There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 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, 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. 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. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 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. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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.
- Those who are in Christ are not condemned.
- The law of the Spirit has set us free for the law.
- The law of the Spirit has set us free in Christ Jesus.
- The law is a law of sin and death.
- God has done what the law could do.
- The law could not set us free.
- The law was weakened by the flesh.
- Jesus was in the likeness of sinful flesh.
- God sent Jesus.
- Jesus is God’s son.
- God condemned sin in the flesh by sending Jesus in the form of sinful flesh.
- God condemned sin in the flesh so the righteousness required by the law might be fulfilled in us.
- Righteousness of the law has been fulfilled in us who do not live according to our flesh but according to the Spirit.
- Those who live according to the flesh think about things of the flesh.
- Those who live according to the Spirit think about things of the Spirit.
- Thinking about things of the flesh results in death.
- Thinking about things of the Spirit brings peace and life.
- The mind that is set on fleshly things is hostile towards God.
- The mind that is set on fleshly things does not submit to God’s law.
- The mind that is set on fleshly things cannot submit to God’s law.
- Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
- If the Spirit of God dwells in us we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.
- Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them does not belong to God.
- If Christ is in you, the body is still dead because of sin.
- If Christ is in you, the Spirit is life because of Christ’s righteousness
- If God, who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in us He will give life to our mortal bodies.
- God raised Jesus from the dead.
- God gives life to our mortal bodies through the Spirit
- The Spirit dwells within us.
In the first 7 chapters Paul explained that we have all sinned and justly deserve the wrath of God. Then, we are without excuse because the law showed us what righteousness is. But we could not fulfill the requirements of the law. Therefore, Paul points out that the law does not help us because the law relies on us to fulfill its requirements. Alas we cannot fulfill the law because of our sinfulness. If Paul would have stopped there, he would have left us in a dark and depressing state. Instead Paul now turns to our hope. In spite of all that we have done, and in spite of all that we are, we do not stand condemned so long as we are in Christ Jesus.
By showing us righteousness, the law condemns us because we cannot do as it requires. Paul is not condemning the law. The law is fine and righteous. What Paul is condemning is our sinful nature. We cannot attain righteousness on our own. We are by nature sinful. But what of free will? Can I not choose to do good? Can I not choose to be righteous? Our very nature is sinful. We cannot choose to change our nature any more than we could choose to change our race. The weakness in the law was that it relied on you and me. And we, individually and collectively, are incapable to fulfilling the requirements of the law.
Is Paul saying we do not have free-will? According to Paul those who hold to a synergistic view of salvation, that is that regeneration is dependent on man’s acceptance of God’s grace, think too highly of themselves. They think too highly of themselves because they must believe there is some island of righteousness in them that desires God. Paul expressly affirms here, it is impossible for us to bring ourselves to God because we are enemies of God. We are not seeking after Him nor do we even have our minds on Him. The Synergist claims the heart can turn either toward God or against God, and that the choice is ours. But Paul states while we are in the flesh we set our mind on the flesh, not on God. Yes, it is ours to choose or refuse but we only choose the flesh because that is where our mind is. Paul states very clearly the heart is fully stubborn and unwilling to obey. Therefore, we are never naturally moved to submit to God. Paul says not only do we not submit we cannot submit because of the sin that is within us. The idea of free will, as it is commonly understood today, i.e. the ability to choose God, is a pagan philosophy foreign to the scripture. We must all acknowledge we are by nature sinful and we are made free by the grace of Christ. The work of regeneration is wholly and completely a gift from God.
Christ came bodily in the form of man, made out of the same physical material as you and me. Christ fulfilled the requirements of the law, living a sinless life. In doing so he condemned not us but sin. He then has joined us to Himself. Therefore, the fear of the judgment of God, the wrath of God, the justice of God is no more so long as we are in Christ. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us. If His spirit is in us there is no condemnation. We have been freed from the wrath of God. Christ satisfied the requirements of the law for us.
The word translated flesh may be understood to mean our physical body in some cases. But whenever it is used in scripture in contrast to the Spirit, it refers to our nature not our physical bodies. Therefore, to be in the flesh is to be slaves to our own nature. It is the same thing as to be without the gift of regeneration. Every unregenerate person lives according to the flesh or their own nature. Nothing comes from the efforts of our nature or flesh except death, because it opposes the will of God. The will of God is our righteousness.
What are the characteristic of unregenerate persons? They live according to their own nature, their own free will. But those who are living according to the Spirit and will of God think in terms of pleasing God. When Paul says, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Paul wants to make clear that salvation is a gift from God. It is totally His work. When we are in the flesh, we do not submit ourselves to God. In fact, we cannot submit to God. Since we cannot submit to God’s law, we cannot please God.
But if the Spirit dwells in us, we do not live according to our own nature or the flesh. We submit ourselves to God. And if the Spirit does not dwell in us, we do not belong to Christ. We are not part of His body.
We may be in the Spirit and still suffer physically, however, if we are in Christ we live. Because of sin our bodies will die. But if the Spirit lives in us we will live because of Christ Jesus’ righteousness. It was the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead. If that same Spirit dwells in us, we will also be given life.
Those who would argue against the idea that our regeneration is totally and completely the work of Christ point to verses where we are commanded to repent and believe. Those, they argue, are things we must do. And they are correct. We must do those things. But our ability to do those things requires a change in our nature before we can do them. What does it mean to repent? It means to say, “I’m sorry.” What is required before you can say you are sorry? You have to actually be sorry. You have to have a change. That is regeneration.
The scriptures points repeatedly to the fact that salvation is from the Lord. Our ability to repent is a gift from God. Peter told the high priest and the senate of Israel, God gave repentance to Israel (Acts 5: 31), Again when Peter was criticized by the church in Jerusalem about going into the house of a gentile. Peter explained everything that happened. And, “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.’” (Acts 11:18) Here again God granted repentance. It was a gift from God.
Why is it important that we understand this truth. It is important so that we do not try to steal any glory that belongs to God and attribute it to ourselves. As the church in Jerusalem, let us praise God for His gift of repentance.