Someone has said that if stranded on a deserted island and only one chapter from a Bible washed up on shore, Romans 8 would be the chapter of wish. It is hard to argue with that choice. Romans 8 covers in succinct form everything Christians need to know about how the Christian life works. It covers salvation, sanctification, glorification, the role of all three persons of the godhead in salvation, the place of suffering in the Christian life, the place of good works, how prayer works, and our future assurance of resurrection. A special focus on our security occurs as verse one assures us of no condemnation and the last verse (v. 39) assures us of no separation.
It is instructive that the Holy Spirit is mentioned only five times in Romans chapters 1-7 and only eight times in Romans chapters 9-16 for a total of thirteen mentions in fifteen chapters, but twenty-one times is the Holy Spirit mentioned in Romans 8 alone. Truly Romans 8 is about life in the Spirit. Verses 5-11 are about the changes the Holy Spirit makes in believers’ lives so we can live the Christian life. This is such a contrast with every other religion on the face of the earth. Verse 3 says, For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. Every other religion is about what people DO for God to earn His favor. Christianity is about what God has DONE for us to give us His favor in Christ, and then what His Holy Spirit DOES in us to live the Christian life. Truly, every other religion is spelled DO, but Christianity is spelled DONE. And then it is spelled DOES because of the work of the Spirit in us. John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress, put it in such an excellent couplet:
Run, John run, the law commands, but gives us neither feet nor hands.
Better news the gospel brings; it bids me fly and gives me wings.
The Holy Spirit’s changes are like being given spiritual wings so we may please God.
- 5 – a new mind set (those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit)
- 6 – a new life in fellowship with God (to set the mind on the Spirit is life)
Vv. 6-8 – a new submission to God (the mind set on the Spirit is…peace [toward God])
Vv. 9-11 – a new assurance of eternal life that includes future resurrection of the body
All this prepares for, and leads to, the only commands found in Romans 8: So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 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, vv. 12-13.
When I was converted as a teenager, I didn’t understand all of this. These Romans 8 changes the Holy Spirit had made were undefined to me. I just knew that I was different. This new lifestyle had begun exactly as described in vv. 12-13 (which do not exclude ongoing isolated failures and sins which still occur this side of heaven). What a joy it is to understand the Spirit’s work more and more and live with the wings He has provided. DONE & DOES, then DO. In that order.
Your friend, rejoicing in Romans 8, Pastor Brian (:-}).