1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, since Jesus is the only one who can set the unbeliever free from the law of sin and death, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The person who had made the decision to surrender to Christ will not stand condemned. While he was an unbeliever, his own conscience condemned him. His mind also condemned him because he would think of doing good but fail to do it. Thus, any rational man understands that he stands condemned and guilty before God. The good news for believers is that they have been declared righteous and free from sin and the wrath of God once and for all. They are in Christ Jesus, and He will never let them go.
2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Paul introduces now a different law which is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ. This law has set the believers to whom Paul is writing free from the law of sin and death. What is this law of the Spirit? This is the grace of God through faith in Christ. This is the only way man can be set free from the penalty of sin.
3For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
The Law was weak, though good. It could not save man but only point him to the Savior. What the Law couldn’t do, God did, sending Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh (though without sin) and as an offering for sin. Christ alone can satisfy the wrath of God, and we find our life in Him. God Himself condemned sin in the flesh by delivering His own Son up who was in the flesh. The only way that man could be redeemed was for God Himself through the Person of Christ to come to earth as a man and die for man. Through Christ’s incarnation, death, and resurrection, God has condemned sin in the flesh.
4so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
None of us could have ever kept the Law of God left to ourselves because of our sin natures. The only way the Law can be fulfilled is through Christ, who did indeed fulfill the requirements of the Law in perfect holiness and righteousness. The believer, then, does not walk according to the flesh, for the flesh no longer has any power over him, though it is still present. Rather, the believer walks according to the Spirit. The unbeliever was of flesh and in the flesh, and he characteristically walks according to the flesh. The believer is born of the Spirit and of the Spirit. As such, there is a change in outward behavior because of this inward transformation. He is to walk according to the Spirit.
5For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
The unbeliever is fleshly and thus sets his mind on the things of the flesh. His thoughts are not dominated by spiritual things but rather by evil things. He may try to think good things and through willpower do good things, but he is destined to fail because his mind is depraved and according to the flesh. The believer sets his mind on the things of the Spirit which is whatever is good, right, noble, pure, and so on. His meditation is upon the Word of God day and night (Joshua 1:8). He not only hears the truth but is able to then do it.
6For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
The mind set on the flesh is death, which the unbeliever will experience. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. The believer is free from having to lose the war to his flesh. He is able by faith in the life of Christ to walk in victory over sin. There is peace with God and the peace of God to go with him each day. This peace is not the incentive to be saved (righteousness is), but it is a fruit of the Spirit resulting from salvation. Thus, it is something that the unbeliever cannot have.
7because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
The unbelieving mind which is set on the flesh is at enmity with God. It hates God and acts accordingly even in spite of an admission that the law of God is good. It does not subject itself to the law of God because it cannot. It must admit its wretchedness and call out to Christ for salvation.
8and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. This is the bottom line. Man can’t work his way to God or make himself righteous because of an internal malfunction due to sin. His behavior is in line with the depravity with which he is born. This is further evidence for Romans 7:14-24 speaking about the unbeliever, as is the next verse. If we were still in the flesh as Romans 7:14 indicates, we could not please God. However, we know we can please God because with faith it is possible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The believer may walk after the flesh, but he is not of the flesh or in the flesh.
9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
The believer is not in the flesh but in the Spirit. There is a change of master and the believer is free from bondage to do the bidding of the flesh. The Spirit of God indwells the believer, not sin. Those who are in the flesh have indwelling sin which governs their behavior. The believer has the Spirit of God governing his. All those who belong to Christ have the Spirit of God.
10If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
This verse must be taken in context with verse 11. The believer has both Christ and the Spirit indwelling him. Our inner man is being renewed day by day while our outer man decays (2 Corinthians 4:16). Our outer man, the body, is still subject to the curse of physical death. In this sense the body is dead. This is different than the body of sin, which is the old man. The body is merely our mortal form that will pass away (see v. 11). When we die, we will be given a new spiritual body which is immortal (1 Corinthians 15:53). In the meantime, our inner man, our spirit, is alive because of the righteousness of Christ.
11But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
We know that the Spirit indwells the believer. If this is the case, says Paul, then God who raised Christ from the dead will also raise our mortal bodies through His Spirit Who indwells us. We can be sure that even our body will be transformed into that which is incorruptible and immortal.
12So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—
What is the point of Paul going through all of this doctrine and theology? It is so that the believers understand how to live in victory and so that they go ahead and live in a way that is honoring to God. The believer has no obligation to the flesh. The believer is indwelt by the Spirit and not subjected to the power of sin. Even the mortal body will be changed when we die and go to be with Christ. There is nothing that compels us to be under obligation to the flesh or to live according to the flesh. Such is contradictory to what is fundamental about being a Christian.
13for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
If a person is living out of the flesh, of the flesh, in the flesh, and according to the flesh, then they are not saved and will perish eternally. If however, a believer chooses to indulge his flesh, he must remember from whence he came and repent, dying to self and living to Christ. The context is trying to create a dichotomy between unbeliever and believers based upon outward behavior and fruit. This is not unique to this passage (see Matthew 7:16-20 and 1 John 3:9). The exhortation is to the believer to put to the death the deeds of the body, in which the flesh still hangs on. This is not to say that the body of sin which was put to death in Christ (Romans 6:4, 6) is still alive and part of us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 makes it clear that the old man has passed away because we are a new creation in Christ in which all things (not just some things) have become new. The only thing which that doesn’t include is the mortal body which needs to be changed into an immortal body (this ought to be obvious given that our bodies are still the same after creation, still prone to the effects of sin and sickness, and decaying every day). All the aspects of the inner man are reborn, while the outer man decays each day. There is no more body of sin, praise God! We don’t have to battle our old nature. All we have to do is reckon our old nature dead and remember that we do not have to serve the flesh. The battle is for faith in God’s Word, not against an imaginary evil self. The old self has passed away having been crucified with Christ. Habits, thoughts, and feelings must all be taken captive under the authority of Christ so that that which is fleshly is dropped and that which is spiritual adopted. This is the process of sanctification as Christ makes us more like Himself. This is evidence that the inner man is alive and that even the body will be raised to an immortal form to enter into eternity.
14For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
This confirms what Paul is trying to say in the previous verses. He is saying that an identifying and defining characteristic of believers is that they are led by the Spirit of God which they have indwelling them. Thus, the Spirit will lead the believer to repent of behaviors that are not honoring to God. He will convict him of sin as need be. He will continue to lead the believing in the sanctification process. He will lead us to know God more intimately and guide us in our prayers (Romans 8:26-27). He will teach us all things (John 14:26). The unbeliever doesn’t have this, and thus he is stagnant, even decaying in righteousness and holiness. The believer is to be in an ongoing sanctification process. If a believer is holding on to a sin, brothers and sisters in the Lord ought to confront and encourage him to change.
15For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"
Our adoption as sons of God indwelt by the Spirit of God is not something that brings with it a spirit of slavery leading to fear again. We do not have to fear death, hell, or the inability to overcome the lusts of the flesh. We can rush to our Papa in heaven and cry out to Him, “Daddy!” We are safe as children of the Most High God. Nothing can pluck us out of His hand (John 10:29). The law of sin and death has no hold on us anymore.
16The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
The Spirit within us testifies with our spirits that we are indeed children of God. Our spirits rush to our Father as if we are sons and daughters, and the Spirit of God within us confirms that we are indeed His children. We are led of Him and He confirms our identity as heirs of God. The Spirit’s testimony within our spirits is another way that we can know if we are saved. When He is grieved, when He convicts, when He teaches, when He helps with prayer, and when He leads, we can have further confidence of our adoption into the family of God.
17and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Heir carries with it an additional implication besides simply being a child of God. An heir gets an inheritance and all the rights and privileges of family. We are joint inheritors with Christ of the kingdom and of eternal life with God. Christ is the Son of God, and we are also called sons of God. It is quite a picture and a wonderful honor. Since Christ has suffered in the flesh, so we too will suffer while we are yet on this earth. If they hated Him and persecuted Him, they will do the same to those who love Him. Yet our suffering with Him and for Him proves even more that we are heirs of God with Christ who will also one day be glorified with Him.
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
The suffering of our brief time on earth is nothing when compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. The picture of the unbeliever mired in sin wasn’t something to be longed after, so the mere fact that we have to put up with persecution for our faith is not such a big deal when weighed against the fact that we will be with God for eternity. In heaven, there will be no more suffering. We will behold the glory of God; absolutely nothing can compete with how awesome that will be.
19For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.
Creation itself longs eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. Even all of the created order is looking forward to who will be declared justified and adopted into the family of God formally and officially on the day of Christ.
20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
The creation has been subjected to futility because of the curse. It cannot be redeemed as man can be redeemed. It has to wait until the King of Kings sits on the throne and creates a new heaven and a new earth. Then the creation will praise God as it was intended to. For now, it is stuck in the futility of dealing with disease and decay. This wasn’t something that the creation willingly chose to do. It didn’t choose to sin. God Himself chose to put creation in subjection for a time and for a purpose.
21that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
The creation also will be set free from its slavery to corruption, and it will be put into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. It will one day share the freedom from the effects of sin that we are beginning to experience now. Upon our glorification and revelation as the sons of God, our freedom will be even fuller. At that time, the creation, too, will be set free.
22For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
In the meantime, the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together. Only now does creation have a hope that just as man has been set free, so it too will be set free. Just as the birth pangs lead to great joy in childbirth, so too are the pangs going to intensify before things get resolved. Most of heaven and earth will be destroyed during the great tribulation, but God will bring forth a new heaven and a new earth, freed from corruption.
23And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
We are the firstfruits of God in the Spirit, having been redeemed before the rest of creation was restored. Yet we too have reason to groan in our spirits, for we are still battling the flesh and dealing with the corruption that is in the world through sin. One day, we will be adopted formally as sons, though it is as good as done already. At that point, our bodies will be fully redeemed. For now, we still have corruptible bodies that are not redeemed practically and officially. They, however, are promised to be fully redeemed. One day the mortal will become immortal and the corruptible be raised incorruptible. He has promised to also give life to our mortal bodies, though we can be sure that our spirit and soul is totally redeemed already.
24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?
Our salvation gives us hope because of what has been done and because of what will be done. We can be sure that God will complete the work He has begun in giving life to our mortal bodies as well. Yet our hope remains because the full restoration of our bodies hasn’t happened yet, though it will.
25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
If we hope for what we do not see (the redemption of our bodies and the day of our revelation as the sons of God), we will persevere in the present time and place in faithfulness, keeping hope alive and eagerly waiting for that which is to come. There is much to look forward to for the Christian. The unbeliever had better fear, but the Christian can get ready for the celebration and marriage feast of the Lamb. Our inheritance is coming soon.
26In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
Another ministry of the Spirit is to help us in our weakness. Left to ourselves we are not even able to do the simplest of Christian exercises in prayer. We do not know how to pray as we should. We are often confused as to what to say, how to say it, and how to discern the will of God. Yet we have the Spirit to help us pray as we should. He intercedes for us with groanings that are too deep for words. In other words, the Spirit ascertains what our true heart’s desires are and enables us as we yield to Him to be able to express those longings to God through Christ. His intercession is to go beyond our words and find the true meaning and intention of our hearts and minds and then to give those requests to Christ who brings them to God the Father.
27and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Christ, who searches the minds and hearts determines what the mind of the Spirit is. He is able to do this because of His ministry of intercession for the saints according to the will of God. It is through Christ that we can approach God and go before His throne in confidence.
28And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
God causes everything in the life of the believer to work for the good of the believer and other believers around him. It is only those who are called by God unto good works that have this promise of God working all for their good. The unbeliever has no such assurances.
29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
Here we get a picture behind the scenes as God works throughout human history. God knew beforehand who would come to know Him. He ordained that they would receive Him for He knows all things. This does not mean that people did not choose of their own free will to respond to God’s call. God doesn’t force the table, though He knows the results. Only God can predestine and allow free will to coexist at the same time. We need not resolve the matter. Those whom He knew would be His children He ordained to become conformed to the image of His Son so that that Jesus would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. God is making a family for Himself of those who have placed their faith in Christ. All believers will be conformed to the image of Christ because God will complete the work He has started. Some may fall away and others will be weak and struggle. The good news is that God will welcome all home, and He will give each the place, honor, and role that they have demonstrated that they can handle based upon their faithfulness while on the earth (Luke 19:11-27).
30and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
Those who were foreknown were predestined and also called. God knew that they would come to faith and He effectually drew them to Himself. Those who responded in faith to His call were also justified because of their faith. One day, their sanctification process will be complete and they will be glorified so that they can enter the presence of God with a body that is incorruptible and free of sinful effects and influences.
31What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
If God has called us, we can be sure that He will also glorify us. If He is working on our behalf to make all things work for our good and our sanctification, nothing and nobody can stop Him. If He is going to adopt us as Sons, it is as good as done. Our hope is sure, and we will not be disappointed.
32He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
God has demonstrated His heart in giving up His own Son to die for us. In light of that fact, we can be sure that He will not keep our inheritance from us. If He has been so generous already, we can be sure that He will keep the remainder of His promises to us.
33Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies;
Christ intercedes on behalf of the saints. As such, our identity is found in His righteousness. Satan is the accuser of the believers, but not even he will be able to bring a charge against God’s elect that can stand. God has justified, and nothing can undo that fact.
34who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Nobody can condemn us for our salvation is secure in Christ who died for our sins, who was raised to sit at God’s right hand, and who intercedes on our behalf. His present ministry is to assure our salvation before God. His life, death, and resurrection is sufficient to keep believers from the wrath of God and condemnation that the unsaved will face in hell.
35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
There is nothing and no one that can separate us from the love of Christ. No amount of difficulty and distress in this life will be able to keep God from keeping His promises. No matter what we endure in this life, we can be sure that our citizenship is sure in heaven, for we are children of God. God will not forsake His children, no matter what. The difficulties of this life only make us more eager and ready to inherit the next.
36Just as it is written,
"FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALLDAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."
For the sake of our faith in Christ, we will suffer as believers. Paul’s life was in constant danger and he was nearly killed many times. Perhaps he is thinking of his own life’s experience as he closes this section of the letter. With all that he has been through and as vulnerable as he has been (like a sheep which can’t defend itself), God has sustained him. He has never found himself outside of the love of God, and God has indeed caused all things in his life to work out for good, namely his sanctification and the advancement of the gospel of Christ.
37But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
No matter what adverse circumstances we may face as believers, we are overcomers and conquerors through Christ. Our strength is not because of our own cleverness, willpower, or toughness, but it is Christ’s strength and power that is at work in and through us. We can endure all things because we know where we are going, even if some things take our dignity or even our life. We will conquer death just as we have conquered sin in and through Christ.
38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
Not even death or the things of this world, not even the powers of darkness, and nothing in the past or the present or the future can separate us from God’s love.
39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing that has been created, and no distance far or near can remove us from the love of God in Christ our Lord. Our salvation is secure, our glorification certain, our sonship guaranteed, and our inheritance forthcoming. We have much to hope in, look forward to, and praise God for in this life and in the next.