We made it through verse 11, understanding that the believer can bring himself under the condemnation of sin by his own choices. We noted that it isn’t God sending condemnation to the believer because the believer sins, but rather it is the believer yielding himself to the realm of Sin, thereby receiving unto himself all that Sin has to offer – which is death.
I read a comment that essentially said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God but many spend their lives trying to grasp for His glory. This isn’t limited to those who are working to get God’s attention, but is also prevalent for those who have submitted to God by faith, but insist on trying to grasp at his glory through their fleshly performance.
The reality is, all believers already have His glory because each believer is fused in union with Glory Himself, Jesus Christ. To those who began in the Spirit and walk therein, experience no condemnation because the Spirit is simply about Life. But, to those who began in the Spirit and have turned to the flesh (including religious activity), they unfortunately do not get to experience the Life and Peace of the Spirit during this life – not because the Spirit is withholding it, but because yielding to the flesh’s performance can produce neither Life nor Peace, but Death.
Romans 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
If there is any doubt that Paul is writing about the believer’s life, then verse 12 and 13 should lay it to rest. Paul says, therefore, BRETHREN – meaning, because of the reality he just laid out, there is something that is true for the brethren therefore. Indeed, there is no indebtedness to the flesh to live after it. Not only are we not indebted to its demands, but should we decide to live after the flesh nonetheless, then we shall enjoy one and only one result: death. However, Paul says, if we THROUGH THE SPIRIT do mortify the deeds of the body, then we shall enjoy one and only one result: life.
Now, some might jump here and say, See – there it is – I need to do some flesh maintenance (mortify the deeds of the body) in order to have the Spirit’s life working in and through me. But, I capitalized something above on purpose. Note that it isn’t the believer mortifying his deeds, but rather it is the SPIRIT mortifying the deeds of the body. When the believer yields to the Spirit of Life, the believer’s flesh is rendered inoperative. It isn’t a series of do’s and don’t’s whereby we clean up and “get right”, but is a simple choice to allow the Spirit of Life to do what it does do – it kills death. If death is already dead, it would take the very opposite of death to “kill” death – which is Life. As the Spirit renders His Life in the believer, it effectually kills, or, mortifies the deeds of the body.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
It is quite evident that a Spirit-led believer is a believer who manifests another reality about himself and that is that he is a son of God. All believers have been made the sons of God, in Christ. However, not all believers allow that reality to reign true. Many still act as children.
In scripture, a child was someone who was already apart of the family and was put under the care of tutors and governors to educate them and train them. Once the father determined that the child was ready to be loosed from the tutors and governors (having demonstrated sufficient understanding and maturity), the father would adopt or promote the child to a son. As a son, he is now trusted with the family business, as it were. The son lives his life, not in bondage to a tutor, but in liberty with his father.
Believers who live by the flesh have enslaved themselves to the bondage of death, while, those who are led of the Spirit enjoy the glorious liberty as a son of God. Again, the irony is that all believers are sons and all believers are in liberty – but not all believers reckon that to be true and never enjoy the eternal life that God has already given them. They hope for an eternal life in heaven but miss the boat completely that they can reign in life EVEN NOW by Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17)
Being a son therefore affords us something else – being a joint-heir with Christ Himself. Everything of the Father’s that is rightfully Christ’s is now rightfully ours as well. What is the evidence of this? The believer living after the flesh suffers with himself, but the believer who lives after the Spirit suffers with Christ.
Romans 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 8:23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Despite the fact that we can choose to live after the Spirit and have the Spirit’s Life display itself through us, we still recognize that the physical body we occupy is still subject to the world we live in. However, what is reassuring is that what the Spirit will reveal in us by His Life is far greater than the suffering we currently face. Many people may see verse 18 as speaking of the glory to be revealed in heaven, and certainly there is a glory to be found there, however, the context has been about the believer’s life, here and now. This is a glory of the Spirit’s Life and the suffering we face doesn’t compare to the glory of His Life that we currently have.
The entirety of creation groans because of the death that prevails herein, however, we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit may groan internally, but we truly are waiting for the promotion – the redemption – of our body.
Romans 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 8:25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 8:27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
Not only do we hope for the redemption of our body, we are also confident that the Spirit helps our infirmities, here and now. Infirmities can be ‘sicknesses’, but in a broader sense, it is ‘weakness.’ The weakness all believers have is the body of flesh that has yet experienced bodily redemption. The Spirit is able to therefore help us, despite our weakness. Paul says that we don’t know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit does as He makes constant intercession for us. Even in our weakness, we may not know exactly what to pray for in order to deal with the weakness, but the Spirit does and is ever at work. It is further reassuring that according to verse 27, the Spirit’s intercessory work is always according to the will of God.
If you spend time in Christian circles or around churches, you might hear of the will of God quite a bit. It is often described as this grand plan that God has for each believer and that it is unique to each believer but is only revealed to each believer once the believer has sufficiently worked on his flesh enough to rid it of sin. (which is religion talking – until bodily resurrection happens, there is no way to rid the body of sin). But, the will of God is really a general desire of God for all those in Christ. It isn’t as nebulous as it is often made out to be. God has a desire for all believers and that is to live as led by His Spirit. There is never a time when the Spirit makes intercession that is against that – there is never a time when He intercedes by requesting the believer be strong enough to walk in his flesh (for that’s not the will of God). The will of God is always centered around manifesting the Spirit’s Life in the believer.
We’ll finish the chapter next as our story continues…