Romans Bible Guide – Day Nineteen
March 4, 2016
Previously, in Romans: Paul has led us on a tour of bad religion in his own past experience and in unnamed others. Now he’ll take us on a tour through some of the upsides of life with Jesus in a still-broken world.
8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Points of Interest:
- ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ – Upside #1 to life united with Jesus is no condemnation. Paul doesn’t say some condemnation or less condemnation, but no How much of our lives, religious or otherwise, have been driven by a fear of ultimate rejection? Clearly, with a law-driven religion, this is very much in the mix. There are levels of adherence that will clear the bar for acceptance, or not. Jesus has a different law, and it begins with unconditional, unchanging acceptance.
- ‘the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set you free…’ – Upside #2 is freedom from the way sin and death occupy God’s law and produce bad fruit in us, whether that be outright rebellion or legalistic smugness. The Spirit leads us into security of God’s acceptance, and into the hope and power and courage required for life.
- ‘he condemned sin in the flesh’ – Upside #3 is God killing off our problems, not us. We’ve already seen that we’re free from the risk of God’s condemnation. Strictly speaking, God also did not reject and punish Jesus in our place. Rather, when Jesus died, God buried with him in the grave the dominating power of sin.
- ‘so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us’ – Upside #4 is that God’s original and just aims for our lives can take place. One way people have understood this is in terms of a substitute that does for God what we can’t do. We’ll continue to be failures on God’s terms, but when God looks at us, he will see Jesus – the one we’re connected to now – and be happy. I find this less than satisfying. Another way people have understood this is that God’s original desire for humanity – to have people that trust God, that experience life from God, that follow God’s leadership into increasing joy and love and peace and kindness and wisdom – will start to happen in people that are connected to Jesus, and following the Spirit.
- ‘to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace’ – Upside #5 is just this, life and peace. We’ve spent too much time as a species at war with ourselves, resistant to God, and at war with one another. Neither first century Romans nor 21st century Americans need a lot of convincing regarding the downsides of this. To be with Jesus is to have God leading us into life and peace, with God for sure, but with ourselves and one another as well.
Taking It Home:
For you – Ask yourself, ask God, what in your life is driven by fear of rejection, or by a lack of experience of unconditional love? How’s that going for you? Ask Jesus to set you free from this, and to give you life and peace from knowing how much God loves you.
For your city/church – Ask God for connection to Jesus and leading by the Spirit for every person and organization in your city that is bent toward hostility and conflict and driven by fear. Pray that the peace and life of Jesus will reign in your city.