READ: Romans 8
BACKGROUND: This is my favorite chapter of in the whole Bible. It’s just such an incredible picture of the love that God has for us – a love that inspired Jesus to come and die even though we didn’t deserve it – and what it means to live now in the reality of that love.
2 – The Law of the Spirit of life is contrasted with the Law of sin & death. One brings life, the other destruction.
3 – The Law couldn’t overcome sin. It could just point it out. Christ overcame it.
10 – Though our physical bodies are dead (or will be soon because of sin) we know that we will live eternally (and eventually receive perfected, resurrection bodies).
11 – For more thoughts about the connection between the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers you can check out: 1Corinthians 6:14 & 15:20-23, 2Corinthians 4:14, Philippians 3:21, & 1Thessalonians 4:14.
15 – The underlying concept here is adoption, and this is culturally significant. The Romans, to whom Paul is writing this letter, had a strong tradition of adoption where the adopted child was considered to be fully & completely a part of the family with full familial rights. This concept is picked up again in verse 17.
21 – This world that we’re living in is headed for a judgment, but not for complete destruction. The judgment will purge and clean the earth. Our world isn’t going to be annihilated. It’s going to be restored and made whole again. That is our hope and it is the hope of all creation!
26 – Just as hope sustains us in life’s difficulties, the Holy Spirit sustains us in our prayers. He intercedes on our behalf when we don’t know what to say. How awesome is that!?!
28 – Again, how awesome is this!?!
30 – This is a verse that has confused a lot of people. Some people see this as a description of the people of God that basically says: God has chosen certain people for himself. Those people will not and cannot – even if they wanted to – resist that call or do anything to lose it (which is an odd conclusion given the number of times the word “if” is used by Paul in Romans and in this chapter alone). And those whom God did not predestine for himself, he chose to punish in Hell and there is nothing they can do to escape that punishment because God, in his sovereignty, has decided that they should burn. This is a sad misunderstanding. This verse, instead, describes the process by which God saves. It is an important reminder that we don’t save ourselves – that there is nothing about us that earns our salvation. God does it all. In his wisdom he knew what would happen (foreknowledge). He then graciously purposed to draw a people to himself and set a plan in motion (predestined). He extends grace – to everybody. He chooses us – all of us – while we are still sinners, and constantly draws us to himself (called). If we simply respond to the call he extended by the grace he extended and put our faith in Jesus then he sets us right (justified). Then he makes us new forever (glorified). If we respond and live according to the spirit (Romans 8:13) then we experience this reality.
39 – No matter what happens, or no matter what we suffer, nothing can separate us from God’s love.
THINK: One of my favorite movies of all time is Braveheart, the historical epic about William Wallace, the leader of the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I in the 13th Century. At one point during the film, Wallace and his men approach an army gathered by Scottish nobles that is desperately outnumbered and outmatched by the English army that opposes it. The Scotts, not being professional soldiers, begin to turn and leave the battlefield in an attempt to escape with their lives rather than charge into battle and almost certain death. Wallace, noticing this, gives a dramatic plea for them to stay and fight. He charges them, “I am William Wallace and I see a whole army of my countrymen here, in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?” They respond, “Fight, against that? No. We will run and we will live.” A defiant Wallace answers, “Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live…at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom?” The Scotts fight, and the Scotts win.
As Americans we find that story inspiring because our nation was built on freedom. It is one of the great values that we prize. And we have a good sense of what it means to be free politically, and this is something we are willing to fight and die for, but as Christians we are free in another sense, a spiritual sense. Though the odds may seem stacked against us, and the world may seem difficult to overcome, we don’t have to be enslaved to sin or to the trappings and temptations of this world. The eighth chapter of Romans tells us that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. We have been set free.
Christ’s death upon the cross on our behalf was not simply an historical event, but rather it was a sacrifice that brought about our liberation, and this liberation, according to Paul, is multifaceted. Being spiritually free, then, means a few different things for us. It means that we are free from the sins that entangle and haunt us, it means that we are free from the need to worry about the trials we presently suffer, and ultimately, it means that we are free from death and separation from God. So, those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and submitted our lives to him are spiritually set free, and this freedom comes through the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The powerful Holy Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, now dwells in us and sets us free!
ASK: What does it mean for me to be free?