Sanctification through union with Christ in His death and Resurrection
The Life-Giving Spirit Made Us Free: 8:1-2.
Romans chapter eight explains what it means to be a Christian. Once they were condemned and lost in their sin. By faith in Christ now they are justified and declared righteous freely. In chapters six and seven the method of sanctification is explained. We struggle to live up to it and ask ourselves "Is it possible to live a life that is pure and pleasing to God? Roman 8:1 says “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Because of the perfect work of Christ, we no longer need to fear God's coming judgment. Christ has begun a transforming work in us. We have been set free from sin's power by the the Holy Spirit who gives us new life (Rom 8:2). The old sinful nature will continue to influence our thoughts and actions. Neither the law or our obedience could give us this freedom but the new life in Christ. Unless we surrender our life to the Lord, all our efforts are futile. The basis of Spirit’s work is the cross of Jesus Christ. We surrender our life to God not out of fear but out of love and gratitude. Someone has said "The inward working of the Spirit set us free from the downward drag of the flesh". Those who live by God's Spirit can rest assured that they can live in obedience.
Christ dwells in the believer the Holy Spirit: 8:3-4.
Believers are not only the forgiven people but have the life-giving Spirit within them (8:9). This life-giving Spirit enables us to live free from the law of sin and death (Rom 8:2). The law could not save us because of our sinful nature. Law exposes and defines sin but could not help us to overcome sin. Law also provokes us to sin because we have a fascination for the forbidden pleasures (Rom 7:14). The problem is not with the law but with our sinful flesh. But the God has done something wonderful for us. God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, to destroy sin’s control over us (Rom 8:3). Christ never became sinful flesh. Otherwise Christ could not have saved us. Christ become the sin offering to provide atonement for our redemption by offering His Son on the cross. Christ came to do for us what we can never do for us by ourselves. Now God fulfills the law in us as we live according to the Spirit of God. We are saved in order that we might live for God.
The Assurance of New Life: 8:5-13.
Paul contrasts those who walk in the flesh and those who walk in the Spirit here. Every Christian has the Spirit of God (Rom 8:9). There is no two kinds of Christians, one spiritual and one nonspiritual. We are commanded to embrace new life of freedom by living according to the Spirit (8:5). Without Spirit cannot please God (8:7-8). When Christians walk after the Spirit of God they are blessed with new life and peace. Unsaved walk after the flesh. Those who are constantly controlled by the flesh cannot please God (Heb 11:6). All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (8:9). There is no scriptural basis for second blessing of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation. When we are filled by the Holy Spirit, God gets more of us. But there is never a time we get more of the Holy Spirit. Although our body is mortal, the Spirit of God has given us new life. Our body is not redeemed yet. We are subjected to death and sicknesses. But God will raise our body by the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. The same Spirit is living within us now to renew us everyday. So believers have no obligation to live after the flesh. If we continue to serve the flesh we will die. But if by the Spirit helps us to turn away from sinful behavior (Rom 8:13). We must be controlled by the indwelling Spirit to live a life that is pleasing to God. Believer’s sinful inclinations have been dethroned but not destroyed yet. Therefore they must deal with their sins immediately by confessing and forsaking them (1 John 1:9). Beware that our thoughts will lead to actions and actions will lead to habits. Our habits will determine our destiny. The Holy Spirit, who raised Christ from the dead will provide his power to live in the newness of life everyday (Rom 8:11).
The Assurance of New Relationship: 8:14-17.
Through the Spirit believers have new affection towards God (Rom 8:15). They are the sons of God. They are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ. God gave us His own Spirit, so that we are in His family. Truly born again Christians are led by the Spirit. They haven’t received a spirit of bondage and fear but the Spirit of adoption as sons. So they do not fear God as slaves but love Him as sons. God is their heavenly Father. Adopted son was not inferior to the son born in the family. The indwelling Spirit bears witness to their spirit that they are the children of God (8:16). They know that they belong to God because they live in obedience to His leading. The Holy Spirit gives them assurance to this through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit gives them an inward sense that they now the children of God. Since they are the sons of God, they are rightfully the heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ. The privilege of son-ship brings not only blessings but also responsibilities. If they suffer for Christ, there is a a promise of future inheritance (Rom 8:17). The way of cross is is the only path to glory.
The Assurance of Future Glory: 8:18-25.
This present time brings sufferings but glory waits for believers (Rom 8:18). All creation is groaning in anticipation of the freedom from corruption that God promises (Rom 8:19-23). It is subjected to decay because of sin. Believers are also groaning because we are still living in a body of pain, decay and death. Apart from God there is no hope. All creation will be delivered from bondage of curse and corruption, when Christ returns to redeem our body (Rom 8:23). This groaning is not a death pain but a birth pain. God is going to restore the whole universe. The indwelling Spirit is the first installment or foretaste of our future glory. Yet we groan and eagerly wait for the redemption of our bodies. So we must patiently and confidently wait for the redemption of our body. One day we will receive new bodies. This earth will become what it was always meant to be. There is a not yet dimension in our salvation. Hope can never be separated from salvation because salvation is the ground of our hope. Hope is our joyous optimism. Our justification is secured, our condemnation is removed but our glorification is yet to come (Rom 5:1; 8:1). As we wait for the coming of Christ, we are assured of our future glory (1 Cor 15:51-53).
The Assurance of Help in Our Weakness: 8:26-30.
The promise of the full restoration of universe gives us inner strength to wait patiently for Christ's return. The greatest blessing is that the Holy Spirit dwells in us as our helper. We do not know what to pray. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us with groaning which cannot be expressed in words (Rom 8:26). God knows our aspirations. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to God's will. God wants believers to know that he is working every details of their life to accomplish his eternal purpose in their lives (Rom 8:28). This knowledge is a source of encouragement to all believers. God does all things according to His eternal purpose and causes everything to work together for our good and His glory. God is the source of our salvation from eternity past to eternity future (8:29-30). This includes foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification and glorification. We are assured of absolute protection. God is sovereign and we are not. God’s foreknowledge is not His basic understanding of people. It is the knowledge a father has of his child. God knows and loves the world (John 3:16). But the foreknowledge of His own is an intimate knowledge of them. This causes God to love them with his abiding love and draws them to salvation (Rom 5:8). They are predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. In the calling, God is beseeching us to receive His offer of salvation. When we are quickened by the Spirit, we respond to His call in faith. God does not treat us puppets. Whom God justified he also gloried. Foreknowledge and predestination belong to eternal past. Calling and justification are present experiences. The final step of salvation is our glorification. This glory which begins now will be fully realized at Christ return (Col 3:4). Then we will be completely conformed to Christ's image (1 John 3:1-2).
The Assurance of Everlasting Love: 8:31-34.
Paul asks a series of questions and presents a set of facts to prove that God is able to fulfill His purposes in our salvation. What can we say about such wonderful things such as justification, sanctification and glorification? If God is for us who can be against us? Who shall bring anything against God’s elect? Who is he that condemns? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Paul is confident that once we are in Christ, we are in Him forever. No one can prevent God's eternal purposes (Rom 8:31). Since God gave us his own Son to die, how shall he not with him freely give us all things? Paul is confident that God will graciously give us all the blessings of salvation. If God be for us who can be against us? It is God who justifies us. Who then will condemn us? The answer is “None”. It is Christ who died for us, was raised from the dead and who sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for us. There is none greater than our victorious Savior. He is able to save us completely because He ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25).
The Assurance of God's Presence: 8:35-39.
Paul starts the chapter with no condemnation and ends with no separation from God. Paul declares the glories of the love of God in Christ Jesus. He is confident that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. This assurance is based on God’s unfailing love which He demonstrated to us through Jesus Christ. It is not our love for Christ but his love for us. Christ loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20). In the midst of present sufferings, we have God’s assurance of His eternal presence. Paul was drawn closer to Christ in suffering and became more conformed to His image (2 Cor 11:23-29; 12:9,10). Through sufferings he learned to trust God. Paul knew that in all our sufferings we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us (8:37). Christ is our advocate in the presence of God against all accusation. Paul was persuaded that nothing in the universe will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:39). Paul explored the present and future things to come to this conclusion. Paul was convinced that no matter what is thrown at us, we will not be separated from God’s love in life or in death. There is no love greater than this everlasting love of God. Nothing can ever defeat what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. Pray that God would guard your hearts and fill your life with his love. What a great Savior!