Romans 8

There is a question in all our minds. “Will I lose God?” The battle between sin and righteousness wages inside, and we wonder, who is going to win? God knows this. That’s why he gave us Romans 8 to drill the assurance of his love and care into our heart. Faith will succeed where the law failed because the life of faith is lived in the Spirit of God, and nothing can defeat him.

Romans 8:1-17

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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.

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The law failed to reform our sinful hearts. But God in mercy sent Jesus to save us, and in his salvation, he gave us the Holy Spirit. His presence in our life creates a new reality as he reminds us of the sufficiency of God to save. All our failures are undone by Jesus’ successful work. In return, all Jesus’ success is given to us failures. As a result, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because there is no longer any condemnation for Jesus. He was condemned on the cross as our substitute, but in his resurrection, he threw off condemnation, rising to glory. The law of the Spirit of life has set us free from sin and death. Yet we wonder if our salvation is secure. And for good reason.

We took the law of God and weakened it by our sinful flesh. It couldn’t do the work of making us holy because something was deeply wrong with our heart. So, Jesus took the situation in his hands and by willingly allowing those very hands to be pierced, hung on the cross to cleanse our sin-stained heart. Jesus made himself like us and stumbled to the cross with the weight of the world so that we could strut into heaven with the weight of glory. He picked us up and placed us on a new path. He gave us a new way of life. He did this for us, without consulting us, because he loves us. He broke into our world to give us a new way to live. The old way just wasn’t working.

But the new way holds promise. The way of the flesh leads to sin and death. The way of the Spirit leads to joy and life. The mindset of the flesh is a mindset hostile to God (v. 7) and cannot please God (v. 8). Even good things done in the flesh are against God. But the mindset of the Spirit is not hostile to God. It loves God. What’s the difference? Those in the flesh lack the indwelling of God himself in the person of the Holy Spirit. We receive him not by mere will-power and not by obeying the law, but by grace from God himself. Salvation is a passive work on our end because of the active work on God’s end. We are recipients of new life.

Being a recipient of new life doesn’t create lazy Christians. It creates hard-working Christians because we now have a power to obey. We have a new mentality—one that reaches for the things of God above the things of the flesh. To be saved is not only to be saved from sin. It is also to be saved to God. And we have no small power churning our engine. We have the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Every Christian is like a nuclear bomb walking around on earth. We have the most explosive, most life-giving, most powerfully creative life force in existence. We have God. We have everything we will ever need—all acceptance, all approval, all satisfaction, all joy, all of God right in the center of our being. We’ve been remade!

But it’s not natural. Living in the flesh comes naturally. Living in the Spirit comes supernaturally. One kills us. The other kills what kills us. Which, then, is more lovely? Which deserves our utmost? To whom are we debtors? To the flesh or to God? Who follows what is dead? Christians follow a living Savior.

By grace, our future is staked not on the dead lineage of Abraham, but on the living Fatherhood of God. We’ve been adopted into his family, and adoption doesn’t happen by chance. It is carefully thought out, planned for, and legally obtained. So it is with our salvation. God chose you, sent Jesus for you, and paid the price for you.

We could not be more loved. But in moments of sin, we wonder if we’re going to make it. And in that moment, God has not left us as orphans. In fact, the word Paul uses in verse 16 for “children” refers to a nuance of adoption in the ancient world where an adopted son received an inheritance that even biological children might not receive. In God’s adoption, he comes to dwell with us inside our heart. When we doubt his love, his love lives on inside to bear witness to us that we are his children. We can cry, “Abba, Father!” We are his children, not just legally on paper, but relationally in the heart. We not only have God as Father, we also have our big brother, Jesus, graciously giving us his inheritance. We’ve gone from the poverty of slavery to sin to the riches of life in Christ.

The key to enjoying God more is not to look deeper into ourselves. There we only find massive failure because of sin or false success due to pride. We must look upward to God and see in the gospel the fullness that he is, and all that he’s freely given to us. Enjoying God is beholding God, and in beholding God we forget about our self-defeat or self-worth and start remembering the banner God raised over our head—“No condemnation!”

Romans 8:18-30

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons 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 will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

The world is suffering, but God grants hope. Hope lifts our eyes to God, and God never lets us down. A resolution to all the evil inside of us and all around us is coming. It is inevitable because Jesus has come to begin the effort of undoing evil in his life and death. This sin-stained world is being washed by the blood of Christ. We believers are the first fruits of that great work. What we long for is on its way. Jesus is coming back to restore the world. His plan is cosmic. And as he restores it all, creation will stop groaning and start clapping in joy.

But we remain weak people. The law, which was once our master, gave no help in our weakness. When we failed, the law condemned. But Christ, our new Master, doesn’t condemn (v. 1), he frees (v. 2). Paul returns to this idea now. How far does Christ free us?

In verse 26, Paul says the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. In those moments when words fail, tears stream, and groans abound, God himself is there groaning alongside with us in the language of the Almighty’s heart. He says the things we cannot say to the one who we cannot imagine loves us so that we can receive the comfort we cannot obtain on our own.

We can’t know everything about God, but one thing we can know is summed up in verse 28, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” This verse is not a verse for everyone in the world. It is a verse for God’s chosen people. The way we know we’re chosen is if we love God. And if we love him we love him enough to entrust our lives to him. He is wiser than we are. He knows what’s best. And what’s best doesn’t always look like it’s best. But that’s because our view is so limited. From God’s vantage point, everything is working for our good.

God even uses the bad things that happen in our lives for our good. That’s the kind of God he is. He’s a redeemer. He’s a savior. He’s a storyteller. And the story he’s telling of your life includes some bad things. But his plan for you is glorious, and in his glory, he will flip all the bad you experience into good in the end. That’s hard to believe, but that’s why he asks us to trust him. If we will trust him, he will prove himself. Verse 30 shows us how. “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

All in Christ are on their way to Christ-likeness. He foreknew us, predestined us, called us, justified us, and will glorify us. This is all one unbroken chain. Every one is true, not just some of them. The end is glorification. The answer to the great question of our heart is, “Yes, I am safe in Christ.”

God’s foreknowledge is not seeing our obedience in advance and therefore loving us. It is his predetermining before the foundation of the world to create us, love us, and redeem us. It is his choosing of us at an individual level, before we could do anything good or bad. He started all this for our good and he’ll end it all for our good.

God’s predestination is not a fatalistic inevitability. It is a loving decision to conform us to the image of his Son in love. He decided beforehand through his foreknowledge to bring us to himself, and he’ll do what it takes to get us there.

God’s calling is not a question to see if we’re interested. It’s a changed heart to save us. It’s a rescue as we’re drowning in sin. He calls, we hear, and he saves as we trust him. It’s his work that involves our work by his sovereign hand.

God’s justification is not a legal document that can be appealed later. It is his setting us right with him once for all. In the cross of Christ, he paid the penalty for our sin and poured out all his wrath. In the resurrection of Christ, he accepted the payment and cleared our record. We are as secure as Christ is.

God’s glorification is not a baseless promise. It is the inevitable result of all that has come before. Amazingly, we are glorified now through our union with Christ. We are seated in Franklin, TN but we are also seated with Christ in heaven. And our future is not left in limbo. We’re given assurance. Since we’ve seen all the rest, he will in the end fully glorify us as well. One day we will be like Christ, free from sin to live with God forever. God’s aim is to conform us into the image of his Son.

This chain is unbreakable because it is held in the heart of God. No one can break in and steal what he has determined because no one can overrule him. The only thing we have to fear is sin, but even that has been paid for at the cross. We’re left with nothing but God’s best, hand delivered to us by his Spirit.

Romans 8:31-39

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

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

Try as we may, there is no objection before these great promises of God. What can we say? God loves us. And because God loves us no one can do anything about our path to glory. Verse 32 is the greatest argument in the Bible for assurance of salvation. God has done the hardest work already. He won’t hold back now. He gave his Son to gain us. Why would he let go?

Not only is our future guaranteed, or present trials are mitigated. We face an onslaught of accusation each day. Our flesh tries to condemn us through sin. Satan attempts to twist God’s own words to destroy our faith. The world offers every kind of evil on a silver platter with a smile. But who can bring any charge against us before God? God has justified. The greatest person in the universe has looked deeper inside us than even we can ourselves and has proclaimed over us “JUSTIFIED!” J.I. Packer says, “Nobody can produce new evidence of your depravity that will make God change his mind. God justified you with his eyes open.” Who then can condemn?

Jesus has done all, is doing all, and will do all that is required to usher us home. And because Jesus is the most trustworthy person in the universe, we can safely rest in his promises. He died for us, he rose for us, he intercedes for us, he’s not going to get tired of us and give up now. Nothing will separate us from God because God himself wants us, and God always gets what he wants.

Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword may all come our way. But no matter what power they use against us, there is another power greater standing within us. All they can do is kill our body. They can’t kill the soul God has saved. The dying love of Jesus is our great hope, our great joy, and our great assurance. Take heart, he has overcome the world.