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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the August 17 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: August 17
<< Rom 4

For New King James text and comment, click here.

Romans 5-8     Listen Podcast

 

Moving on in faith (Romans 5:1-11)

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

In the previous four chapters (Romans 1-4, see notes), Paul established that life in Christ and righteousness before God are achieved through faith, not works. He began making this point back in Romans 3:21, "But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets." He then declared the process by which that righteousness comes to Believers when he wrote in Romans 3:24, "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

So...to review, let's make a statement that encapsulates Paul's discussion from 3:21 up to this point in the passage: One is saved from sin only by exercising faith in Jesus Christ as Savior completely without the addition of works of any kind.

Verse 1 begins with "therefore." That's to indicate that the "peace" of verse 1 is possible because of the principles just covered in chapters 3 and 4. What's possible? Justification before God is possible, and that results in "peace with God." As a matter of fact, the words "being justified" actually come from a single Greek verb which is an aorist passive participle. The aorist tense indicates punctiliar (point in time) action as opposed to a continuing action. So, read it like this, "having been justified." In other words, I was justified once and for all at the point in time when I was saved. Hmmm...that does give you peace, doesn't it?

So, we have been justified by faith and subsequently have peace with God. Here's the contrast; if you think it's a works thing, you'll never have this peace with God. You will always wonder if you have done enough work or displayed enough righteousness - no rest...ever. Peace comes when you know you have done EVERYTHING required to be counted as righteous before God at the time of your salvation.

Verse 2 tells us that by Jesus Christ, we have access by this same faith, "into this grace wherein we stand." The Greek noun for "grace" is "charis," meaning "free gift." Now this is important: Not only are we saved by grace through faith, we live our lives after we are saved by grace through faith. Miserable are those who incorrectly think that they are saved by grace, but kept by works.

Wait! There's more! When unpleasant things happen around us, we don't panic. Why? Because of the sequence in verses 3-4. Tribulation (Greek: "thlipsis" - difficult times) builds patience, and patience builds experience, and experience builds our faith in Christ's ability to deliver us (hope - Greek: "elpis" means confident expectation). Memorize that sequence, it will come in handy as tough times come your way. Oh! By the way...notice carefully that the first step to obtaining patience is tribulation. To pray for patience is to invite some tribulation!

And the really great news of verses 6-11 is that we are headed for home with Christ because of his finished work of justification on the cross. I have met many who felt that they were too unworthy to find favor with God. Paul addresses that right here in these six verses. "Christ died for us" (verse 8) even though we were "without strength" (verse 6) and "ungodly" (verse 6). We are "saved from wrath" (verse 9) even though we were previously "enemies" of God (verse 10). The Greek noun for "wrath" in verse 9 is "orge." Here it is preceded by a definite article, making it "the wrath." Paul frequently uses this term to identify the judgment of God upon the unsaved, and he does so here. In other words, whatever your past, you can be saved from "the wrath" by trusting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.

Now a contrast: Adam to Christ (Romans 5:12-21)

12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.
14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Before we discuss these verses, let's understand some terminology Paul uses in verses 12, 14, 17 and 21. In each of these verses, the Greek text precedes the word for "death" (thanatos) with a definite article. "So what?" you might ask. When Paul uses this combination of "death" preceded by the Greek definite article, it is a metaphor for "mortality." For a complete explanation of this usage, click on this link which will display an article entitled, "Paul's usage of the term "[the] death" to indicate Mortality."

And who is that "one man" in verse 12? It's Adam; he brought sin into the world. Paul then points out that sin (rebellion against God) existed in the world even before the law, but it was the law that gave it accountability. Verses 12-14 tell us that the provisions of the Law of Moses put a big ol' red tag on actions of rebellion against God which cries out, "I'm guilty!" Even though not exposed by the Law of Moses, verse 14 tells us that "death reigned from Adam to Moses." This is an indictment against everyone ever born with regard to the sin nature...everyone was born with it since Adam. Though the Law of Moses exposes sin, nonetheless, man was still accountable to God for that sin before Moses. Everyone is under the death sentence issued to Adam in Genesis 3 (see notes).

Adam gets a good ol' fashioned verbal beatin' in this passage...and well deserved:

Adam's violation was waaaay more than a fresh-produce infraction; from that time through today, man suffers the consequence of Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden (see notes on Genesis 3). So, one man (Adam) brought sin into the world to all his descendants, and another man (Jesus) made all of his spiritual descendants righteous before God by his sacrificial death on the cross. That's exactly the doctrine that verse 19 drives home when Paul says, "For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." In summary, while we are made sinners by Adam, all who trust Christ as Savior are made righteous through Christ.

Lest one forget the role of the Law of Moses, Paul hits it again in verse 20, "the law entered, that the offence might abound." The Law of Moses condemns; it never, never justifies. But "grace" does justify - the grace through faith of verses 1-2 (see above). Adam's transgression robbed mankind of immortality. Jesus' death on the cross restores it. God's grace delivers the Believer to "eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord" (verse 21).

Baptism is a picture (Romans 6:1-14)

The form of water baptism

Some have suggested that the Greek word for "baptize," itself, defines the process as being by immersion, and immersion only. The fact is that Paul's description of baptism here can only be satisfied with immersion, because it is the picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (verses 4-5). Sprinkling simply does not picture the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

That being said, the Greek verb, "βαπτίζω/baptizo" is used in at least two places in the New Testament where it is clearly not representing immersion. One such place is found in Mark 7:4 in reference to the Jewish handwashing ritual practiced by the Pharisees. The second is found in Luke 11:38 on the same topic of ritual washing by the Jews, again in reference to the practice by the Pharisees.

The rabbinic tradition of this washing was to pour water from a vessel over one hand at a time—sometimes as many as three times for each hand. In both passages, Mark and Luke describe this pouring/washing ritual with the Greek word, "βαπτίζω/baptizo." Yet, this traditional washing did not involve the immersion of the hands—just a pouring of water over the hands.

So, while the Greek word "βαπτίζω/baptizo" itself does not necessarily mean immersion, the process identified by Paul in Romans 6:1-14 can only be satisfied by immersing one completely in water.

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

The theme of 3:21 through 5:21 has been justification by faith without works. Since people are so works oriented, Paul begins this chapter with a very provocative question in verse 1. Allow me to rephrase his question: Since we are saved by grace (the free gift of God), why not just continue living a life characterized by sin to take advantage of more grace? Hey! It's an extreme scenario for the purpose of making a point. Given the fact that many critics of salvation by grace do, in fact, have problems understanding the finished work of Christ on the cross, please allow me to frame the question once again that Paul answers in verses 1-14: Since we are NOT saved by works, but rather grace, why not just SIN...SIN...SIN? After all, there are no consequences...right? TO THIS PAUL SAYS AN EMPHATIC NOOOOOOO (KJV "God forbid")! He uses the emphatic Greek phrase for "absolutely, positively not" ("me genoito") in verse 2, also found in verse 15. (Click here to scroll down to the explanation of the term used.) Here's his point. When we are saved, the Holy Spirit delivers us from the attitude of sin.

Paul prepares to introduce a concept in verse 3 when he says, "so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" Paul then uses the act of water baptism to present the picture in verses 4-7. Baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. The burial (into the water) is a picture of putting away the old sinful man and the resurrection (out of the water) is a picture of our new life in Christ - no longer enslaved to sin. As a result of salvation, this water-baptismal picture is summarized in verse 11, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Life in Christ now involves shunning sin and seeking God's best for our lives. Then verse 14 says that we should no longer be bound by sin; now we are under grace. We see another strong verse on water baptism in I Peter 3:21 (see notes), "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:" Notice here, baptism doesn't save us, but is rather a "figure," i.e. "the answer of a good conscience toward God."

Verse 5 merits some additional comment here regarding the form of baptism. The Greek verb for "baptize" is "baptizo." One of the continual discussions among Bible scholars is whether or not the Greek word itself speaks only of the process of complete immersion in the course of baptizing. Most credible dictionaries of New Testament words do link the word with complete immersion as opposed to sprinkling. However, when you look at verse 14 here, the discussion of the exact meaning of the Greek word itself becomes a moot issue. Look at the phrasing again in verse 5, "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" Context itself in this verse demands that the form of Christian baptism be immersion with the phrase, "planted together in the likeness of his death." When someone dies and we bury them, it occurs to no one that we should just sprinkle dirt on the dead body; we always completely bury them. That's the picture presented in verse 5. Baptism is to represent the likeness of burial; sprinkling with water simply does not present that likeness. There is no question that Christian baptism is done by immersing the Believer completely in water.

Water baptism gives the testimony of verse 6. As we identify with Christ in baptism, we state our intention to no longer "serve sin." Now understand, salvation has already taken place and is complete before water baptism. The act of Believers' baptism that follows is a personal testimony to the world regarding one's intent to now serve Christ. It neither adds or subtracts to the quality of the salvation decision; it's a testimony that follows afterward.

Some less-studied Bible teachers have misunderstood the implications of verse 7, "For he that is dead is freed from sin." They have taken it to mean that "true" Believers don't sin. Actually, the verb translated "is freed" is the Greek word, "dikaioo,' meaning "to justify." There, in the perfect passive indicative form, it means, literally, "has been made righteous." It has nothing to do with lifestyle; it speaks strictly regarding our position before God, righteous...justified - "free" from the penalty of sin. But those incorrectly teaching that this verse teaches us that saved people don't sin, add to their argument II Corinthians 5:17 (see notes), "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." From this they deduct that a "true" Believer's sin nature has been replaced and is completely immune to sin - a doctrine sometimes referred to as "sinless perfection of the Believer." That's a baaaad doctrine - not scriptural. We are a "new creature" because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at salvation (see notes on I Corinthians 12:13). As a matter of fact, Paul in Romans 7:7-25 (see below) expresses his frustration with his own still-existent sin nature. He talks about the same internal battle between the sin nature and the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:16-18 (see notes) and gives the solution to the problem as the power of the Holy Spirit in verses 22-25. Notice the words of John in I John 2:1-2 (see notes), "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: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Paul says in this passage that after salvation we are no longer subject to the dominion or control of the sin nature because of the delivering presence of the Holy Spirit within us.

Verse 8 says, "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him." We now understand from the previous verses that we, as Believers, are "dead with Christ." Moreover, our water baptism experience pictures that. So, in what respect "shall we also live with him," as we see at the end of verse 8? Your answer is to be found down in verses 11-14. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we no longer need to be subject to the influences of our sinful nature, as we saw in Galatians 5:16-18 (see notes). The Greek verb for "reckon" in verse 11 is "logizomai," meaning "to count." In other words, "count yourselves to be dead to sin." Verses 9-10 make it clear that the one-time death of Jesus Christ guarantees that "death hath no more dominion over him [Jesus Christ]." Likewise, death and sin "shall not have dominion over you" (verse 14) because of God's grace through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Your action items in this passage are to be found in verses 12-13:

The King James Version Usage of "God Forbid"

The King James Version's "God forbid" is a very strong two-word negative in the Greek ("me genoito") issuing an emphatic "absolutely, positively not." The word "God" doesn't actually appear in the Greek verse, but "God forbid" was a common way to say "absolutely, positively not" in 1611.

This strong negative is used only 15 times in the New Testament; all but one (Luke 20:16) are by the Apostle Paul. Following are all of the New Testament references where this phrase may be found: Luke 20:16, Romans 3:4, Romans 3:6, Romans 3:31, Romans 6:2, Romans 6:15, Romans 7:7, Romans 7:13, Romans 9:14, Romans 11:1, Romans 11:11, 1Corinthians 6:15, Galatians 2:17, Galatians 3:21 and Galatians 6:14.

We are slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:15-23)

15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul then asks basically the same question in verse 15 that he asks in verse 1, "What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." The "God forbid" of this verse was a common way in 1611 for saying, "Ain't no way!" See the information box to the right regarding the KJV usage of "God forbid." Notice, however, that the Believer does have a choice of obedience or not.

He then goes on to say (verses 16-18) that we don't serve sin any longer, but Christ and his righteousness; we're no longer slaves to sin. It's an expansion from verses 12-14 regarding to whom we yield ourselves after salvation. Paul identifies us after salvation as slaves of righteousness. To understand what Paul means when he says, "of sin unto death" in verse 16, one only need to look at the inverse which follows, "of obedience unto righteousness." He uses "death" here as the opposite of "righteousnes" - aka unrighteousness aka serving the sinful nature. Verse 17 speaks of "that form of doctrine." The word "form" is translated from the Greek word "tupos" from which we transliterate our English word, "type." The word for "doctrine" there is the Greek word "didache," the general word for "teaching." In other words, they obeyed that "type of teaching" which subsequently delivered them from being enslaved to the sinful nature - life in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. In verse 18 we see that we moved from sin to being "servants of righteousness."

In verse 19 Paul issues a call for Believers to separate themselves from the devices of living that are characterized as rebellion against God and embrace Godly Christian living instead. Spiritual death is in view in verses 20-21 for those who are unregenerate ("free from righteousness"). Verse 22 emphasizes the importance of this Godly Christian living, "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Paul sums it up with the oft-used verse 23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." This verse isn't hard to analyze. If "eternal life" in this verse refers to a spiritual state (and it definitely does), then "death" refers to a spiritual state as well. So, in other words, lost people are headed for spiritual death (eternity in the lake of fire: Revelation 20:14-15, see notes) while saved people are headed for eternal life with Christ.

Even though Paul doesn't precede "death" with a definite article in verse 23, it is obvious that the same intent prevails in his writings as in chapter 5 verses 12, 14, 17 and 21 (see above). The cost of sin is our immortality. The only way we get it back is "through Jesus Christ our Lord."

A widow analogy (Romans 7:1-6)

1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death.
6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Paul uses an example of the death of a husband to explain the position of a Jew to the law after the death of Christ. He points out that just as a woman is not bound to a dead husband any longer, so are Jewish Believers not bound to keeping the law after the requirements of the law were fulfilled by Christ on the cross because of his death. In other words, the Old Testament law is like an old dead husband - no hold, no authority any longer.

What about the effects of law? (Romans 7:7-25)

7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
9 For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.
10 And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me.
12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
13 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.
16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

The law really exposes our sinful nature and need for a savior. In verse 7 Paul establishes that the law itself is not sin, but rather exposes sin. He then refers to the law in this context as "the commandment" in verses 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. Spiritually speaking, Paul claims in verse 11 that it was the law that killed him through its righteous standard of verse 12. Moreover, when it comes to the righteous deeds of the law, Paul continually came up short in compliance on his best days. This is evident in verses 15-17; as hard as he tries, Paul himself found 100% compliance with the law to be impossible. He realizes that he fails to make the cut in his venture to keep the law in light of James 2:10 (see notes), "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." But here's the good news: Law keeping is not what makes you righteous in the first place. I wish we could get all Christians everywhere to read and understand these first 7 chapters of Romans. Can it be made any more clear that keeping the law doesn't now, nor did it ever, produce righteousness in anyone's life? The law only condemns.

Paul then transitions into his struggle with sin as he declares in verse 14, "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin." Paul's struggle is seen in verse 15, "For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." Whoa! Let's break that down; Paul honestly tells us that sometimes the desires of his flesh lead him to act in such a way that he "hates," and it's because of that "sin" nature that remains in him (verse 17). He reiterates this point down through verse 20 at which time he concludes in verse 21, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me." That's the Adamic nature we looked at in chapter 5 (see above). Paul introduces the solution to this dilemma in verses 22-25 - the power of the Holy Spirit, which he refers to as "the inward man." Paul is going to give us a comprehensive explanation of this statement in chapter 8. That "inward man" is the Holy Spirit directing us internally rather than externally. It's the Holy Spirit that makes the Christian life work.

Children are safe from the condemnation of the law (Romans 7:9)
I've placed a special section here to make a point I stumbled upon when I taught through Romans a few years ago. I read across verse 9 for years without giving it any special attention until it was time to give a full explanation of exactly what Paul meant when he said, "For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." That's a curious statement from Paul in light of Philippians 3:5-6 (see notes) where he says regarding his own personal testimony, "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." Based upon this testimony, here's the question: At what point in Paul's life can it be said in Romans 7:9, "I was alive without the law once..."? According to his testimony in Philippians 3:5-6, he always blamelessly kept the law. I believe I know exactly what Paul meant here. I am certain that Paul is referring to his childhood as being a time when he was not accountable to the condemnation of the law. When did it happen that "sin revived, and I died" in Paul's life? Sin revived when Paul realized his personal need for a relationship with God. In other words, Paul is speaking of what many refer to, with regard to children, as an "age of accountability." It's not a specific age, per se, but rather the point in time in a child's life when that child realizes his personal need for a savior. The exact age for this realization differs among children. Here's the important point: During the time before a child realizes his need for a savior, that child is safe from the condemnation of the law. In other words, that child is Heaven bound.

Moreover, David had a clear understanding of the safety of small children in God on the occasion of the death of his first son born to Bathsheba. This was the child born to them out of their adulterous relationship who passed away shortly after birth. After praying, David says in II Samuel 12:23 (see notes), "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." There was a clear understanding in the Old Testament among God's people that they would be reunited with their little ones after death.

Jesus addresses the issue of small children in Matthew 18:1-14 (see notes). While most of that passage doesn't seem to deal with the subject of salvation of small children directly, additional strength is given to this safety-of-children proposition in Matthew 18:14, "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." While we would like to see more definitive statements in scripture about the safety of small children, the scripture is actually quite clear when we study these verses in their entirety.

Lives led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:1-11)

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
3 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:
4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5 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.
6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 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.
10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 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.

These first 11 verses are key to understanding the Christian life; they answer the dilemma Paul expresses in chapter 7. Many Believers don't get it; they believe that Believers only do the right thing as they are held into accountability by other Believers. These misguided Believers beat each other over the head with external requirements - a man-made prescribed list of authorized "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots." Paul is clear in the chapters leading up to this one: Righteousness is not attained by keeping the law - the Mosaic law...or a law devised by anyone else. Righteousness is achieved by trusting Christ as Savior, and a righteous-looking walk is achieved by dependence on the leadership of the Holy Spirit. That's the point of verse 1 here which serves as an introduction to the whole chapter. Verse 2 further expands the concept by pointing out that our law as Believers is internal - not external; it's the internal law of the Holy Spirit, not the external law from anyone else that keeps us living before God as we should. As a matter of fact, verses 3 and 4 point out that an attempt to achieve righteousness by keeping the law fails every time, but righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit succeeds every time.

One might wonder about whom Paul is speaking in verses 5-7, unregenerate people or saved people who are not living as they should. That's an important question given the fact that he says in verse 6, "For to be carnally minded is death..." Furthermore, verse 7 says, "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." Who is this "carnally-minded" person whose mind is "enmity against God?" Before we answer that question, let's address the "death" of verse 6. Is it referring to physical or spiritual death? Here's the key: If Romans 6:23 refers to spiritual death (see above), and I'm convinced that it does, then the death here also refers to a spiritual death; it is within the same discourse in Paul's letter here. Therefore, the carnal mind is worthy of spiritual death, aka the eternal lake of fire. So again...who are these verses talking about, lost people or saved people not living as they should? Answer: Definitely lost people. Here's why: First of all, spiritual death makes no sense if we're talking about saved people, but makes perfect sense when talking about the eternal destination of the unregenerate man. And secondly, verse 9 clears it up perfectly when Paul says, "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." He meticulously indicates that saved people are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. Therefore, verses 5-7 definitely speak of the unsaved.

Look at verse 8 closely; it says a mouthful: "So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Can we please God without the leadership of the Holy Spirit? NO! Verses 9-11 drive home an important concept: The Holy Spirit indwells every Believer at salvation. Verse 9 goes so far as to say that if you don't have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, you're not saved. I Corinthians 12:13 (see notes) explains the role of the Holy Spirit in the salvation process: "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body..." In other words, our salvation experience consists of being baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ. There is no other way to be saved. Don't shy away from the acknowledgment of the power of the Holy Spirit in your life; it's the glue that ties everything together and makes it work.

Notice the phrase in verse 10, "And if Christ be in you..." The underlying Greek phrase forms what is called a "first class conditional sentence." That type of construction presupposes the statement made to be true. Paul is therefore declaring that these Roman recipients of this letter are Believers and as such "the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." There's another first class conditional sentence in verse 11 which further proclaims that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead physically will do the same for Believers.

Now we're heirs (Romans 8:12-18)

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
13 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.
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 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.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 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.
18 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.

Verses 12-13 have a little bit of bad news for Believers: The sin nature has not been completely eradicated. That sin nature is referred to here as "the flesh." Lost people live "after the flesh" and suffer spiritual death as a result. Saved people have the indwelling Holy Spirit which serves to mortify ("put to death") the "deeds of the body" and thus deliver us into spiritual life. If there's any doubt about the issue, verse 14 clears it up. So...who am I with regard to God and Jesus Christ since I'm a Believer? Here's some great news. How is one led (brought) to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Answer: By the Holy Spirit. Many have misunderstood verse 14; they try to use it as a proof text for works. The Greek word for "led" in that verse is the verb "ago," which is also translated frequently as "bring/brought" in the New Testament. This verse does not refer to actions after salvation, but rather to the process by which one gets saved in the first place - the Holy Spirit's convicting power and subsequent induction into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, according to verse 14, because I have been led to God by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit (everybody gets saved by that process), I am an heir of God AND a joint heir with Jesus Christ (verses 15-17). I AM SOMEBODY! Yeah, but what about the suffering and misery we experience oftentimes in this life? Well, verse 18 says that these don't even compare to a hangnail (so to speak) in light of the glory for eternity we'll experience.

The whole creation waits for deliverance (Romans 8:19-25)

19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 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.
24 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?
25 But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

The big event in the future of the whole earth is the redemption of Believers (verses 19-22). Notice in verse 23 that Believers are people who have the "firstfruits of the Spirit." Literally, we are people who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That's what makes us redeemable. II Corinthians 1:21-22 (see notes) says, "Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts." In other words, the Holy Spirit seals us and serves as the earnest payment on our souls. That's a great picture! Believers are awaiting our complete redemption at the resurrection of Believers seen in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (see notes) and I Corinthians 15:51-58 (see notes).

Don't be confused by our English rendering of the word "hope" in verses 24-25. The underlying Greek word is "elpis," which means "confident expectation." There's no doubt associated with "elpis." It defines that which cannot be seen, but is certain nonetheless. That confident expectation of our resurrection at the rapture enables us to wait with patience for the big event.

What else does the Holy Spirit do for us? (Romans 8:26-30)

26 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.
27 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.
28 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.
29 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.
30 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.

The Holy Spirit does plenty, but here's another very important operation - delivery of the intents of our heart to God in prayer. Yes, it's the Holy Spirit that makes prayer possible. Moreover, he makes our prayers effective. First of all, verse 26 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who actually knows what it is exactly we should be praying about and prompts us. Secondly, verse 27 tells us that the Holy Spirit then intercedes on our behalf with those petitions and presents them to God. This then facilitates verse 28 which says that, within the Body of Christ, everything works together for good. That doesn't necessarily mean that we would have chosen the events of verse 28 that unfold, but it does mean that the Holy Spirit has prepared us, because of verses 26-27, for the eternal benefits of those events. Romans 8:28 cannot be properly understood without verses 26-27. And then...more good news - God knew all about it before it happened; He's completely in control according to verses 29-30. Paul goes into great detail with regard to God's foreknowledge in Romans 9 (see notes).

So, what's the bottom line? (Romans 8:31-39)

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 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?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 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.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 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.

For those of you (like myself) who want to know the bottom line, here it is in verse 31, "If God be for us, who can be against us?" Since God gave us his only Son as a sacrifice, he's not about to withhold anything from us (verse 32). Here's verse 33 paraphrased: Who's going to bring charges against us? Not God, He justifies. Here's a paraphrase of verse 34: Who's going to condemn us? Not Christ; he died for us and sits at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf. So, here's the picture: God is for us; Christ is for us; the Holy Spirit indwells us; we can't be overcome. That being the case, we cannot be defeated by any of the circumstances in verses 35-36 because we are "more than conquerors" in Christ (verse 37). That leads us to two great victory verses, Romans 8:38-39 - good verses to memorize for those hard times.

Incidentally, this picture of Christ at the right hand of God (verse 34) has as its foundation Psalm 110:1 (see notes), "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Peter embraces this prophetic Psalm when he declares on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:34-36 (see notes), "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ."


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner