posted on Nov, 1 2019 @ 06:00 PM
In Paul’s explanation of the gospel, he has shown how the achievement of Christ frees us from the power of sin and of the law, so that we may serve
God in the new life of the Spirit (ch7v6).
So the final part of his explanation shows the benefits of the new life.
“There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (ch8 v1).” We are no longer under judgement. That is the fresh starting-point.
For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. This echoes the previous contrast
between the law of works and the law of faith (ch3 v27).
When Paul uses the word “law” in this letter, he does not limit himself to the laws of Moses.
The law could not liberate us from sin, because its power to work for good was weakened by association with flesh.
So God himself has done what was necessary.
He sent his Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (v3). That is, the flesh was genuine but the sinfulness was only a likeness. He came to us in
the same fleshly form which in our case has been overpowered by sin.
(I was once obliged to read a book by a modern theologian who argued that Christ could not have been without sin, because then our sinfulness would
not have been redeemed. Silly man, we don’t want our sinfulness to be redeemed. That is the whole point. We want sin to be taken away.)
The expression found in another letter is that God “sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians ch4 v4).
The clear implication of “sent”, in either case, is the Son already existed in a different form, before taking on the conditions of human life and
undertaking a rescue mission.
That is also the teaching found in John.
In the act of sending the Son- or more specifically in the act of allowing that Son to be crucified, God “condemned sin in the flesh”.
This thought is very condensed, and the connections need to be unravelled.
The sin which our flesh had absorbed was condemned when the flesh died on the Cross.
But the individual flesh which died on the Cross was not sinful, so the statement demands and assumes Paul’s regular teaching that the sinful
flesh has died i]together with Christ.
“Together with” is what makes Paul’s argument work.
The intended result is that “the just requirements of the law” (what God really wants from our lives) should be fulfilled in us believers.
This becomes possible when we are walking “according to the Spirit”, not “according to the flesh”.
The difference lies in the way we set our minds- that is, either on “the things of the flesh” or on “the things of the Spirit”.
The result is also different. The mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, and does not want to submit to God’s will. Therefore it cannot please
God, and the consequence will be death.
But those who set their minds on the Spirit belong to God, so the consequence will be life and peace (vv4-8).
In short, those who have died together with Christ will also live together with Christ.
This may be expressed in a number of different ways.
You are not “in the flesh”, but “in the Spirit”.
The Spirit of God dwells in you.
You belong to Christ, and therefore you have the Spirit of Christ.
Christ is in you.
Since these expressions are all different ways of saying the same thing (that we are closely bonded with God through Christ), there is no point,
incidentally, in finding nit-picking distinctions between them. There is no difference between, say, “the Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of
Christ”. As we know from the discourse in John chs14-16, the Father and the Son “send” the same Spirit.
Your bodies may be “dead” because of sin, even now, but your spirits are alive because of God’s righteousness. We are dead in separation from
God, and live when the separation ends.
It was God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead, in the power of the Spirit.
If his Spirit dwells in you, then he will give life to your own mortal bodies in the same way.
This is partly about the resurrection, but also about living together with Christ in the present time.
The resurrection life begins now (vv9-11).
Well, then, let us live up to that.
The representative individual of the previous chapter complained of being “sold under sin”, having lost his liberty like a debtor.
But we are no longer debtors in that way, obliged to live according to the flesh.
Instead, Paul was going to say, we are debtors to God, to live according to the Spirit.
However, he forgets to finish the sentence, after repeating the explanation that one brings death and the other brings life.
We live by using the Spirit’s aid to put to death the deeds that are killing us (vv12-13)
As In Galatians ch4, it’s all about being sons of God, in association with the original Son.
(If we say “children”, to show that female believers are included, that obscures this connection.)
We are sons of God because we have received the Spirit of God, and are also led by the Spirit of God (v14)
This is a spirit of sonship, not a spirit of slavery or fear, so we should not allow ourselves to fall back into enslavement by sin or back into fear
As John says on the same point, “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John ch4v18).
When we cry out “ABBA” or “Father”, that is the Spirit speaking, in testimony that we are children of God and therefore “heirs” of God, in
the sense that he gives us an inheritance.
Suffering together with Christ, we will gain our inheritance and we will be glorified together with Christ.
(Pursuing the course of the argument, I move on to vv26-27 and then to v31)
The Spirit also helps us resist the pressure of the sinful flesh by knowing our hearts in full and interceding for us, according to God’s will.
The grand conclusion is that nothing can keep us from that inheritance.
Certainly God is not going to keep us out, as shown by the way that he handed over his Son for our benefit, in order to make the inheritance
And if God is for us, who that matters can be against us? (vv31-32).
Who can condemn and bring under judgement the people who God has chosen and justified?
Obviously Christ will not want to condemn us, since he died and rose from the dead and intercedes for us with his Father, all for the purpose of
Christ’s love keeps us close to himself and brings us to the Father, and what can separate us from that love?
If sin has not separated us, then we cannot be separated by the many lesser troubles which are listed here.
Not the tribulations of this world, not the lesser spiritual powers, not the great issues of life-and-death.
So this is the grand climax of Paul’s explanation of the gospel.
It began at the point of complete alienation from God;
“The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and wickedness of men” (ch1 v18).
But now we see the attainment of the opposite end of the scale, the point of reconciliation;
“Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”