Dec 8, 2019: Romans 7-8*

Romans 7-8 are the crux of the letter where Paul deals with the realty of our brokenness & inner struggle, the glorious grace of God in Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Here are some notes from the Gospel Transformation Bible to help us appreciate what Christ has done for us and how the Spirit of God is at work in believers’ lives.

Rom. 7:21–25 Even amid the working of divine grace, there is a moral and spiritual struggle. The drive to do evil lurks alongside the will “to do right” and the inward delight in God’s law (vv. 21–22). This is not a pleasant state, and it arouses a cry for deliverance (v. 24). Paul expresses gratitude to God, whose work in Christ is complete, but Paul also notes again the moral struggle amid which the gospel message sustains God’s people (v. 25). The struggle against sin is perplexing and, at times, overwhelming. We feel, as Paul puts it, “wretched” (v. 24). Yet with Paul, as we groan and cry out, “Who will deliver me?” we take refuge in the gospel of grace: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vv. 24, 25).

Rom. 8:1–8 Having corrected mistaken impressions about the law and how the gospel relates to it (chs. 6–7), Paul explains how there is “now no condemnation” for believers “in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). Christians are “set free” from sin’s guilt and power by the work of the Holy Spirit as he imparts spiritual life (v. 2). Neither the law nor human obedience could confer this life. Only the Son by his coming could and did (v. 3). By Christ’s finished work, what the law calls for—living in harmony with God and his will—can actually take place through the work of God’s Spirit (v. 4). But we all face a stark either/or: either we are oriented toward “the flesh” (the human inclination to sin), which leads to death; or the Spirit reorients us, so that our present possession and final destiny are “life and peace” (vv. 5–6). Without the Spirit, we “cannot please God” (vv. 7–8).

Rom. 8:9–11 Believers live “in the Spirit” rather than “in the flesh” (v. 9). Physically speaking, in this life our bodies are mortal and sin is present. But God’s “righteousness” through the gospel means (among much else) that the Spirit brings life (8:10). The Spirit who raised Jesus transforms believers’ everyday lives (v. 11) as he “dwells” among God’s people and in their personal spheres. As in chapter 6, Paul teaches that the very resurrected life of Christ dwells in those who have been united to this risen Lord.

Rom. 8:12–17 Paul discusses the payoff and implications of the Spirit’s presence. Before we received the gospel, we could not do God’s will freely nor please him fully. But now, through the Spirit, believers have new affections (vv. 5, 15) and can turn their back on sinful behaviour (v. 13; for a description of “deeds of the body,”). God’s Spirit leads (Rom. 8:14), grants a new status in God’s sight, and prompts an outcry that is quite the opposite of the cry of “Wretched man!” in 7:24: believers, instead, call out, “Abba! Father!” (8:15)

As we continue in our reading of Romans this coming week, may we be stunned by the glorious grace of God in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and experience the power of the Spirit who enlightens our mind and empowers our will to obey our Lord with joy and delight!

* Taken from ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.

This week’s bible reading schedule:

Monday: Romans 10 Thursday: Romans 13
Tuesday: Romans 11 Friday: Romans 14
Wednesday: Romans 12 Saturday: Romans 15