Romans 8:1-4 ESV
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
There is a danger in taking Scriptures out of context. We can make them say something that they don’t say. So, context is very important in biblical interpretation. Thus, we can’t quote just verses one and two here. We can’t build our doctrine of salvation around just those two verses. For, not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” truly is IN CHRIST by faith IN HIM.
So, we read on. And, we learn what it means to be “in Christ.” For, we learn that Jesus Christ died on the cross, shedding his blood for our sins, in condemning sin in the flesh, IN ORDER THAT the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, WHO WALK not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
So, it is us who live, who conduct our lives, day in and day out, in agreement with and in the power of God’s Spirit who are in Christ, by faith in Him. We are no longer under condemnation who live by the Spirit of God, and who no longer conduct our lives, as a matter of practice, in agreement with our flesh. So, you want to not be under condemnation? It means we must live by the Spirit and not live by the flesh, but in the power of God.
Romans 8:5-8 ESV
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
So, how you live matters for your eternity. We don’t “get saved,” and then heaven is guaranteed us regardless of how we live our lives. That isn’t how it works. For, if what we do every day of our lives, on a consistent and habitual basis, is about us, and about pleasing our flesh, and doing what we want to do, then we are walking according to the flesh.
For, to walk according to the Spirit means we have forsaken our former lives of living for sin and self, and now we are living for our Lord, to please him in all that we do. He is now Lord of our lives, and we are following him and his ways, and not our own. Our minds are now set on him and on pleasing him, and he is the central focus of our lives, not what our flesh craves.
So, if you are claiming faith in Jesus Christ, and heaven as your eternal destiny, but you are still living for you, to please you, and your Lord may or may not be a consideration in your life day by day, then please pay attention to what these Scriptures are saying, for your eternity is at risk. For, if your thinking and your behaving, as a matter of course in your life, is primarily about you, then you can’t please God, for you are not submitting to God.
If we want to have life and peace with God, then our minds – our thinking, believing and attitudes – need to be set (fixed, focused) on the Lord and not on the sinful desires of our flesh. For, what we think is what we do. We behave according to what we have our minds focused on. For flesh gives birth to flesh.
Romans 8:9-11 ESV
“You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
So many people think our salvation is not conditional. It is. When the Scriptures teach on salvation, watch for all the “IF” verses, for there are plenty. But yes, our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace. We do nothing to earn or to deserve it. It only comes through Him.
But we must look at the Scriptures to learn what the “gift” is. For, it includes the faith to believe in Jesus Christ. And, it includes repentance, and it includes the empowerment of the Spirit to live to Christ and to his righteousness, too. All this comes from the Spirit of God. But we must put it into practice in our lives by yielding control of our lives over to the Lord (Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
Romans 8:12-17 ESV
“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
So many people feel as though God requires nothing of us other than some one-time decision in our lives to “believe” in him, which appears to be more ceremonial in nature, rather than a life-altering event. So, they think that, since Jesus paid the price for their sins, it is a done deal, and now they are headed to heaven, and how they live doesn’t really matter to God.
But, this section of Scripture alone blows that theory “out of the water.” For, it makes it real clear that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we have an obligation to God to no longer live according to our sinful flesh, but to now live according to the Spirit of God, empowered by the Spirit of God.
For IF (notice the IF) we live according to our flesh, we will die in our sins, because we did not die with Christ TO our sins. But IF (notice the IF) by the Spirit (where the power comes from) we are putting to death the deeds of the body (of the flesh), then we will live with Christ for eternity.
So, this is not about a one-time event that takes place in our lives, is it? This is about a turn-about in our lives. We were traveling west. Now we are traveling east, not literally, but figuratively. And, it is about a lifestyle change, and a mind and heart change away from living for sin and self to now living for our Lord and for his glory and purposes.
For, we don’t become children of God by some mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We are the children of God who are being LED BY the Spirit of God. We are God’s children, in other words, IF we are listening to his voice, and IF we are walking in obedience to his commands. And, we are the ones who can’t be snatched out of God’s hands (John 10:27-30; 1 Jn. 2:3-6).
And, again, we can’t take these Scriptures out of context to make them say what we want them to say. Too many people quote verses 1-2, and then they quote verses 15-17a. But we must know what it says in verses 3-14 and in verse 17b.
For, we can’t claim freedom from condemnation and adoption as children of God based upon some profession of faith in Jesus Christ. We are only free from condemnation, and we are only children of God IF by faith in Jesus Christ we live according to his Spirit and not according to our flesh.
And, then this takes it even one more step further. It says, PROVIDED (IF) we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. And, that suffering begins with dying with Christ to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness. And, then it continues with daily surrendering our lives to the Lord, and putting to death, by the Spirit, the deeds of the flesh.
And, then it continues with us walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands, doing what he says throughout the day, reading his word, listening to his voice, and following him in his ways and according to his truth. And, when we do that, when we truly are surrendered to him, doing his will, we will suffer for righteousness’ sake at the hands of those who are opposed to our Lord, and who are opposed to his gospel message of salvation from sin.
So, to wrap it up, just know what these Scriptures teach, and then live what they teach, by the power of God in your life, and one day you will see Jesus.
I’ll Live in Glory
Songwriter: James Melvin Henson
I want to be of service along this pilgrim way
And lead the lost to Jesus as fervently I pray
As day by day I travel I’ll keep him ever nigh
And live with Him Forever in Glory by and by
O yes, I’ll live in glory by and by
I’ll tell and sing love’s story there on high
There with my dear Redeemer no more to die
Oh yes, I’ll live in glory by and by
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