Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 4: Sunday
Romans 7–8 was the daily Bible reading for Sunday of week 4, but there are still some things I want to say about Romans 8. I’ve written about Romans 8:1–4, and today I want to give you a few things to consider from Romans 8:5–13. I’ll be writing more on Romans 8, as I revisit this chapter on Sundays. Open your Bible or open the links above in other tabs so that you can read and follow the verses I’m discussing.
Look first at the relationship of Romans 7 and 8. I quoted Francis Schaeffer on Romans 7, a few weeks ago in Romans 7–8: Law & Grace:
“Beginning with verse 15, Paul describes his own ongoing struggle with sin even after becoming a Christian.”1
In introducing Romans 8, Schaeffer states:
“As we look at the first seventeen verses of Romans 8, we should keep in mind that it is the conclusion of Paul’s teaching on sanctification, which began in 5:1. Throughout our study of Romans, and especially in chapters 6 and 7, we have seen that the law is not enough to save us, and it is not enough to sustain us after we have been saved. Both before and after we become Christians we need the power of Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. In chapter 8, Paul introduces us to the Holy Spirit specifically as the agent of Christ’s power in our lives.”2
I wanted to review Schaeffer because I came across something Kent Hughes writes about Romans 7 and 8 that concurs with him:
“…chapters 7 and 8 are simultaneous. Chapter 8 is not subsequent to chapter 7 in Paul’s experience, for he experienced both alternately and continued to do so in the years that followed.”3
I think that’s important to keep in mind as we read. As long as we are alive we will experience this battle of sin, and we will always be dependent on Christ to help us and sustain us.
Reread Romans 8:1–4 and continue reading through verse 13. Throughout verses 4–13, you will see Paul make constant contrast between the flesh and the Spirit. Paul writes that those who walk according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh. The mind set on the flesh is death; it is hostile to God; it doesn’t subject itself to God’s law—indeed, it can’t do so—and it cannot please God.
In contrast, those who walk according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit, and the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. You can find other passages in Paul’s letters about walking according to the Spirit and setting your mind on the things of the Spirit in Galatians 5, Colossians 3–4, and Ephesians 4–6.
Acts 2 has a brief vignette of the early church that depicts what they were doing as they walked according the Spirit:
“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
They devoted themselves to God’s Word, prayer and fellowship. The breaking of bread is also mentioned, and baptism is as well as in verse 41. While opinions differ as to whether or not the breaking of bread refers to the Lord’s Supper (cf. Matthew 26:26–28), observance of both was commanded by the Lord Jesus and both proclaim to others and to ourselves all Christ has done for us and who we are in Him.
In Romans 8:9 Paul reminds us that those who belong to Christ are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit and then he tells us that now through His Holy Spirit within us, our spirit is alive—and one day through His Holy Spirit our mortal bodies will be given life.
“So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
The phrase in verse 13, “…by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body,” is a part of life in the Spirit that hardly anyone ever talks about; the name of this doctrine by itself—the mortification of sin—can scare people. I think it’s because we so automatically assume this means we can or we have to perfect ourselves through legalism (Galatians) or asceticism (Colossians 2). Paul vehemently opposed both. In Romans 8, he clearly teaches what he has being writing throughout this letter—that in and of ourselves we cannot please God. The Holy Spirit enables us by His power and that by ourselves. As Schaeffer said, “…we need the power of Christ through the agency of the Holy Spirit who lives within us.”4
Tommy Clayton, Content Developer and Broadcast Editor at Grace to You, has been writing a series on the Christian’s war against sin. I’ve quoted John Owen in previous posts; Clayton introduces you to one of Owen’s classics, The Mortification of Sin. Here are the links:
I titled this post, The Christian’s Life. It has a double meaning; it refers not only to how we live, but also to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of life who has made our spirits alive in Christ, and who will one day give life to our mortal bodies.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
Walk according to the Spirit.
Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
1, 2, 4Francis Schaeffer, The Finished Work of Christ, pp. 182, 187.
3R. Kent Hughes, Romans, p. 142.
White Dove: FreeFoto.com (See John 1:32).
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter