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Romans 8:4-9 by Robert Dean
Series:Spiritual Life (2000)
Duration:55 mins 39 secs

Two Walks: Two Types of Christians; Romans 8: 4 – 9. Tape 10.

 

 

Review

 

We saw last time that the first two and a half verses of Romans 8 Paul reviews his main point that he has been establishing in the last two chapters. In terms of an overview of Romans; Romans 1 – 2 establishes the guilt of the entire human race. Gentiles are guilty because they know that God exists and they have rejected him. Jews are guilty, they not only know God exists in the same way Gentiles do, they had direct revelation, they had the Law, they rejected that, so all therefore are condemned, "...all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God..." and the solution is justification. The doctrine of justification by faith alone is covered starting at the end of Romans 3 through chapter 5 and then starting in chapter 6 the subject shifts. Now that we are justified, how then should we live?

 

  1. Romans chapter 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

 

Condemnation is the Greek word KATAKRIMA and it is the antonym (opposite) of DIKAIOSUNE or justification and when Paul says there is therefore now no condemnation, he is reminding them that the reason for that is that we as believers have been justified by Christ. Justification by faith alone removes all condemnation for the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is never an excuse for feeling guilty or down on yourself or having some kind of pity party because some how you failed God and now God is disappointed in you or God can't ever use you again. As long as you are living and your heart is beating God still has a plan for your life and there is always the grace recovery procedure, no matter how badly you have failed, no matter how miserably you have disappointed yourself and no matter how much every one around you tells you, 'you are a loser' and that 'God can never use you again' and 'there's no hope for you' and 'you are some sort of second class Christian.' That's not true! There may be consequences to your sin, there maybe some very painful things you still have to go through as a result of your sin and extended carnality but that does not mean that you can't overcome that and that you can't go forward and that you cannot be a trophy to God's grace in this life. So we need to remember that if we are believers we are eternally secure in our salvation and "there is therefore now no condemnation." Specifically this relates to our position in Christ. This is the second part of the verse, it for those who are in Christ.

 

  1. There are eternal realities and temporal realities which we must keep in mind as we go through this section of Romans 8, if we don't we are going to lose track and it may be very easy for you to get caught up into some form of legalism. The scriptures talk about the fact that we are in Christ. This is a technical term and it is a Pauline term and it relates to our identification in Christ. 2 Cor 5:17 says "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, {he is} a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." We have to remind ourselves of what those new things are. They include our reconciliation, we are redeemed, and we are regenerated (that means God the Holy Spirit creates and imparts a new human spirit at the instant of salvation and God imputes to it his very own eternal life). Now all of these are our eternal realities, they are part of 40 distinct things that God does for us at the instant of salvation which we can never lose. When we come to the second principle that Paul is reminding us of, it is our positional truth. That takes place by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit which secures the believers identification with Christ with His death burial and resurrection.

 

  1. Being in Christ means that we are freed from the tyranny of the sin nature. This is mentioned in Romans 6:6, 18 and 22. In 6:22 Paul says "But now having been freed [past tense] from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in [progressive] sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life." This is not talking about what we normally speak of as salvation here in terms of when we get saved that we have eternal life.

 

 

 

 

The three phases of salvation:

 

Ø  Phase 1 – Justification (positional sanctification): By virtue of our being placed in Christ we are positionally identified and set apart to Christ. This is what happens at the cross when we put our faith alone in Christ alone. It takes place in an instant in time. That instant when God the Father recognises that we have put our faith and trust in Christ, when we make that decision to trust Christ we believe the Gospel at that instant we are justified. We receive the 40 things at that instant. We are born again and we become a new creature in Christ. We are freed from the penalty of sin.

Ø  Phase 2 – The Spiritual Life (progressive sanctification): This is our spiritual growth. We have to be positionally sanctified before we can be progressively sanctified. This is our experience and it is learning doctrine under the filling of God the Holy Spirit and then it is applying doctrine and advancing in spiritual maturity.  This is when we move from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood. It's not a straight line it can vary with people, everyone has their ups and downs, their failures and it is due to the grace of God and His grace solution that we overcome the sin and the problems in our life. We are freed from the Power of sin.

Ø  Phase 3 – Glorification (ultimate sanctification): This is when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord and we no longer have a sin – nature. We are freed from the Presence of sin when we no longer have a sin nature.

 

  1. The Mosaic Law, including any ritual system of trying to gain God's approval, any system of morality is incapable of defeating the presence of the sin nature. Mankind on his own apart from any external aide from God is incapable of controlling the sin nature. The power of the sin nature is broken at salvation but the ability to live and to have victory in that struggle is not apart from the Holy Spirit. This is seen in all of Romans Chapter 7 and Paul summarises that in verse 23 when he says, "… I see a different law [principle] in the members of my body [the sin nature], waging war against the law [principle] of my mind [the thinking part of my soul] and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members." He is talking as a believer and that is that even as a believer we can still become a prisoner of the sin nature, not in the sense of that unbreakable bondage of the unbeliever prior to salvation but by our own volitional choices, as soon as we choose to sin we just voluntarily put ourselves back under the dominion of the sin nature and so the Mosaic Law even though it is good, holy and righteous, ritual systems and systems of morality are incapable of defeating the presence of the sin nature. Paul is summarising that in Romans 8:3a "…For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh..." The law could not defeat the sin nature nor gain power over it. Human flesh, not just the sin nature, is too weak and man is incapable on his own of dealing with the sin nature.

Then we see the grace solution and this is seen in the second half of verse three.

  1. The believer is delivered from the struggle with the sin nature by what he calls in this verse 2 "… the law of the Spirit of life…" Some people might look at that and at first glance think that life here is related once again to eternal life, this is the problem that we have in our Christian culture in that every time we talk about save we think of justification, every time we talk about life we talk about living eternally as opposed to spending eternity in the Lake of Fire. But we have to change our frame of reference; the context tells us whether we are talking about the depths of the spiritual life, capacity for life, quality of life and advanced blessings for the spiritual life or whether we are talking about life eternally. Remember Jesus said "I did not come like a thief to kill and to destroy but I came to give life [phase 1] and to give life abundantly [phase 2]. We have to keep those distinct. Remember back in Romans Chapter 1, the key verse for understanding Romans is a quote from Habakkuk and it states in the English that "… the just shall live by faith.." but we realise by looking at the Greek that the English was poorly translated and it should read "…the justified by faith shall live…" This is Paul's thesis statement that the person who is justified by faith which is salvation phase 1 shall live which is Phase 2.  So when Paul uses the word "live" and "life" and "peace" in Romans 8, he already covered justification salvation back in Romans 3 through 5, so now he is talking about the spiritual life and how to have that abundant life that God promised us so that we can live above our circumstances and not be dominated by our circumstances, constantly reacting, constantly under the dominion of the sin nature and constantly operating on mental attitude sins and overt sins.

 

So look at the contrast in verse 2, it is the contrast between "...the Spirit of life in Christ has set you free from the law of sin and of death..."

 

Now this law of sin and of death is previously mentioned in Romans 7:23 & Romans 7:25 and there it clearly refers to the post – salvation bondage of the believer to his own sin nature and his own volitional decision to sin. When we come then to the fifth point here in terms of this review, Paul is saying that the believer is delivered from the struggle with the sin nature by this new law of the Spirit. Now the Spirit of life is living in relationship to the Holy Spirit.

 

We will see that that is called 'walking according to the Spirit' in this passage and we are familiar with the terminology in Galatians 5:16, to walk by means of the Holy Spirit and in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit, so that's what that is referring to. The Law of the Spirit of life is the new principle of living the Christian Life on the basis on the power of God the Holy Spirit. This is what sets apart the spiritual life of the Church age from the Old Testament spiritual life and from the pseudo Spiritual life of every other crazy religious system that is floating around today.

 

The way most unbelievers and most crazy Christians think of the spiritual life has to do with a psychological state, that they have gone through some sort of experience and it's the criterion for it has to do with your emotional wellbeing and the terminology if you listen carefully and you ought to listen to people, the terminology that is being used by so many to describe spiritual wellbeing is psycho – babble. It's just psychological terminology, its not Biblical terminology, so they have taken a Biblical concept and taken it back over into cosmic thinking, the world system of thinking and reoriented it, it is paganising Christianity.

 

It is this new principle related to the Holy Spirit of Life,  there it is an adjectival genitive, indicating that He is the one that gives us this quality of life and that this is what sets us free from the law of sin and death, which is carnality. Carnality is living outside the right circle, not walking by the Spirit but walking according to the flesh and the flesh, the lust produces sin and sin produces death according to James 1.

 

Romans 8:3b then outlines for us the basis for the believer's struggle. Once again it is grace, because God did it, "…For 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…"

 

I want you to look at that verse! God did this! God provided the solution, so it is a grace solution, God does all the work and man receives it. Now it is explained by Paul here as God sending his own son that has to do with the incarnation from the virgin conception birth and the period of 33 odd years that Christ is on the earth in the flesh. He sent his own son in the "likeness," that's the Greek word homoioma which is the same word used over in Philippians 2:6 – 8 and the hypostatic union, that Jesus came in the likeness, it's not the exact likeness or replicas. Why? Because man now is fallen, Jesus did not have a sin nature, so he is like man in every way except that he is not a sinner. So "God sends his son in the likeness of sinful flesh," why is that? Because Jesus Christ had to be full true humanity in order to live a life that was tested in all points as we are and then have victory over the temptations of sin on the basis of the filling of the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus Christ at the incarnation pioneers for us the unique spiritual life of the church age. So what we see is something like this. From the time of His incarnation to the cross, we are not talking about what happens on the cross. Now how come I can say that; doesn't it look like this is substitutionary atonement terminology here? It says that he was an offering for sin. Incidentally, "offering" is not in the original Greek, so you have to look at it in terms of "the likeness of sinful flesh for sin" forget the word "{an offering for}"as for sin, as soon as you take out that word offering …

 

[Note: some translators added the word "offering" there, now why did they do that? Because they looked down and they saw the word "for sin" and they immediately thought 'atonement!' That's wrong! Now when you are talking about the substitutionary atonement of Christ and the substitutionary atonement means that Christ paid our penalty, He bore in His body our sins on the cross according to 1 Peter 2:24, it is substitutionary atonement. It is not some sort of moral atonement, where Jesus because He was so good was giving us an example form of the atonement, it was substitutionary.]

 

 The Greek uses two precise prepositions for 'substitutionary atonement.' The first is HUPER usually with a genitive of advantage that 'Christ died for us.' Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." HUPER, plus the first person plural pronoun. Or there is another Greek word that is often used as a preposition for substitution and that is the Greek word, ANTI. Now these are the two prepositions for substitution but what we have here in the Greek of Romans 8:3 are not HUPER or ANTI, we have the proposition PERI which means concerning or in reference to or with reference to something. So the way this should be read is "God solved the problem, sent His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and with reference to sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Now how did He judge sin in the flesh? This is not talking about the atonement; this is talking about the incarnation between the virgin birth and His time on the cross. Because it is when He is in the likeness of sinful flesh when He is in the body (this is not talking about the sin nature but the human body) when He is in the human body He is minus a sin nature but He is plus the filling of the Holy Spirit.

 

Now the scriptures call Him the second Adam because as the second Adam He is to go through every category of testing that any of us will go through, yet with out sin (see Hebrews) He is impeccable. What He does is He goes through all these tests in dependence on God the Holy Spirit and in the power of God the Holy Spirit He says no to sin, in order to pioneer the fact that the filling of the Holy Spirit is sufficient to defeat sin. This is what 8:3 is talking about, it is not talking about what Christ did at the Cross, it is talking about the fact that the Law was unable to provide the solution to sin, and Christ did it through his dependence on the filling of the Holy Spirit during the incarnation. It is not talking about the cross, that's earlier; we have to keep our focus on the subject matter of the section of the book. The law was incapable of providing the power source to defeat sin, Christ defeated sin, condemned it in the flesh in His flesh in His lifetime because He relied on the Holy Spirit. Why did He do that? We have to look at the rest of the sentence coming into verse four.

 

Verse 4 we read, this is a purpose clause in the Greek, indicating the purpose for the incarnation, "...in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit..."

 

There is a couple of different ways in which people take this. At first glace it looks as if the law is being fulfilled. Isn't that what happens when we are saved? We are imputed the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that the Law is fulfilled. That's wrong interpretation. If that is what this is talking about then it is talking about phase one salvation and the text would read like this:

 

Dean's expanded translation:

 

"…in order that the full requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit…"

 

If fulfilling the requirement of the law is what happens to every person at the moment of salvation, then every person from the moment of salvation on walks according to the Holy Spirit. Now that is blatantly false! Not only that but you would have to look at every thing else in this chapter, or at least down to verse 11 and you would have to say that all of these things apply to every believer. That every believer walks according to the Spirit, that every believer has his mind set on the things of the Spirit and every believer has life and peace, because you would be setting this up as talking about the believer. That is the normal way Lordship salvation people take this passage and most people you talk to will probably want to take this passage that way because they want to jump ship and by that I mean they are jumping from the middle of a section on sanctification and they want to go back to chapter four to justification because some believers might commit some heinous sin and think he is getting away with it. So they have to say no! no! no! If you are really a believer you walk according to the Spirit and if you are not walking according to the Spirit then you weren't really saved. You didn't have saving faith!

 

What Paul is saying here is that Christ pioneered the Spiritual life in verse three, "… in order that the requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us…" What is the requirement of the Law? It is always important to make sure that you interpret a passage in the light of the usage of terms, first as that term is used elsewhere in that particular piece of literature and secondly, how it used by the author else where. The law is talking about the new law in Christ, which is mentioned over in Galatians 5, which is the law of love and liberty. That needs to be the context of the law and we will see that in Romans 13:8. The believer learns to fulfil the law (the law of Christ from Galatians 5), only by advancing to Spiritual maturity. Fulfil here does not mean an absolute 100% fulfilment of every category of the law in an absolute sense at the moment of salvation.

 

The law is defined specifically in Romans 13:8, "…Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law." we have seen time and time again that this is the key mandate for the spiritual life in the church age. Jesus announced it to his disciples in the upper room; he said "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another." It is called the royal law in James 2. It is also mandated in Galatians 5: 13 – 15 in order to help the Galatians believers how to apply it, Paul took a little side detour that is when he started talking about "Walk by means of the Spirit and he will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh," when he says that in Galatians 5:16 to walk by means of the Spirit he is giving us the mechanics for how to love one another, that it is only done by walking by means of the Spirit and it is not an absolute.

 

You don't get saved and you are automatically going to love one another. So it can't be an absolute fulfilment, it is the result of walking by means of the Spirit and there he says you will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. You are either walking by the Spirit or you are walking by the sin nature, he gives examples of what the sin nature looks like and then the first thing that he says when he talks about the fruit of the spirit is love. Because that's his contexts, he's talking about 'love one another,' so the first fruit of the Spirit is love and it is the result of spiritual growth, it is not something that is an absolute at salvation that causes spiritual growth.

 

So from looking at Romans 13:8 we see, "…Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another [a key mandate for the spiritual life]; for he who loves his neighbour has fulfilled the law." The verb there is pleroothe same verb that we have in Romans 8:4 and the object is the law. So fulfilling the law in Romans 13:8 is seen as a progressive thing that comes as you mature. The more doctrine you learn the more you walk by means of the Spirit, the more doctrine you learn under the filling of the Spirit the more you advance to Spiritual maturity and can fulfil the law.  So Christ pioneers the Spiritual life in the flesh showing that as a human with the filling of the Spirit the sin nature can be conquered so that for the purpose that the requirement of the law which is to love one another might be fulfilled in us. Pleroo there is a passive subjunctive which indicates potentiality and that means it depends on your volition. Once again it always comes back to our individual responsibility in making the right decisions. So Jesus Christ pioneers the new spiritual life for the purpose that this requirement of the law to love one another might be fulfilled or brought to completion in us or brought to maturity. Notice how it (Romans 8:4) is punctuated in the English. You have a comma, (a comma means that that is viewed as a complete clause) and the way that the translator has interpreted this is:

 

NASB Romans 8:4:

 

"…so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." [Interpreted as salvation]

 

Comma removed Romans 8:4:

 

"…so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

 

It is 'us' who do not walk [according to the flesh] that can fulfil the law, it is not just 'us as believers' who fulfil the law. See, if take a comma after the 'us,' the 'us' refers to believers and it could be interpreted and is often interpreted "… in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in 'we believers.'" But there is no comma in the Greek text; in fact what we have is a relative clause that modifies the 'us' that the 'us who fulfil the law' are the 'us who do not walk according to the sin nature.' It's not 'us who are believers,' and that's the difference! "…in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us …" the only way to fulfil the requirement of the law to love one another is to what? It is to not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Now if you take this as salvation, what this means is that as a believer you will automatically love one another and automatically walk by the Spirit from the day you are saved on, but what are you going to do with the command in Galatians 5:16 which says to 'walk by means of the Spirit and it will be impossible for you to fulfil the lusts of the flesh?' That is given to teach us the mechanics of being able to love one another, that it is produced by God the Holy Spirit.

 

The Spiritual life of the church age is unique; it is supernaturally produced because it is a supernatural standard. Paul says, "…in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." So the first point that we learn here is.

 

1.  The believer learns to fulfil the law of Christ only through advancing to spiritual maturity.

2.  The believer can never fulfil the law absolutely. In our experience we can never fulfil the law, that's Romans 7 "… I don't do what I want to do and I want to do what I don't want to do, I cant do the things I am suppose to do and I am always doing the things that I am not suppose to do. Wretched man that I am! ..." I constantly have this struggle between the old nature and the new nature, we can never fulfil the law absolutely, and therefore it must be viewed as fulfilling it relatively in terms of spiritual growth.

3.  Therefore this is talking about a potential, a potential for spiritual growth. Every believer has this equal potential because it is based on the spiritual assets that God gives every single one of us at the instant of salvation. In other words there is no excuse for spiritual failure in the Christian life except your own volition. It is our responsibility, we can not blame it on anyone else, we can't blame it on our background, and we can't blame it on any other factor, other than we do what we want to do because we want to do it. It doesn't matter that you didn't know that it was a sin, you just wanted to do it and you did it. That's the issue. You and I made the decision and you and I suffer the consequences from those bad decisions.

 

This tells us that there is two classes of believers and these are explained in verse five.

 

"…For 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…"

 

Notice the phrase that is used here (verse 5); in verse four we had it introduced, 'according to the flesh and according to the spirit.' We find the same phrase in verse five. The phrase is a Greek preposition kata plus the accusative form and it means according to a standard. Walking is a metaphor for life, walking according to a standard. So we can either walk according to the standard of the sin nature or we can walk according to the standards of the Holy Spirit. Then we get a description of what these two classes of Christians look like.

 

"…For those who are according to the flesh set their minds [thinking] on the things of the flesh [sin nature] …"

 

Now the Greek word here translated thinking is from the verb phroneo now as the verb it means to think in a particular manner, it means to be engaged in thoughtful planning, the emphasis is on the underlying mental attitude, it means to seriously contemplate something, to ponder, to let your mind dwell on something or fix our attention on something. So it is a word for thought and a word for thinking and it is not a word for feeling or emotion or affection or sentiment, it is a word emphasising thought, it's a word that emphasises content. That the person who is living according to the sin nature 'sets,' now that word implies volition, they set their mind they are thinking on something. That includes the content of their thought and it includes the way in which they think their methodology, it includes the norms and standards of their thinking, their evaluation procedures, it includes how they try to solve problems in their life on the basis of their own resources trying to come up with their own methods for solving problems and living according to their own opinions.

 

 "Those who are according [walking] to the flesh set there mind [thinking] on the things of the flesh [sin nature], but those who are according [walking] to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit."

 

 

Then he shifts in verse 6 and he gives us another aspect of this.

 

 "… For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…"

 

Notice how he has changed his verbiage, he has moved from 'according to the standard of the flesh' to 'set,' he has advanced it. If you walk according to the flesh you set your mind on the flesh if you set your mind on the flesh the result is death. This is carnal death, he is not talking about condemnation, notice how he contrasts this 'death' with the mind set on the Spirit is 'life and peace.' So 'death' is contrasted with 'life and peace.'

 

'Life and peace' are not always, life everlasting and peace of reconciliation. We need to ask a question about what is the meaning of peace? Peace in Romans can of course mean reconciliation, we have peace with God, Romans 5:1, because we are justified we have peace with God and that enmity with God is broken down because we have been reconciled by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But peace is not necessarily talking about what happens at phase 1 justification. There is also a phase 2 peace which has to do with our growth in the spiritual life as our mentality is stabilised by Bible doctrine. Paul uses it this way several times in Romans for example in Romans 14:19 he says, "So then let us pursue the things that make for peace and the building up of one another." There it is clearly a progressive concept that we advance in peace and stability as we grow in the spiritual life.

 

Then in Romans 15:13 Paul states, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy," now they are already believers, if they are going to get joy and peace as a complete package at phase 1, why we would he pray "may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace," because that is the consequence, this category of peace is the peace that comes as a result of applying doctrine and letting the mentality of the soul be stabilised by the doctrine in the soul.  "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, [it has its source in God], in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

 

Then in Galatians 5:22 we have these concepts all brought together, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace …" this is the product, the fruit, the production of the Holy Spirit in a mature believer. Fruit doesn't come right away does it? It takes time, you have to have the seed germinate, then there is life, growth, there is plant production, leaf production and stem production and it is not for [a time] that there is any fruit. That is true in the spiritual life. Fruit doesn't happen right away, there has to be spiritual growth before there is spiritual production. There has to be time walking by the Spirit, under the filling of the Spirit, before we can see these character qualities developed in life. They are not absolutes that come at the instant of our salvation.

 

So when we come to a passage like Romans 8:6, "… For the mind set on the flesh is death…" this is talking about temporal or carnal death. When the believer is out of fellowship everything that he produces adds up to death because it's under the sin nature. The sin nature just produces death, when lust conceives it produces sin, when sin conceives it produces death, according to James 1. "… For the mind set on the flesh is death…" it is misery, it is self destruction, you wont solve your problems you will just make your problems worse. You will have nothing but wood, hay and straw at the judgement seat of Christ. "… For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…" The mentality, the thinking that is focused on the Holy Spirit, is life and peace.

 

When you make Bible doctrine the number one priority in your life, when you are learning the word and applying the word is everything to you that is when you begin to experience what life is all about. Life does not consist in having positive circumstances, or pleasing emotions or wonderful friends. Real life begins by having a relationship with God, so that whatever happens in life we can handle those problems and we have a peace that surpasses all comprehension, happiness and we have blessing that maybe material, maybe spiritual, whatever it is, it is what lasts through out all of eternity. So that is the result of a mentality that puts doctrine first above everything else.

 

The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace because verse 7 "…because the mind set on the flesh [sin nature] is hostile toward God; for it does not submit itself to the law of God [the absolutes of God's word], for it is not able to do so…"

 

When we are out of fellowship and under control of the sin nature there is nothing we can do to please God, all we can do is admit our sin to God (1 John 1:9). When we confess our sins God forgives us. That is not a work that is doing something that pleases God, it is simply doing what God says to do so that we can be restored to fellowship and advance in the Spiritual life. See 1 John 1:9 isn't a mechanism for growth, it is a mechanism for recovery, and then you can begin to grow again. Too many people get the idea that all we have to do is confess my sins throw up my hands and the Holy Spirit takes over and fruit is produced. Wrong! You have to engage your volition, learn doctrine under the filling of the Holy Spirit. Confession simply restores you to a position of potential growth, but growth then is dependant on learning and applying doctrine under the filling of God the Holy Spirit. So when you are carnal, and out of fellowship under the control of the sin nature you don't want to submit your self to God and your whole nature is antagonistic to spiritual things.

 

Verse 8, "…and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."

 

Those who are in the flesh can not please God. The word translated 'and' at the beginning of verse 8, is the Greek conjunction DE, now DE can either be and like a KAI or it can be a contrast like ALA a contrasted conjunction. Here it should be understood like ALA this is a contrast, he is shifting from talking about Christians who walk according to the standard of the sin nature and unbelievers who are still in the flesh. Notice he says "those who are in the flesh cannot please God," he has shifted his preposition. He is not saying "those who are according to the flesh," he is saying that if you are walking according to the flesh your mind is set on the flesh and set on death and that is just like an unbeliever. He is reminding them in verse 8 of what they were before they were saved. What we all were before we were saved, those who were in the flesh cannot please God, when you are out of fellowship you cannot please God either, you are just like an unbeliever.

 

He reminds them in verse 9, "However, you are not in the flesh but you are in the Spirit…"

 

As a believer you are in the Spirit. Now you can be in the Spirit and walk according to the flesh. But he is clearly talking here in verses 8 – 9; he is reminding them of the fact that they have been moved form being an unbeliever to a believer, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." When you are walking according to the flesh you are just like an unbeliever. However remember you are not an unbeliever, there has been a radical shift, why are you living like an unbeliever? Why do you continue to think like an unbeliever? Why do you continue to make decisions like an unbeliever? Why do you continue to let the sin nature dominate you like an unbeliever? Why do you continue to make the same rotten decisions you made as an unbeliever? You are not an unbeliever anymore so realise that a change has taken place and get your mind set on doctrine!

"However, you are not in the flesh but you are in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you." This is the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is in every believer.

 

In verse 9b, "But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to him…"

 

So there it is clear, that "in the flesh," and "in the Spirit," is talking about salvation concepts.

But "according to the flesh" and "according to the Spirit" are talking about Christian life issues, carnal verses spiritual.

 

Father, we do thank you for the time to look at your word this evening, to be challenged to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the sin nature because a radical change took place in our lives at the instant of our salvation, you gave us unlimited resources; you broke the tyranny of the sin nature and now we can go on to walk in newness of life and this is our challenge. Father we pray that we might not forget that we have been saved for a purpose and that purpose is to glorify you. We pray this in Jesus name, Amen.