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The Spiritual Mindset of Romans 8


Jim Bullington

Condemned! What an ugly word; what an ugly feeling; what an ugly future!! There is nothing good that condemnation brings to mind. On the other hand, justification is about things that are all good. There is no 'down side" to justification. Romans 7 speaks the dark and foreboding words of condemnation; Romans 8 turns the spiritual tables and declares bright and wonderful blessings that result from the spiritual mindset and from obeying the Gospel of Christ!

A New Relationship with Christ Results from the Spiritual Mindset (8:1-11)

"No condemnation!" What a contrast to Romans 7. Every fiber of one's being under the law screams "Condemnation!" In Christ, the message is exactly the opposite. Hear the relief in Paul's voice as he writes, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death." (8:1-2).

The one who knows no condemnation is the one that walks according to the Spirit. As used in this context, it is clear that Paul contrasts 2 systems (i.e. the system of law delivered by Moses vs. the system of grace delivered by Christ). This type of contrast was clearly spoken of by John when he wrote, "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17). From the outset of the book of Romans, Paul labored to show that salvation only comes through the gospel (1:16). He has clearly proven his case in the intervening chapters; now he tallies the results. One result is the spiritual mind that comes by following Christ and turning away from the carnal ordinances of the Law of Moses. The detested result of the law was death; the glowing result of the gospel is life.

The spiritual mindset seeks God and godliness. It hates the things of the flesh knowing that death is the sure fate of the carnal mind. Just as right thinking people physically prefer pleasant and good things over the unpleasant and ugly, the Christian seeks that which edifies and strengthens. The spiritual mind dwells on God and enjoys prospects of life and peace (8:6). The spiritual mind subjects itself to God, but the carnal mind cannot function in that way (8:7-8). The eternal hope of the spiritually minded is a glorious resurrection (8:11).

The Spiritual Mindset Results in Sonship and Heirship (8:12-25)

Those who walk after the Spirit are called "sons of God" (8:14). Sonship results from our relationship with Christ. When He becomes our elder brother, His Father becomes our Father! What an exhilarating thought! To think that Jesus is my Brother and that His Father is my Father is literally beyond human comprehension.

Beyond the thought of Sonship is the fact of Heirship; I am heir to a fortune that excels a million-fold the fondest imaginations of my heart. The collective creation travails as it longs for the perfection that will some day be realized in Christ. The individual creature eagerly but patiently desires the change that will some day come. Tribulation now; glory later!

Like the souls that cried out under the altar in the book of Revelation (6:9-10), the heirs of God presently cry, "How Long, O LORD? How long?" Some day the purchased possession will be claimed by the Father and the hope of creation will be realized. Until then, Paul and those of kindred faith are "... eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." (Romans 8:23). Sonship and Heirship Blessings that exceed our abilities to imagine!

The Spiritual Mindset Results in Special Work by the Spirit (8:16, 26-28)

We know that Christ becomes our Brother and His Father becomes our Father, but what of the Spirit? The chapter under consideration says two things of which we take note at this time. First, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." (Romans 8:16), and "Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Romans 8:26).

Before declaring what the first passage teaches, lets state what it doesn't teach. This is necessary due to the appeal of error to mystical acts and deeds of all kinds as confirmation of a multitude of equally erroneous doctrines. For instance, all who claim that salvation (forgiveness of sins) is an experience that can be confirmed by feelings contradict the scriptures. Consciousness may tell us how we feel, but it cannot tell why we feel that way. Reason tells why. This fallacy is used by numerous proponents of false religions (Mormons, Pentecostals, Shamans, Witchdoctors and others). As a simple statement of fact, the Bible teaches that feelings come from faith, not vice versa!

The verse simply states that the Spirit bears witness with our spirit; it does not say "to our spirit." To bear witness "with" is to give testimony that is consistent with that of another. The verse does not declare how He does this. It would seem reasonable that He does it in the same way He bears other testimony of Divine Facts, namely through the scriptures. The Spirit declares what one must do in order to be saved and declares the promises that are to be received based on that obedience. Our spirit knows whether or not we have obeyed these commands. If we have, our spirit is in agreement with the testimony of the Holy Spirit, thus confirming forgiveness and the receipt of other blessings promised by the gospel.

The second passage says that the Spirit helps us by interceding before the Father on our behalf with regards to prayer. He does this because "we do not know what we should pray for as we ought." How and when He does this is not revealed in the inspired record. The fact that He does it is a matter of faith that must be accepted on the evidence given. Any claim as to how the Spirit does this is a matter of human speculation that is beyond our ability to know. Also, any theory that has the Spirit of God speaking with unintelligible sounds is inconsistent with the fact that He is God, the third member of the Trinity. It seems likely that the groanings that cannot be uttered are ours, not His. He hears our groanings just as He heard the groanings of His children in Egypt (see Stephen's comments at Acts 7:34). He takes our malformed and mis-formed thoughts and joins Christ, interceding on behalf of His saints before the throne of God (see Romans 8:34).

The Spiritual Mindset's Grand Finale

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.' Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


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