Christian Reality in Christ

“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.” —Romans 8:9, 10

“But ye are not in the flesh…” tells us that in contrast to what we have seen of those whose minds are set upon carnal things, and though we have a nature we were born with that is certainly flesh and full of fallen humanity (Romans 7:14), we are saved by God’s grace; He is growing us in grace by His grace, building us up in faith, and sanctifying us for His good pleasure. Since those who are “in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8), the apostle tells us that we actually do please God. How so?

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Carnality Offensive to Christ

“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.” —Romans 8:6-8

In the first clause of Romans 8:6 we are told that “to be carnally minded is death;” that is, having the reason, understanding and affections set upon those natural things has no life in it whatsoever. Certainly, of those who are unsaved, who are only natural and have nothing of the Holy Spirit in them until the day they die, shall suffer eternal death and will be cast away from the favor of God forever. The second clause of Romans 8:6 gives the stark contrast to death: life and peace.

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Which Way to Walk

“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.” —Romans 8:5

Carnality, that is, living a life that is generally characterized by habitual sin, is offensive to Christ; and why wouldn’t it be? Last week, we saw specifically in Romans 8:3 how that Jesus, in His own body, endured the Cross, suffering God’s wrath for our sins to redeem us from our sins. He died that we might have life; are we then to look at sin lightly? Are we to casually wink at sin when such a sacrifice of infinite worth and eternal value was offered on my behalf, on your behalf? Certainly not.

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Walking After the Spirit

There is also a term in Galatians 5:16 that says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” This, walk in the Spirit is different from our walk according to the Spirit. The phrase in that Galatians 5:16 is not a description of our general condition as believers, but instead, a direct command to believers in overcoming situations and particulars we face in our walk according to the Spirit.

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The Law’s Righteousness Fulfilled in Us

“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” —Romans 8:4

There are some differing views on this passage; but rather than going through those, let me just tell you what I believe the Scriptures are conveying in this. First, we should understand what it isn’t saying. It’s not saying that the sacrifice of Christ needs you and me to accept this truth for the law to be completely fulfilled. To suggest that would be to suggest an incompletion or insufficiency in Christ’s finished work; and we know that “It is finished” (John 19:30) and that Jesus Christ is “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

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Sin Condemned by Christ

“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:” —Romans 8:3

The law was weak through the flesh. This is not to say that the commands of God are weak in and of themselves. These commandments come from God and are holy, just and good (Romans 7:12). So, how is the law weak then? Apart from its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the law is weak because it could not save men; and not only was it incapable of saving men, but it also condemned them; “For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me” (Romans 7:11). When we were unsaved, unbelieving sinners, the commandments of the law condemned us and killed us; that’s how the law was our schoolmaster leading us to Christ, because the law left us with no hope except that it be found in Jesus Christ, and in Him alone.

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No Condemnation from Christ

“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.” —Romans 8:1, 2

Again, the chapter begins, “There is therefore…” Now, I’m sure you’re getting tired of me and every preacher you’ve heard say that every time you see a “therefore,” go back and find out what it is therefore; so I’m not going to tell you that. Nevertheless, this little Greek word does connect us with what the apostle has just spoken previously to, first, amplify our hope so that we are not crushed in despair from the wretched truth of Romans 7:24; and second, to further explain his thanksgiving for the believer’s reality in Christ expressed in Romans 7:25.

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