God delivers us from slavery to sin and death and gives us life through the Spirit!
People consider the Book of Romans as one of Paul’s most significant letters to the churches, and right there in the middle of this letter we find Romans 8. This chapter is a key component in the New Testament’s description, of the glory of the gospel and Christ’s finished work. Romans 8 shows us how God’s redemption story so completely changes us from suffering to celebration, from bondage to freedom, from death to resurrection. This study examines how God changes us in Christ.
By exploring Romans 8, we will touch on some of the highlights of this key theme in Scripture. Romans 8 explains how believers have undergone a radical transformation from being slaves of sin and fear to becoming children of God; children who can live with full assurance and hopeful anticipation that God will one day make all things new.
What are some of the ways you have been changed by the gospel? What are some ways you still want to be changed? The way that the gospel changed me was that it set me free from the bondage of this world and the sin that pulls me away from God. The sway of the evil had me trapped in the lies and emptiness of this world, and I was a slave to that sinful lifestyle.
First off, we are going to see that we have gone from slaves to sons. Think about the parable of the prodigal son who asked his father for his inheritance, which he used up on wild and shallow living. He lost it all and ended up in a pig pen eating pig food and then finally came to his senses. What did he do?
He decided to go back home and ask for forgiveness and that he would become his Father’s slave and work for him. Imagine the son’s gratitude and love for his father when he was taken back as a son, not as a servant. This is how we should respond when we read Romans 8:12-17.
It’s in this passage that Paul summarized this transformation we experience by the power of God’s grace. It starts in stating therefore in verse 12 which means in light of what was just stated in the verses before that. So let’s look back in the beginning of Romans Chapter 8. Read Romans 8:1-17
It tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and that the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death. We have been called to freedom by the Spirit through Christ Jesus so we must not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh but through love serve one another (Gal.5:13).
Rom 8:5 tells us that for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For us to be fleshly minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. We cannot allow ourselves to be entangled in the bondage of sin because we have been set free. We must not allow sin to rule or reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey its lusts.
The thing is we cannot set our minds on the flesh or we will live by the flesh, we must set our minds on the Spirit so as to walk in the Spirit. How do we do that? We need to protect our hearts and our minds by not allowing the things of the world to infiltrate our hearts and our lives so that we become conformed to the world. But instead we need to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom.12:2), by being renewed in the Spirit of mind (Eph.4:23). So that we can walk in the power of the Spirit – because when you are walking in the Spirit you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal.5:16).
We need to protect our minds and fill our minds with transforming truths in God’s Word so that our minds are being transformed, not conformed to the world, but being transformed by the Word. We also need to put on the armor of God as we go into each day and to remind ourselves who’s we are in Christ and that we have been set free from sin and death and now should be slaves to righteousness (Rom.6:18).
Rom.6:11-14 tells us that we must consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to God – therefore, we can’t let sin reign in our mortal bodies, that we should obey in its lusts (must repent). We must present ourselves to God as being alive from the dead and use our members as instruments of righteousness to God.
What would it look like to present our members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin? It would be to lust and pursue pleasure and to fulfill the desires of the flesh, which includes sexual pleasure, hurting others to get what we want. Taking advantage of others for our own personal benefit. All for the benefit of fulfilling our fleshly desires – it tells us in Gal.5:19 that the works of the flesh are evident.
Instruments of righteousness would be that we use our bodies and our minds for what is right. Helping others, loving others, being honest, being truthful, being pure, serving others, building up others, reaching other and so on. Demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit. The struggle we have is that the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these two are opposed to each other (the flesh includes mind, will and emotions, which are subject to sin) Gal.5:17.
I believe if we don’t have the Spirit in us we don’t have the struggle because we are completely given over to and enslaved by sin. But if we have the Spirit in us we have this inner spiritual battle going on as we are in the process of being made more like Christ until our glorification. So those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Rom.8:8-9), but you O man of God are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His (a part of the family of God).
Verse 12 of Romans tells us therefore – we are not obligated or indebted to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. So the Spirit that is in us helps us put to death the deeds of the body. And Gal.5:16 reminds us that if we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The Spirit provides us with the energy and power to continually and gradually be killing our sins, a process never completed in this life. The means that the Spirit uses to accomplish this process is our faithful obedience to the simple commands of scripture and our yielding to the Spirit.
Verse 14 of Romans tells us that those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons. And Verse 15, that we did not receive a spirit of slavery or bondage, that we would fall back into fear – fear of what? Fear of death, fear of rejection, the fear of failure – but instead we received the Spirit of adoption into His eternal family (Rom.8:15). That is because we have received the Spirit of adoption as sons – children of God – in which God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, whom we cry out Abba, Father! (Gal.4:6-7). The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom.8:16). So we should not fear because we have become a part of God’s family and we are under His good care.
We will look at this adoption in Part 2 of Once Slaves, Now Children.