All Christians Are Safe in Christ
Romans 8 is one of the most-loved chapters of the Bible. If chapter 7 dealt with tension, frustration, and temporary defeat, chapter 8 is one of victory. One student has pointed out that the chapter opens with “no condemnation” and ends with “no separation,” while in between it is characterized by “no defeat.”
No Condemnation and Life in the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 has two absolutely central ideas. The first is that there is “no condemnation.” That is good news, particularly for those fighting the power and persistence of sin in their lives as brought out in Romans 7. They may endure lives of struggle and even fall at times, but there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
That brings us to the second central idea in Romans 8:1. Everybody is not free from condemnation, only those who are “in Christ Jesus.” Paul is clear that a person is either “in Adam” or “In Christ” (I Corinthians 15:22: Romans 5:12-21). For Paul, those who are “in Christ” are justified, sanctified, and are being progressively sanctified and perfected. And if they stay “in Christ” they have assurance of the kingdom.”
“But,” we need to ask, “How does one get ‘in Christ?’” Not by birth. Paul made it clear in Romans 5 that people are born in the way of Adam. For Paul the individual becomes “in Christ” when they consciously accept Him by faith as Savior and Lord. The argument thus far in Romans is that there is no condemnation” for those who have that relationship.
The word for in Romans 8:2 is important because it connects verses 1 to verse 2 and thus helps explain the reason there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why? For, or because, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
The word for in Romans 8:3 is just as important as it was in verse 2. Here it functions as a connector between verse 3 and the first two verses. That is, Christian have “no condemnation” and have been set “free from the law of sin and death” Because of what Christ accomplished. It is His life and death that made salvation not only possible but a reality. But behind Jesus stands God the Father, who sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.
Please note how careful Paul is here. If he had said “in sinful flesh” he would have created a theological disaster since he had already argued in chapter 7 that sinful flesh was incapable of overcoming sin. Thus, to have spoken of Christ as having “sinful flesh” Just like other humans would have logically led to the conclusion that He was a sinner like the rest of humanity. But. On the other hand, was the need to identify Christ with those He came to save. As a result, Paul very carefully selected the words “In the lines of sinful flesh.” Thus, he indicates that Christ participated in humanity without being exactly like other people, an idea signaled to many by the angel who called Him “that holy thing” (Luke 1:35, KJV).
The apostle goes on in Romans 8:3 to state why God sent Christ “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” He did it to deal with sin, to condemn “sin in the flesh.” He did so in at least two ways. First, he lived a life of complete obedience to God and thus as the second Adam overcame where the first Adam had failed. Second, He now only lived in complete harmony with the law, thus becoming the spotless Lamb of God, but died “in the flesh” a sacrificial death “once for all” (Romans 6:10, NIV) by becoming out “sin offering” (Romans 8:3, NIV). What Jesus did “in the flesh” in both His life and His death condemned all sin.
Romans 8:4 shifts the scene of action for Christ’s work for humanity to His work in them. Part of the reason for Christ’s life and death was so “that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. Here we come to the relationship between justification and sanctification. God counts those who are “in Christ” as righteous (justified) and provides them with power through the Holy Spirit to live the principles of the law in their daily lives (sanctification).
That victorious living, however, as we noted in chapter 7, is not without problems. But it does provide for a kind of living that is of totally different quality from that which people had when they were slaves to sin (Romans 6:16).
A Christian’s progressive walk in Christ is possible only because of the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Those who live “according to the Spirit” not only have power for victory but also have their horizons broadened as to what is important and possible in life. Walking with the spirit is truly a transforming experience. God not only wants to do something for those in Christ, but also intends to do something in them.
According to Romans 8:5, there is an intimate connection between the orientation of one’s mind and the direction of one’s life. Jesus made the same essential point when He said that “where your treasure is, there will your heart (mind) be also” (Matthew 6:21) and that thoughts determine the direction of a person’s life (Matthew 6:21) and that thoughts determine the direction of a person’s life (Matthew 15:19). Also, closely tied to Paul presentation in Romans 8:5-11 is Jesus dictum that “no one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24).
Thus, it is that “those who live according to the flesh” do so because they have “set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5). That is, the realm of this world is their true home – it is what they live for. As a result, they cannot really fulfill God’s law because their hearts and minds belong to a different kingdom (verse 4). The opposite, Paul tells us, is true of those whose lives are oriented toward God.
Romans 8:6 continues the discussion of those directed toward either the flesh or the Spirit – but with an insightful twister. It doesn’t say that “the mind set on the flesh leads to death,” but that it is “death” (NASB). Another way of putting it is that unsaved people those not “in Christ,” are already spiritually dead.
That truth has some interesting consequences. After all, if that is the case, how can anyone ever come to Christ? Here we find an important aspect of God’s grace. The truth is that sinners don’t go to God 0 He comes to them. That was so with the fallen Adam, whom God searched for in the garden (Genesis 3:8-10), it was true for the lost coin (Luke 15:8, 9), of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:10), and of every other person in history. God through His Holy Spirit speaks to the hearts of every person to wake them up to their need. John Wesley called it prevenient grace,” or the grace of God that goes before saving grace. Before people can accept God’s gift in Christ, the need to be aroused from their state of spiritual death.
In the opposite camp from those whose minds are set on the flesh are those whose minds are focused on the “the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5). Once again, such a mind – set does not lead to “life and peace.” Rather, life and peace are what born again Christians already have. As we noted earlier, those who are “in Christ” already have eternal life (John 3:36) and peace with God (Romans 5:1).