Romans Chapter 8 Commentary – Life in the Spirit

I’m so excited to dive into Romans 8 today! This powerful chapter is packed with incredible truths that speak directly to our hearts. From the assurance of no condemnation in Christ to the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, and the security of our identity as children of God, Romans chapter 8 offers encouragement and hope. 

It reminds us that nothing can separate us from God’s love and that in all things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Let’s journey together through this chapter and be uplifted by the incredible promises it holds!

Romans 8:1-11 – Life in the Spirit

This chapter begins by declaring the new life we have in the Spirit through Jesus Christ.

Verse 1

Romans 8:1-2

Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus. NASB

This verse starts with a powerful declaration of freedom from condemnation for those who are in Christ. 

Condemnation means “a damnatory sentence”. 

To truly grasp a full understanding of what this verse means we have to remember what we have learned in Romans so far. We have learned that everyone, all mankind, is guilty before God. We have all been born into sin through Adam. We are all deserving of condemnation.

So then, as through one offense the result was condemnation to all mankind – Romans 5:18a

However, through Jesus, believers are set free from the guilt and punishment of sin.

so also through one act of righteousness the result was justification of life to all mankind. – Romans 5:18b

As Christians, we can live with confidence knowing that we are forgiven and accepted by God because of Jesus’ sacrifice. 

Verse 2-4

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 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, 4 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.

Here, Paul contrasts the law of the Spirit of life with the law of sin and death. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, believers are set free from the power of sin and death. The law, though good, couldn’t save us because of our sinful nature. But God, through Jesus, fulfilled the requirements of the law and set us free.

We are called to live not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. This means allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to live in obedience to God’s will. It’s a reminder that our righteousness comes from Christ alone, not from our own efforts to keep the law.

Verses 5-8

For those who are in accord with the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are in accord with the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Contrasting the Mind Set on the Flesh and the Mind Set on the Spirit:

Flesh:

  • Leads to death (verse 6)
  • Hostile to God (verse 7)
  • Cannot please God (verse 8)

Spirit:

  • Leads to life and peace (verse 6)
  • Enables obedience to God’s law (verse 7)

Setting our minds on something, according to verses 5-8 of Romans 8, involves intentionally directing our thoughts, desires, and focus towards the things of the Spirit rather than the desires of the flesh. Those who are focused on worldly desires (the flesh) are spiritually dead and hostile to God. They cannot please God because they are living in rebellion against Him.

When we set our minds on the Spirit, we open ourselves to experience the abundant life and peace that God desires for us. It’s an invitation to trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty, knowing that He is faithful to guide and empower us as we walk with Him.

Verses 9-11

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

The Greek word for “in” in this passage is a preposition denoting a fixed position in time, place, or state. In the Spirit is our spiritual position, we no longer live, walk, and breathe in the flesh. We live, move, and have our being in the Spirit.

The presence of the Spirit in us gives us spiritual life and empowers us to live righteously. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, He will also give life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit.

We saw back in Romans chapter 7 that we must still struggle in our battle against the flesh. However, as God’s children, we are not left to struggle on our own. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, empowering us to live victoriously over sin and to live in a manner that honors God.

Romans 8:12-17 – Heirs With Christ

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Life in the Spirit means that we are fellow heirs with Christ as the children of God.

Verse 12

So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh

Paul reminds them that they are no longer indebted to live according to the sinful desires of the flesh. We have been set free from the power of sin, and therefore, we should not allow ourselves to be enslaved to the desires of the flesh. Instead, we are called to live in obedience to God’s Spirit, walking in the freedom and righteousness that Christ has provided.

Verse 13

for if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

By the Spirit:

  • put to death the deeds of the body
  • Given life

Paul emphasizes the serious consequences of living according to the flesh, which leads to spiritual death. However, he offers hope by reminding believers that through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome the sinful tendencies of the flesh and experience true life.

Verses 14-15

Romans 8:14

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 

Led by the Spirit:

  • Makes us adopted children of God

Believers are given a new identity. We no longer belong to the sinful nature for the purpose of gratifying the flesh. We belong to God, and as His children, we have the incredible privilege of being led by His Spirit. This means seeking His guidance in every aspect of our lives, trusting that He will direct our steps and lead us into paths of righteousness. 

“Abba” is a word that we can liken to our English word for “daddy”. It was a term used in prayer to cry out to our Heavenly Father.

Our relationship with Him is marked by intimacy and trust, as we cry out to Him with the endearing term “Abba! Father!”  We see “Abba! Father!” is the phrase that Jesus cried out as He prayed in the garden before His suffering on the cross.

This should fill us with confidence and assurance, knowing that we are dearly loved and accepted by our Heavenly Father.

Verse 16

The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God

The Holy Spirit assures us.

Paul emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit in confirming our identity as children of God. The Spirit testifies within us, affirming our status as beloved members of God’s family.

He does it primarily through the word of God and prayer. As we commune with God, the Spirit confirms the truth that, because we have trusted the Savior, we are now a child of God.

Verse 17

and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

Because we have become children of God, we have also become joint heirs with Christ of God’s kingdom. An heir simply means “one who receives a lot”.

We have been given privilege and responsibility as His heirs. Here comes a truth bomb…

One of those responsibilities is to suffer. Not only do we get to share Christ’s glory, but we also must share in His suffering. 

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; – 1 Peter 1:6-7

So, this suffering is not without purpose. Just as Christ’s sufferings were not without purpose. Suffering now leads to our future glorification.

This should fill us with hope and anticipation, knowing that our current sufferings are temporary compared to the eternal glory that awaits us. It strengthens us to persevere in our faith, knowing that our suffering is not in vain, but rather a means by which we are conformed to the image of Christ and ultimately glorified with Him.

This leads us into the next section.

Romans 8:18-30 – Future Glory

While we are called to suffer with Christ as sons of God, this suffering is working an eternal glory within us as we walk in the eternal life we have with God in His kingdom.

Verse 18

For I consider that the present sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

No suffering we experience on this earth will outweigh the weight and amount of glory that awaits us. 

For our momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. – 2 Corinthians 4:17

On that day Christ will acknowledge us before the hosts of heaven. 

Verse 19-22

For the eagerly awaiting creation waits for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.

Paul personifies creation as eagerly awaiting the revelation of God’s children and the redemption of all things. He explains that creation was subjected to futility as a consequence of Adam’s sin.

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; With hard labor you shall eat from it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; Yet you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Until you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 3:17-19

However, we also see that there is hope in God’s redemptive plan

God’s original plan was for man to rule the earth. But, because of sin, Satan took over. We saw back in Romans 1 that man was subjected to futility in our minds and in our reasoning. However, God has redeemed us back to Himself through Christ. While the creation is still subject to futility and decay, those of us who are sealed with the Spirit no longer have to live under this futility.

Our adoption as children of God not only impacts us individually but also has a ripple effect throughout creation. It reminds us of the profound significance of our identity in Christ and the ultimate restoration that awaits creation.

Glory and restoration are the ultimate destiny of all creation—to be set free from the effects of sin and to share in the glorious freedom of God’s children. It inspires hope and anticipation for the complete restoration of all things in Christ. 

Verse 23

And not only that, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons and daughters, the redemption of our body.

Again, in this verse, we see the tension between the Spirit and the flesh. We have been given a portion of our eternal inheritance in the indwelling Holy Spirit. He is our first installment; our promise of more to come. 

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of the promise, 14 who is a first installment of our inheritance, in regard to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. – Ephesians 1:13-14

In a sense, we are already adopted children of God through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:15). However, we have yet to receive the fullness of our adoption through the redemption of our bodies. During this in-between time, we wait. Our bodies join in the groanings of creation in eager expectation of what is coming – an eternal inheritance away from the power and presence of sin.

Verse 24-25

For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, through perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Here, Paul explains the importance of faith and trust in God’s promises, even when they are not yet fully realized. It encourages us to anchor our hope in the certainty of God’s faithfulness, rather than relying on visible evidence alone. It prompts us to continue trusting and waiting on God, confident that He will fulfill His promises in His perfect timing.

Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God honors faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and that He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

Verse 26-27

Romans 8:26

Now in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

During our waiting, we are not left alone. The Holy Spirit is our helper in weakness. Through the Spirit, we have access to the presence of God. If the Spirit is the door to the throne room, prayer is the key.

We can come to God through the Spirit by prayer to receive what we need.

Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need. – Hebrews 4:16 

Not only does the Holy Spirit grant us access, He knows the mind of God. He enables us to pray according to the Father’s will.

This verse mentions groanings too deep for words. Some may interpret this as being an angelic language or unknown tongues. Maybe. There are different thoughts on that. But, the main idea here is that the Spirit communicates in a way that is beyond our ability to express. 

It encourages reliance on the Spirit’s help and leaning into His guidance and support, especially in times of weakness and uncertainty. It gives us the assurance to pray in confidence, knowing that the Spirit is interceding for us.

Romans 8:28-30

We must remember to look at this passage in context. Paul is speaking of the future glory and hope we have in Christ. 

The concept of being predestined by God, as mentioned in Romans 8:29, is one that has sparked much debate and discussion throughout Christian history. At its core, predestination speaks to God’s sovereign plan and purpose for His people. 

Some interpret it as God choosing certain individuals for salvation before the foundation of the world, while others understand it as God’s foreknowledge of those who would choose Him. Regardless of one’s theological perspective, Romans 8:29 reminds us that God’s predestining work is ultimately aimed at conforming believers to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

This means that our destiny as Christians is not simply about our personal salvation, but also about our transformation to reflect the character and likeness of Christ. It’s a humbling truth that invites us to trust in God’s wisdom and sovereignty, knowing that He is working all things together for our good and His glory.

Verse 28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 

This verse again, offers comfort and assurance to us. Even in the midst of trials and suffering, God will not abandon us or the work He began in us. It reminds us that God is in control of all things and that He is able to bring about good from every circumstance, no matter how difficult or challenging.

Verse 29

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren…

No matter which theological stance you take on this passage, its main message points toward the transformative work of God in the lives of believers, conforming them to the likeness of Christ. Also, it encourages us to cooperate with God’s work in their lives, allowing Him to mold and shape them into the image of Christ.

Verse 30

and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

This passage shows the progression from salvation to glorification. Again, this passage has caused a lot of debate. 

Some believe that God “calls” all of us. Then those of us who respond to His call, He justifies. One day those who are justified will be glorified.

Others believe that God only calls those whom He will justify and glorify. A person has no role in their salvation.

The main point here is that God is the author and finisher of our salvation.

Think of it like this: God knew us before we even knew ourselves, and He had a plan for our lives. He called us into a relationship with Him, declared us righteous through the sacrifice of Jesus, and one day, He will glorify us, transforming us to be like Christ in His presence. This gives us confidence that our salvation is secure, regardless of our circumstances or feelings.

Romans 8:31-39 – God’s Everlasting Love

In this final section of Romans 8, Paul shows us the result of God’s work in us.

Romans 8:31

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Paul poses a rhetorical question to emphasize the security and strength believers have in God’s unfailing love and support. 

Let’s take a moment to let this sink in: If the God of the universe, the Creator of all things, is on our side, who or what could possibly stand against us? No matter what challenges or obstacles we face, we can rest assured that God is with us, fighting for us, and nothing can ultimately separate us from His love.

Romans 8:32

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Paul reasons from the greater to the lesser, showing God’s willingness to provide for His children based on the greatest demonstration of love—sacrificing His Son for us. He didn’t hold back the most precious gift He had—His own Son—so we can be confident that He will generously provide for all our needs.

Romans 8:33-34

Who will bring charges against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

God is the one who justifies believers, therefore no accusation or condemnation can stand against us. Paul emphasizes the unique position and role of Christ as our Savior, who not only died for our sins but was raised to life, seated at the right hand of God, and interceding on our behalf.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. – Hebrews 7:25

If God, who we saw back in Romans chapter 2 is the righteous Judge of all, and has declared us righteous through Christ, then no accusation from the enemy or anyone else can change that verdict. We stand securely in the righteousness of Christ, free from condemnation and shame.

Romans 8:35-36

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Paul quotes Psalm 44:22 to illustrate the reality that believers may face suffering and persecution for their faith. He also presents a series of potential hardships and challenges, questioning whether any of them have the power to separate believers from the love of Christ.

The road of faith isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it can feel like we’re walking through fire. But even in the midst of trials and tribulations, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us. He sees our struggles, He hears our cries, and He promises to walk with us through every valley.

Romans 8:37-39

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Instead of being overcome by our trials and circumstances, we are empowered to overcome them through the love and strength of Christ. Whatever challenges we face, we can face them with confidence, knowing that we have victory in Christ.

Let’s be honest: life can be tough. We face trials, hardships, and difficulties that sometimes make us feel like we’re alone or abandoned. 

But here’s the truth: nothing—absolutely nothing—can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Not even the darkest valley or the fiercest storm can separate us from His unwavering love and presence.

As we wrap up our journey through Romans 8, I just want to take a moment to encourage you with some final thoughts. This chapter has been like a breath of fresh air, hasn’t it? It’s filled with so much hope, assurance, and encouragement that it’s hard not to feel uplifted after reading it.

One thing that really stands out to me is the unwavering love of God that permeates every verse. No matter what we face—whether it’s trials, doubts, or fears—God’s love remains constant and unchanging. And not only does He love us, but He also empowers us through His Spirit to live victoriously, free from condemnation and fear.

So, as we go about our days, let’s hold fast to the truths we’ve discovered. Let’s remember that we are more than conquerors through Christ and that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God. Let’s walk in confidence, knowing that we are dearly loved children of the Most High God and that He has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.

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