Ifs of Romans 8

Romans 8 has several “Christian quotes” in it. Here are a few:

“… no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  (Rom 8:1)

“… free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. ” (Rom 8:2)

“… Christ is in you … the Spirit is life because of righteousness. ” (Rom 8:10)

“… fellow heirs with Christ, …”  (Rom 8:17)

And several other comforting pieces of text. But there are a whole lot of “ifs” in this passage that can not be ignored.

The first one appears in verse 9:

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  (Rom 8:9)

“IF in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.” IF, well, how do we know IF the Spirit of God dwells in us? Maybe he tells us above? Maybe we can glean a few indications by reading back up through the text.

  • “those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5)
  • “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:4)

So IF the Spirit of God dwells within us, we will live according to the Spirit by setting our minds on things of the Spirit fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law. hmmm ok. What is the “righteous requirement of the law?” Well, the word translated as righteous here is ‘dikaiōma’ which means “an equitable deed; by implication a statute or decision: – judgment, justification, ordinance, righteousness”.  However, if we trace back through to the root part of this word, it boils down to “to show, expose to the eyes, to give evidence or proof of a thing, to show by words or teach.” So basically to show in our actions what the law has required. To be in right standing with the law.

In the blog before this, “Ifs of John,” John quotes Jesus several times in regards to keeping His commandments. And now, here is Paul speaking about keeping the law. But many would say, wait — doesn’t it say that we are free from the law? Sure we are, IF the Spirit of God dwells within us. Think of it like this. If you are driving down the road at the speed limit, aren’t you free from the law? No cop is going to pull you over for doing the speed limit are they? If you walk into a store and pay for all the items you take out of the store, aren’t you free from the law? No one is going to arrest you for taking stuff out of the store because you followed the law by purchasing it. Freedom from something doesn’t always mean you toss that something aside.  So IF the Spirit of God dwells within us, then we will live out the law, not because we HAVE to, but because we WANT to.  Otherwise as it says at the end of this verse, we do “not have the Spirit of Christ.” And if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, then we do “not belong to him.”

Albert Barnes writes:

Is none of his – Is not a Christian. This is a test of piety that is easily applied; and this settles the question. If a man is not influenced by the meek, pure, and holy spirit of the Lord Jesus, if he is not conformed to his image, if his life does not resemble that of the Saviour, he is a stranger to religion. No test could be more easily applied, and none is more decisive. It matters not what else he may have. He may be loud in his professions, amiable in his temper, bold in his zeal, or active in promoting the interests of his own party or denomination in the church; but if he has not the temper of the Saviour, and does not manifest his Spirit, it is as sounding brass or a tinkling cymdal. May all who read this, honestly examine themselves; and may they have what is the source of the purest felicity, the spirit and temper of the Lord Jesus.

Is not a Christian … Some tough words in there. Think on them, evaluate how you are living and what evidences your life is showing.

The next ‘if’ is found  in the next verse:

But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. (Rom 8:10)

“The Spirit is life because of righteousness?” What does that mean? There is that word ‘righteousness’ again, however, this time it is actually a different word, ‘dikaiosunē’ which according to Thayer means, “in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God, … integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting … ” So the Spirit gives us life because He helps make us live a life in a condition acceptable to God with integrity, virtue, and correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting. So we don’t keep the laws or the commandments by ourselves, we are able to do it because of the Spirit within us.

The next ‘if’ that has to do with how we live in down a few verses:

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  (Rom 8:13)

Hmmm sounds a little like what God said to Adam and Eve in the garden, doesn’t it?  That was just a side thought. So anyway … Paul is just trying to sum up this whole thing. If the Spirit of God dwells in us, then we will live out the laws and commandments by not doing what our flesh tells us to do, but by living out what the Spirit tells us to do.

So what? It says if we don’t live by the Spirit we will die, we’re going to die anyway right?  Noooo, our bodies will die, but no matter what our spirit is going to live forever, it’s just a matter of where and how we will live out forever. So the next verse says that if we are led by the Spirit we are sons of God (v14). Then a little lower in verse 17 it says if we are the children of God, we are heirs of His, fellow heirs with Christ Jesus. IF we are sons of God’s then our spirits will enjoy an inheritances.

But just as we get to text that makes us feel good, Paul jerks us back to reality adding a condition that he doesn’t want us to forget,  this one is indicated by the word ‘provided’:

and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom 8:17)

Provided we suffer?? Ugh! I’m out, I don’t want to suffer.  … But wait –  we can’t stop there, it says, “provided we suffer WITH him.” We aren’t alone. Yes, some of us may suffer death, imprisonment, beatings, but in all reality, most of us will never suffer so severely. Most of us will really deal with the suffering that Paul has been talking about throughout this chapter and the one prior to this. The every day wrestling with our desires and wants that are contrary to the law and the commandments that Jesus gave.  God understands that it is hard for us to live out life in this world. He understands that we are tempted. And here Paul is telling us that if we will just suffer through those things with the Spirit of God indwelling us to help us, that we may not only glorify God, but glorify ourselves as well.

Suffering on our own doesn’t glorify anyone. Making up our own rules and following them, thinking that we are doing some great thing for God isn’t what is being talked about here. That is what the religious leaders at the time were doing. Jesus broke many of their laws and rules, it’s important that we study our Bibles and learn just what laws and commandments are real, and what are made up. It’s also important that we follow what the Holy Spirit inside us says. Sometimes something is ok for you but not ok for me. And the Spirit will let us know. It’s ALWAYS about the laws and commandments coming from God and not from people, including ourselves.

It’s only when we “… live according to the Spirit.” Setting our “minds on the things of the Spirit.” (Rom 8:5)  Many times the things of the Spirit are things we can not see. But again, God knows this and has Paul reassure us of that when He has Paul write:

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.  (Rom 8:25)

Patience – hupomonē – cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy: – enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). How can we do this? Through the Spirit that God provided us.

God knows that we can not live in righteousness to the law alone, so He gave us Christ Jesus to pay for our unrighteousness. And then He gave us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us to help us live out that righteousness, giving us life and freedom within the law. And when we think it’s all as hard as it can get, and there is no hope left, He left us with one more thought through Paul writing:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31)

If God is for us, who can be against us? Seriously give some thought to just who God is, just what God has done, the power that He has. All that power is FOR us. That word translated as ‘for’ is huper (hahah reminds me of super ;d) which means, “in behalf of, for the sake of.”  Think about that. Now how special do you feel?

All this IF the Spirit of God dwells within us. And IF He does, then it will show by our every word and deed.

That’s a big IF with a big THEN that many of us would like to have.


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