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Romans​​ Chapter​​ 8 Commentary

Rick Moffett​​ 



Note​​ - As a reminder, the chapter breaks​​ in the Bible​​ were inserted by man, not God. Often they serve to do more harm than good. Paul’s opening remarks in this chapter draw​​ his​​ conclusions​​ to the truths he has previously stated​​ in the last three chapters. So, don’t let the chapter break here cause you to think Paul is beginning a new line of thinking.​​ 


In​​ chapter five, Paul tells us that death came into the world as a result of sin.​​ In​​ chapter six​​ we are told​​ that we have been set free from the power of sin​​ that dwells in our physical body.​​ And in​​ chapter seven,​​ we​​ discover​​ that we have​​ died to​​ the Law.​​ Nonetheless, we see Paul struggling with sin in chapter seven as he tries to keep the Law.​​ And when he realizes he can’t keep the Law,​​ Paul cries​​ out​​ in anguish to be set free from his battle and its consequences.​​ 


Folks,​​ all​​ who attempt to live by law​​ will experience the same struggle as Paul. Attempting to live by law (either the Mosaic​​ Law​​ or any self-imposed law), is called​​ “legalism”​​ and that​​ always leads to death.​​ Much of the church today is bound up in legalism! The truths in​​ the book of Romans can set you free, if you know what they are and then believe them!


V1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.​​ 


Summary​​ ​​ The conclusion to​​ the truths contained in​​ Romans chapters 5-7​​ is​​ that​​ there is​​ no longer any judgment​​ nor punishment​​ for sin for those who​​ are​​ in​​ Christ”​​ (in​​ union with​​ Christ).​​ 


Comments​​ –​​ The word “no” is the first word that appears in a literal translation​​ of this verse.​​ The position of a word in a sentence​​ is​​ a​​ way​​ a​​ writer would place the utmost emphasis on his point. Here, Paul is saying there is absolutely, positively, without a doubt, NO CONDEMNATION​​ for​​ those who have been united with Christ!​​ If you get nothing else out of the​​ study​​ of Romans, get that!


Paul told us back in chapter five​​ (Rom. 5:16, 18),​​ that​​ condemnation​​ arose​​ from one transgression (Adam’s sin in the garden).


Do you ever feel condemned?​​ If truth be told, we all do at times. If you feel condemned, stop,​​ and remind yourself that God’s word clearly states that we are no longer condemned. Therefore, if you are feeling condemned,​​ you are believing​​ a lie and​​ that​​ cannot be coming from God.​​ Likely you are trusting in yourself​​ and your performance rather than in Christ alone!


Remember that the father of all lies​​ (Satan)​​ works through the power of indwelling sin to put lying thoughts into our minds. Our feelings are a result of our thoughts. Align your thinking with the truth (you are not condemned, but are justified, forgiven, holy and righteous) and your feelings of condemnation will disappear and you will experience freedom in Christ! Amen.


Note –​​ Some English translations​​ of the​​ Bible, such as the KJV, attach the phrase,​​ “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit”, onto​​ the end of this verse.​​ However, this phrase is not in the best Greek manuscripts.​​ This​​ phrase​​ greatly​​ distorts the meaning of this verse. It considers our behavior as the means to become​​ free from condemnation, rather than​​ our union with​​ Christ Jesus alone.​​ 


Additional​​ Notes

V2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.


Summary –​​ The power of the Holy Spirit gives us life in Christ Jesus​​ and​​ sets us free from the power of sin,​​ which always produces death.


Comments​​ ​​ Here we see two different laws​​ working in opposition within the​​ person​​ who is united with Christ.​​ Note that​​ “the law”​​ here is not referring to the Mosaic Law or any other set of rules or regulations.​​ “the law”​​ in this verse refers to an internal force or power that can influence man’s thinking and ultimately his behavior. The two​​ internal forces​​ mentioned in this verse​​ are​​ always at work and always operate in a consistent manner, i.e.,​​ they​​ always produce the same outcome.​​ This​​ is an unalterable truth.​​ 


Good examples of such a law include the​​ law of gravity​​ and the​​ law of aerodynamics. These two powers or forces are always in operation and always function in a consistent manner, yielding the same outcome.​​ See notes on​​ Rom. 7:21-22.​​ 


While the law of aerodynamics​​ overcomes​​ the law of gravity​​ (evidenced by a​​ flying​​ bird or an​​ airplane), the law of gravity is not suspended.​​ This is analogous to the law of the Holy Spirit and the law of the power of sin​​ that indwells all mankind.​​ Be warned​​ that​​ even though​​ we have died to the power of indwelling sin, it​​ still has power over us​​ if we allow it.​​ It is only when we walk by the​​ power​​ of the​​ Holy Spirit that we​​ can​​ overcome​​ the power of sin.​​ 


As mentioned above,​​ the outcome for those who function according to these two laws is always the same. Walk by the Holy Spirit and experience life.​​ Walk under the influence of the power of sin and experience death.​​ Paul discusses this further as he progresses through this eighth chapter.​​ 


Additional Notes


V3 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,​​ 


Note​​ ​​ as an offering” does not occur in the original Greek text.​​ 


Summary –​​ Here Paul​​ explains​​ his statement in the previous verse. It was not the Law that set us free​​ from sin, for it had no power to do so​​ because all efforts to keep it are always done according to one’s flesh (self-effort),​​ which​​ is​​ inherently weak. But God sent his own​​ Son, Jesus, a man​​ like​​ all other humans, but​​ without the power of sin dwelling in his body.​​ And​​ Jesus,​​ judged​​ and sentenced​​ sin, thus removing​​ its​​ authority and​​ power​​ over those​​ who are united with​​ Christ.


Comments –​​ What is it that the Law could not do? ​​ It could not set anyone free from the power of sin and death. It could not give anyone life. It could not make anyone righteous. It could not even give anyone the ability to obey its demands! In fact, it did just the opposite; it aroused the power of sin that dwells in all men,​​ and that always leads to death.​​ (Rom. 7:5)

Man, with only a set of rules to obey, is no match for the power of sin.


Additional Notes


V4​​ 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.


Note -​​ There are several words​​ in this verse​​ in the​​ NASB​​ translation that don’t appear in the original Greek text (“so” and “requirement”).​​ Young’s Literal Translation​​ offers a more accurate translation –​​ 


“that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”​​ (YLT)


Also, keep in mind that this verse is the continuation of a sentence that started in​​ v3.​​ 


Summary –​​ The righteous expression of the​​ Law is accomplished in those who walk​​ according to​​ the Spirit (Holy Spirit) and not​​ according to​​ the flesh.​​ See​​ Understanding the Flesh​​ on this website.



Comments –​​ As we​​ have​​ already seen​​ in​​ the book of Romans, righteousness comes by faith and not by​​ works​​ or keeping​​ the Law. (Rom. 3:22, 28; Rom. 4:5,9,11). The​​ Mosaic​​ Law​​ gave very specific orders for​​ how​​ the​​ Israelites​​ should conduct​​ their​​ lives. Their seemingly peculiar behavior was one way in which​​ God​​ set​​ them​​ apart​​ from all other people​​ groups.​​ But these​​ rules for living could not be​​ consistently​​ obeyed because of the power of indwelling sin​​ working through their flesh.​​ 


Later in the book of Romans,​​ Paul tells​​ us that​​ the​​ Law is summed up in this saying – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”; and​​ that​​ the ultimate fulfillment of the Law is love. (Rom. 13:9-10)​​ When we walk by the Holy Spirit, we will be​​ expressing the love of God, thus​​ expressing​​ the​​ righteousness of the Law.​​ Let me give an example.​​ When I walk under the​​ direction​​ of the Holy Spirit, I will not steal, I will not murder, I will​​ not lie. You will recognize these three​​ prohibitions​​ as​​ part of the Ten Commandments. Thus, I am obeying these “commandments”, not because I am​​ obligated to some code of behavior, but because when I am acting in love, I would never steal, murder, or lie.​​ 



But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.​​ Gal. 5:18​​ 



Additional Notes


V5 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.


Summary –​​ Paul explains​​ that the choice to walk according to the flesh or according to the Spirit is determined by how we “set our minds.


Comments –​​ What does it mean to “set your mind”?​​ In this verse,​​ it means a moment-by-moment choice​​ on​​ what we​​ focus our thinking and affections.​​ It is in our mind (our thinking)​​ that the battle begins concerning our behavior. (Rom. 7:23)


Additional Notes


V6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,


Summary –​​ Here Paul explains the result of our mindset.​​ The​​ mind that is set on the flesh results in death. The mind that is set on the Spirit​​ results​​ in​​ life and peace.​​ 


Comments –​​ Don’t think​​ of​​ physical or spiritual death here.​​ Death here refers to soulical death.​​ It is in our soul where we experience either life or death​​ at any given​​ moment. Life in this context would refer to peace, joy, love, security,​​ fullness,​​ etc. Death would refer to a lack of these things, as well as conflict, fear, condemnation,​​ emptiness,​​ etc.​​ For a better understanding of​​ our soul, read​​ God’s Design for Man​​ on this website.​​ 


Additional Notes


V7 because 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,


Summary –​​ The flesh is opposed to the things of God.​​ A person living​​ according to the flesh is living independent of God and therefore, can never be submitted to the things of God.​​ 


Comments –​​ A Christian either walks by the Holy Spirit or by his own selfish flesh. These two are directly opposed to each other.​​ 


For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.​​ Gal. 5:17​​ 


Additional Notes


V8​​ and those who are in the flesh cannot please God


Summary –​​ Those who have not been spiritually reborn are still living independently​​ of God (in the flesh) and can never be pleasing to God.


Comments –​​ It is important to note that the phrase​​ “in the flesh”​​ refers to one’s spiritual identity; while the phrase​​ “according​​ to​​ (or after) the flesh”​​ refers to one’s behavior.​​ The same thing can be said about the “Spirit” (in the Spirit; according to the Spirit). Hence, “in the flesh” refers to a person who has not been spiritually reborn.​​ See​​ Understanding the Flesh​​ on this website.


Additional Notes


V9​​ However, 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.​​ 


Summary –​​ Paul tells his readers they are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit since they are indwelt by the Spirit (Holy Spirit). And, if a person is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, then they do not belong to God.​​ 


Comments –​​ All those who receive Christ by faith receive the​​ gift of the​​ Holy Spirit.​​ They are said to be​​ “in the Spirit”.​​ “In the Spirit”​​ and “in the flesh”​​ refers to one’s spiritual identity. “In the Spirit”​​ refers to those who have been born again and means​​ the same as​​ being​​ “in Christ”.​​ ​​ Conversely, “in the flesh” refers to those who have not​​ been​​ born again​​ and​​ means​​ the same as​​ being​​ “in Adam”.​​ For more on this​​ read​​ Understanding the Flesh​​ on this website.​​ 


The indwelling Holy Spirit, among many other things, serves as a mark of ownership to all God’s children.​​ 


13​​ In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,​​ 14​​ who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of​​ God's own​​ possession, to the praise of His glory.​​ Eph.​​ 1:13-14.​​ See​​ also​​ 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 5:5.


Additional Notes


V10​​ If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin , yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.​​ 


Summary –​​ Since Christ,​​ in​​ the person of the Holy Spirit, dwells in the spirit of all Christians,​​ our spirit is alive​​ and thus, we are declared righteous, even though​​ our​​ bodies, which are indwelt by sin, are dying.​​ (1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:21)


Comments –Because of Christ’s death on the cross, we are justified (declared innocent of our sin debt) and declared righteous in Christ; furthermore,​​ we are united with Christ, who is now our life.​​ (Col. 3:4)


Additional Notes


V11 But 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.  ​​​​ 


Summary –​​ Since the Spirit​​ (Holy Spirit)​​ that resurrected​​ Jesus from the dead has taken residence in you,​​ He​​ (Holy Spirit)​​ will also give life to your “dying” body.


Comments –​​ This life that​​ the Holy Spirit gives​​ to our “mortal bodies”​​ is most likely referring to our resurrected body, which then becomes immortal.​​ (1 Cor. 15:53)​​ See​​ also​​ 1 Cor. 15​​ to learn about our resurrected body.​​ 


Additional Notes


V12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—


Summary –​​ Paul is giving a logical conclusion to his previous​​ statements in​​ v10-11.​​ Because​​ we have been given spiritual life and will someday​​ be given​​ a new immortal​​ spiritual​​ body, we need not live our life according to the flesh.​​ 


Comments –​​ Paul​​ gives the reasons​​ why we​​ no longer have to​​ live according to the flesh in the next​​ three​​ verses.​​ Read them in this context to better understand what Paul is trying to communicate.


Additional Notes


V13 For 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.


Summary –​​ Paul​​ begins his explanation​​ for his statement​​ in​​ v12​​ by​​ presenting​​ two​​ contrasting​​ conditional statements​​ ​​ live according to the flesh and experience death,​​ or​​ live according​​ to​​ the Holy Spirit and​​ you will not carry out the works of the flesh; and more, you will​​ experience life.​​ See comments on​​ v6.​​ 


Comments –​​ Here we are presented with​​ our​​ only two choices​​ for how we live our life on earth and the consequences of each choice.​​ 


Let me emphasize this point – these consequences are set in stone!​​ Each moment of each day you get to choose to experience life or death!​​ Why not choose life?


And remember what Paul said in​​ v6​​ ​​ it is where you set your mind that ultimately determines your behavior.​​ Also know, attempting to​​ stop​​ living according to the flesh is NOT the way​​ to​​ achieve victory.​​ Choosing to walk by the Spirit is the only way to stop​​ living according to the flesh.​​ 


But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.​​ Gal.​​ 5:16​​ 


Additional Notes


V14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.​​ 


Summary –​​ Paul has just told us​​ that if we are​​ being led by the Holy Spirit, we cease to do the works of the flesh and thus, experience life. Now he tells us that if we are​​ led by​​ (walking​​ by​​ the​​ direction and​​ power of)​​ the Holy Spirit,​​ we are​​ “sons of God”,​​ i.e., it demonstrates​​ or proves​​ that we are sons of God.​​ 


Comments –​​ v14​​ gives​​ another​​ reason why we are not under obligation to live according to the flesh​​ (v12).


Seven times in​​ v14–23​​ Paul mentions that as Christians, we are​​ “sons”​​ or​​ “children”​​ of God.​​ Paul​​ is​​ emphasizing our relationship​​ with our Heavenly Father.​​ For more on this, see​​ Additional Notes.​​ 


Additional Notes


V15 For 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!"​​ 


Review –​​ Paul has just told his readers that they are no longer in the flesh, but are now in the Spirit (v9);​​ and that the Holy Spirit lives in them​​ (v10-11). Thus, they are not obligated to live according to the flesh​​ (v12).​​ In​​ v13-15, he explains why​​ 


  • v13​​ -​​ Because, if they do, they will experience death; but if they live under the control and power of the Holy Spirit, they will experience life.

  • v14​​ -​​ Because living according to the Holy Spirit is evidence that they are sons of God.​​ In other words, live like who you are!


He concludes his explanation as to why​​ they​​ no longer need to live according to the flesh​​ here​​ in​​ v15.​​ 


Summary –​​ We are not obligated to live according to the flesh (v12) because we did​​ not receive a spirit of bondage (to sin) which causes​​ a person to live in fear (of death,​​ as we did prior to receiving Christ);​​ but we received the spirit of sonship​​ (with​​ all its rights and privileges)​​ by which we now have an intimate and trusting relationship with our Heavenly Father.​​ 


Comments –​​ For a better understanding of what Paul is saying here, let me encourage you to read through the extensive Additional Notes on this verse.​​ 


Additional Notes


V16​​ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,​​ 


Summary –​​ The Holy Spirit​​ continually​​ bears witness with our human spirit that we are​​ children in the family of God.​​ 


Comments –​​ All who have received​​ Christ by faith have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 8:9;​​ Eph. 1:13-14)​​ It is the witness of the Holy Spirit within our human spirits that lets us know we are​​ God’s children, thus, assuring​​ us​​ of our salvation.​​ This is something that we cannot prove to another person, but we know that we know it!​​ Those who have not been spiritually reborn can not understand this truth.​​ 


Additional Notes


V17​​ and 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.​​ 


Summary –​​ And since we are children​​ of God, we are​​ also​​ heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ; and​​ since​​ we suffer with Christ, we will also be glorified with Christ.​​ 


Comments –​​ Because we are united​​ with Christ, we​​ are partakers of an inheritance​​ from God​​ with Christ​​ and we will suffer​​ with Christ​​ and​​ thus,​​ we will also be glorified​​ with Christ.​​ 


But why would God allow his beloved children to suffer?​​ 

God’s plan is often bigger than our immediate comfort and convenience.​​ See Additional Notes​​ for more on this subject.


Additional Notes


V18 For 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.​​ 


Summary –​​ Paul​​ puts our suffering in the proper perspective. He encourages us that​​ the suffering we will endure is but for a season and​​ doesn’t deserve to be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us and in us​​ (the sons/children of God, i.e., those who have received Christ Jesus by faith).​​ 


Comments –​​ God uses (not causes) all things for his purpose, even sin.​​ (v28) And, ultimately it is sin that causes our suffering, not God. Not necessarily personal acts of sin that we commit, but the curse of sin that affects all of creation. While Christians are set free from the power and penalty of sin, we still live in the presence of sin. ​​ 


For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.​​ Hebrews 2:10​​ 


19​​ Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.​​ 1​​ Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as​​ your​​ fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,​​ 1 Peter 4:19 – 5:1


Additional Notes


V19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.​​ 


Note​​ ​​ When Paul speaks of “the creation” in​​ v19-22, he is referring to​​ both the animate and inanimate subjects of the first five days of God’s​​ creative​​ work as described in​​ Gen. 1:1-25.​​ See Additional Notes for more on this.


Summary –​​ All of God’s creation, both animate and inanimate, intently wait with full expectation​​ for​​ the unveiling of the sons of God​​ (this would not include those who have never received Christ by faith).


Note -​​ The​​ Greek​​ verb​​ apekdechomai,​​ which is​​ translated​​ "waits​​ eagerly",​​ is used seven times in the New Testament, each time to refer to Christ's return (Rom. 8:19, 23, 25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Gal. 5:5; Phil. 3:20; Heb. 9:28).​​ 


Comments –​​ No doubt this unveiling will occur at the return of Christ​​ when​​ we (Christians) will​​ be​​ seen by all creation with​​ him in all his glory.​​ Let these words be an encouragement to you whenever you are going through​​ times​​ of suffering.​​ 


so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.​​ 1 Thes. 3:13​​ 


Additional Notes


V20-21​​  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly,​​  But because of Him who subjected it, in hope​​ 21​​ that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.


Summary –​​ Here Paul explains why​​ all​​ creation is waiting so intently (v19). In addition to the sons of God suffering (v17-18), the whole creation unwillingly has been made by God to submit to emptiness, frustration,​​ and hopelessness. But this was done with​​ a​​ confident expectation that the creation would also be set free from degradation and decay,​​ and partake of​​ the same glorious freedom as that​​ of​​ the​​ children​​ of God.​​ 


Comments –​​ Because of man’s sin in the garden,​​ all of​​ creation suffered the consequences. Man was separated from the life of God and began to die. (Genesis​​ 3; Rom. 5:12) The earth and all that was on it began to degrade because of the curse God put on the ground. (Gen. 3:17-19) See also​​ Isa. 24:5-6.​​ 


After Adam sinned in the garden,​​ God​​ announced his plan​​ to redeem mankind​​ through Christ. (Gen. 3:15) And eventually,​​ all of creation​​ will be restored as God originally intended and thus, be free from bondage to corruption​​ (this would not include those who have never received Christ by faith).


Additional Notes



V22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.​​ 


Reminder–​​ When Paul speaks of “the creation” in​​ v19-22, he is referring to both the animate and inanimate subjects of the first five days of God’s creative work as described in​​ Gen. 1:1-25. See Additional Notes​​ on​​ v19​​ for more on this.


Summary –​​ The whole creation together​​ groans​​ and suffers​​ under the pains of childbirth and will continue until a time predetermined by God.​​ 


Comments –​​