We now come to the mid-point of the book of Romans, seeing as it has 16 chapters in total.
We left off, having finished Chapter Seven, by understanding that Sin is still at work in the believer’s flesh. We know that who we are in Christ is as sure as the very faithfulness of Christ is sure, however, we were examining the fact that Sin still has its impact on the believer, in the flesh. Chapter Seven of Romans demonstrates that the operative party that sins is Sin itself. Sin has no capacity to produce righteousness. Sin simply does what it does best – it sins.
Paul reminds us that when Sin is sinning, then it is NO MORE I that is doing the sinning. Paul is thankful, however, that he isn’t restricted to a life of flesh-development whereby Sin is constantly at work, but with his mind, he can serve the law of God. Paul isn’t out of options. Despite that Sin forces Paul to conclude how wretched his flesh is – that is nothing more than a body of death, Paul is still able to (joyfully) serve the law of God with his mind. We will see more what this law is in Chapter 8.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
We were given a choice in Chapter Six – yield our members as instruments of unrighteous or yield them as members of righteousness. Knowing that choice exists and knowing that Sin is still business sinning in the flesh, we have a reality to that choice. If I choose to yield my members as instruments of unrighteousness (yield them into the hands of Sin), then I’ve committed to walking after the flesh and would therefore experience condemnation. If, however, I choose to yield my members as instruments of righteousness (yield them into the hands of Christ), then I’ve committed to walking after the Spirit and would therefore not experience condemnation.
We should be careful not to assume that the condemnation spoken of in verse 1 is about God’s retribution. We have been conditioned to think that God is always on a witch-hunt against Sin, which causes us to forget that the hunt was finished at Calvary. However, we do know that Sin sins and when Sin is finished, it leaves nothing but a trail of death. Sin has no problem condemning its victims to death. That’s why Paul writes in verse 3 that Christ entered into flesh so it could condemn Sin in the flesh – He confronted and condemned Sin in Sin’s backyard.
When a believer walks after the flesh, he is invariably inviting the condemnation of the flesh (which is death). Now, this could certainly be literal death if my fleshly choice was a fatal one. But, again, Paul has been talking about the EFFECTIVENESS of the believer, based on the choice the believer makes (to walk after the flesh or after the Spirit). In other words, when a believer walks after the flesh, the flesh constantly condemns the believer. No matter how religious the flesh may appear, it is walking in condemnation of itself.
This is why when believers are trying to conform their flesh to the form of “Godliness” they have constructed, they are always going back to the drawing board (the alter) to seek new forgiveness and to start trudging up the slippery slope again. The flesh continually condemns that – hence why many give up and become atheists. They recognize the futility of the flesh and believe that God is just too impossible to know. Their idea of God has been shaped by those around them who portray God through the religious coating of the flesh. It is the same reality that God tells Israel in Ezekiel 36 and Paul lights upon in Romans 2, that even though Israel bragged of God by their law performance, it served to blaspheme God’s name to the world. Those who live a “Christian life” by appealing to flesh maintenance may boast of God, but in reality, they are far from the truth of His life. They profess a FORM of Godliness, but deny the power thereof.
The believer who lives religiously, walking after the flesh, will invite the FLESH’s condemnation upon himself. But, the believer who lives righteously, walking after the Spirit, will invite the SPIRIT’s LIFE upon himself. Again, we are not talking about folks being justified or not, but believers either experiencing the Spirit of Life (which they already have) or believers experiencing the Condemnation of the Flesh.
Paul says that the Law of the Spirit of Life (the law of God from Chapter Seven) has made us FREE from the Law of Sin and Death. When Sin and Death write legislation, liberty is nowhere to be found – only condemnation. But, when the Spirit of Life writes legislation, nothing but liberty abounds.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Liberty is indeed the theme of the Spirit of Life. Paul goes on to make another interesting statement regarding righteousness and the law.
Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The righteousness of the law is fulfilled in those who walk after the Spirit. Certainly Israel thought they could be righteous by keeping the law (through the effort exerted by their flesh), but Paul is very poignant that the law’s righteousness is not fulfilled by yielding to the flesh, but rather by walking after the Spirit.
Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Those who have their focus on the flesh are focused on exactly that – the flesh. Regardless of how religious it looks or sounds, the focal point is the same. And, to be fleshly minded (carnally minded) is DEATH. Again, if I set my mind to focus on how I can keep my flesh pleasing to God, I may convince myself that I’m very “busy for the Lord”, but Paul says it is actually nothing more than death – functionlessness. In other words, by trying to do a lot for God, I invariably do nothing for God. But, Paul says, if my focal point is the Spirit, then my mind is not in turmoil, wrestling with the Flesh’s condemnation, but I’m experiencing His life and peace.
But why? Why can’t God just use my fleshly mind?
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
I think that answers it sufficiently. The carnal mind cannot please God because it is enmity against God.
Enmity (n), the state or feeling of being actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.
The carnal mind (being death) is actively opposed and hostile towards God. God is a God of life and naturally therefore, the very opposite of life (death) would stand in stark opposition to God. So, the fleshly mind is already at odds with God because it is not a mind of life but of death, but, Paul says that the fleshly mind is subject to the law of God (a law of life and liberty), and neither indeed can be! No matter how hard we try with our religious performance, we can never conform it to the law of God. No matter how much you try, you cannot conform death to life. Therefore, those who are of the flesh (living their believing lives by a good show in the flesh) CANNOT PLEASE GOD.
It is unfortunate that many believers have come and gone, living their lives by the utmost religious devotion but never realizing that all of that work and effort cannot please God in the slightest. I didn’t say they weren’t justified or that they never believed, but rather their Christian life was lived in a manner that had a form of pleasing God, but in reality did not. God’s pleasure is rooted in one thing, for without this one thing, it is impossible to please Him.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
When God looks at the all-sufficiency of His Son, why would He ever take His eye from that, then look at what we can offer in the flesh, and determine it is of the same quality? Is that not insane?!
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Paul reminds them in verse 9 that they are NOT in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in them. This is the “NO MORE I” from Chapter Seven. Who they really are is determined by who dwells in them. If the Spirit of God dwells in them, then they are not in the flesh. Therefore, why live after that which you are not in? It is the same question from Chapter Six – if the kingdom of Sin and Death have no more power, thanks to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, then how should we, which are dead to sin, LIVE any longer THEREIN?
But, we can rest confidently that knowing the same Spirit (of LIFE) which RAISED Christ from the dead will also RAISE our mortal bodies by the very power of the Spirit (of LIFE) which dwells in us. Our mortal (fleshly) bodies will be raised from death to life – to experience the very same life our spirit’s enjoy in Him.
Therefore, knowing this to be true, what should our response be? What should we understand about us?
Our story continues further into Chapter Eight…