Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
Romans 8 begins with the words ?there is therefore?? It refers to that which has come before the therefore. ?Because of all that other stuff? you could say. What is that other stuff? We?ve learned in Romans that there is good and God is good. Satan introduced evil into the human genome with our agreement. This set us against God and in His debt. The payment is separation from Him who is good. We learned that no matter how hard we try to be good, we cannot. No matter how we try to ignore God, He is still there. No matter how far away we try to run, we cannot escape Him, or our debt. We can?t please God by good works, by being born into a religious family, or joining a church. In fact the only one who has pleased God is God?s own Son Jesus Christ.
We learned that the key to undoing the evil and bringing in good and a right standing once again before God comes through trust and reliance on what God?s Son did for us on the cross, killing our old self and giving us a new person?a new life that lasts forever.
But at the same time we learned in chapters 6 and 7 that though we have this new life, we still have that old self hanging around in pre-programmed thought patterns pulling us back into habits that enslave and are not beneficial. We learned that we will fight this nature, and it?s predilection to listen to the enemy and to the world until we are with God face to face once again, but that, in the meantime, those voices can become dimmer and dimmer the more we listen to the Spirit and obey His voice. That can be a difficult thing to hear because we will fail, and that?s why Paul wants us to know that there is now therefore no condemnation! There are three great realities in the first 17 verses: you are not condemned, you are no longer in the flesh, and you are in a wonderful relationship with the King of Kings.
1 ? 2
No condemnation ? set free. We as believers are not immune from condemnation. We get it from the enemy when we fail. We get it from others who call out our inconsistencies, and we get it from our own conscience when we experience that dissonance between the person we want to be and the person we are.
But the only person that counts in terms of condemnation is God. Jesus said (Matt 10:28) And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
The enemy can wag his mouth, your friends can disown you, and you can hold a pretty big pity party for yourself, but in the end it only matters what God thinks and here is what He thinks?you are not condemned. At all.
So now we belong to God, and the Holy Spirit brings we who were dead in sin and condemned by our own evil, to life. He frees us from the condemnation of our sins and lives in us to bring about God?s character in our lives.
3 ? 4
Again Paul states that obedience to a moral code cannot provide life because in our fleshly nature we are incapable of following it. But what the law could not do Jesus did ? in the ?likeness of sinful flesh? ? in other words He became a man and so substituted for us as God condemned sin.
2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So how is the ?righteous requirement? fulfilled in us? By the Holy Spirit living in us?invading our mind and our character and changing us. How does this happen?
By ?walk(ing) according to the Spirit? and not ?according to the flesh.? How does that happen? By our choice to rely on the law of the Spirit, the ?deeper magic? of C.S. Lewis. God chose us and we chose to walk down God?s path of life. Now each day we choose whether to help that life grow or stunt it.
5 ? 8
There are two verbs operating here: ?walk?, and ?set.? ?Walk? essentially means ?how you live your life.? To ?set? means what occupies your thoughts and desires. If you are occupied with your relationship with God then you will tend to live your life with Him in view. Likewise, if you occupy yourself with fulfilling just your desires according to the flesh and the world, then your life will head in that direction.
A life dedicated to a relationship with the flesh is typified by hostility towards God and death in the soul.
A life dedicated to a relationship with God is typified by peace with God and Jesus? life to the soul.
We cannot please God in our flesh?that is, by trying to do right in our own strength, and certainly when we purposefully ignore the character God is building in us and let our default routines take over.
9 ? 11
Paul declares a second reality. First, you are no longer condemned. Second, you are no longer in the flesh. It happens to those who have put their trust and reliance on Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ are interchangeable and one of the places in Scripture where we understand that Jesus is God.
Not only is there life here and now in our hearts but also life to our bodies is promised too. Our salvation has begun but it is a work in progress.
So how do we progress?
12 ? 13
1.????? You no longer have to follow the flesh. You have been ?set free from the law of sin and death.?
2.????? To further weaken that hold of your old dead life, we are encouraged to ?put to death the deeds of the body? to really experience Jesus? life flowing in us. How does that happen?
Simply put, each day we face a choice?fulfill our natural desires according to the model of the flesh or according to the law of the Spirit. If we are tempted in sexual immorality, we may be experiencing a need for intimacy. God designed for that to occur in marriage and also in our ongoing active relationship with Him. Are you feeling the urge towards greed? Perhaps you are insecure. Focus your mind that (Phil 4:19-20) my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Do you feel a need for power? Perhaps you need to see God?s purposes and your part in His bigger story, and your place as his adopted child, as we?ll see in a moment. Maybe you are so focused on physical beauty that you lose sight of the true beauty God is working in your heart.
Something is of the flesh when you fight God for taking it away. Like Amaziah in 2 Kings 14 who argued with God because he had spent a bunch of money hiring mercenaries to fight the Edomites, and God said he could win the battle without them.
We ?put to death? those things every time we choose to let God fulfill us and provide what we need from His glory, not our own efforts. This wonderful opportunity and reality opens us up to a relationship (two way) with God that is mind-blowing.
The Law leads us to Christ (Galatians 3:24) but once we come to Him then the Spirit leads us into truth (John 16:13) and holiness. This whole process is a hand off from the flesh to the Spirit. The more we focus our minds on that relationship we have the more we think like Jesus and act like Jesus. The more you listen to the Spirit and act on what He is telling you in a way that either glorifies God or furthers the gospel, then the easier it is to be led by Him.
It is a new kind of slavery, but not one to a task master that will lead us to failure and fear of God?s wrath against evil. This slavery leads us into a new family of love. You have been adopted into God?s family. But it isn?t the kind of relationship where the father sits in his office and should never be disturbed, like in some Victorian picture of the proper family. No, this term ?abba? is an Aramaic term that means ?papa? or ?daddy? and is very informal and intimate. Imagine addressing the God of the universe as your daddy, the one you run to when you skin your knee or when a friend hurts you. The one you cry to when someone rejects you or you failed a test. The one that protects you and loves you and holds you?never letting go. It?s not the fathers many of us were raised with, but one infinitely better and infinitely perfect and infinitely open to you.
So how can we know we have this kind of relationship with God?
16 ? 17
The Spirit of God in us makes changes in us. As we see ourselves grow more like Him it becomes a witness in our hearts of God?s presence and acceptance. The more we want to spend time with God is further evidence that He lives in us.
Another way we see the benefit of our relationship with God is that of what we inherit. Slaves don?t inherit anything. But as God?s children we inherit his kingdom. The best thing we inherit is God himself. We have no idea how good and how wonderful he is.
Jesus said: ?John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and? Jesus Christ whom you have sent.?
But beyond that, 1 Cor 2:9 What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared or those who love him\"
So what?s this about suffering? Jesus suffered for us and promised that we too would suffer.
John 16:33 In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
2 Tim 3:12-13l All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Here?s how to look at that. Part of the transformation process involves the tearing down of the old and the building up of the new. One of God?s main ways of doing that is to bring us into times of difficulty to mold us into trusting Him and be transformed into Him through that trust. Our prayer should not be ?God get me out of this? but ?God use this for good in my life.?
How do you live in the Spirit? Directed toward truth, aware of God?s presence, seeking to please God, sensitive to sin, and eager to follow the Spirit?s leading. (Life Application Bible Commentary)
What are the two aims of our lives: glorify God and further the gospel.
Live uncondemned, like an inmate on death row receiving a full pardon
Live with a mind and a lifestyle set on the goodness of God (which you can do because Jesus lives in you)
Live as a cherished son or daughter of the King, with an invaluable inheritance of abundant life awaiting you.