11 “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.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.
13 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.
14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
15 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.”
16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 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.” Romans 8:11-17
Verse 11 is one of those great verses that we could spend a great deal of time meditating upon since it is so rich in hope, assurance and grace. If the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you then you are assured of salvation. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
Verse 12 is simply the common sense response to verse 11 when Paul admonishes us, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.” Grace is the most amazing gift ever conceived in the universe so the obligation of the Christian is live according to it. And how is that obtained? The answer is we no longer live according to the flesh, or our sinful natures, but instead put our faith in Jesus who saves us because of His love.
It is probably a good time to jump down to the last verses of Romans 8 to make sure we understand what I am trying to say here.
37 “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.” (v. 37-39)
See what Paul is telling us. We are more than conquerors, “through HIM who loved us.” This is not about me overcoming sin, but about Jesus carrying my sins to Calvary’s cross on my behalf. I am declared an overcomer because Jesus is the true overcomer and when I am “in Christ” and His Spirit dwells within me I understand this and rejoice in it.
Satan has no power over us; he is defeated at the cross. It is there that God made a spectacle out of Him.
13 “When you were dead in your sins and in the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,
14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15
It doesn’t get much clearer than that, does it? When we were dead in our sins God made us alive with Christ. How did He do that? “He forgave us ALL OUR SINS.” The debt against us was canceled with its legal obligations and ramifications when Jesus was nailed to the cross as our substitute. Satan and all his minions and authorities were crushed at the cross because Jesus triumphed over them. We aren’t the ones who triumphed over sin, death and Satan. It was, is and always will be Jesus who won that great victory for us.
With this all being said lets go back to verse 12. Our obligation to live according to the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is to put all our trust in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. This verse is about believing, not about our obligation to strive harder to please God or live a life of works. For many Christians who have been raised in a Christian culture of “doing or working to try and please Jesus in order to win their own salvation,” it is difficult to accept the verse as an offer of grace.
Whenever these fellow Christians see a phrase like “live according to it,” they somehow interpret it as subjugating their own lives into a system of works or actions to overcome sin. But to “live” is to have life in the Bible. It is an invitation to the table of grace where we rejoice in “the life” that has been given to us by the love and wonders of God’s mercy and kindness.
Let’s now look at verses 13 and 14, “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.”
Is verse 13 a contradiction of all that we have read in Romans 8 and Colossians 2? If we live according to the flesh we will die. If we continue to live estranged from God, rejecting His love, His sacrifice and His call to us to accept His saving grace through the voice of the Spirit we will die. On the other hand, if we accept the grace of God and put away the misdeeds of the body (our rejection and indifference towards grace) we will live.
Verse 14 couldn’t make it any clearer, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Let’s go back to Colossians again for a moment, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (v. 6-7)
How did we receive Christ? It was through faith. How do we become children of God? “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12-13 Thus we become children of God (Romans 8:14) when we believe in His name. (John 1:12)
Romans 8:15 now becomes very clear in light of what it means to be a child of God and to receive Jesus into our life. “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 brings us adoption into the family of God and from John 1:12-13 we see that the reason this is possible is that we believe in Jesus name. The reason we no longer have to doubt our salvation or live in fear is because we are declared righteous and adopted into Sonship.
Romans 8 verses16 and 17 are self-explanatory once we have a context for them. “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.”
We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ not based upon our good works or actions. We are heirs when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As Christians we do not escape from hardship and pain, but just as Jesus suffered so we will suffer. But our suffering is of no consequence because even though we share in Jesus suffering we will also share in His glory.
Let me just say quickly that the problem so many of us have with accepting the grace of God is that we misunderstand what is going on in the Bible. I grew up in a tradition that taught that man’s calling was to vindicate God before the un-fallen worlds. We believed that Satan accused God of making laws that couldn’t be kept and it was our calling to prove that the law could be kept with the help of the Holy Spirit. As a result everything was about vindicating God’s law as fair and just.
But that is not what the Bible is about at all. God does not need us to vindicate Him to anyone. God is sovereign and rules absolute. As we saw in Colossians Satan is a defeated foe and there is no striving between God and Satan over who will control us as if they were two equal identities fighting over the spoils.
The Bible is not given to us to vindicate the law but to present Jesus our savior to us. Jesus kept the law perfectly on my behalf and attributes that perfect law keeping to my account when I accept Him as my Lord and Savior. Christianity is not about my trying to prove I am capable of keeping the law. Christianity is about the reality that while I was yet a sinner Jesus died for me. Grace is the theme of Scripture that cries out to us on every page.
Of course our lives will reflect the love of God and we will not be the people we were before grace flooded into our lives. But, a life that honors God does not earn salvation, because it has already been given at Calvary.
We grow as Christians because our love for God grows and the more we appreciate His undeserving grace towards us the more we long to walk closer to Him, know Him better, and please Him. This life we live is not about law keeping, it is about God’s love for us and our whole-hearted acceptance of such an amazing gift.
Chris Tomlin The Table (from Love Ran Red recording)
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…