We are dead to sin!
Let us continue our journey through the book of Romans. I want to thank you for the significant and positive response to our study. I pray that these emails are beneficial to your walk with the Lord and help you on your journey.
Read: Romans 8
I have long that then when I am on my death bed, I want Romans chapter 8 read to me over and over. For the believer in Christ, this passage is one that should bring tremendous comfort and hope. Some have called this the most significant chapter in all of the Bible. I pray that you would see why. F. Godet, the Swiss commentator, called these thirty-nine verses great because they begin with “no condemnation” and end with “no separation,” to which another writer, C. A. Fox, added that in between there is also “no defeat.” In this chapter, we see what God is doing in our lives and what our future holds. I pray that you genuinely enjoy this chapter.
1. No Condemnation. (1-4) The first verse of Romans 8 is the theme that sets up the rest of the chapter. This verse sets up the rest of the chapter but also gives us the very heart of the Gospel. I think we often grow tired of hearing about the Gospel; I believe that is because we’ve forgotten how much we’ve truly been forgiven. Let us look at these few verses and unpack some words that need to be unpacked for us to understand rightly.
A. Condemnation: We know from the previous chapters that we’ve violated the law. The punishment for that violation is death. This term is a term of guilt that you’ve been found guilty of violating the law.
B. Now: Now is a word that points to a time. You’ve heard it said that we live in the here and now. The idea of this word is marvelous in our justification. We stand now condemned before God in our sin, but NOW in Christ Jesus, we are justified. Now and presently.
C. No: My son Maverick loves this word. No, No, No, is a constant song that is played on repeat in our home. The concept of no is simple enough. It is an absolute term of the opposite of yes. For the believer, the idea of no condemnation does ring entirely home. We often think, maybe there will be just a little, but we see here there is none!
D. Therefore: Any time you see the word, therefore, you ask the question of what is it there for? Paul is continuing to expound on what he has written in chapter 7.
This idea for us seems to be truly incomprehensible. That because of Christ Jesus, we have no condemnation. Now understand that this is not a blanket statement for all mankind; this is based upon someone being “in Christ Jesus.” We must ask the question, what does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? The answer is to put your faith and hope in Christ. That you trust in the substitutionary death of Christ in your place, you can do nothing to earn salvation. That you believe that He rose again on the third day, conquering sin and death. That all your chips are placed on Him. Are you all in?
2. Carnal vs. Spirit. (5-8) The man of Christ walks by the Spirit and not by the flesh. These few verses seem to be pretty straight forward to the reader. I’ve heard it summarized, the carnal man thinks according to his carnal ways, the spiritual man thinks of his heavenly ways. For us, there is an essential lesson in this to understand. As a church, we must not expect carnal men and women to act and behave like spiritual men and women. I’ve been in church long enough to see churches that are upset that when lost people come in their door, they act like lost people. The thing that we must not tolerate is those who claim to be believers in Christ and yet still live completely carnal. They act as if the Lord has no bearing on their lives, but continue to live by their wants and desires. This reveals a heart that does not belong to the Lord, and according to scripture, one that is not part of the family of God. As believers, there are sure signs that one is a believer in Christ. One is the conviction of sin. If you find yourself living in habitual sin and having no conviction, that should be a warning to you that you may not be a believer. I’m not saying you are not, but you may be calloused to sin, and you need to repent. Secondly, a believer is one that lives according to the Spirit and seeks spiritual matters. Do you care for the church? Do you care for heavenly things?
3. In or out? (9-11) Paul, in there few verses, gives strong descriptors of someone who is in the family of God and those who are not. The purpose of these verses is not to provide a checklist, instead, to inspire one to have self-examination. Some believe that there are three types of people. Those that are Christians, those who are not, and those who are but live like they are not, I find that according to scripture, there are only two. The idea of someone who is but doesn’t live like one is not found to be congruent with scripture. If you find this to be somewhat offensive to you, I pray that this shakes you up in your walk and your living for the mission. Your Christian life should be one of constant examination. Looking at your past and your present. Are you living as someone that has been delivered from the realm of sin and death to the realm of life and mercy? Do you seek to see the mission of God accomplished? Are you repentant of sin? Do you strive to be more like Jesus? These are questions that we must constantly wrestle with.
3. Heirs with Christ. (12-16) In the first two verses, we see a process by which we are being changed and conformed into the image of Christ. This idea is called Sanctification. That we are being molded and shaped into the image of Christ, this happens to someone that lives not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. That you are putting the desires of the flesh, the sinful nature of your flesh to death, for someone that lives by the Spirit is someone that is part of the family of God. We learned in the book of Ephesians that we who are purchased by the blood of Christ are adopted into His family. God has no grandchildren, only children. As sons and daughters of God, we are no longer slaves. Outside of Christ, we are slaves to sin, slaves to our sinful nature. When you were adopted into the family of God, and you received the Holy Spirit, you were given a spirit of family. You are part of the family of God, and this family is one that is secure in its inheritance. We are part of the family of God, and this means that we take part in what Christ took part in. As Christians, we should know and understand that we will suffer. Life, in general, is full of suffering because there is sin in the world. For the believer, there is suffering because of being a follower of Christ. That suffering is what produces in us steadfastness, and sharing in the suffering of Christ is what shows our faith in Him. But suffering is not the end.
4. Future Glory (18-25) In these few verses, we see some tremendous truth and reality of the world we live in. First, Paul says that the suffering that he endures now is nothing in comparison to the future Glory that we are to behold. The suffering that you and I face is nothing in comparison to what God has for us. Paul being a prisoner and knowing that he faces death, that he was beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, and more, none of that is anything to the greatness of what was to come.
A. Creation longs for it. We also see that the world is longing for redemption. The earth has been subject to the effects of sin since the garden. Though the planet does not possess a soul, it longs for redemption, when it will be made new. Recently a “spiritual leader” commented that the earth was judging humanity for his many sins. The earth does not judge; the earth longs for redemption. God alone is the judge. What we are living in now is birth pains, when creation longs for the creator to make all things new.
B. We long for redemption. Paul writes that we long for the redemption of our bodies. If you’ve ever woken up to a stiff neck, sore bones, etc. you know what it is like to long for that new body. The new body that will never be affected by stiff joints and sore muscles, we wait for the day that we will be made new. We know this will occur because it has already happened with Christ. Christ has been raised from the dead never to die again. That resurrection is a hope that we know will happen with us as well.
5. Praying! (26-27) The idea of prayer is so perplexing for us as believers. I know that it is something that believers are always wrestling with, what should I be praying for? Should I be praying with confidence? Should I be “naming” and “claiming” things? What do I do? For so many, there is great confusion, but for you, there is a certainty. Paul says in the same way, referring back to verse 15-17, when he spoke of us being children of God and heirs with Christ. That is our weakness; we can take hope. Paul is hoping to encourage us that we have the Spirit, which is there to help us in our weakness. Jesus told His disciples that He would send the comforter and the helper; this same comforter and helper is the one that helps us to pray. That the Spirit is also one that intercedes on our behalf, now, this does not mean that you do not need to pray, for Paul says that the Spirit helps, which means that we still need to be people of prayer. But what this does mean is that during your prayer, the times when you struggle to say the right words, you have one helping and interceding on your behalf.
6. The Work of God. (28-30) So many people love to recite Romans 8:28. A verse that they love to tell people that are going through a hard time. This verse is one that should be of tremendous hope for the believer in Christ, but even more for those who read the ones behind it. Because in these verses, you can understand the work of what God is doing. Now before we dive into these few verses, I know that some of you will have disagreements with me on this. Others of you, you will want me to go deeper into this. Understand, the point of this email is not to start a theological debate, rather, to inform and encourage. So with that, we are going to tackle these few words that folks struggle with, and hopefully, you will be greatly encouraged as I am by these verses.
Foreknew: The idea of foreknowledge is not one that is typically offensive to many. Why this is truly important, though, is that God knows all things that will come to pass before they come to pass. This means that God knows all events that are going to occur; this also means that He knows who will believe in Him and who will not. But I want you to understand; this is not talking about human action in God’s Foreknwoelge; rather, this is talking about the work of what God is doing. It’s about God’s actions, not ours. This is where I want just to tell us that we need to stop thinking so highly of ourselves. We often get offended by the language of Romans because we think too highly of our own opinions and wants. Friends, the substantial reality is that we are not in control, we should know that by now. The Lord is in control.
Predestined: Here is the big one. Let us break down this word, pre (means before) destined (means destination). This word truly means to determine a person’s destiny beforehand. Now understand part of what is going on in the context of this book. Remember, these are people being persecuted under the rule of Rome. Paul is telling them that God has set them apart. I understand that many will say that’s not fair. We will get into that more later in the next chapter. Understand that what is fair is that we would all die and go to Hell. Fair is getting what we want, that is, to worship creation over creator. But the destiny for the one in this text is something more significant.
Conformed: To be conformed is to be molded into. Paul here is saying that those who are believers in Christ are being conformed into an image; that image is Christ. Going back to verse 28, God is doing all things for the good, that good is being made into the image of Christ that you can know that God is working out all things to transform you into the image of His Son.
Called: Calling is to be called out. As you think of Lazarus in the tomb, he was called out of the grave. As believers, we often get a sense of mysterious thinking when it comes to calling. Only pastors and missionaries are “called.” That is not what Paul is saying here. Paul is saying that believers are called out. Just like Lazarus, we’ve been called from the grave to live.
Justification: Those whom He called, He justified. To be justified is to be made right. This is the part that is truly not fair. We did nothing on our own to earn this—instead, quite the opposite. We deserved death and Hell. Believers in Christ have been justified based on the merits of Christ alone. You’ve been forgiven by the blood of Christ that your account does not set on negative, but in the tremendous positive.
Glorified: To be glorified is to be made complete. That we are glorified because our sin nature was put to death. That the working of God is making us into a new creation, a new person, our new bodies, and new self bring ultimate Glory to God.
All of this is done by God and by God alone. You and I can take no credit in this process.
7. God’s Love. (31-38) So what shall we say about this beautiful truth? If God is doing all of this work, then who can stop it? No one can! If the blood of Christ has purchased you, there are no returns. You will not be exchanged for a different model. This also means that no one can bring condemnation upon you because you are set free by the blood. The judge is the one to set you free from the bondage of sin. Friend, nothing can separate you from the love of God.
I pray this was encouraging. I’m sorry if it seems like I rambled a lot. There was a lot to cover…