Men have divided the Scriptures into
chapters and verses. For this we are grateful because it makes location
of passages easier. But sometimes a chain of thought is broken by these
artificial divisions. Such seems to be the case at this point in Romans.
At least, the general theme appears to continue into chapter eight that
was under discussion in chapter seven.
Verses 1, 2
1 There is therefore
now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after
the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in
Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Having explained in the seventh chapter
how men must not be governed by the will of the flesh that is prone to
sin, but by the will of the mind that is given over to God, realizing that
sin brings death and condemnation, having stated that deliverance was in
Christ, Paul states the same blessing another way in verse one as one of
"no condemnation." What a glorious release and deliverance this really
is! "No condemnation!" Men who realize that sin condemns will rejoice in
this knowledge. But where is this state of "no condemnation" to be found?
It is found "in Christ." Paul has discussed this phrase earlier in the
letter. Once again there is this implied contrast between what is "in Christ"
and what remains out of Christ. We considered this in chapter six when
Paul discussed being "baptized into Christ."
Those who are "in Christ" escape condemnation,
but they have the obligation to walk or live a certain way that is not
according to the satisfaction of the appetites of the flesh which is a
sinful way, but to live a life directed according to the Spirit. This refers
to the Christian way as revealed unto man by and through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the author of a law that brings life. This is the way
of Christ, the plan devised by God the Father through Christ, and revealed
to man through the gospel. When one submits himself to the gospel he will
enjoy the blessing of freedom from what condemns him. He enjoys freedom
from sin. One law (the law of life) overcomes another (the law of sin and
death). The law of sin and death declares, "You sin; you die." One might
consider Romans 6:23 and James 1:15 as he defines the law of sin and death.
The law of sin and death is not the law of Moses as some have presumed.
If that were the case, then Paul would be saying the law of Moses could
not deliver us from the law of Moses, which makes no sense. The teaching
is that the law of the Spirit of life releases one from the spiritual death
of the law of sin and death.
Verses 3, 4
3 For what the law could
not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son
in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk
not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The law given by God through Moses was
not able to do what it was not designed to do. It was never intended to
be the way of deliverance from sin (Hebrews 7:19; 8:7). The law did attempt
to regulate and govern the Jew in his conduct of the body in which there
are appetites and desires that, when fulfilled and satisfied unlawfully,
brings sin. It is actually the flesh of man that is weak rather than the
law itself. Thereby, the weakness of man's flesh makes the law of Moses
seem weak in that it is unable to accomplish salvation for man from the
sins of the flesh. There is a difference between defining sin and delivering
from sin. The Mosaic law did the first, but not the second.
Therefore, God did something else
to accomplish the deliverance. What He did was to send His Son in the form
of man, in the likeness of flesh, as a man, being human and divine, and
because of sýÿÿÿ
in, allowed him to die on the cross in order that sin
might be condemned, and man granted a way of freedom from it. The righteousness
of the law, the high and strict code of conduct required by the Mosaic
law, and the impossibility of man to achieve perfectness, made the necessity
of forgiveness all the more important. This righteousness could only be
achieved by forgiveness. It could not be accomplished by the deeds of man,
but by the grace of God through forgiveness of the transgression of man.
It is fulfilled in those who walk not in the way of the flesh, fulfilling
the lusts of the flesh, but in those who walk in the way of the directives
of the Holy Spirit. By walking in the Christian way of life, and enjoying
forgiveness of sins, the righteousness the law required can be accomplished.
Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude the necessity of being "in Christ"
in order to meet the requirements of righteousness that God desires in
No man has the capacity to live a
perfectly sinless life. All accountable people have either said, done,
or thought something contrary to the will of God. Even so, man can be counted
righteous if he is forgiven of his sin. The way of forgiveness is the way
of the Spirit.
Three laws are mentioned in these
first four verses. (1) There is the law of the Spirit of life, which is
the gospel plan of salvation. (2) There is the law or sin and death, as
earlier defined. (3) There is the Mosaic law which could not deliver from
law number two that law number one could do.
5 For they that are
after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after
the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death;
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind
is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither
indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit
of God dwell in you.
Emphasizing that the Christian is the
one who fulfills the righteousness of the old law, Paul notes that those
who mind the things of the flesh are in contrast to those who mind the
things of the Spirit. There are those who are interested in living the
life directed by the Spirit, and they are the same ones who are not given
over to the things of a fleshly or sinful life. Though they be in the flesh
in the sense of being physically alive and in the physical body, and though
they have the same physical make-up and bodily appetites, they control
themselves in keeping with the Word of the Spirit. The fleshly minded person
cares little or nothing for the welfare of his own spirit before God. He
is more interested in the satisfaction of his passions and lusts in whatever
way he sees fit.
The results of these two states of
mind are poles apart. The carnal mind brings spiritual death while the
spiritual mind brings life and peace, eternal life and spiritual peace
with God. To possess the carnal mind and walk according to the dictates
of the carnal mind means one places himself in opposition to God, even
enmity with God. There can be no harmony between the carnal, fleshly, sinful
way of life and the true and living God. One is at enmity against the other.
There is pictured here again the conflict between the two that Paul had
described in chapter seven. One cannot be in submission to the other. One
or the other dominates. There is no way for the fleshly minded person to
be subject (obedient) to God while in his fleshly mind. Those in the flesh,
in sin, simply cannot please God in that condition.
It is so obvious that it may not even
need to be mentioned, but being "in the flesh" does not refer to being
physically alive in the physical body, but being in the condition of sin.
This is the second contrast between flesh and Spirit. The first was found
in chapter seven in a contrast between the old law (flesh), and the newness
of the Spirit (the gospel). Here the contrast is between living in sin
(flesh), and living according to the way of the Spirit. One cannot please
God while living the way of sin (flesh).
Christians are not those who live
in the flesh, but in the Spirit. The phrase, "in the Spirit," is synonymous
with the phrase, "in Christ." It denotes a spiritual relationship with
God as well as a way and direction of life.
Finally, there is the outright affirmation
that the Spirit of God dwells in those who are in the Spirit. The Christian
has fellowship with Deity. The way and manner of this dwelling in the Christian
is not stated here. But it is implied in the overall context. As one walks
after the Spirit, as one lives in obedience to the directions of the Spirit
(and these directions are revealed in the Word), to that extent one enjoys
the company of Deity. One in Christ, or in the Spirit, is one who has this
relationship or fellowship with Deity. Again, we can see that there is
no consistency in one claiming to have fellowship with the Spirit unless
he is not of the flesh.
Verses 9b, 10
Now if any man have
not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you,
the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
A break in the midst of this verse is
proper. Paul had just been discussing the carnal versus the spiritual mind,
and the accompanying results. At the last he introduced the concept of
fellowship that exists between man and Deity. It is this last thought that
goes forward in this paragraph.
To belong to Christ means to have
the Spirit of Christ (which I understand to be another identification of
the Holy Spirit, although it may simply refer to the Son Himself) in our
possession. We have fellowship with Him. In other words, one cannot claim
to be in Christ or belong to Christ when he does not have the Spirit of
Christ. Where one goes, so goes the other.
Having learned of the dwelling of
the Holy Spirit with us in verse nine, it is not surprising that we find
Christ is in us also. One "indwells" us just as does the other, in the
same relationship or fellowship, and under the same circumstances of our
walking according to the way of Christ and the Holy Spirit. We are in Christ
and Christ is in us. We have fellowship with Him in a saved state, and
He has fellowship with us at the same time. In this state the body is not
the controlling factor of our life. The passions, lusts, and sins of the
body are brought under our control. Indeed, they are dead in the sense
that we do not give ourselves over to such things. In contrast, we have
life because of righteousness given by the Spirit. This verse is relevant
to the discussion of what is often called the "indwelling of the Spirit."
The concept is best understood as being synonymous with having fellowship
with Deity rather than a personal, literal habitation within the body.
11 But if the Spirit
of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised
up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit
that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the
flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall
die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye
These verses reaffirm that the Holy Spirit
dwells in the Christian. It was by and through the Holy Spirit that Christ
was raised from the dead. This same Holy Spirit is the One to whom we also
look for our resurrection. It cannot be said that the Holy Spirit performs
His actions independent of the Father or the Son, however. What the Spirit
is said to do must also include the cooperation of the Father and Son.
But since we have the Spirit of Christ,
the body of sin being dead, life being assured us, the Holy Spirit dwelling
in us, our obligation is to refrain from a fleshly life of sin. We are
debtors to abstain from evil. But having put to death the sinful deeds
of the body, we shall have eternal and spiritual life.
But note that it is "through the Spirit,"
by means of the Spirit, that the deeds of the body are mortified. Man,
by himself, cannot put away sin nor obtain deliverance therefrom. Man can
do his part only by following the guidance given by the Spirit. We learn
elsewhere how the Spirit guides, which is by means of the Word.
14 For as many as are
led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not
received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the
Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself
beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And
if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if
so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Christians are the sons of God. Christians
are God's children. Christians are led through life by the Spirit of God,
or the Holy Spirit. The way the Holy Spirit leads and directs men is by
and through the Word given through the Holy Spirit. When one does what
the Spirit teaches, when one is of the disposition to allow himself to
be led by the Spirit, he will become and remain a faithful child of God.
Christians were once in bondage to
sin, and in a fearful state of doom. But not so now! Some Christians were
in bondage to the old Mosaic law before becoming Christians. But not so
now! Having left whatever was the former state, in a sense having been
adopted by the Father and now His children, Christians have every right
to refer to Him as our Father, even in the dearest and most intimate ways,
ever keeping in mind the necessity of genuine and obvious respect. The
term "Abba" is a term of endearment and closeness which the Christian has
with the Father of heaven. God forbid, however, that we refer to God with
trite and earthy terms that fail to show proper reverence due Deity.
The Holy Spirit, through the Word
given by and through Him as He inspired the writers of the Bible, informs
me what I must do to become and remain a faithful child of God. I either
go the way prescribed by Him or I cannot possibly claim spiritual sonship.
On the other hand, I know whether I have conformed to what is commanded
of me. I know whether I have done what is taught because, being a creature
of intellect as God has made all men, I can determine what is required
by the Holy Spirit in the Word, and I can determine whether I have done
what is required. My testimony as to my obedience, alongside the testimony
of the Holy Spirit in which the commands are given, will determine whether
or not I am a child of God.
If my testimony says I have done as
the Holy Spirit has actually taught, the promises and directions of God
being true, I can know I am God's child. If my testimony is that I have
not yet done what the Holy Spirit's testimony requires, I can know I am
not yet a spiritual child of God. The testimonies together, not separately,
determine my sonship, and my knowledge of my relationship to God.
Too many have wrested this passage
and tried to insert the idea that in some unexplained way the Holy Spirit
sends us a special message to tell us that we are children of God. Many
conclude that this message comes in the form of some dream, vision, or
some strange and unexplained experience of some sort. Such is simply not
taught. It is not even suggested. Rather, such an idea reflects a genuine
distrust and lack of respect for the inspired, infallible, all-sufficient
Word of God given by and through the Holy Spirit. The instructions found
in the Word are reliable and true.
If I am God's child, I am His heir,
and one who shall receive the full inheritance offered. As Christ was God's
Son, I am also God's son in a lesser sense, but still a joint-heir in the
same family as Christ, having the same Father as Christ.
One characteristic of this sonship
will be that of suffering for His cause. But if I am faithful to the way
of the Lord, and must suffer for it, I can be assured that the suffering
is not for naught, but I shall, in God's good time, be glorified with Christ,
and all the redeemed.
18 For I reckon that
the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with
the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Having mentioned the suffering of a Christian,
Paul compares that suffering with the benefits of being a child of God.
Actually, there is no comparison because one so far overshadows the other.
The glory that the Christian shall enjoy shall overshadow the suffering
the Christian must endure. They really cannot even be compared.
19 For the earnest expectation
of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For
the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of
him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself
also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation
groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only they,
but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves
groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption
of our body.
We heartily concur with Peter in Second
Peter 3:16 when he said some of the writings of Paul are hard to understand.
This passage is one of them.
First, there is an earnest expectation,
something earnestly and sincerely anticipated. It is expected and anticipated
by "the creature," whoever this may mean. The term "creature" is also the
same term sometimes translated "creation." In view of the mention of the
"whole creation" in verse twenty-one, I understand the term " creature"
in verse nineteen to refer to some of the creation. What part of the creation
is meant? It is that part that has an earnest expectation, anticipation,
or hope. It is reasonable to suggest this refers to the Christian.
Furthermore, in verse nineteen the
expectation is defined as the manifestation of the sons of God. This is
an identification of the sons of God before all as to who is, and who is
not, a son of God. Who else but the Christian earnestly anticipates the
manifestation of God's family? While we can know we are the sons of God
because of the joint testimony of the Holy Spirit and our spirit, as discussed
earlier, there is much disagreement among men as to who are sons of God.
There will someday be a manifestation who is, and who is not, a son of
God. Also, there is a day coming when the glories that shall be bestowed
upon the sons of God will be manifested. The "creature," or Christian,
earnestly expects, anticipates, looks with hope, to that manifestation.
In verse twenty the "creature," or
Christian, is said to have been subjected to vanity, meaning exposed to
sin, tempted to sin, and by partaking of sin, brought under the dominion
of sin. It was not the creature's will that he be exposed or tempted even
though the creature partook of sin by his own will. But this exposure and
temptation to sin was the will of another, allowed by another, who is called
"him." That "him" did not force the creature to sin, but allowed the creature
to sin. The creature actually came under the dominion of sin and vain things
by his own willingness to partake of that to which he was exposed.
That "him" is the same one who later
subjected the creature (exposed the creature and allowed the creature to
come under another dominion) to hope. The One who has allowed man to sin,
and who offers man hope of deliverance from sin, is God. God did not force
man to become vain. Neither does He force man to be freed from vanity.
Man is a free agent to exercise his own power of choice. But God has allowed
man to sin if he chooses to sin, and God also allows man the hope of deliverance
from sin if he chooses the way of deliverance. In both instances, God offers,
or has willed, that opportunity be given. What man eventually does with
each opportunity is his own choice.
This verse is speaking of the former
condition of the "creature," or Christian, when he was in sin due to the
fact he had partaken of sin. Then it turns attention to his present and
saved condition as a child of God, "the creature" who anticipates the manifestation
of the sons of God.
Again, in verse twenty-one, the "creature,"
or this portion of the creation "shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." How could
this refer to anyone except a Christian? Who else but the Christian is
delivered into the glorious liberty? So I conclude that the "creature"
of verses nineteen, twenty, and twenty-one refers to the Christian. This
passage shows the glory and benefit of being a Christian.
In contrast to that of the Christian,
there is the "whole creation" in verse twenty-two. The Christian is a new
creature in Christ, and the "whole creation" includes everybody else as
well. I see no reason here to think as some do that Paul includes the animal,
vegetable, and mineral kingdoms in this phrase, even though such is a part
of the creation in one sense. None could question that such things are
a part of God's creation. But keep in mind the context of the passage lest
we become bogged down with irrelevant discussion. Paul is concerned with
people. He is concerned with salvation of that which is lost in sin and
needs to be saved from the guilt of sin. He is not concerned with things
created in which there is no guilt of sin. The scheme of redemption is
applicable to man, not brute beasts and material things. Therefore, the
"whole creation" refers to people, all people of the world, including Christians.
It is in contrast with that smaller portion of "creatures" that earlier
verses mentioned when referring to Christians.
The Christian has many things in common
with the rest of mankind. One thing mentioned here is that he suffers.
Indeed, as we have already learned, the Christian sometimes suffers a suffering
that never befalls the non-Christian because he suffers for his faith,
as seen in verses seventeen and eighteen. But he also suffers those things
such as are common to man simply because he is a member of the human family.
Everyone suffers many things due to the introduction of sin into the world
by Adam and Eve. We all suffer pain, disease, physical death, and other
sufferings. While here on earth we all groan and travail together in the
common disasters of human existence.
But there is a difference between
the Christian and the rest of the creation of men. While the Christian
suffers, he suffers in hope. He has the firstfruits of the Spirit; he is
the recipient of the pledge and promise of God, the Lord's guarantee of
something better. The Christian is a part of God's assurance. The very
existence of the Christian, a saved being, stands as an assurance of the
promise and pledge of God to the human family. All the human family can
look at the Christian, note his life and his hope, and take heart. The
Christian awaits for the time when, though he dies physically, he shall
be raised with the redeemed. The adoption here is the final adoption, and
not used in the same sense as in verse fifteen. Verse fifteen infers that
we have become children of God as if adopted from the family of the devil,
while in verse twenty-three we have under discussion the final reward and
redemption of the resurrection and heaven. The first adoption we already
enjoy in this life as sons of God, while we wait for the eternal adoption
Let me remind the reader that this
explanation may not be approved by many. But I contend it fits and harmonizes
with the context of the passages before and after it. It speaks of the
blessings of being a Christian, and what it means to be a Christian. There
is so much in this chapter that emphasizes the meaning and significance
of being a Christian. At the end of the chapter I shall enumerate some
of the blessings and significances of being a Christian found in chapter
Verses 24, 25
24 For we are saved
by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth
he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with
patience wait for it.
These verses seem to confirm the conclusions
drawn from the preceding verses. Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, keeps
talking about the hope the Christian has that others do not have. This
hope keeps us striving forward and pressing toward the prize in faithfulness.
Hope is a motivating factor toward faithfulness. Take away that hope and
you take away the reason for remaining faithful. That for which the Christian
hopes has not yet come upon him, but he patiently, stedfastly, persistently
"keeps on keeping on" with his earnest expectation before him. Someday
this hope will become reality, and will no longer be hope.
Verses 26, 27
26 Likewise the Spirit
also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as
we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings
which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what
is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints
according to the will of God.
We are informed that the Christian has
difficulties or infirmities. We have noted this previously. Our own experiences
in life teach this. We are also informed that the Holy Spirit helps the
Christian respecting these infirmities. We do not know everything that
Deity may do on our behalf. We only know what is revealed. But we do know
that Deity does work on our behalf, and this is enough to give us great
comfort. We do not know of any influence Deity exerts upon us to show the
way of the Spirit other than the persuasions found in the revealed Word.
There is no revelation that would let us believe Deity operates on the
spirit of man except through the Word of the Spirit. However, we are assured
that Deity works in other ways for us, even though we have no knowledge
whatever that He works upon us or does anything to us other than through
the Word. The fact that the Holy Spirit does not operate directly upon
us does not mean the Spirit does nothing for us in ways not revealed in
detail. In this very passage we have the revelation that the Spirit does
operate for us. Through the providence of God rather than some miraculous
or direct manner, we are confident Deity is caring for us. I do not propose
to comprehend all the ways of God in the operation of His providence. But
in this verse we have information telling us something that Deity (specifically
the Holy Spirit) does on behalf of the Christian.
Prayer is a privilege that belongs
to the child of God. However, it is evident that there be times that the
Christian does not know how to pray as he ought. In the context that the
Spirit helps in our infirmities, I safely presume that the times the Christian
may not be able to pray as he ought may be when he is overburdened amidst
some infirmity or hardship he finds very difficult to carry. At such times,
we are informed in this passage that intercession is made on our behalf.
The One who makes this intercession is the Holy Spirit.
It is suggested by some that the "spirit"
here is not the Holy Spirit, but man's spirit. It makes no sense whatever
that my own spirit would make intercession for me separate and apart from
the operation of my own intellect, intelligently and rationally. When I
pray my own spirit is involved in making that prayer, and I must pray with
an awareness of mind or spirit. But in the condition under consideration
here, my own spirit is prohibited from functioning as it otherwise might.
It is at such a time that I need help beyond the power of my own spirit.
I do not see how my spirit can intercede for me when my own spirit is unable
to pray as prayer ought to be made.
It is the Holy Spirit who is the intercessor
here. While the Scriptures teach there is only one mediator, Jesus Christ
(First Timothy 2:5), to intercede on the behalf of another is not limited
to Him. Intercession is making a plea for another. We can and do make intercession
for each other in prayer. That the Holy Spirit can and does make intercession
for the Christian when the Christian does not know how to pray for himself
is the thrust of the passage. Comments on verse thirty-four should be considered.
The last of verse twenty-seven states
intercession is made by some "he," which I understand to mean the Holy
Spirit. It is not other saints who make the intercession under discussion,
nor my own inexplicable intercession for myself, but an intercession by
someone "for the saints." Again, that someone is the Holy Spirit.
Neither does this intercession by-pass
Christ through whom we approach the Father. Notice the intercession is
"according to the will of God." Therefore, even though the Holy Spirit
makes the intercession, it is made through the Son, and to the Father.
Having sufficiently established that
the intercessor is the Holy Spirit, let us take note of the phrase, "with
groanings which cannot be uttered." It would make no sense for one Person
of the Godhead to be making groanings to another Person of the Godhead
because of an inability to express Himself. The Holy Spirit is not the
source of the groanings, but the groanings come from the saints who are
in the midst of infirmity, and cannot pray with words that cannot be spoken
at that time. They are so beset by that which has pressed upon them that
they can only groan beneath the weight of it. It is these groanings of
the infirmed saint that the Holy Spirit takes and presents, through Christ,
to the Father on behalf of the saint. Herein is the great blessing we have
as children of God. There is no problem so great that can befall us, even
problems that may be of such severity that would deprive us of the proper
faculties to be able to pray as we ought, but God will still hear petitions
on our behalf. Our very groanings are taken by the Holy Spirit and presented
as prayer for us. "He that searcheth the hearts" is the Father, and the
Father knows the mind of the Spirit, even as the Spirit presents an intercession
28 And we know that
all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are
the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also
did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might
be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate,
them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom
he justified, them he also glorified.
In this passage certain things are mentioned
that work for the good of certain people. The things that work for good
are that which God works, primarily the predestination and foreknowledge
of God concerning certain ones. This refers to His system for man's salvation,
and all God did to provide it. God predetermined some would be saved. Christ
is the first rank among many who would be acceptable sons of God. Being
"firstborn" means He has rank, position, and authority over all others.
The ones who would be like Christ, and acceptable to God, are those who
are called. They have answered that call. The called ones make a proper
response to that call. God calls men by the gospel (Second Thessalonians
2:14), and the gospel is God's power unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Those
who hear the call of the gospel, conform themselves to the Christ that
has been sent, are the ones predestined to be the sons of God. This plan
that God worked out is for the good of them that have shown their love
We are not to think this passage means
that everything that happens is good. Sin is often a part of our lives,
and there is no way to construe sin to be good. Tragedy may befall the
saint, and that is not itself good. Sometimes hardship is much better for
us than we at first might think, but not all difficulties that come to
the Christian are good. Nor does this teach that everything that happens
is because God makes it happen. That is not true. Men make things happen
God has predetermined, according to
this passage, that those who love Him and conform to Him and His Son will
belong to Him. Each one must decide for himself whether he will be one
who loves and conforms.
Verse thirty continues the last thought
regarding predestination. Here is a sequence of events in proper order
that describes more of this predestination. The predestined are first called.
We know this call comes by the gospel. A proper response to the call is
obviously implied because the New Testament constantly calls upon man to
properly respond to the gospel. The proper response to the gospel is faith
and obedience. God has predetermined that those whom He calls by the gospel,
and who makes the proper response, shall be justified. Justification carries
our thoughts back to the previous passages in this epistle regarding the
of grace, faith, including the blood of Christ, by which our justification,
or salvation, from sin is accomplished. It naturally follows that those
who have become partakers of such spiritual benefits that are found "in
Christ" are the ones who shall be glorified at last.
There is a set plan, predetermined,
unchangeable. While the specific individuals are not predestined as to
whom shall hear and respond properly to the call, it is specifically determined
that those who hear and obey as they should shall be those who are justified,
and eventually glorified.
31 What shall we then
say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32 He that
spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not
with him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall lay any thing to
the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34 Who is he that
condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who
is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
In view of the information about the aforementioned
promises and assurances given, what conclusion can we reach? Having mentioned
how the Christian is often beset with infirmities, what of such things
anyway? Can they overcome the Christian? Since God overrules, and we are
in His care, will those things that seem to oppose us be defeated, and
shall we truly enjoy victory? The answer is, "Yes." If God is for us, if
we are with Him and He with us, nothing that comes shall be able to win
the ultimate victory over us. None can stand against the Mighty God whom
we worship, and whose sons and daughters we are.
So complete and overwhelming has been
God's concern that He even gave His own Son to die on man's behalf. By
that plan He has provided deliverance for us from that which would otherwise
destroy us. If God would go that far for our good, will He not also provide
for us all things that are needful to see the successful conclusion of
the matters of life and spirit? The question answers itself, and in the
affirmative. (See Ephesians 1:3 and Second Peter 1:3). The fact that God
provides everything needful does not mean man will always use and partake
of what God has provided. But that is not the fault of God in whom there
is no fault. The refusal of man to take advantage of what God offers him
is no reflection whatever on the generous and sufficient provision God
Since God has justified, who can stand
to condemn what God has justified? Is there any who can override the edicts
and judgments of God? Indeed, not! What a joy and security is that of the
Christian who has come to God by God's system of faith that God has provided
through Christ! They are God's own, and none shall condemn them. The only
power to condemn is the very One who makes intercession on our behalf.
Verse thirty-four asserts that Christ
is also One who intercedes for us. Having previously learned how the Holy
Spirit intercedes on certain occasions, now we learn that the Son is also
concerned with us. We pray through Christ. "No man cometh unto the Father
but by me." (John 14:6). While this is primarily applicable to coming to
God for salvation, it must also include all other approaches and relationships
between us and the Father.
Some object to my previous conclusion
and discussion about the intercession of the Holy Spirit on the grounds
that it by-passes Christ. They emphasize that man must approach the Father
through the Son. I believe man must approach the Father through the Son.
In fact, he cannot approach the Father any other way. As already noted,
the intercession of the Holy Spirit is "according to the will of God."
Nothing in my conclusions necessitates by-passing the Son in approaching
the Father. But we are speaking of the operation of Deity with Deity, and
would be presumptuous to say what one Person could do in His relationship
with another Person. I suggest we accept the asserted intercession of the
Holy Spirit as stated in the text and leave unanswered questions to the
wisdom and operation of Deity. Furthermore, the blessing is extended only
to those who are "in Christ." How could it by-pass Him?
Notice concerning the intercession
of Christ the position, rank, and place of authority, highly favored with
respect to the Father. The term "right hand of God" is one that denotes
the highest of all rank and authority, as Peter taught regarding Him in
Acts, chapter two, and as claimed by Christ in Matthew, chapter twenty-eight.
With Christ in this most favored position, how fortunate are we to have
Him as the One through whom we come before the Father of spirits.
Verses 35, 36
35 Who shall separate
us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy
sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the
Continuing a presentation of the blessings
in Christ, Paul asks another rhetorical question. Who can keep God from
loving us? Who shall succeed in making Christ abandon us? While this point
does not make it impossible for a man to turn from the Lord himself, and
cease to enjoy the blessings of God, it surely states that nothing else
can force us to be deprived of His love except our own choice to forsake
Him. The infirmities mentioned (tribulation, distress, persecution, famine,
nakedness, peril, sword) have already been covered by the statements regarding
the work of the Holy Spirit for us when beset with infirmity. But even
these things, as great as they may become, will not cause God to cease
seeking our highest good, which is the definition of love.
In verse thirty-six, Paul expresses
an attitude as well as a reality in service to Christ. The attitude is
one that was first expressed in Psalm 44:22, "Yea, for thy sake we are
killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter." This
is a statement of complete self-sacrifice. We are to be, as it were, living
dead men for the cause of the Lord. Also, it is a realism, because Paul
mentioned in First Corinthians 15:30-32 that he and others were in constant
jeopardy because of laboring for the Lord. He had to suffer more than anyone
of whom we read among the followers of Christ (Second Corinthians 11:26ff).
He probably suffered martyrdom himself, although such is not specifically
stated, only implied, in Scripture. Tradition does say this was his fate.
But shall even such things as that mean one must stand alone? Is not God
still with him, and does not the love in the heart of Deity still flow
over him? Indeed, God will not cease to love.
37 Nay, in all these
things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I
am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor
depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love
of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The concept of God's love is enlarged
in the final three verses of chapter eight. In all things, good and bad,
life or death, we are not defeated, but we are victors. This victory is
not accomplished by our own works of merit, or by ourselves, but through
Him that loved us. This would included the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Paul was convinced, "I am persuaded,"
that death never separates one from God's love; nor does life separate
us from God's love. God's love for us is His seeking our highest good.
He never ceases to do that. No angel, no messenger of any kind from anybody
shall come between man and God's love for man. The terms "principalities
nor powers" are not precise in my mind as to what they refer, but I take
it to mean spiritual personages, powers, and authorities that would work
against us rather than for us. (See Ephesians 6:12). Whatever may be included
in the terms, even that shall not have success in making God cease to seek
our highest good. There is nothing now, nor yet to come, nothing so high
or low, nobody, nor anything that shall ever separate man from being the
object of the love of God. Especially is this true regarding the Christian
who belongs to God.
Notice again, it is "in Christ" where
all such blessings abound. What a certainty and security! What a guarantee
and seal! What a pledge and promise has God given to the Christian!
We cannot and must not allow ourselves
to be deceived by this teaching. We cannot conclude because nothing will
ever cause God to cease loving man that nothing can cause man to cease
from loving God. Man can once love God, and later refuse to love God. This
does not teach that nothing causes God to disapprove of man. Love and approval
are not the same. While love will abound regardless of what man does or
does not do, regardless of what may or may not happen, it does not mean
God approves of man regardless of what man does. God never ceases to love
man, and seeks man's highest good. But approval of man by God depends upon
man's response to the love of God in obedience. Love always abides, but
approval is conditional.
It can be confidently stated that chapter
eight is one of the most momentous chapters, not only of Romans, but the
entire Bible. There are heavy problems and difficulties regarding the conclusions
reached in certain portions of it, but these difficulties are not what
makes the chapter outstanding. The greatness is seen in the dominant theme
of chapter eight which defines what it means to be a Christian. Reviewing
the material discussed, we note certain points and the pertinent verses
in the chapter on what it means to be a Christian.
In Christ there is no condemnation, verse 1.
There is freedom from the law of sin and death, verse 2.
There is the obligation not to be carnal minded, but spiritual
minded, verses 5-9.
We have fellowship with Deity, the Holy Spirit being specifically
mentioned, verses 9,10.
We have the obligation to live after the Spirit, and not
the flesh, verses 5-9, 12,13.
We have the right to look forward to the resurrection,11.
We are the sons of God, verse 14.
We are led by the Spirit,14.
We have been delivered from bondage of sin, verse 15.
We have been adopted into the family of God, verse 15.
We know of our relationship with God, verse 16.
We are heirs of God with Christ, verse 17.
We have a glory awaiting that surpasses all the suffering
that may be endured, verse 18.
We have a hope and expectation that the rest of the world
does not enjoy, verses 19-23.
We have the intercession of the Holy Spirit when needed on
occasions and situations, verses 26, 27.
We can be sure God works all things for our good, and has
done so in providing salvation, verse 28.
We are in that company that God has predestined to be glorified,
We are with God who can and shall protect us so that we shall
not be defeated, verse 31.
We are justified, and none can condemn, verses 33, 34.
We have the assurance that nothing shall deprive us of God's
love, verses 35-39.
All of the above is included in being
a Christian, one who has been justified in a like manner as was Abraham,
by a system of faith, a system that is of Christ, a system of grace that
relies upon the merits of the blood of Christ, a system that requires our
obedience to the commands of Christ's law, a system different from the
Mosaic and/or moral laws that could only condemn, but a system that gives
freedom from sinful bondage, a system that is universally open to all who
would partake of it, a way that subverts the flesh and its sinful ways
beneath the spirit, and the ways of the Holy Spirit.
I must again emphasize a theme that
must never be allowed to escape us as we ponder the revelation of Romans.
The book is an emphatic doctrinal treatise regarding the religion of Christ
in contrast to all other systems, indeed, showing its superiority over
all other systems. It is the only system that can accomplish for man what
man needs. The emphasis is not on man, but Christ. Man's need is presented,
but God's remedy, God's solution, the panacea to man's greatest threats
and problems, is provided. This book is one that glorifies Christ, His
will, and all things pertaining to Him.
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