Summary: Do you discouraged and even condemned by your failure to live up to God’s standards? Then you need to hear the encouraging words from Paul about your real position, your real relationship, your real destiny, and your real ability to not only overcome evil
Romans 8 begins with the words “there is therefore…” It refers to that which has come before the therefore. “Because of all that other stuff” you could say. What is that other stuff? We’ve learned in Romans that there is good and God is good. Satan introduced evil into the human genome with our agreement. This set us against God and in His debt. The payment is separation from Him who is good. We learned that no matter how hard we try to be good, we cannot. No matter how we try to ignore God, He is still there. No matter how far away we try to run, we cannot escape Him, or our debt. We can’t please God by good works, by being born into a religious family, or joining a church. In fact the only one who has pleased God is God’s own Son Jesus Christ.
We learned that the key to undoing the evil and bringing in good and a right standing once again before God comes through trust and reliance on what God’s Son did for us on the cross, killing our old self and giving us a new person—a new life that lasts forever.
But at the same time we learned in chapters 6 and 7 that though we have this new life, we still have that old self hanging around in pre-programmed thought patterns pulling us back into habits that enslave and are not beneficial. We learned that we will fight this nature, and it’s predilection to listen to the enemy and to the world until we are with God face to face once again, but that, in the meantime, those voices can become dimmer and dimmer the more we listen to the Spirit and obey His voice. That can be a difficult thing to hear because we will fail, and that’s why Paul wants us to know that there is now therefore no condemnation! There are three great realities in the first 17 verses: you are not condemned, you are no longer in the flesh, and you are in a wonderful relationship with the King of Kings.
1 – 2
No condemnation – set free. We as believers are not immune from condemnation. We get it from the enemy when we fail. We get it from others who call out our inconsistencies, and we get it from our own conscience when we experience that dissonance between the person we want to be and the person we are.
But the only person that counts in terms of condemnation is God. Jesus said (Matt 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
The enemy can wag his mouth, your friends can disown you, and you can hold a pretty big pity party for yourself, but in the end it only matters what God thinks and here is what He thinks—you are not condemned. At all.
So now we belong to God, and the Holy Spirit brings we who were dead in sin and condemned by our own evil, to life. He frees us from the condemnation of our sins and lives in us to bring about God’s character in our lives.
3 – 4
Again Paul states that obedience to a moral code cannot provide life because in our fleshly nature we are incapable of following it. But what the law could not do Jesus did – in the “likeness of sinful flesh” – in other words He became a man and so substituted for us as God condemned sin.
2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So how is the “righteous requirement” fulfilled in us? By the Holy Spirit living in us—invading our mind and our character and changing us. How does this happen?
By “walk(ing) according to the Spirit” and not “according to the flesh.” How does that happen? By our choice to rely on the law of the Spirit, the “deeper magic” of C.S. Lewis. God chose us and we chose to walk down God’s path of life. Now each day we choose whether to help that life grow or stunt it.
5 – 8
There are two verbs operating here: “walk”, and “set.” “Walk” essentially means “how you live your life.” To “set” means what occupies your thoughts and desires. If you are occupied with your relationship with God then you will tend to live your life with Him in view. Likewise, if you occupy yourself with fulfilling just your desires according to the flesh and the world, then your life will head in that direction.
A life dedicated to a relationship with the flesh is typified by hostility towards God and death in the soul.