Paul ended the first half of his discourse on life through the Spirit with these words, “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:8) And he begins the second half of his discourse on life through the Spirit with these words, “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9) The first half of Paul’s discourse he established that the new life we have in Christ is a life of liberty from the law of sin and death. And in the second half he tells us this new life is a life of glorious hope, but what is that hope. We are going to see today that the hope this new life brings us is: hope of the resurrection and hope of joint-heirship.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.—8:9-11
There are no semi-Christians midway on their journey. Those who live in the flesh and those who live in the Spirit include everyone, like the categories of Jew and Gentile. Notably, Paul describes the Holy Spirit here as the Spirit of Christ, showing the unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our union with Christ is so intimate that just as Paul can describe us as being in Christ, so he can also say that Christ is in us. Sinfulness leads to the penalty of death, so a status of righteousness granted by God makes us alive (Romans 5:17-18). In Romans 8:10, believers have this life already in the present, but verse 11 extends this to future resurrection. Romans 6 explained that if we have died with Christ, we will also be raised with him; Romans 8:11 explains how this resurrection happens: the same Spirit who raised Christ will also raise us.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.—8:12-17
Paul encourages us to live consistent with the truth that the Holy Spirit indwells us and will raise us. We should not follow sin anymore. We do not have an obligation to it as our master; such a path is fatal, and God has not given us a spirit of fear (vv. 12, 13 and 15a). We are instead led by the Spirit as God’s sons, adopted into his family and calling on God as our Father (v. 15b). Paul does not mean sons in an exclusively male sense, for he goes on to use the general word for children in verses 16 and 17. The Spirit enables us to call God “Father” (vv. 15b-16). “Abba” is the Aramaic word for father conveying an intimacy and closeness that only comes from being part of the family and not an outsider. As children of God, we are heirs. Female children, could also inherit, both in Jewish and Roman law. As partners in inheritance with Christ, we display the same family likeness: suffering and then glory, which is were we will pick tomorrow as we see this new life gives us hope of final redemption and move into the fact that this new life is a life of glorious power.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Isaiah 39:1-41:16, Ephesians 1, Psalm 66:1-20 and Proverbs 23:25-28
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