)

    • Walking according to the flesh vs. walking according to the Spirit (v. 4)

    • Living according to the flesh vs. living according to the Spirit (v. 5)

    • Setting the mind on the flesh vs. setting the mind on the Spirit (v. 5)

    • Death vs. life and peace (v. 6)

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  • 5a.

    How would you describe the two opposing lifestyles in more practical terms?

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    Rom 8:7–8 gives us an insight into what it means to be in the flesh and to set the mind on the flesh. The mind that is set on the flesh does not submit to God’s law, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. The two opposing lifestyles presented in this segment boil down to whom we choose to obey and please. In everything we do, say, and think about, whom do we want to please? God, or our own desires?

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  • 5b.

    Explain the outcomes of these two lifestyles.

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    God is the author and Lord of life. Obedience to Him results in life whereas rejecting Him ends in death (cf. Deut 30:15–20). Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin (Rom 5:12). Because of sin all human beings are alienated from God’s life and must face death some day. But today we have been given the free gift of justification and eternal life through faith in Christ. We who have been baptized have died to sin (Rom 6:1–7). We are to dedicate the rest of our lives to live for God in righteousness. It is a choice we need to make, and our destiny will depend on the choice we make today. If we choose to follow our sinful desires instead, we will die. But if we choose to lead a Christ-centered life, we will live. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 Jn 2:17).

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  • 8:9–11

    6a.

    How is there a clear shift in this segment in terms of whom it is addressing?

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    There is a shift in this segment to directly addressing the readers as “you” (plural). This second-person reference is found in every verse of this segment.

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  • 6b.

    What does this shift tell us?

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    The last verse of the previous segment (v. 8) ends the segment with “Those who are in the flesh…” The present segment opens with the contrasting “you, however…” (v. 9). The implication is that Paul wants the believers to remember that they do not belong to those who are in the flesh. This reminder ought to also apply to us who are believers today.

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  • 8:9–11

    7.

    Record the different terms used in this segment for the Holy Spirit.

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    • “The Spirit” (v. 9)

    • “The Spirit of God” (v. 9)

    • “The Spirit of Christ” (v. 9)

    • “The Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead” (v. 11)

    • “His Spirit” (v. 11)

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  • 8a.

    In the present context, what does it mean to have the Spirit of God dwell in us (v. 9, 11)?

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    When a person receives the promised Holy Spirit, we can say that the Holy Spirit is dwelling in him (cf. Jn 14:17). However, the context of Romans 8 alludes to more than just having received the promised Holy Spirit. The key word “dwell” is also used in chapter 7 for the sin that exercises control within a person (Rom 7:17, 18, 20). The word as used in these two chapters implies a controlling power. So the dwelling of God’s Spirit in the present chapter becomes a sharp contrast to the dwelling of sin in the previous chapter. Just as sin rules in the heart of the sinner, the Spirit of God rules in the heart of the believer. We have the choice to either let sin reign in us or let the Holy Spirit reign in us.

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  • 8b.

    Observe the conditional statements in this segment. How do they support your answer to the previous part of this question?

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    One thing that stands out in this segment is the repeated conditional statements:

    • “If in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you” (v. 9)
    • “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ” (v. 9; NKJV)
    • “If Christ is in you” (v. 10)
    • “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you” (v. 11).

    These conditional statements underscore the fact that a Christian must actively and consciously choose to let the Spirit of God dwell in him in the sense of submitting to the voice of the Holy Spirit and letting Him direct our lives. In the present context, therefore, having the Spirit dwell in us is not automatic.

    Along the same lines, we ought not interpret the words of verse 9, “Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ” as referring to brothers and sisters in Christ who are still waiting to receive the promised Holy Spirit. In terms of their spiritual status, they already belong to Christ through baptism (Gal 3:27–29). Paul is speaking in this passage about those who choose not to submit to the reign of Christ in their lives. In the present context, to “have” the Spirit of Christ should mean being led by the Spirit of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 7:40).

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  • 8:9–11

    9.

    What is the outcome of having the Spirit of God dwell in us?

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    God will give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in us (v. 11). Not only do we inherit eternal life, we can also live an abundant life today. This spiritual vitality is manifested in different ways, including inner strength to live Christ-like lives as well as peace and joy in tribulations (cf. Rom 5:1–5; 1 Cor 4:8–10; Col 3:15–17).

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  • 8:12–17

    10.

    Observe how freedom is a central idea to this segment.

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    This segment contrasts being slaves and being sons. While a slave of sin is indebted to serve the flesh, a child of God is free from sin. The idea of freedom for the sons of God will be developed further in the next passage (e.g. Rom 8:21).

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  • 11.

    Why are we no longer debtors to the flesh?

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    Since we have become dead to sin through baptism into Christ, we have been set free from sin (Rom 6:6; 7:4). We are no longer obligated to serve sinful desires.

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  • 12a.

    According to this segment, what is the one thing a Christian must do to live?

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    By the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body (v. 13).

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  • 12b.

    Explain in practical terms how to achieve that.

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    To put to death the deeds of the body is to deny our bodies the sinful desires of the flesh (cf. Gal 5:16). Paul also calls this mindset of self-denial a crucifixion of the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24). But this is accomplished not through sheer determination or self-imposed discipline. It is possible only by the Spirit. We need to be filled with the Spirit and yield to the guiding power of the Holy Spirit as we learn to say no to unrighteous thoughts and conducts. Through constant watchful prayers and practicing God’s word on a daily basis, we can be empowered to put to death the deeds of the body (cf. Eph 6:10–18).

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  • 8:12–17

    13.

    What qualifies us to be sons of God?

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    According to Romans 8:14, those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. When we are baptized into Christ, we have received the identity of sons of God (Gal 3:24–29). God also gives us His Holy Spirit as a seal, testifying to this sonship (Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). But this identity ought not be misconstrued as a one-time deal. It must be lived out every day in the choices we make. If we always listen to the Spirit in making our choices, then we are truly living up to the name of being God’s sons.

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  • 14.

    What does it mean to suffer with Christ?

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    To suffer with Christ is to answer His call to deny ourselves, carry our cross daily, and follow Him (Lk 9:24). Living according to the Spirit and putting to death the deeds of the body involves suffering (cf. 1 Pet 4:1–3; 5:6–10). It is a joint suffering with Christ because our suffering is an imitation of Christ and participation in His holiness (cf. 2 Cor 4:10–11; Heb 13:13; 1 Pet 4:16).

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  • 15.

    What do you learn from this segment about the nature and function of the Holy Spirit?

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    The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of adoption as sons who bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom 8:15). He enables us to put to death the deeds of the body, that we may truly live out the freedom of the sons of God (Rom 8:12–14). Therefore, we ought to give Him His rightful place in us and let Him dwell in us (Rom 8:9–11). The result of such Spirit-led lifestyle is life and peace (Rom 8:1–6).

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