Romans 8:1–4 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Law Of The Spirit
The individual of Romans 7 is under the condemnation of the law, with a sense of God’s requirements but lacking the ability to live a consistently righteous life. In contrast, is the believer who is in Christ. For such an individual the condemnation of the law is replaced by justification and the love of God filling the life as the Holy Spirit applies the renewing and regenerating influence of grace to the heart.
To be in Christ is the result of the divine influence of grace being allowed to draw and change our hearts. This means, we will “live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God)” (Galatians 5:16 AMP).
The law of the Spirit is the life giving principle of the grace of Christ that molds and directs the life of all who are born again. This law is the impulse to right action and thoughts produced by the surrender of the soul to the Spirit. The law of sin and death then, is the impulse of the natural heart to sin and wrong and this ends in death. A new life in Christ frees us from the life controlling principle of sin and the consequent death sentence that hangs over the transgressor. Paul does not say we are free from the law regarding its unchanging authority, or our obligation in love to keep it, but rather we are free in Christ from the condemnation of the law due to past transgression.
The laws of the Old Testament relating to sacrifices and offerings and the temple services and directions given to the priests were intended to be the gospel in symbols. Further laws, statutes, and judgments were to direct Israel as a nation, as well as provided a guide in society for the conduct and personal interactions and relationships. The moral law given in the Ten Commandments was holy just and good, and has been carried over into the Christian dispensation without change. It is the law in the general sense as well as the moral law that Paul declares is weak. The Old Covenant laws were weak for they were temporary and designed to show the plan of salvation through symbols, but they could never save. The weakness of the moral law however does not mean it is to pass away or be changed in the New Covenant. In fact, the law still stands to condemn and point out sin, and remains a standard of righteousness. The weakness of the law, both the moral, and Old Testament ceremonial laws, is in the inability to provide a means of salvation and a remedy for sin.
More to the point, the weakness is in our human nature to live up to the standard of God’s commands. If the Old Testament Jew or any human being could have lived out the law perfectly and never sinned, the law would have never condemned. The law however being the standard of righteousness, of necessity must condemn unrighteousness; this is its unchangeable nature. The remedy for sin then has never been in the law, the righteousness accounted to Abraham and to all sinners from Adam onward is only righteousness by faith. Faith placed its trust on the sacrifice, which is the substitute for our sins.
In the death of Christ, the righteousness, which is by faith accounted to every generation of believers, is secured. For He is the everlasting Savior, slain from the foundation of the world, meaning He is the true Lamb of God and the only remedy for sin. The knowledge of Christ was given first through type and shadow, ritual and sacrifice, then at the cross in reality, we “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29). Much of the Old covenant ritual and ceremonial laws pointed forward to the Messiah and the moral law that condemns our sin was also intended to point people to the sacrifice for sin seen in figure in the slaying of animals. Where the law could only give the gospel in symbols or point out our sin; God in sending Christ provided the true atoning sacrifice for sin.
Jesus came to demonstrate the righteousness of heaven and the character of God in His life and teaching, and giving us a pattern to live by. Christ came not as a god among men; rather He came as a servant, “with a nature like our sinful nature, to do away with sin” (Romans 8:3 TEV). Christ’s sacrificial death did away with sin’s condemnation, and by the mystery of the gospel and redeeming love, He will break the power of the dominion of sin for all who believe in Him, accepting His life and death in their place.
The gospel of Christ is more than a means by which judicial guilt and condemnation are removed. It is sin or the violation of God’s will and commands beginning with Adam and Eve, and repeated in every generation since, that has brought the pain, sorrow and evil, that sin inevitably brings. The gospel then must not only remove the guilt and the sentence of death for transgression, it must be a means by which the heart of man is restored back to at one-mint with his Maker. Atonement then is the drawing of our heart to love and obey God. Therefore, we read, God sent Christ, “So that the righteous and just requirement of the Law might be fully met in us who live and move not in the ways of the flesh but in the ways of the Spirit [our lives governed not by the standards and according to the dictates of the flesh, but controlled by the Holy Spirit]” (Romans 8:4 AMP).
People often believe or emphasize the gospel in such a way, that it is largely about the avoidance of a place called hell and the privilege of eternity in heaven. However, what Adam and Eve lost through transgression is through the gospel to be eventually restored. The gospel then is also about the restoration of the soul, bringing it back to love and appreciation of the Creator, which results in the righteousness of the law being lived out in the life. This comes as we are “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind; and … put on the new man, which after [or by] God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:23–24). The end or result of the individual renewed in Christ is eternal life. Eternity then is for, “He that overcometh [through the everlasting gospel] shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7).
Romans 8:5–8 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
The Way Of The Flesh
The way of the flesh is simply unconverted human nature, and this is the nature which each of us is born with and it tends toward one direction. What is the direction or the mind of the flesh? The word mind means, “to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience).”1 Therefore the mind of the natural heart to a greater or lesser extent is “controlled by its unholy desires… and their minds … pursue those things which gratify the flesh” (Romans 8:5 AMP, words in italics added).
What is the character of the natural heart and what tendencies and attributes manifest themselves? “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these” (Galatians 5:19–21 NLT).
In contrast to the mind or life, which follows the flesh, is the renewed mind of those who are born again. Their tendencies or life direction and pursuit are “after the Spirit.” “The fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:9–10). Here we learn that the fruit, the effect of the Spirit, brings forth a life of moral virtue and kindness. It is a life lived in uprightness of character, and it is a life true to God and to right. God’s Word declares, “No lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). Therefore, a spirituality or religion that neglects or rejects Bible truth and goodness and moral excellence does not proceed from God. As the Spirit works out the light of God’s goodness, righteousness, and truth in our lives, we will prove all things. Proving means, to “test, examine, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy.”2 Living in the Spirit means we seek to examine and prove all things by the light of God’s Word and law, seeking to live, act and think according to this counsel.
To live in the Spirit is “to learn [in your experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]. Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be so in contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them (Ephesians 5:10–11 AMP).
It is obvious life in the Spirit does not come naturally to us, it is the result of the grace of God changing the heart. However we cannot just passively live in the Spirit for we are also told, “kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God)” (Colossians 3:5 AMP). How is the flesh to be subdued, is it by the might of human effort? Here is the answer, “give yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life, and surrender your whole being to Him to be used for righteous purposes” (Romans 6:13 TEV).
Many, even those who call themselves Christians or have religious tendencies might think, certainly as long as I live a relatively good life, with my good outweighing my bad, then heaven will be my home. After all God is love, and I will not be kept out of heaven. Such a philosophy may seem reasonable, however Scripture says, “to be carnally minded is death.” The carnal mind is what every one born into this world has, and further cultivates as they live their life unless they experience a renewed mind. Further, the renewed mind comes not from any human activity, but comes solely by grace through faith.
We read further about the carnal mind which speaks of the direction of the thoughts and purposes, and whose eternal fate is only loss. “Surely you know that the wicked will not possess God’s Kingdom. Do not fool yourselves; people who are immoral or who worship idols or are adulterers or homosexual perverts or who steal or are greedy or are drunkards or who slander others or are thieves—none of these will possess God’s Kingdom” (1 Corinthians 6:9–10 AMP).
Scripture provides for us further descriptions of the carnal mind and what the result shall be of those who refuse the life changing influence of grace. “But as for the cowards and the ignoble and the contemptible and the cravenly lacking in courage and the cowardly submissive, and as for the unbelieving and faithless, and as for the depraved and defiled with abominations, and as for murderers and the lewd and adulterous and the practicers of magic arts and the idolaters (those who give supreme devotion to anyone or anything other than God) and all liars (those who knowingly convey untruth by word or deed)—[all of these shall have] their part in the lake that blazes with fire and brimstone. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8 AMP).
What Is The Spiritual Mind?
We are told to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Is this speaking of just any spiritual philosophy or religion, which is pursued wholeheartedly, and that it will bring peace of mind and everlasting life? To be spiritually minded, is “having the mind set on spiritual things, or filled with holy desires and affections.”3 People from many different religious ideologies can have such thoughts and desires for spiritual things. However, does that bring a true spiritual mind, peace, and eternal life?
Scripture tells us “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV). Sincerity, zeal, and good thoughts and aspirations are not adequate to be assured we are on the path to life and peace. Paul is not telling believers in Rome or the early Christians or you and I, that just any spirituality is sufficient and will bring present peace and eternal life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6). Jesus has shown us the only way to God. The truth He lived, taught, and has left us in the Scriptures, is the only complete revelation that teaches us the knowledge of God, of His character and requirements and the path to salvation. Jesus gives spiritual life that renews and empowers all those who seek and serve Him, and His life removes the condemnation of our sins, and provides to all who are faithful, life eternal at the end of the pilgrim’s way.
To be spiritually minded is to be “under the influence of the Holy Spirit or of holy principles; having the affections refined and elevated above sensual objects, and placed on God and His law.”4 The true spiritual mind comes only to those who are born again. An individual may be religious, and pursuing a path of spirituality or belief and practice, they believe to be right. However, religion and spiritual ideas and practices do not regenerate the mind bringing us under the influence of the Spirit, washed and cleansed by the blood or the merits of Christ. Thus many who are spiritual, are still carnal, in that they cannot accept the gospel, the only remedy for sin, and why is this so? “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The Word of God and His law provide a clear standard to show whether we are carnal or spiritual. Many sincere people who may be Christians, Catholics, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and countless more religious adherents would be shocked to learn they are at war with deity, and are actually the enemies of God. How is this so? We learn all who are not subject or obedient to God’s law are carnal, despite any religion they follow. The moral law is the only standard given to humanity that is to direct our thoughts and actions into the correct worship of God and the treatment of our fellow human beings.
Elements of this moral standard seem to be part of our human nature. For instance, all societies and people recognize the commandment thou shall not kill or steal. However, the law is holy, right and good and its spiritual principles are broad based and are to guide the thoughts, motivations, attitudes and actions. Therefore, to keep the commandments aright means we must be transformed by grace. The prophet said this was the work of God upon the heart,” I [God] will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:26–27 NKJV).
Religious practices even if accompanied with prayer and praise does not necessarily indicate we love God and worship Him aright. For if we do not keep His commandments, meaning His law and counsel found in Scripture, this is an evidence we are still carnal and therefore the enemies of God. Enmity can only be broken in our hearts by the grace and mercy of God through Christ. Jesus “is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. And we can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth” (1 John 2:2–4 NLT).
No matter how religious we may be and how earnestly we follow our practices and ideas if we have not been renewed in Christ then we are living in the flesh. Shocking as it may seem to many in our religiously oriented world “people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; [the evidence that people are controlled by their human nature is clearly demonstrated] for they do not obey God’s law, and in fact they cannot obey it. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God” (Romans 8:7–8 TEV).
The spirituality that brings eternal life and peace with God is not about pleasing ourselves and meeting social and emotional needs through belonging to a group of like believers. Pleasing God is not about religious aspirations that are seemingly fulfilled in the manner that satisfies us. Further, pleasing God is not about following with zeal and rigid adherence the religion passed onto us, because of the culture, ethnicity or family to which we belong. The apostle Paul prayed for an experience in the life of believers and this prayer shows us the life that is pleasing to God.
We … have not ceased to pray and make [special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things—That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition]. [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy.” (Colossians 1:9–11 AMP)
Romans 8:9–11 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Are We In The Spirit Or The Flesh?
The unconverted individual can never please God for they are yet controlled and guided by the flesh. The nature of man apart from the divine influence of grace and love, is prone to sin and therefore opposed to God. Paul writes in the affirmative believing the brethren are not living in the flesh but in the Spirit. This statement however, is only true if the Spirit of God is truly in the believer.
Is there any concrete evidence by which we can know for a certainty the Spirit of God is in us? This vital question needs to be known and understood for “those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.” Mere professors of Christianity are “not truly a child of God” in fact they are “not a Christian at all” (Romans 8:9 NLT, AMP, TLB).
Here is a Scripture passage we need not rush by assuming all is well. The question comes are we really Christians guided by the Spirit of God and is their any proof for our belief?5 Let us look first at Romans 8 for the evidences of the Spirit in the life.
• The righteousness of the law might be fulfilled [to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be6] in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:4)
• So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. (Romans 8:6 NLT)
• Through the power of the [Holy] Spirit you are [habitually] putting to death (making extinct, deadening) the [evil] deeds prompted by the body. (Romans 8:13 AMP)
• The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16–17 NKJV)
Let us take a moment to amplify Galatians 5 that we might understand if we are in the Spirit and thus truly Christians.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another. (Galatians 5:22–26, verses 25–26 NLT)
Love— Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insists on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong] It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” (1 Corinthians 13:4–7 AMP).
Joy—Cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness.
Peace—Quietness, rest. To be at one again with our Maker. In Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.
Longsuffering—Forbearance, fortitude, patience.
Gentleness—Moral excellence of character and demeanor, kindness.
Goodness—Moral goodness integrity and virtue.
Faith—Fidelity, faithfulness, i.e. the character of one who can be relied on.
Meekness—Gentleness, mildness, humility.
Temperance—Self-control, self-restraint. The virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites.
(The definitions for the words above are taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance; Noah Webster American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828; Greek Lexicon, in The Online Bible CD-Rom.)
The fruit of the Spirit in the life of the believer are the principles of heaven worked out in the life and character. The fruit of the Spirit represents the mind and character of Christ. The principles of heaven as seen in the fruit of the Spirit are to develop and mature in our life. To live in the Spirit is to walk or live under the Spirit’s guidance. This is not mindless obedience; rather it is the result of a mind renewed, a mind that chooses to submit to the way of the Spirit rather than the way of the flesh. This will involve much prayer, tears and heartache, and the surrendering of self. It is the pathway of our Lord, who declared, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Living a life in the Spirit is living the life of the cross, and it is the only pathway to heaven. It is the narrow way, the only path we can take in which Christ will walk with us.
The Assurance Of Life Eternal
When Christ lives in us, His character and heaven’s principles become increasingly ours, and are constantly sought for and lived out by faith. Though we are to live under the divine influence of grace, we still live in a sin-debased world, and we live in a body that is still under the curse of sin. Because of this, even Christians will suffer sickness and death. Our bodies grow old and wear out over time and therefore the effects of sin are ever present. However, the Christian is not merely a physical being, for if grace and the Holy Spirit regenerate us we will live a life of righteousness. This is a life of humble trust in God’s mercy to save us, and by His divine influence and our surrender bringing a life of obedience to Him.
The consistent life of righteousness is evidence the Spirit of God has brought to us a new life, it is the power of the resurrection. It is only by resurrection power that we can experience life after being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). And it is by “the power of His resurrection,” that Jesus sets us “free from the law of sin and death” (Philippians 3:10; Romans 8:2).
When the dominion of sin in our life is broken, and by faith the mind and life is kept from sin, it is an evidence we are becoming a partaker of the divine nature. It is by virtue of the Spirit in us that the power of the resurrection, experienced first in a transformed life, shall at last call us from the grave. “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). The surety of the glorious resurrection at the coming of Christ when death and sorrow shall be no more, is evidenced even now, “this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing His glory” (Colossians 1:27 NLT).
Romans 8:12–15 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Debts, Obligations And Privileges
Every human being is a debtor, the meaning of this word is, “one who owes God penalty or whom God can demand punishment as something due, i.e. a sinner.”8 This debt however has been paid in full through Christ’s death and resurrection. Now for those who receive the cancellation of the penalty by faith and are renewed by the Spirit, they live under the obligation of love. “So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to” (Romans 8:12 TEV). Our personal obligation and duty to no longer live a life of sin and a life in the flesh is “because of God’s great mercy to us” for victory over the flesh is motivated by “faith working through love” (Romans 12:1 TEV; Galatians 5:6 NKJV).
Every individual is either living a life dominated by the flesh, his or her unconverted nature, or living in the Spirit, which is a renewed nature. Each nature has a destiny, eternal loss and death or unending life and joy. Which nature lives and thrives in our life, the flesh or the Spirit, is demonstrating whether we have life, or even now are living in a body of death. Because of Christ and the gospel, Paul declares you and I “have no obligations whatever to [our] old sinful nature to do what it begs you to do. For if you keep on following it you are lost and will perish, but if through the power of the Holy Spirit you crush it and its evil deeds, you shall live” (Romans 8:12 TLB).
An indication we are being led of the Spirit is not prophecy and dreams, speaking in tongues and uplifting emotions and worship, or even physical manifestations. Though it is true these things can come from the Spirit, yet they are not a reliable indicator, for another spirit, human or demonic can also be at work in these areas. It is very evident however, the Spirit is in the life of an individual, when they are overcoming the flesh, and seeking to live to honor God in following His Word and law. Such individuals are the children of God. “By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ)” (1 John 3:10 AMP).
Bondage, Fear And Adoption
The child of God is no longer under bondage, and both the Jew and Gentile whom Paul was addressing were alike in a form of slavery. One was seeking the merits of God through ritual in which faith was missing. The sacrifices and ceremonies of the Jews, intended to reveal in symbols a Savior became an end in themselves. Rigid keeping of the law, both God given and man made could not take away sin or change the heart. The gospel of Christ freed all who accepted it from the law, that they might live by grace, and thus render obedience to the law in a way that was pleasing to God.
The Gentiles were also in a state of bondage as they too had a multitude of burdensome rites and ceremonies, and often a multitude of deities to worship. A believer would seek protection through ceremony, ritual and sacrifice to appease or gain the favor of different gods or goddesses. There were gods and spirits in the heavens, the earth and even under the earth to be worshipped or feared, but seldom truly loved, for the deities themselves had no love to give to their adherents. Many times the practices engaged in were degrading to both body and mind. Peter describes “the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols” all of which tends to spiritual, mental and physical bondage (1 Peter 4:3 NLT).
Every individual, Jew or Gentile in the past, and you and I presently, can only be delivered from the fear of death and the bondage of sin and guilt by adoption. The work of adoption falls to the prospective parents, as the child to be adopted does not initiate the process. Prospective parents or their representatives will have interviews to attend, fees to pay, legal documents to sign and much more. So too, the Holy Spirit seeks out those to adopt by convicting of sin, righteousness and coming judgment. However, unlike the human child to be adopted who generally has no say in the matter, we have a choice to make. Will I or not, yield my heart to the Spirit of grace? To those who truly surrender to the Spirit of adoption they become the children of God. For all such, God becomes a Father, the one they love and respect.
Many have a sentimental view of God that is based more on feelings and emotions than real principled love. While there is nothing wrong with feelings and emotion, as they are part of our human character, yet the child of God with a grateful heart for sins forgiven and a growing appreciation for the attributes of God, has more than emotions and feelings, which of themselves are not always reliable guides. Rather the true children of God, who have come to know Him as Father, render obedience to Him in love.
Romans 8:16–18 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Children And Heirs
The Holy Spirit bears witness to our spirit or mind that we are truly children of God. Is the Holy Spirit’s witness, left up to our own evaluation? The word translated witness here means, “to testify jointly, i.e. corroborate by (concurrent) evidence”9 is the Spirit’s witness to be confirmed by our own assessment perhaps how we feel or think? Is their evidence beyond our feelings and personal belief that assures us we are children of God?
Since you are God’s dear children, you must try to be like him. Your life must be controlled by love, just as Christ loved us and gave his life for us as a sweet-smelling offering and sacrifice that pleases God. Since you are God’s people, it is not right that any matters of sexual immorality or indecency or greed should even be mentioned among you. Nor is it fitting for you to use language which is obscene, profane, or vulgar. Rather you should give thanks to God. You may be sure that no one who is immoral, indecent, or greedy (for greed is a form of idolatry) will ever receive a share in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:1–5 TEV, 8–10, 17 NKJV)
If we are God’s children we will possess the blessings, both temporal and eternal He intends for His people. Since our only mediator is Christ and we have been made in Him priests and kings, then in a sense the child of God has the same inheritance as the priests of the Old Testament. To them God said, “I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession” (Ezekiel 44:28). So too, our inheritance is not just eternal life or the blessings to be received presently but it is to know God, and “being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11).
Jesus said those who overcome “I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Revelation 3:21). “He will change our weak mortal bodies and make them like His own glorious body, using that power by which He is able to bring all things under His rule” (Philippians 3:21 TEV).
We are given a condition or rather a reference point, that shows us we are children of God. We read, “together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share His [Christ’s] glory, we must also share His suffering” (Romans 8:17 NLT). What does this mean, we are to share in Christ’s suffering? And does our suffering in any way gain merit with God as some churches or religions teach? It should be clear from our studies thus far that we merit nothing in God’s sight.
The call to suffer with Christ means, “to suffer evils (troubles, persecutions) in the like manner with another.”10 We certainly cannot suffer as Christ did as far as the anguish and wrath He bore for our sins. However, as we live an upright principled life following the Word of God and His law, we will be brought into conflict with the forces of evil and unbelief and wickedness in the world around us. The suffering may be great or small depending on the time and circumstances we live under. But for all the true children of God we “have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him” (Philippians 1:29 NLT). “Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand]” (2 Timothy 3:12 AMP).
“When you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously. But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. ‘And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled’” (1 Peter 2:20–23, 3:14 NKJV).
Peter describes another aspect of suffering for Christ that will be the mark of the true child of God. “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1–2). Therefore, if in living for God and doing what is right in His sight, “[one is ill-treated and suffers] as a Christian [which he is contemptuously called], let him not be ashamed, but give glory to God that he is [deemed worthy to suffer] in this name” (1 Peter 4:16 AMP).
Why must there be a path of suffering before the children of God? Jesus learned obedience by the things that He suffered. (See Hebrews 5:8.) This means Jesus submitted to the will of God regardless of the suffering involved. Jesus met ridicule, reviling, slander, misunderstanding and unbelief, yet He faltered not in following the will of God. His obedience led to His death on the cross. We are to develop the same mind as Christ, and our suffering when we walk in faith and trust develops in us a character that will follow God regardless of the consequences. So, “after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you” (1 Peter 5:10 AMP).
Since we are children of God, we will meet similar circumstances as our elder brother and Savior did. Then let us remember this promise, “let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19).
Romans 8:19–25 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Sin Affects The Whole Of Creation
What does the word creature mean here in these passages from Romans? This is important to know so that we get the sense of what Paul is here teaching. Creature means, “creation i.e. thing created, after a rabbinical usage (by which a man converted from idolatry to Judaism was called).11 The Greek work ktisis is translated creature and also “is used of a man regenerated through Christ.”12 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The word creature can also refer to the created world, a world that is now deranged by sin and especially so after the worldwide flood in the days of Noah. Presently, even creation waits as it were for its deliverance, which comes when God creates a new heaven and a new earth for His saved and redeemed children. At that time when all things are restored to a prefall condition “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the Lord. (Isaiah 11:6, 65:25). “There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will worship Him” (Revelation 21:4; 22:3 NLT).
All of creation was affected by the introduction of sin, but especially mankind. And even much of the degradation seen in creation is caused by humanity’s fall and the debasement of character that has followed. Humanity “against its will, [as well as] all creation was subjected to God’s curse” (Romans 8:20 NLT). All the world’s people from the beginning of time to the present have their origin in Adam and Eve. We as well as creation can say we are not willingly desirous of living under the curse and sorrow that resulted from the fall of Adam and Eve. So, is all of the sin and sorrow this world bears God’s fault? The answer is no, the results of sin or the mystery of iniquity that has ruined much of creation and fills our life with difficulties and trials is because of the vanity of the mind. Vanity here means, “what is devoid of truth and appropriateness, perverseness, depravity, frailty, want of vigour.”13
All of creation from mankind to the smallest forms of life is subject to the vanity brought by the curse resulting from sin. For the human race however, at the very beginning a promise of deliverance was given. For accompanying the curse, “there was hope” (Romans 8:20 TEV). For believers in God, though living in a world debased by sin, we are to experience a mind and character renewed. We have a hope that is evidenced not just in some far off promise of eternal life. Rather as we overcome temptations and sin, and put our trust in God, who sustains us in trials, hope, faith and love develops and matures. The vanity of this world system and the curse we live under, gives to the individual who is being renewed day by day in Christ the opportunity for the development of Christian character. Thus this world marred as it is by sin, is to be a training ground that fits us for our home in heaven and eventually on the earth made new.
The release of all of creation from the curse of sin is not just a theoretical idea. For even now, as the child of God lives in liberty, this provides evidence of the fact, that creation itself shall eventually be delivered from the curse. The liberty that is the also the promise of deliverance for the believer and eventually all of creation from the corruption and decay of death in sin is defined this way: “freedom from the dominion of corrupt desires, so that we do by the free impulse of the soul what the will of God requires.”14 Then “as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).
All of humanity with the created world groaneth together which means, “(figuratively) experience a common calamity.”15 That calamity is the trials, difficulties and eventual death, brought about by sin. Even the child of God is not immune from this world’s difficulties and pain. All of the religions of the world teach and their adherents too, have a longing and belief in something beyond the darkness of this life. However, only the Christian is given the down payment, of not only a hope, but also the eventuality of eternal life. The down payment or first fruits of the promise from God was “by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything He has promised us. God Himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee He has given us His Holy Spirit” (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5 NLT). “That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:14 AMP).
Though we have the Spirit of grace in our hearts and are enabled to develop the fruit of Christian character and live in the hope and promise of eternal glory, every true child of God continues to groan which is “to sigh, murmur, pray inaudibly.”16 This is not a selfish prayer or internal longing for deliverance from this world and our body of death. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:2–3). Our groaning is that we might be with our Lord who is our Savior, Master and Friend, and that the pain and sorrow that sin causes both heaven and earth may come to an end.
We are saved by grace by the working of the Holy Spirit in our heart convicting us of sin and leading us to a Savior. In this salvation there is brought to our hearts a hope, which is a “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.”17 We should have a well-grounded expectation and confidence of our resurrection and final glorification, when “death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). This hope is not based on feelings, but on the Word of God and our own hearts conversion. Presently while we have the joy of the Lord and walk by faith, the fulfillment of our hope is yet future, and seems to be delayed. Therefore, we are to live patiently as we endure the common trials and tribulations of life, and those that come in consequence of our Christian profession. For we know, “He is faithful that promised, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 10:23, 13:5).
Romans 8:26–27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
The Spirit’s Work In Our Prayers
We are sustained in our pilgrim walk not only by the grace of God and the hope He places in our heart. The Holy Spirit comes into our life at the beginning, working to bring regeneration, and renewing. The Holy Spirit also teaches us, leading us to “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). And here in God’s Word, the Spirit works with our mind leading us to understand the will and purposes of God, of our duty and of the character of God and Christ. It is through the Bible and the Spirit’s guidance in the searching of the Scriptures that we begin to develop a spiritual mind so that we desire “to learn [in our experience] what is pleasing to the Lord [let your lives be constant proofs of what is most acceptable to Him]” (Ephesians 5:10 AMP, words in italics added).
The Spirit also helps us in our infirmities. This help is with our cooperation for helpeth here means, “to lay hold along with, to strive to obtain with others, help in obtaining, to take hold with another.”18 What infirmities does the Spirit work to help us with? Infirmities means, “feebleness (of mind or body); by implication, malady; morally, frailty.”19
One way in which the Spirit works in our life is to lead us to pray aright, placing in us a desire and an earnestness in praying that we might be “filled with the knowledge of His [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). The Spirit prompts us that we might pray correctly with “perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). We are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2 AMP). We should realize that at all times it is appropriate to pray, silently in our hearts through our daily activities or on bended knee.
With the Spirit’s aid we are to “Watch and pray, that [we] enter not into temptation” (Matthew 26:41). The Spirit seeks to lead us to rest our confidence on God and His Word and not to “fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God” (Philippians 4:6 AMP). “And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us” (1 John 5:14 AMP).
The Spirit of God working in our hearts leads us to pray according to God’s will, for left to ourselves in our human weakness of understanding “we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought” (Romans 8:26 AMP). The Spirit intercedes and expresses in words that cannot be uttered through directing our hearts in prayer, even through the unspoken communications of tears, burdens and desires which language fails to express.
The Spirit of God makes intercession for the saints, not through a mysterious prayer language, some call the gift of tongues. For in such prayers be they public or private the one praying has no understanding of what they are saying. Further, such prayer is often repetitious. And repetitious prayer without understanding is not pleasing to God or truly beneficial to ourselves. Jesus said, “when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking” (Matthew 6:7 AMP). The manner in which the Spirit intercedes for us in prayer is to direct our hearts aright. “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, [may your name be honored]. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us” (Matthew 6:9–11 NKJV, verse 12 TEV).
The Spirit makes supplication to God in behalf of the saints. By this is meant the Spirit directs our prayer through His influence upon our hearts. And the Spirit works according to the mind, intention, and purpose of God. When the Spirit is at work in our life, the prayers which we offer up, and our desires and burdens conveyed “in groans that words cannot express” will be pleasing to God. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24), and knows what the mind of the Holy Spirit is. Therefore, God understands what is intended when the Spirit leads the saints to express themselves in words, desires, groans, sighs, or tears. In each case, God reads the language of the Holy Ghost, and prepares the answer according to the request.
Romans 8:28–30 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
Privileges Of The Calling
Songs, books and numerous philosophies have declared that everything will somehow work out in the end. Another similar philosophy is that there is some cosmic power, force or law, that we can learn to control or use to our advantage by positive thinking, so that our life is filled with the desires of our heart. Such ideas are foreign to the Word of God or the promise God has given His children. God declares all things we pass through in life, if we love and are seeking to serve Him, works to our eternal glory and the development of faith, trust and character now in this life. This is not a promise that everything in life will be a blessing and physically or materially to our good and advantage, for this is not always the case.
All things work together for good to those who are called according to God’s purpose. God’s calling is not for a select few, for He desires the salvation of all. However, those who are called, allow the Spirit to draw their hearts and live in faith and love. God’s eternal purpose for His children is that we might be conformed to the image or “likeness, (figuratively) representation, resemblance,”20 of His Son. Therefore, the calling which works for our good is intended for the development of Christian character to the honor and praise of God. Then in everything we pass through in life good or bad, the principles of heaven are to be seen in our actions and character.
God alone can declare “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure:” He “speaks of the nonexistent things that [He has foretold and promised] as if they [already] existed” (Isaiah 46:10; Romans 4:17 AMP).
This is the sense in which God foreknows and thus predestinated believers to salvation because He knows all things and every individual’s decision and direction. Taking in the whole of Scripture, we cannot attribute to God the idea He has chosen some to be elected and saved and others to be lost and dammed. Rather those whom God foreknew (which is the whole human race) has begun a good work in those who have responded to His grace. And He will complete the work of grace, “if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14). God knows from the beginning without in any way predetermining the outcome or choice of any individual, who it is that by His grace and help shall be among those “who endures to the end [and] will be saved” (Matthew 10:22 NKJV).
Each believer has a purpose to fulfill in God’s plan, an experience to gain. Christian character maturity or sanctification is the work of a lifetime, for it involves a life long commitment and ever pressing “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). A Christianity and ministry that does not teach the congregations and thereby, leading individual Christians to believe and seek for conformity to the principles of God in Christ Jesus, is not a calling according to God’s purpose.
God’s call to salvation is to all for He says, “Let all the world look to Me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22 NLT). Despite the fact God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV), not all will be saved. As the light of God’s gospel, love and mercy has come into the world, many ignore or reject it, for “people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed” (John 3:19–20 NLT).
The gospel net is cast widely with both the good and sincere and false professor brought into the church. Only a few follow onto know the Lord, through the strait gate and narrow path and for such ones they are the elect and called. Those whom God calls are justified, set right with Him, they are pardoned and accounted righteous for Christ’s sake. The calling of God that brings justification involves a change of heart, mind and direction, in short a change of character. To be called and justified shows no favoritism on God’s part; for we saw in Romans Chapter 5 how the whole human race was made right through Christ the second Adam. “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Romans 5:18 NKJV). Legal justification or acquittal that has been made available to the whole human family is however, different from the pardon that is actually experienced. The availability of pardon to all and actually experiencing it are two different things. Therefore, God can make salvation available to all and yet due to His omnipresence and thus His ability to see the end from the beginning, has in this sense chosen the elect. Some would take this to mean once saved always saved, yet eternal security is only the result of life long surrender, faith and love.
Those whom God calls and justifies He glorifies, glorification comes when this mortal puts on immortality. However, Paul uses the word in the present tense. Both the Jew and Gentile who are called to the gospel are to be “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). Further God who “commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). The believer who is called, and justified is to be “filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:11).
To be glorified is to experience the gospel and grace of God, growing up into the Lord day by day and “to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For He called you to share in His Kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12 NLT). To be glorified by God in this life preparatory to the final glorification of eternal life at the second coming of Christ is “God bringing Christians to a heavenly dignity and condition.”21 “God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that He should make Jesus, through His suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation” (Hebrews 2:10 NLT). Therefore we are told “You have been raised to life with Christ, so set your hearts on the things that are in heaven, where Christ sits on His throne at the right side of God. Keep your minds fixed on things there, not on things here on earth For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:1–2 TEV, verse 3 AMP). There will be no eternal glory and immortality unless in this life we are justified and learn to live to the glory of God, for glorification begins now and involves a character made right through the blood of the Lamb.
Romans 8:31–39 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh 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 thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that 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 creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God Is For Us
In light of the whole epistle thus far and verses 28–30, what can we rightly conclude? “If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]” (AMP). God called Abraham and he was justified by faith, and we can experience the same. (Romans 4) God has revealed His love by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still rebels and sinners. (Romans 5) In Christ, we have died and are given a new life having been set free from sin to live as servants of holiness. (Romans 6) The Spirit of God causes us to live out the righteous principles of the law, and the Spirit in our life presently, is the evidence and proof of a future resurrection from the dead. (Romans 8)
Further “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Therefore if God gave Jesus for sinful humanity, will He not give those whom He has made sons and daughters, “all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue?” (2 Peter 1:3). The answer is yes. Jesus has also told us, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings” (Matthew 6:31–34 NKJV).
In verses 34 to 36 a series of questions are asked, the purpose of which is to show the full sufficiency for the believer of the grace, love, and merits of Christ in our behalf. If God has justified us, who is able to lay any charges against us? Satan who is our adversary and accuser finds his accusations against the individual who is in Christ to be of no effect. Though family or friends may condemn us for our past life, we are forgiven in Christ, and born again to live a new life to the glory of God and the shame of our accusers.
Our freedom from condemnation is in the eyes of God not necessarily from others, for Christ has died and been raised again for our justification, and Christ lives to make intercession for us. Sin brings condemnation and we are to be free from sin by the grace of God. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The love of God and Christ for lost humanity has been clearly demonstrated at the cross. Further, “If we are faithless [do not believe and are untrue to Him], He remains true (faithful to His Word and His righteous character), for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Timothy 2:13 AMP). So then, we know that the love of Christ, His grace and Spirit is not withdrawn or is ineffective because we pass through difficulties. Further, verses 34 to 36 is telling us that the love of God in the heart of the believer who is washed, cleansed, and regenerated by the Spirit cannot be extinguished by even the greatest trials.
Believers in Paul’s time to the present have faced many tribulations, even seemingly beyond human endurance. Believers have experienced hardships from governments, religious organizations and society for their faith in Christ. Nothing was able to separate God’s love from them or remove their love for God, for they knew how “dearly God loves us, [believers] because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love” (Romans 5:5 NLT).
Our love for Christ and His love for us cannot be extinguished by tribulation, which means “pressure, oppression, affliction, distress, straits.”22 Neither can distress, which is “dire calamity, extreme affliction,23 or being hemmed in on every side by difficulties and circumstances, without the possibility of getting out or escaping, lessen our love for God. For in such situations our only consolation and help is Christ. The persecution faced by countless millions of Christians over the ages does not prove the non-existence of God; neither has the persecution of the saints shown He no longer loved them. Further, the bravery and fidelity of the saints even in difficulty or mistreatment demonstrated their great love for Christ was not human derived but divinely inspired. Thus, the saints past and present pass through persecution without wavering in faith.
If a believer passes through famine, is this an indication that God is untrue or does not exist, and that our faith and love in Him is misplaced? No not at all, for God has promised, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: He is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:18–20).
If a believer should be brought to destitution or nakedness would not this, indicate God no longer loved us and be a strong reason for our love and trust in God to be quenched? Paul says no, not even poverty.
What about peril faced by the believer or which exists in the world in times of uncertainty due to war, pestilence or economic hardships. Peril is “a state of extreme and continued danger, perplexing and distressing with grievous forebodings and alarms; derived from [the Greek word kinei] it excites anguish; because much evil is felt, and much more feared.”24 Is peril enough to separate our love and trust from God? No, not to those who know Him and who have been called and justified.
Is the power of the sword such, that this would indicate God’s love is no longer there for us, or should be set aside in our hearts, again the answer is no. Sword used here means “war, judicial punishment,25 “as the instrument of a magistrate or judge.”26 Though their life should be lost unjustly because of death inflicted by civil authorities the believer’s faith and love still burned strong. The love of Christ in the heart has throughout time to the present led the true people of God to refuse “to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life” (Hebrews 11:35 AMP).
As one studies the history of the people of God from the beginning of the church in the days of the apostles to the present, untold hundreds of millions of believers have suffered persecution, death, injustice, slander and mockery. Surely this must reveal the impotence of God and that our love for Him is a delusion or mistaken. However this is not the case, the Christian faith has not been crushed out, and true Christianity shall stand and bear witness to the end of time. Despite the narrowness of the path to heaven and the difficulties encountered in following Christ, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
The apostle Paul passed through all the difficulties he mentioned in the above passages, yet he declared, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you. But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, ‘I believed in God, so I spoke’” (2 Corinthians 4:8–13 NLT).
Paul was persuaded and you and I can have the same unyielding confidence and trust in God no matter what comes. The key to overcoming and being conquerors over the various things Paul is bringing out here is to “live in union with Christ Jesus” and “no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:1 TEV, verse 4 NLT).
The death we face or is all around us, or whatever life brings us, or even deceiving angelic or human messengers are alike incapable of separating us from the love of God. Though the principalities and powers of earth or hell may be arrayed against us they too shall fail to separate God’s love from us or ours for Him. Nothing we experience presently or forebodings of the future can separate us from the love of God and our confidence and trust in Him.
No height-of worldly honor or greatness, nor depth-of dishonor, indignity or lowliness can separate us from the love of God, who is no respecter of persons. Neither should our situation in life be the basis of our love for God, so circumstances cannot quench love. Is there any thing in all of creation that “will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord?” (Romans 8:39 NLT). The answer to that question is no, God’s love cannot be extinguished, and if we surrender to Him day by day “and walk in love, as Christ also has loved us” (Ephesians 5:2), then nothing that this world offers or withholds is a strong enough inducement to quench our love for Him who first loved us.
Only unbelief, sin and compromise is capable of causing us to lose our love, and then only as we resist the grace of God. Jesus has warned us “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). May the books of record and the witness of our life be that “our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ,…] and by faith preserve the soul” (Hebrews 10:39 AMP). May God help you and I to be faithful unto the end that we might be among the called, chosen and elect.
1. Strong’s Greek Dictionary of the New Testament. Accordance 8 Bible Software Hypertexted and formatted by Oaktree Software, Inc.
2. Greek Lexicon, in The Online Bible CD-Rom, Macintosh Version 4.03 (Niagara Falls, NY: Cross Country Software, www.online-bible.com, 2009).
3. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary. Version published in 1913 by the C. & G. Merriam Co., Springfield, Mass., under the direction of Noah Porter, D.D., LL.D. Accordance 8 Bible Software. Public Domain Electronic text hypertexted and prepared by OakTree Software, Inc.
4. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language. (San Francisco, California: Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
5. As an aid to assist in answering the question, the reader is encouraged to read the author’s book, The Holy Spirit in The Christian Experience, which can be found at www.inspirationspeaks.com as free ebook.
6. Greek Lexicon, in The Online Bible CD-Rom, Macintosh Version 4.03 (Niagara Falls, NY: Cross Country Software, www.online-bible.com, 2009).
7. Noah Webster, op cit.
8. Greek Lexicon, op cit.
9. Strong’s op cit.
10. Greek Lexicon, op cit.
12. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, By Joseph Henry Thayer, D.D. Public Domain. Accordance 8.0 Bible Software, formatted and hypertexted by OakTree Software, Inc.
13. Greek Lexicon, op cit.
14. Thayer op cit.
15. Strong’s op cit.
17. Thayer op cit.
18. Greek Lexicon, op cit.
19. Strong’s op cit.
21. Thayer op cit.
24. Clarke’s Commentary on Romans 8:35. Public Domain
25. Strong’s op cit.
26. Thayer op cit.