Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3
When a person is guilty of breaking the law—they are convicted of a crime. A conviction is the same as one who is condemned for transgressing the law. Scripture makes it clear that the entire human race stands condemned or convicted for breaking God’s rules. The punishment is the wrath of God in Hell.
The good news is that Jesus paid for our punishment. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might receive the righteousness of God by faith (2 Cor. 5:21). Moreover, the apostle John writes: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2). Therefore, when one repents of their sins and calls on the name of the Lord for forgiveness, they will be saved and spared from God’s wrath (Rom. 10:13).
Through Jesus Christ, the law of the Spirit who gives life, has set you free from the law of sin and death. Imagine being in front of the judge, guilty of breaking the law. All the evidence is against you. Right when you plead guilty, a man enters into the court and states, “Judge, I will take this person’s place. I will serve their time for them.” The judge is astonished. “Are you sure?” the judge replied. “Yes, now set him free.” This is a picture of what God has done for us in Christ.
For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The law can guide, teach, and convict, but it does not have the ability to empower us to overcome sin. For it is weakened by the flesh. The flesh must be born-again. It must be given the Spirit of God. When we repent and get baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins—we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).
God defeated the law of sin and death when he became a sin offering for us. He took the punishment we deserve for breaking the law. He became the propitiation for our sins. In other words, the wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus rather than those who repent and believe in the gospel.
Jesus condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. This is only possible because of the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Because he fully satisfied the wrath and took our punishment for the crime, the crime has been dropped. We no longer stand guilty before God because Jesus the Son petitioned for us. Thus, when we live in the Spirit—by abiding in Christ—the law will not have the power to condemn us.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
There is a sharp distinction between those who live according to the flesh and those who live according to the Spirit. For if you set your mind on the flesh, you will not survive. However, if you set your mind on the spirit, you will not only survive, but find life and peace forever.
Moreover, the apostle Paul states that the mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God. It is at enmity or war against God and His law. The flesh knows it’s condemned. The old man tries to hide from the righteousness of God because those who please the flesh are full of pride, rebellion, and love for self rather than love for God. That’s why the carnal mind can’t submit to God. They submit to their own sinful desires. They are not able to please God.
9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
As believers, there are two births. Our natural birth and our spiritual birth. If the Spirit of God lives in you, as Paul clearly states, then you are not in the realm of the flesh anymore, but in the realm of the Spirit. Paul also declares that those who claim to know Christ but do not have the Spirit, they do not truly belong to Christ. In other words, they have a false conversion and are prophesied by Jesus when he said to his disciples: “Many will say, Lord Lord, I did many miracles in your name. And I will say to them, I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity (Matt. 7:23).
Furthermore, Paul exclaims that if Christ is in you, then even though your body will be subject to death because of sin, the Spirit will give you life because of righteousness. Unfortunately, since all of us have been infected by sin, we will die. But if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he will raise you just like Christ—your mortal bodies will take on immortality.
12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Paul exhorts believers in Rome. He tells them that they have an obligation to live in a righteous manner. They represent Christ and therefore need to live according to his commandments. This obligation, however, is not to the flesh but to the Spirit. We are called by God to embrace the Spirit and allow it to transform our hearts.
How can we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 5:22 states what this looks like: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Isn’t that wonderful news? When we are free to live according to the Spirit of God, there is no need for us to dwell on the implications of the law—for we are set free from the law of sin and death.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
When we are led by the Spirit of God, we can be confident that we are children of God. For we bear his image. We are his offspring according to the covenantal promise. This should give us confidence and hope in our salvation because God’s Spirit testifies to our Spirit that we are children of God.
Since we are God’s children, we are not treated in a subhuman manner. There is no reason for us to fear again. Perfect love casts out all fear. Instead, the Spirit we received in Christ brings about our adoption to sonship—especially for the Gentile nations. As Galatians 3:28 beautifully summarizes: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Paul also concludes that if we are God’s children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This also means that we will share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. In 2 Timothy 3:12, the Bible declares: “All who live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.” Therefore, as believers, we must pick up our cross daily and rejoice when we are persecuted for righteousness sake (1 Pet. 3:14).
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
The early church experienced great persecution. Many were even killed for their faith in Jesus. Yet, Paul reassures them that their present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed. When believers are resurrected at the great white throne judgment, they will receive incorruptible bodies. Their mortal flesh will take on immortality.
Paul talks about how the creation was subjected to frustration. Ever since sin entered into the world, the physical universe has been affected. However, when the children of God will be revealed, the creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. This new creation will be perfect, without sin, and an everlasting dwelling for God and His people.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Redemption is the key to this passage. It is defined as “the action of being saved or being saved from sin, error, or evil.” Paul uses the Greek term ἀπολύτρωσιν, which means ransom in full. This eagerness of sonship in Christ and hope in eternal life is all about redemption.
This hope of redemption is what all of us wait patiently for. While now—we have been brought into union with Christ through baptism and faith—our eternal standing becomes permanent the day Christ returns to take his bride the Church forever. Therefore, as believers, we need to be prepared for His soon return.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
As believers, it’s integral that we put our trust in the Spirit. When we do not know what to pray or how to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, teacher, and advocate. He will not steer us away from God’s truth. These wordless groans does not mean they are unintelligible; it just means that we know deep within our Spirit that God is working. There is a nonverbal connection.
God who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit. The Spirit intercedes for us in accordance with the will of God. The will of God is to obey, serve, honor, and witness to others the goodness of God. What is the chief will of man? To worship God and enjoy Him forever. This is our purpose in life. This is what we were born to do.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
These verses are comforting. For we know that God works together for good to those who love him. He will protect us. God is sovereign and in control of our destiny. Even when we experience various trials, He will never leave us or forsake us. He has called us according to His plans.
For those whom God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. What does this word predestined mean? Paul uses the Greek word προώρισεν to express this notion of being marked out beforehand—being predetermined. There is a mystery here. If God predestines people to either accept or reject him, then is there truly free will? I would argue yes.
Even though the clay has no right to tell the potter which vessel to use for glory and which vessel to use for destruction, there is volition involved as free creatures. Since we are created in His image, we make real choices as intelligent, autonomous beings. Otherwise, if we had no choice, how would God judge us fairly? How would we be without excuse? It’s clear from the entirety of Scripture that God is completely sovereign while man is responsible for his or her choices. This antimony is one of the mysteries of the Christian faith.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
Paul continues with this theme of God’s providence. He reassures believers that no one will be able to bring any charge against God’s chosen people. Why? Because it is God who justifies. He is in ultimate control of our eternal fate.
Moreover, Paul explains that no one will be able to separate the people of God from the love of Christ. No amount of persecution, hardship, famine, sickness, or danger has the authority to break the bond between God and His people. Even though the early church was experiencing longsuffering and persecution from the pagan world, they weren’t able to steal the soul. For the soul belongs to God. We are safe in His hands.
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, Paul ends this chapter with encouragement. In his epistle, he reminds the readers again that they are more than conquerors through Jesus who loved them. He once again focuses on the providence of God. He is convinced that it is impossible to be separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In the following chapter, Paul will continue with this theme of God’s providence and sovereign choice. He will also reveal his emotional anguish over Israel and how their unbelief has temporarily hurt their relationship with the sovereign God. However, Paul goes into detail in later chapters about a restoration that will happen in the end. God’s people will return to Him once again. Thus, not only will the Gentile nations be grafted in and saved, but the natural branches—the Jews—will be fully restored at the end of the age.
Commentary written by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)