In chapter five of Romans we saw that the gift in Christ surpasses the heritage in Adam, in chapter six we were shown our identification with Christ, and in chapter seven we found the bondage of the law in our flesh. Romans 8 is a contrast to Romans 7. In Romans 7 we have bondage; in Romans 8 we have freedom. In Romans 7 we have the law; in Romans 8 we have the Holy Spirit. In Romans 7 we have our flesh; in Romans 8 we have our spirit. Thus, Romans 7 reveals the bondage of the law in our flesh, while Romans 8 unveils the freedom of the Spirit in our spirit.
We need to read Romans 8:1-6 carefully and attentively. “There is now then no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and of death” (vv. 1-2). The phrase “the law of the Spirit of life” is very significant. In this phrase we see three elements that compose one entity— the law, the Spirit, and the life. These three items are one.
“For what is impossible to the law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (v. 3). God is the subject of this sentence. He condemned sin in the flesh of Christ by “sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin.”
“That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulilled in us, who do not walk according to flesh, but according to spirit. For those who are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who are according to spirit, the things of the Spirit” (vv. 4-5). God condemned sin in the flesh that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk according to spirit. Those who are according to spirit mind the things of the Spirit. Please notice that the first mention of spirit in verse 5 refers to our human spirit and that the second mention refers to the Holy Spirit, meaning that those who are according to their human spirit mind the things of the Holy Spirit.
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace” (v. 6). The mind set on the human spirit is life and peace. Every word in Romans 8:1-6 is precious. We should not pass over even one word in these verses. Due to the limitation of time, I can only present a sketch of Romans 8.
A. The Spirit of Life
Before we deal with Romans 8 itself, we need to consider a glorious and marvelous term found in 8:2—“the Spirit of life.” This term is used only once in the entire Bible. In the book of Romans the term “the Spirit of life” is not revealed until 8:2. However, before chapter eight we do have several references to the divine, eternal, uncreated life. The first occurrence of this word life in the book of Romans is in 1:17 which says that the just shall have life and live by faith. The word life in this verse denotes the divine life. The second occurrence of this word in Romans is in 2:7, where we are told that “those who by endurance in good work seek for glory and honor and incorruptibility, life eternal.” If we continually seek God, He will give us life eternal. Romans 5:10 says that we shall be saved in His life, and 5:17 tells us that, after receiving the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness, we shall reign in life. Romans 5:18 mentions justification of life, and 5:21 says that grace might reign unto eternal life. In 6:4 we are told to walk in newness of life. Romans 6:22-23 says that eternal life is the end of sanctification and that the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thus, in the first six chapters of Romans there are many references to the divine life. Life is the goal of God’s salvation. God has redeemed us, justified us, and reconciled us that we might share this life. Once we receive it, we should be saved in life, reign in life, walk in newness of life, and be sanctified in life.
Although the foregoing chapters in Romans say that we should be saved, reign, walk, and be sanctified in life, Paul has not yet told us how we can do all these things. How can we be saved in life and reign in life? How can we walk in newness of life? How can we experience the sanctification in life? Paul has not told us. Neither has he told us precisely how the just shall have life. Although he says that this life is out of faith, he has not explained the matter clearly. In Romans 1 through 6 Paul refers to life nine times. Now, in Romans 8:2, he suddenly joins life with the Spirit in the phrase “the Spirit of life.”
The way to have life is the Spirit. The way to be saved in His life is the Spirit. The way to reign in life is the Spirit. The way to walk in newness of life is the Spirit. The way to be sanctified in life is the Spirit. The Spirit is the way. Life belongs to the Spirit, and the Spirit is of life. These two are actually one. We can never separate life from the Spirit, nor the Spirit from life. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). In this word the Lord Jesus connects the Spirit and life. If we have the Spirit, we have life; if we do not have the Spirit, we do not have life. If we walk in the Spirit, we walk in life, but if we do not walk in the Spirit, we do not walk in the newness of life. Thus, the way to experience the divine, eternal, uncreated life is the Spirit. By this we may see the relationship between Romans 8 and the previous chapters. The seven foregoing chapters lead us to life and consummate in life. Now in 8:2 we are at the point of life. We must give special attention to the word life in Romans 8.
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