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"The Spirit of God Lives in You" -- Romans 8:1-11

romans%20fragment.jpgThe Twentieth in a Series of Sermon on Paul's Epistle to the Romans

In the first eleven verses of Romans 8, Paul sets out a dramatic contrast between those who walk in the flesh and those who walk in the Spirit.  While many of us have been taught that Paul is talking about a fundamental choice that every Christian must face–whether to walk after the Spirit or walk after the flesh–instead, Paul is contrasting a Christian (who walks after the Spirit) and a non-Christian (who walks after the flesh).

As we pointed out last time, in order to make the best sense of this section, we must place it in context.  In Romans 8:1, Paul returns to a point he had made in Romans 7:6– “But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”  But after making his original point about the contrast between the new way of the Spirit and the old way of the written code, Paul digresses in Romans 7:7-25 to explain the effects of the law upon a Christian both before and after their conversion.  Having described in Romans 7:14-25 the intense struggle with sin that all Christians face because they have been set free from sin, death and the condemnation of the law, in Romans 8:1, Paul states that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ, even in the midst of this intense struggle.  Having made this important point, Paul moves on to contrast what it means to walk in the flesh as opposed to walking in the Spirit.

Last time we dealt with the first four verses of this section of Romans 8.  We focused upon two things. First, Paul reminds us that the reason there is now no condemnation for those in Christ is because Christ has borne our condemnation in his own body through his suffering upon the cross, having made himself a sin offering for us.  Second, we discussed Paul’s comment in verse 4, that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us.  As we pointed out, there are two main interpretations of this verse.  One is the traditional Reformed view, which holds that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us, because Christ’s perfect obedience is imputed to us.  The other prevailing view–the so-called “consensus view” held by most contemporary Reformed commentators–holds that Paul is speaking of the new obedience of a Christian.  No longer under condemnation and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it is argued that the Christian does indeed obey the commandments so as to fulfill the law.  Based upon the reasons set forth last time, I believe the traditional Reformed view makes the best sense of the passage.

To read the rest of this sermon, click here

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