Romans 8 is one of those passages that I just love. In particular, I constantly remind myself of the conclusions that Paul draws in verses 31-39: since God is for us, nothing and nobody can stand against us. We cannot be accused – for in Christ we have already been made right in God’s sight. We cannot be condemned, because Jesus sits at the right hand of God pleading for us. And nothing can separate us from Christ’s love. When we go through hard times it doesn’t mean that God has stopped loving us – for he has already given us an overwhelming victory over sin and death. As those who are in Christ, we share his suffering… but the glory that shall be revealed to us – and in us – is incomparably more wonderful.
The whole passage centers on what it is to belong to Jesus. There is condemnation, writes Paul, because those who belong to Jesus have been freed from the power of sin (which, as we saw yesterday, leads to death), by the power of the Spirit who gives life. We’ve seen already that sin twists God’s law to bring about my condemnation. And so, for love of us, God sent his Son. Jesus, who as God could alone obey God’s law perfectly, was sacrificed under the law for us.
This is the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian: The Christian is controlled by the Holy Spirit, and the non-Christian is dominated by their sinful nature. And we can choose between the two. If we let the sinful nature control how we think and act, then we are on the path to death. But if we let the Spirit control how we think and act, we are on the narrow path to life and peace.
Which of these controls my life? It’s a fallacy to say that “I” control myself. I will either obey the sin that lurks within me, or I will surrender control to the Spirit of God. And the thing is, if the Spirit is actually in me, then I should be surrendering to the Spirit of God. He is, as we’ve seen, stronger than sin. If I continually and persistently refuse him control…. do I really, as Paul wonders, belong to God?
But as a Christian, I know that the Spirit does live in me. I know that Christ lives in my by that Spirit. And I know that though my body may die, God will give me life because I have been made right with him through Jesus.
Paul’s right: I don’t owe my sinful self any favours. I hate the things that I have done under the impulse of my sinful nature. And so, I too am resolved to put top death the deeds of the sinful nature by the Spirit’s power. I can’t do that by will-power alone. I need a power stronger than that of sin… I need God himself.
And I am his. I am his child. I need fear no evil, for he is with me (doesn’t Romans 8 make you think of Psalm 23?) I need not fear the evil within me, nor the sufferings of this life. I long for the day when both are undone, when I am made perfectly anew like Jesus. When sin is banished from my person. But until then, I will strive to live according to God’s will by his Spirit’s power. The Spirit will pray for me. God will care for me. Jesus will intercede for me. And though sin’s fate is banishment, I know that that will never be mine. Because I know Jesus…. and I know that he loves me. I know I am God’s adopted child.
I know, Father. Help me to know it better. And thank you. Please – have control of my lfie. Please – help me to put to death my sinful deeds. Thank you for loving me so much.