Sunday, February 5, 2012
COMMENTARY ON ROMANS 8:1-10
(1) There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (5) For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (7) Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (8) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (10) And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Paul’s declaration, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are under grace” (Rom. 6:14); and the illustration of this thesis closes at the end of the 4th verse of this chapter. He had shown that the Law cannot deliver; he now continues on to show that grace can, that grace does, deliver. The scope of these first 4 verses is to show how the “law of sin and death” is deprived of its power to bring believers again into bondage, and how the holy Law of God receives in them the homage of a living obedience. The Calvinistic Baptist Pastor Henry Mahan writes: “There are two things that every believer wants above all else, (1) He wants deliverance from the guilt and curse of sin — to live in Christ. (2) He wants deliverance from the power and practice of sin — to walk in the Spirit. A saving interest in Christ and our living union with Christ do both.”
Verse 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Once the very elect themselves were under condemnation — “condemned already” (John 3:18; but “now” that their God-given faith has united them to Christ there is “no condemnation.” This “now,” then, distinguishes between two states or conditions. By nature we were “under the (sentence of) Law,” but now true believers are “under grace” (Rom. 6:14). By nature we were “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:2), but now we are accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6). Under the first covenant we were “in Adam” (1 Cor. 15:22), but now we are “in Christ.” As believers in Christ we have everlasting life, and because of this we “shall not come into condemnation.” In our epistle Paul has shown us that because Christ has been set forth “a propitiation through faith in His blood” (3:25); because He was “delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification” (4:25); because by the obedience of the One the many (believers in all ages) are “made righteous,” constituted so, legally, (5:19), because believers have “died (judicially) to sin” (6:2); because they have “died” to the condemning power of the Law (7:4), there is “therefore no condemnation.” God, in pure, free grace, has imputed the justifying righteousness of Christ. In His grace, through Christ, He shall deliver from the power, and even the existence, of the depraving influence of sin, for it secures that there is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” The word “therefore” is explained in these first eight chapters, particularly chapters six through 8, namely, what the Law could not do through the weakness of our sinful flesh, God did by the sacrificial death of His Son. And He did it for “them that are in Christ Jesus.” Being in Christ is not in a mere doctrinal or legal sense. We must be “in Him” vitally, both in a legal and experiential sense. We must not only be chosen in Christ but also made alive in Him. We must be predestinated and effectually called by the voice of the Son of God (Acts 2:39; John 5:25).
To be “in Christ Jesus,” is to be so related to Him that His death is, as it were, our death, His life our life. Having been united to our Lord Christ by believing, our condemnation (the elects) has been completely and for ever removed. None can condemn God’s elect whom He has justified on the ground that Christ has died for them, the just in the room of the unjust (Rom. 8:33-34). The believer is “made the righteousness of God in Him,” who was “made sin in his room” (2 Cor. 5:21). “Of God he is in Christ Jesus righteousness” (1 Cor. 1:30). We are “justified freely by God’s grace” (Rom. 3:24). By and in Him did this justification of a sinner originate.
“Who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” This is not the reason why we are not condemned but is a description of those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord. The flesh is not our master or our guide. Christ is our Lord and the Holy Ghost is our Guide. We shall have more to say on this phrase at the fourth verse.
Verse 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. This second verse shows us that God furnishes regenerating and sanctifying influence in His elect. For the deliverance from “the body of death” (7:24) — that is, “sin dwelling in us” (7:17), there must be a change of character as well as a change of relation; and to this, inward influence in the operation of the Holy Ghost, as well as external performance in the atoning work of God the Son, is essential. “For” — the grace of God by Christ our Lord delivers from sin, not only as it frees us from condemnation, but also as it furnishes transforming sanctifying influence in the believer.
Deliverance from “the law of sin and death,” is most assuredly the same as deliverance from “the body of this death” (7:24) — or from “sin dwelling in us” (7:17), or from “the law in the members” (7:23) called “the law of sin” (7:25), which in the members wars against the law of the mind. That law is just the order of things which prevails with the regularity of a law in human nature as depraved, and is productive of nothing but “sin and death” — guilt, depravity, misery. Many excellent writers have understood by “the law of sin and death” God’s holy Law, in its covenant form. The statements made above prove this to be wrong, plus Paul pronounces the Law to be “holy, and just, and good” (7:12), and he carefully guards against the supposition, that it “is sin” (7:7), or “becomes death” (7:13). Also, what Paul is here in this passage illustrating is not freedom from the Law, but freedom from SIN. Grace delivers from sin. Not only is there no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus — because of their legal union with Him, but there is to them a quickening Spirit — the Holy Ghost makes it good to the soul in a vital way. The economy of grace is the ministration not only of righteousness — that is, justification, but of spiritual life — that is, sanctification. (2 Cor. 3: 8-9). “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus delivers from the law of sin and death.”
“The Spirit of life” is the Holy Ghost, who is the Author of all true spiritual life or holiness in the renewed sinner. He is the living, life-giving Spirit. He is called “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” because it is as members of Christ that He takes His abode in believers, who in consequence of this have one life with their Head. The Holy Spirit communicates to God’s elect the very life which is in the Mediator. “The gift of God is eternal life through [or “in”] Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). In Christ “dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead” (Col. 2:9) therefore the Spirit both resides “in” and is dispensed “by” Him. The law of the Spirit of life” is considered as descriptive of the Gospel by some interpreters; but the contrast between this “law,” and the “law of sin and death,” will not support that view. It describes the new order of things established in the renewed mind by the Holy Spirit of life, who is given to all believers in consequence of their being redeemed from the curse of the Law of God. The just views, firm convictions, holy dispositions, produced in the heart by the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the truth believed, deliver from the false views and unholy dispositions which characterize our fallen nature. The law of spiritual life means that new principle of action which the Spirit of Christ has opened within us — the law of our new being. This principle of holiness which the Spirit imparts to the believer consists of spiritual life (John 3:3, 5). This “sets us free,” as soon as it takes possession of our inner man, “from the law of sin and death” — i.e., from the enslaving power of that corrupt principle which carries death in its bosom. However, the law of spiritual life contends with the law of spiritual death, till it ends at last in the perfection of Heaven.
Verse 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Verses 3 and 4 show the wonderful means by which God, in the exercise of His free grace, furnishes Justifying Righteousness and Sanctifying Influence, and, thus, delivers His elect from the depraving influences of their fallen state. “For” is illustrative: it is equivalent to, “This is the way in which God, in the exercise of His grace, delivers from the power of sin — a work which, in consequence of the depravity of human nature, the Law has not accomplished, and never could accomplish. God’s Law shows its strength as it convicts the sinner of sin (Jam. 2:9); looking into himself through the spiritual eyes of the Law he sees himself to be a wretched sinner. Through the power of the Law he is brought in guilty before a holy God (Rom. 3:20). He sees the fearful curse of a broken Law, and is shut up to its eternal condemnation. He lies under the righteous hand of the Law and if the demand is not fully met, it has authority and power to adjudge the sinner to Hell for ever. Such is the strength of God’s holy Law.
“For what the law could not do,” though holy in its nature, it is yet incapable of making the guilty, depraved sinner holy. It cannot so condemn sin in the flesh, as that the righteousness of the Law may be fulfilled in fallen men. Though perfectly righteous in its precepts, yet the Law cannot justify the ungodly (Acts 13:38-39). While it is a reflection of the Divine image, it has no power to transfer that image to the soul, of the sinner. The reason assigned for this lack in the Law is, that, “it is weak through the flesh” — it does not arise from any inherent defect in its original constitution. It has become inefficient through the depravity of nature. It shows the fallen sinner what is sin and what is duty; but the sinner loves sin and hates God and His required duty; and mere command cannot change inclination. Deut. 5:29 gives us the weakness of fallen man: “Oh that there were such a heart in them that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always.” Here the Lord tells us what man’s “weakness” is, they lack a heart for the Lord Himself. This is the standing of mankind the world over. Until a man is born again he has neither filial fear of God nor love for Him, yea, he is at “enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7), always in resentment of the Lawgiver.
But “what the law could not do,” God has accomplished by “condemning sin in the flesh;” and He has done so by “sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin.” In other words, He has done it by the sacrifice of His own, eternal, incarnate Son (Gal. 4:4-5). He is the Son of God in a unique sense, not by incarnation or resurrection, but by an eternal act of generation, in consequence of which He is designated the only-begotten Son (John 1: 14, 18). It was done by propitiation, in which His righteousness is declared, that He is “the just God and the Saviour” — “Just, and the Justifier of him that believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25, 26). That which was completed on the Cross laid a sure foundation for the complete deliverance from sin of all the elect, who, by faith, are united to Him who hung there a Victim for sin, “the Just in the room of the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18).
When God is said to have sent His Son “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” the meaning is — that the Son, by the appointment of the Father, assumed human nature free from sin. When it is said He sent Him “for sin,” the meaning is — He sent Him to be a sacrifice for sin (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 15: 3; 1 Pet. 2:24, 3:18; Eph. 5:2, 1 John 1:7; Eph. 1:7). The doctrine of this passage before us is, that the vicarious obedience, suffering, and death of the incarnate Son of God, is the effectual means of the elect’s deliverance from the depraving influence of sin. We see this truth taught in many other passages of Scripture (John 17:19; Rom. 6:6; Titus 2:11,14; 1 Pet. 2:24; Rev. 7:15). Christ’s sacrifice is represented as the payment of the penalty of sin in the room of those who are saved by it, and of course laid a foundation for the removal of the curse from them (Gal. 3:13). It was such a manifestation of the righteousness of God, and the evil of sin, as that, on its ground, God appeared just in justifying the ungodly.
John Brown said, “Till that curse (in Gal. 3:13) is removed . . . there can be no holiness in man, for the Divine influence necessary to produce holiness cannot, in consistency with the Divine righteousness, find its way into his heart. On the other hand, God cannot, in consistence with His character as the Father of those who are united to Christ by believing — and thus interested in the saving effects of the atonement — allow them to remain the slaves of sin. . . . The Son of God is put in possession of all power to destroy the works of the devil in the hearts of those who are untied to Him. Still further, by the atonement, a channel is opened into the hearts of all believers for the sanctifying influence of the transforming Spirit. ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, by becoming a curse in our room,’ not only ‘that the blessing of Abraham’ — a full and free justification, ‘might come on us,’ but that we may ‘receive the promised Spirit by faith’ (Gal. 3:14). It has thus become an act of faithfulness and justice, on the part of the God of peace, not only, in the exercise of His grace, to forgive us our sins, but also, by the influence of His Spirit, to ‘cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (1 John 1:9); and it is in virtue of His sacrifice that Jesus, ‘exalted a Prince and a Saviour, gives repentance,’ and ‘sheds forth abundantly ‘the renewing, sanctifying, Spirit on men’ (Acts 2:33, 5:31).”
Verse 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The truth of the vicarious sacrifice of our Lord Christ for sin revealed in the heart by the hand of the Holy Ghost, is the great instrument for destroying the power of sin in the hearts of God’s elect — furnishing the most impressive displays of the beauty and excellence of holiness, and the hatefulness and malignity of sin, the most powerful dissuasives from sin, and the most powerful motives to duty. It is thus that God “condemns sin in the flesh, which the Law could not do, because it was weak through the flesh.” It is thus that God in His marvelous grace delivers from the body of death, from which the Law could not deliver. It is thus that “faith does not make void, but establishes the law” (Rom. 3:31) — getting for the Law what the Law could never have got for itself, full satisfaction for its violation, in the sacrifice of the incarnate Son of God, and genuine, cheerful, ultimately perfect conformity to its spirit and injunctions, in the character and conduct of those united to Christ by God-given faith, and made partakers of the sanctifying, as well as the atoning, efficacy of His sacrifice — the righteousness of the Law being fulfilled in us “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
Some very good interpreters, understand by the phrase “the righteousness of the law,” all the perceptive and sanctionary demands of the Law, which were fully met by our Lord Christ in His obedience unto death, and which, as He stood in our place, and thereby may be considered as fulfilled in us, as represented in Him. But this interpretation not only gives a very unnatural meaning to the words, it is completely foreign to the design of the Spirit led apostle in this whole section, which is to show that the grace of God, by the sacrifice of Christ, has secured that holiness in redeemed sinners, which the Law could not secure. “The righteousness of the law” here, is the righteous requisition of the Law — love to God, love to man, holiness of heart and life (Matt. 22:36-40); and by that righteousness being fulfilled in true believers, we understand that complete conformity to this righteous requisition, which will ultimately, through the condemnation of sin by our Saviour’s sacrifice, be produce in every true believer.
“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us,” does not refer to the justifying righteousness of Christ here, but to the work of the Holy Ghost within the believer. God’s promise to write His Law in the hearts of His people was a distinguishing feature of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezk. 36:26-28; Heb. 8:6-13, 10:16). By the fulfillment in us is not referring to imputed righteousness, for that is not being discussed here —that is justification. But it is the object of regeneration and sanctification to make a personal righteousness. The object of regeneration and sanctification is that in us the Law might be fulfilled as well as for us in the death of Christ. The requirements of the Law we formerly labored under we now find to be a pleasure, because the fulfilling of that Law is in the one word, “love” (Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:10), which we now possess in the new man. Salvation does not stop at justification. The desire of the regenerated sinner not only wants to be delivered from the penalty and condemnation of sin but from the love of all sin and the dominion of it as well. The Law is established by faith in the new nature of the believer. The believer now has a heart that loves God, and therefore does it “delight in the Law of God” (Rom. 7:22). And it is ever at the heart that God looks, though He takes note of our actions too. But in the heart the believer “fulfills” the holy requirements of God’s Law, inasmuch as his innermost desire is to serve, please, and glorify the Law-giver. The righteous requirements of the Law are “fulfilled” in us because we now “obey from the heart” (Rom. 6:17). Though it is not so, perfectly, in this life, it will be so at our glorification.
“Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” marks who the elect are, they that rely and glory in the Cross, and really enjoy the sanctifying influence of God’s method of justification, and thus to introduce the subject of the next sub-section of the epistle — That, as justification is necessary to, and secures sanctification, so sanctification is the only satisfactory evidence of justification. As a sinner must be justified in order to be sanctified — as, if a sinner be justified, he certainly shall be sanctified — so a man must be sanctified in order to prove that he is justified. Justification is necessary to the existence of sanctification; sanctification is equally necessary to the evidence of justification. Those who are in Christ “walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” The walk of those “in Christ” has been changed from the flesh to the Spirit (Gal. 5:16). The heart has been changed from stone to flesh (feeling) (Ezek. 11:19), the old man has been put off and the new man put on; there has been a transforming from the things of this world to the things of Christ; there has been a translation from the “kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13); there has been a going down in death with Him under condemnation and a being “raised in newness of life’ (Rom. 6:4). And this life is the life in Christ Jesus, that “The righteousness of the Law may be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” That is the “eternal life” which we have now — “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). We do not now fulfill the Law in order to be justified, but we fulfill it practically and experientially in the spirit because we are justified and made new creatures in Christ Jesus. Now we walk in fellowship with the living God in Christ for “we walk,” by His grace, “in the light, as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). These, who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” are the justified ones. These, and these only, are the objects of God’s favor, and for a mere professor to suppose that he is a justified person, is fearful presumption, fatal delusion.
Verse 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. From this our 5th verse through the middle of the 17th covers the discussion that sanctification is the evidence of a sinner being justified. An unjustified man cannot be holy — an unsanctified man is not justified. Our 5th verse shows the contrast between the regenerate and the unregenerate. The Scriptures alone give us the true teaching concerning true conversion. It is a complete and radical turning about in the spiritual, ethical sense of the word (1 Thes. 1:9-10). It is a turning from Satan to God, from standing in enmity against God to the love of God in Christ (Isa. 60:1-5), from darkness to light (1 Pet. 2:9), from sin to righteousness (Isa. 61:10), from corruption to holiness (1 Pet. 1:18, 23). By nature we are in the power of darkness; so corrupt that we are incapable of doing any good and inclined to all evil, until and unless we are regenerated by the Spirit of God.
“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” “The flesh” is the carnal mind. In verses 5-8 Paul is describing two minds, the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit. The carnal mind cannot be turned into a Christian mind. Modern preachers try to whitewash it but it is still enmity against God. It is considered beautiful by unsaved religionists who count free will decisions, church membership and following church programs as Christianity, but inwardly it if full of rottenness and dead men’s bones.
“For they that are after the flesh” are in a carnal state, described as living after the flesh. The “flesh” designates the fallen and carnal state of the unrenewed man. He is after the flesh, and his whole life is in accordance with the dictates of the flesh. Our Lord Christ said, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6) — nothing more than carnal and corrupt. In fallen man the root of all iniquity dwells in his nature; and that, when he hates God, opposes His government, and violates His Laws, it is the working out of the concealed depths of his corrupt, depraved nature to the surface of his life (Phil. 3:18-19).
They “do mind the things of the flesh” for all objects of attraction to them, the desires and pursuits of the carnal mind, are corrupt and worldly, and are suited to its fallen and unchanged state. Depraved men prove themselves to be what they are, by making things suited to their unrenewed nature the great subjects of thought and objects of affection — the corrupted mind leads the individual to keep their mind on, and delight in, the grosser works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). Some of the more “moral” may abstain from grosser outward acts of sin, but the most morally accomplished worldling is at heart as thoroughly carnal as the most reckless profligate. A fleshly or corrupt mind must act agreeably with its own nature, supremely engrossed with the things of the flesh. This, also, must be the character of its religion for all its conceptions and ideas must be in harmony with its unrenewed nature (1 Cor. 2:14). Unregenerate, unsaved people are concerned with, delight in, and mind or are taken up with the things of this world and of the flesh (Matt.6:24-33). Health, happiness and honor for the flesh are their main concern.
“They that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” — Men must be under the predominating influence of one or the other of these two principles, and, accordingly as the one or the other has the mastery, will be the complexion of their life, the character of their actions. The bent of the thoughts, affections, and pursuits is the only decisive test of character. What things do my soul most favor and relish, the things of the world or of God? What is dearest to my heart, what engages my most serious thoughts? This determines which I prize the more highly and manifests the true state of my soul.
“They that are after the Spirit” are those who are the subjects of the renewing grace of the Holy Ghost. “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:6), said our blessed Master. They have renounced their own works of righteousness and bowed at the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have experienced Him to be their “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). What a marvelous revolution is this, effecting a total moral change in the whole spiritual and intellectual sinner. Who but the Eternal Spirit could effect this wondrous revolution? Having dethroned the enemy, He now enthrones the Lord Christ in the heart and life of the sinner. Having swept and garnished the abode, He enters, and makes it His unchangeable dwelling. Thus living and reigning in the soul, believers are brought under the government of the Spirit and Lordship of Christ (Eph. 5:9). It may be emphatically said of them, that they “mind the things of the Spirit.” They are “delivered from the present evil world,” and brought under “the power of the world that is to come.” They “seek the things that are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1). By minding the things of the Spirit they “set their affections on things that are above, and not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-3). In short, they are deeply and sincerely concerned, and their thoughts are occupied, with their relationship with Christ our Lord, their walk with Him, a growth in grace, a right relationship with others, and attaining unto the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3:8-11).
Verse 6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. In this passage the phrase “to be carnally minded” implies a condition in which the whole soul of man is entirely engrossed with things correspondent to its fallen nature (Rom. 3:9-19). “Many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19). This is the broad seal affixed to every unregenerate individual — “who mind earthly things.”
The consequence of this condition is that it issues in death, both present death and eternal death (Gal. 6:8). To be carnally minded is death — to be dead now — spiritual death. To the life of God — the spiritual life which every believer lives — the unregenerate are dead (Eph. 4:18). The unsaved, swallowed up in the evil kingdom of this world — and all that they have, seek, and attain — is already judged and condemned (1 Cor. 7:29-31). In their condition they not only end in hopeless, eternal misery, eternal death, but even now they are death in their bosom, so that they are “dead while they live” (1 Tim. 5:6; Eph. 2:1, 5). Speak to them the precious name of Jesus Christ our Lord, and there is no loving response in reverence and awe of Him for death is there. Then, at physical death, there comes the “second death,” that never ends in cessation of consciousness, of feeling, or sensibility. O no! it is a living, an eternal death. Our Lord will pronounce the sentence in those terrible words, “Depart from me!”
“But to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” This springs from the life of God in the soul, apart from which, there cannot possibly be any real spiritual-mindedness. True spirituality is the springing up of the living water of Christ in the renewed heart — a Divine principle of grace from the Spirit of God. Regeneration is by the Spirit (John 3:5, 6, 8). The renewing of the soul is by the Holy Ghost (Tit. 3:5). A new heart is given by God’s putting His Spirit within us (Ezk.36:26-27). Quickening of the dead sinner is by the Spirit (John 6:63). Sanctification is by the Spirit of God (2 Thes. 2:13). All grace in the heart is by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Hence the Spirit of God is called the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29).
The Scripture speaks of this holy and Divine principle in the heart as not only from the Spirit, but as being spiritual. Thus saving knowledge is called spiritual understanding (Col. 1:9). The influences, graces, and comforts of God’s Spirit are called spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). The imparting of any gracious benefit is called the imparting of a spiritual gift (Rom. 1:11). And to be graciously minded is called in Scripture, as it is here, a being spiritually minded. It is called spiritual, not because of its relation to the spirit of man, in which it is, but because of its relation to the Spirit of God, from which it is (1 Cor. 2:13-14). By the spiritual man is meant one that has the Spirit is plainly evident by the words of 1 Cor. 2:10-12. True saving grace — spiritually mindedness — is God, in One of the Persons of the Trinity, uniting Himself to the soul of a sinner, as a vital principle, dwelling there and exerting Himself by the faculties of the soul of man, in His own proper nature, after the manner of a principle of nature — the very Deity does, by faith, dwell in true believers (Col. 1:27; 1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; 1 John 4:15).
The regenerated believer sets his affection on things above. He is a part of a living kingdom. God lives; His kingdom lives; His possessions live; and His people live. They not only live but they live in a blessed state of peace and joy (Luke 12:15; 1 Tim. 6:6-11). The man who is characterized as spiritually minded is alive and active in reference to God and eternity and the very course of thought, and feeling, and conduct which is connected with it, gives inward sanctification, true happiness. “In Christ” all is pleasant and satisfying to the Heavenly mind.
Verse 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. The carnal mind — they that are after the flesh, the wretched corrupt nature of unregenerate men — is enmity to God and unsubjected to His Law, and cannot please Him (Col. 1:21). Enmity! Not merely an enemy of God, but enmity itself. Enmity to God, to Christ, to the Holy Ghost, to the Law of God, to the Gospel of God, to the salvation of God, to the very Word of God, is the very life and delight of fallen man (John 7:7). Enmity is a strong expression for “hostile” — opposed to. It indicates enmity, hostility, in the heart in which it dwells. Fallen man’s heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9). The thoughts of his heart are only and always evil (Gen. 6:5). His affections are wholly estranged from God, alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in him, because of the blindness of his heart (Eph. 4:18). The whole course of the unregenerate is earthly, sensual, devilish Jam. 3:15). By nature we are all “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3); “alienated and enemies in our mind by wicked works (Col. 1:21); “living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Unsaved man’s heart is set on this world, showing his hatred of God (1 John 2:15). They do not hate their idols (false gods), but they do hate the living God of the Bible (Jam. 4:4). The carnal mind will not be subject or submissive to the will of God, the way of God, the providence of God, nor the Gospel of God (Jer. 13:23; 17:9). Scripture clearly shows that the natural man does not love God, nor is he capable of loving God. On the contrary, he hates Him (2 Chron. 19:2). Hence, all he does is motivated by enmity against God, by love of self apart from God (Luke 17:33). Man seeks his own glory instead of the glory of God. And because of this evil motive and purpose, all he does is always sin. He may be honest in business, refrain from drunkenness, lead a moral clean life, be charitable to the poor, be scrupulously correct in his dealings with others, be very religious, attend church regularly, give liberally to the cause of God’s kingdom — but he is incapable of pleasing God, of doing any good for his desperately wicked heart is ever inclined to evil. Always he seeks himself and does not love God Phil. 2:21).
“It is not subject to the law of God.” Man was created to be God’s servant-friend and he was appointed superintendent over all the works of God’s hand, to develop them, to rule over them in the name of God and in love to Him, in order that God might receive all the glory. But man became a rebel, proposed to expel God from his heart, and now intends to run God’s establishment as God’s enemy and for his own pleasure and glory. All he does is in rebellion against God and is certainly evil (Luke 19:14). And total depravity means principally that man is incapable of doing anything from the love of God, and that he is always prone to hate Him. In his inmost nature he stands opposed to the Law of God. Hatred for the Lawgiver expresses itself in contempt for and defiance of His Law (Jer. 17:23). Before there can be any genuine respect for and subjection to God and His Law there must be a new birth in which the Holy Ghost completely changes the heart’s attitude towards the Laws Governor and Administrator (Jer. 31:33). The Law is just the expressed will of God. The flesh, the carnal mind, is not conformed to that expressed will. To mind the flesh is to worship the world and its god. It is thus directly opposed to the great fundamental principles of the Law. “The Lord our God is one Lord.” “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” And thus it is not conformed, and not conformable, to the Divine Law.
“Neither indeed can be” shows that the Scripture clearly teaches that the sinner is utterly unable to change himself or better his condition, one iota. He is “without strength’ (Rom. 5:6), and he cannot bring himself into subjection to the Divine Law or perform a single action pleasing to God (Rom. 8:7-8). The Ethiopian cannot change his skin nor the leopard his spots, and neither can they who are accustomed to do evil perform that which is good (Jer. 23:1,23). In short, the Scripture teaches that man is hopelessly and irremediably lost unless a sovereign God is please to work a miracle of grace within him. These words prove the corruption of man’s nature, and his inability to do that which is spiritually good. They cannot make themselves good, and they cannot be made good but by the grace of God; and that until they are made so, they cannot do that which is spiritually good, no more than an evil tree can bring forth good fruit. So away goes the theory of the sinner having free will. On the contrary, he is free only to sin (John 8:34). He has his delight in sin. But he is shackled from within (John 8:43). His will, is in bondage (2 Tim. 2:26). He will not love God, he cannot will to love God, he is incapable of seeking and willing and performing that which is good. Sin is the ruling power within him (Rom. 6:20). It is enthroned in his heart, whence are all the issues of life. No modification of the carnal mind, the minding of the flesh, can be reconciled with God’s holy Law. It is a thing not to be mended but destroyed. There is no possibility of a sinner, under the dominant influence of the carnal mind, yielding acceptable obedience to God.
Verse 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. “The flesh” here plainly signifies to be under the habitual influence of our unchanged, depraved nature. No man while thus in the flesh, can be the object of God’s approbation. They are the objects of His condemnation (Eph. 2:3). Those who object to the doctrine of total depravity should realize that they take issue with the Apostle Paul, and, thus, with the holy Word of God. As God’s spokesman Paul teaches that the natural man is entirely without the ability to please God (1 Thes. 2:15). The inability of man spoken of in the Scripture is a spiritual inability; it is unable to move toward God (Rom. 3:10-12). Toward God the sinner is all wrong, in all things, all the time (Rom. 3:9). There is no limit to the universality or extent of evil in his soul. So say the Scriptures, and so says every awakened conscience. The sinner is free to do as he pleases, but his nature only pleases to sin. The necessary consequence of the hostility of a mind governed by the flesh, and in rebellion against the Law of God, is the utter impossibility of the unregenerate pleasing God (Heb. 11:6). As the object of His displeasure, and as dwelling in a corrupt nature that is not only diametrically opposed to His own, in which lurks the latent virulence of a deep and implacable hatred, but every faculty and power of which is armed in the deadliest hostility to His government and Being, it is impossible that it can please Him (Psa. 5:5-6).
There being no personal acceptance of those who are in the flesh, consequently, whatever they do in the way of religious service cannot be accepted of God. How can any unregenerate person do that which is well-pleasing to a holy God, while their person is to Him an object of just, and holy, and utter abhorrence (Psa. 5:6; 10:3). While rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ by refusing to bow to Him, and refusing and despising the robe of His righteousness, with what complacency can God regard their fleshly modes of worship, their formal duties, and their heartless offerings? Concerning such our Lord has said these are all an abomination unto Him that He detests, and that He will not hear the prayers of those who practice their fleshly religion (Isa. 1:12-15). Any work to be pleasing to Him MUST proceed from a right principle ( real love to Him), be performed by a right rule (His Law, or revealed will), and have a right end in view (His glory); and this is only made possible by the new birth and sanctification of the Spirit. Thomas Scott said, “No unregenerate man can delight in God’s holy Law, or be subject to it; and how can it be expected that God should be pleased with the formal services of enemies and rebels?”
Verse 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. To be “in the flesh” is to be under the dominate influence of the flesh — the carnally-minded, being spiritually dead, and directly opposed to God’s will. It is otherwise with the children of God, being not in the flesh but in the Spirit — made spiritually alive by Him. Their possession of this unfleshly, spiritual character, is attributed to the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us. “If so be,” is an admonition from the pastoral concerns of the apostle to the duty of self-examination, which is absolutely necessary for real, true assurance in true believers, and the destruction of the false peace which prevails in the unregenerate professor. Superficiality has permeated our modern churches due to the widespread neglect of self-examination, which the Apostle was far from regarding as superfluous in the Christian (2 Cor. 13:5).
We are in the Spirit, “if so be the Spirit of Christ dwell in you.” Scoffed at by the boaster of human reason, rejected by the cold formalist, and hated by the avowed enemy of practical godliness, as this truth is, it is yet a vital truth, and of marvelous interest to the true child of God. It is, in fact, his very life. “The Spirit of Christ” is the Holy Spirit, who receives this appellation because His essential relation to Christ as a Person of the Godhead, His dwelling in Christ without measure, and His being sent by Christ as Mediator. The Holy Ghost is given to and indwells believers, in consequence of Christ’s having redeemed His elect from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for them (Gal. 3:13-14). The spiritual character of saved sinners can be formed only by the permanent, indwelling influence of the Holy Ghost. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Cor. 3:16). “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts” (Gal. 4:6). Notice where the Spirit is said to dwell — not in the understanding, the fatal error of many who profess mere enlightenment — but in the heart. Yes, He most certainly enlightens the understanding with truth, but He does not rest there. He takes up His abode in the renewed and sanctified heart of the believer, and there He sheds the love of God, and inspires the cry “Abba, Father.” That same Spirit dwells in all true believers (1 John 4:12-16)..
In the administration of the Everlasting Covenant, the Spirit is now subject to our Lord Christ. Hence He is called, “The Spirit of Christ.” In fact, the blessed Holy Ghost, the Third Person of the Trinity, is in one sentence of this verse described as “The Spirit of God” and “the Spirit of Christ.” The great evidence of the Spirit indwelling the true believer is his possession of the Spirit of Christ — “Now if any man have not have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” If any person, preacher, deacon, church member — whatever his profession may be, does not show real evidence that he “has the Spirit of Christ,” by his being not in the flesh, not after their sinful nature, walking not after the flesh in the ways of this world, but being in the Holy Spirit, after the Spirit, walking after the Spirit in the things of God, he is not one of Christ’s peculiar people — not one of those who have, in Christ’s life and death, that union with Him which is implied in God’s method of justification. He does not know Christ, wills not to believe on Him, and cannot love Him. And the Scripture thunders, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maran-atha;” that is, under the most dreadful curse, till our Lord Jesus comes to execute the severest vengeance of it (1 Cor. 16:22).
What is it to have the Spirit of Christ? “He shall convince the world of sin,” (John 16:8) and in visiting our souls He opens our eyes to see both our own sin and misery, the moral leprosy of our nature, the exceeding sinfulness of sin; and by Divine revelation enables us to behold the righteousness, beauty, preciousness, and happiness there is in Christ (Isa. 6:1, Job 42:5-6). In this discovery of self we are led by the Holy Spirit to self-condemnation, to lay our hand upon our mouth, and bend our knee in the dust before a holy God (Isa. 6:5).
The Spirit of Christ leads to Christ (John 16:14). He enables us to believe in Christ, to savour the things of Christ, and to cry out, None but Christ, none but Christ be my portion, in time and eternity. He makes Christ most precious, Christ’s blood precious, His own righteousness imputed to us, and His grace subduing our sins. The Spirit draws our heart out after the Lord Jesus Christ and cause our spirit to go only to Him — praying for His sympathy, forgiveness and cleansing, panting for His grace, and thirsting for His love. We cry, “O wretched man that I am,” and praise Him that He is and shall be our Deliverer (Rom. 24-25). We cry, “O that I may know Him,” for we so often feel that we cannot see Him with our spiritual eyes, touch Him by faith, or hear His voice with spiritual ears; yet I come, and I find a Heaven in coming; and for ten billion worlds I dare not, I could not stay away. Dear Reader, if this is the language of our hearts, then, we have the Spirit of Christ, and are His. If not, we are not one of His, and damnation is certain (Rev. 20:15).
Verse 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. “If Christ be in you” — “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates” (1 Cor. 13:5). “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in Him” (John 6:56). “I in them” (John 17:23). “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). “Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). The majority of orthodox theologians teach that Christ dwells in His people by His Spirit, but there is no statement in Scripture that supports them. While it is true that the God-man Mediator does not indwell His saints, for His humanity is localized in Heaven, it is also true that Christ is a Divine Person, co-equal with the Father and the Spirit, and in becoming flesh He lost none of His Divine attributes. Omnipresence pertains as much to Him now as it did before He became incarnate, and as a Divine Person He indwells His people as really and truly as do the other Persons of the Godhead. God the Father dwells in His children (1 John 4:12-15). The Holy Spirit indwells the saints individually and in the Church corporately :( Rom. 8:8, 11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19); and the Son dwells in believers. “God is in you of a truth” (1 Cor. 14:15) it is to be understood of the Triune God. A. W. Pink adds, “Surely He that dwells, as He is God, in common in all creatures, His Person and Godhead may well be thought to dwell in us by a special appropriated habitation, as in His own house, which we are says the apostle in Heb. 3:6; yea, and not only His own ‘house’ but His ‘body’ also.” Pointedly did the Puritan Thomas Goodwin also ask, “Can Satan, because he is a spirit, possess the bodies, and even the hearts of men; and cannot Christ, who as God is ‘Spirit’ (John 4:24), do the same?” What! Hath the addition of the manhood unto His Person made that Person, as He is God, incapable of dwelling in us immediately, as well as the Person of the Spirit? Is He disprivileged thereby, whereas indeed by reason of His relation to us as God-man it is that He doth dwell in us anyway? It has also seemed somewhat strange to me that He that is ordained to be the means of our union with God, and is the prime object and terminus of our union, the designed Bridegroom that is to be married, the Person to be in conjunction with us: ‘I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be one in Us’ (John 17:23); that He also is the Person in whom and by whom the union is effected with Himself and the other two Persons and is the Person most concerned in this matter of union, that Himself should be married and come to be in His nearest conjunction with us only by a proxy, namely, by the Holy Spirit, and Him to be sent into our hearts only to dwell in His stead — that were indeed strange.” It is a blessed Scriptural truth that Christ personally and immediately inhabits His people in close, personal union.
That Christ should thus spiritually dwell in His saints is no wonder, since He received them as a gift, purchased them by His blood, won them by His grace, called them by His Spirit, and is now in heaven preparing for them an eternal dwelling with Him. That He should dwell in the hearts of all the regenerate, taking a personal, full, and irrevocable possession of them for Himself, is perfectly congruous with all that He has done and still is doing for them.
“The body is dead because of sin” — certainly not the body of sin. Those who claim as their attainment a state of sinless perfection, an entire victory over the evil propensities and actings of their fallen nature, know nothing of experimental Christianity. Pride is the root of such an error. The body of sin yet lives, and dies only with physical death itself. We part not with innate and indwelling sin but with the parting breath of life, and then we part with it forever. It is the natural body and physical death of it to which the Apostle refers. The body even of those who are in Christ, and in whom Christ is, must die because of sin — the state of sin — condemnation induced by the first sin of Adam. “It is appointed unto men once to die” (Heb. 9:27). The sentence must be executed— “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:19). Our redemption by Christ exempts us not from the conflict and the victory of the last enemy. We must confront the grim foe, must succumb to his dread power, and wear his pale conquests upon our brow. We must die — are dying men — because of sin. “Death hath passed upon all men, for all have sinned” (Rom. 5:12). This law remains unrepealed, though Christ has delivered us from the curse.
Both the wicked and the righteous leave the world by the same dismal process of dissolution. But there is a great difference in the character of death for the two. In the case of the wicked, death is armed with all its terrors; in the righteous, it is invested with all its charms — for death has an indescribable charm to the believer in Christ Jesus. Christ did not die to exempt us from the process of death, but He died to exempt us from the sting of death. Because of original and indwelling sin, the regenerate must taste of death; yet, because of pardoned sin in the regenerate, the “bitterness of death is passed” (1 Sam. 15:32). Death is to the redeemed the epoch of glory. His death is the beginning of his immortality. “To die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) for by it the saint realizes the covenant of mercy.
“But the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” The “spirit” here refers to the spiritual and immortal part of the believer, that which is born of the Holy Ghost — the regenerated spirit of man. The joyful declaration of the Apostle is, that the spiritual and immortal part of our nature is recovered from the curse, renewed and quickened with a Divine and Heavenly life. The spirit is life because Christ is the righteousness of His people (Phil. 3:9). On the basis of God’s method of justification our spirit lives. We live a life of justification by Christ — a life of holiness from Christ — a life of faith in Christ — and a life of immortality with Christ. Thus in all its phases, “Christ is our life” (Col. 3:4).
“From a life now experienced, let us live for a life so soon to be enjoyed — an endless life. The body must die. But what of that? The spirit is life. And the life-inspired spirit will come back again, re-enter and re-animate the slumbering dust — and now, remodeled and spiritualized — it will be with Christ and all the saints in the new Heaven and the new earth, wherein will dwell righteousness.” (Octavius Winslow). RCLVC.
Worthy Doctrinal and Spiritual Notes and Quotes on Romans 8:1-10.
Verse 1. Although I am a sinner, yet I despair not; for Christ, who is my Redeemer and my righteousness, liveth. In Him I have no sin, no fear, no sting of conscience, and no fear of judgment; for in Him there is no condemnation. I am indeed a sinner as touching this present life; but I have a righteousness of God which is above this life, who is Christ my Lord. In Him I rejoice! — Martin Luther (1483-1546).
None can condemn whom Jesus Christ hath justified, and to His alone righteousness have fled for refuge. — Fleming.
An unbeliever shall have a double condemnation; one from the Law which he hath transgressed, and another from the Gospel, which he hath despised: as a malefactor, that being condemned and dead in Law, rejecteth his Prince’s pardon. But it is otherwise with those that are in Christ Jesus. The Law cannot condemn them, because they have appealed; the Gospel cannot because they have believed. — John Trapp (1601-1669).
For those who are in Christ Jesus, chosen in Him, conformed to His image by eternal predestination, redeemed by Jesus through the shedding of His blood, united to Him by the gift of faith, for those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, there is no condemnation. There is no wrath of God, no Hell. There is forgiveness for them. God no more remembers their sins nor their corrupt natures, but imputes to them the righteousness of Christ. — Robert D. Decker.
Verse 2. There is much talk of Christ and of the Holy Spirit, yet very much of it is little to the purpose. It is our mercy when we clearly understand that our whole salvation is out of ourselves, and that it is wholly in Christ. — Samuel Eyles Pierce (1746-1829).
There are many that are full of expressions of their own vileness, who yet expect to be looked upon as eminent saints by others as their due; and it is dangerous for any so much as to hint the contrary or to carry it towards them any otherwise than as if we looked upon them as some of the chief of Christians. There are many that are much in crying out their wicked hearts and their great shortcomings and unprofitableness, and speaking of themselves as though they looked on themselves as the meanest of the saints; who yet, if a minister should seriously tell them the same things in private, and should signify that he feared they were very low and weak Christians and that they had reason solemnly to consider of their great barrenness and unprofitableness and falling so much short of many others, it would be more than they would digest. — Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
It is like the awakening of man to a new moral existence, when he awakened to the love of that God whom before he was glad to forget, and of whom he never thought but as a being shrouded in unapproachable majesty, and compassed about with the jealousies of a Law that has been violated. It is like a resurrection from the grave, when, quickened and aroused from the deep oblivion of nature, man enters into living fellowship with his God; and He, who ere now had been regarded with terror or utterly disregarded, hath at length reclaimed to Himself all our trust and all our tenderness.” — Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847).
Verse 3. Would, you be just before God? Then learn one thing! Jesus Christ is ALL in our justification before God! Only through Christ can a sinner have peace with the Holy God. Only by Christ alone can a sinner be accepted and admitted into God’s presence. HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS is the only robe which will cover us. HIS BLOOD is the only mark that will save us from eternal death. HIS NAME is the only name by which we shall obtain an entrance through the gate of eternal glory. I pity those who try to obtain God’s favor by their works; and I sound a clear warning — you are building on sand; you are spending money for that which is not bread; you will hear Him say, “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” BUT THIS I KNOW — not one person has ever entered Heaven’s courts with any testimony but this: “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood . . . to Him be the glory” (Rev. 1:5-6). — Henry T. Mahan (b. 1926).
It is proof of amazing madness and folly that, after all man has done and God has taught, men will still fly to the Law for justification and sanctification. The Law is weak, impotent to either of these ends. Read the Decalogue through and you shall find not one word of mercy for the guilty. Do and live, sin and die, is all it says. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
God has as it were by His sovereign decree taken away all command over believers from sin, has crucified and mortified it in them, whilst they live in this animal and corporeal life. He has done this in the flesh, to the end that we may not doubt of the forgiveness of our sins, which are destroyed in our proper nature, which the Son of God has taken upon Him. — Giovanni Diodati (1576-1649).
Verse 4. That righteousness which will bring men to Heaven is not a bare imputed one, but an imputed righteousness which is accompanied by an imparted one. Justification and Sanctification must never be severed: wherever the former be pronounced, the other (in its fundamental aspect) has already been bestowed. The one concerns our standing before God; the other respects our state in ourselves. Surely righteousness alone secures for us a standing before God, but evangelical righteousness is the certain proof thereof, and as the tree is known by its fruits, so imputed righteousness can be recognized in no other way than by inward righteousness with its effects in the life. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
It is therefore the bounden duty of those who profess to have been justified by God to diligently and impartially examine themselves, to ascertain whether or not they have in them those spiritual graces which always accompany justification. It is by our sanctification, and that alone, that we may discover our justification. Would you know whether Christ filled the Law for you, that His obedience has been imputed to your account? Then search your heart and life and see whether a spirit of obedience to Him is daily working in you. The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled only in those who “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” God never designed that the obedience of His Son should be imputed to those who live a life of worldliness, self-pleasing, and gratifying the lusts of the flesh. Far from it: “if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). — A.W. Pink.
Men are not saved in derogation of the honor of God’s government. They enter not paradise trampling on the holy sovereignty of the Most High. The righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in them. First their justifying righteousness, being the spotless obedience of the Lord Jesus, is without any defect. No sinner, however guilty and terribly awakened to a sense of his lost condition on account of the number and aggravation of his sins, when brought to rest on Christ alone for salvation, ever found any rent in His seamless robe, any spot in His glorious righteousness. How could he? Omniscient purity itself pronounced it faultless, and so released Christ from all further humiliation and raised Him to glory and honor at God’s right hand. The Lord Jesus was made under the Law, under its precept for obedience and under its penalty for the suffering of death, that He might redeem them that were under the Law and should believe on Him. Then the righteousness, which the Law demands, is finally and perfectly wrought in the souls of believers by the power of the Holy Ghost. This work is begun in regeneration. It is carried on by the same Divine power until in glory the redeemed finds itself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Believers do in no sense enter Heaven in derogation of Law. Men are not saved without righteousness, both justifying and sanctifying. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
Verse 5. The subject of that division of the doctrinal part of the epistle, in the exposition of which we are engaged, is substantially this proposition, “The righteousness of God” — i.e., the Divine method of justification, originating entirely in the free grace of God, based entirely on the atonement of Christ, and suspended, as to the communication of its blessings, not on working but on believing — so far from having a sinister influence on the interests of true holiness, is the only means by which true holiness can be produced, promoted, and perfected, in human nature. This embraces the whole important topic of the connection between justification and sanctification. — John Brown of Edinburgh (1784-1858).
“They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.” They think on them, their desires are after them, and their contrivances are continually for them; but “they that are after the Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.” Their desires are after; their thoughts and meditations are on things spiritual and heavenly. The minding of the Spirit resides habitually in the affections, so the spiritual-mindedness is the exercise of the thoughts on and aspirations of the soul in its desires after spiritual things, proceeding from the love of its affections, and their engagements unto them. — John Owen (1616-1683).
If a man can discover the bent of his mind, will, and affections, he can know whether he is a child of God, or of the wicked one. If he minds the things of the flesh, he is a wicked man; if he minds the things of the Spirit, he is a new man, v. 5. Old things have passed away. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he. He, whose heart goes after his covetousness, is an idolater. He whose soul followeth hard after God is regenerate. He, who studies to gratify his unholy desires, is not born from above. — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
Verse 6. Every intimation of Divine love is an inestimable jewel, which, if safely treasured up in the heart, adds to our spiritual riches; but, being lost, will sooner or later affect us with deep sorrow. The great means of retaining a sense of the love of God in us, the only spring of life and peace to the soul, is this grace of being spiritually-minded. — John Owen (1616-1683).
Just in proportion as our heart and affections are engaged on heavenly objects, shall we feel a sweet savour of heaven resting upon our spirit; and as we can only give back what we receive, every going forth of divine life from the soul below is but the fruit and effect of the incoming of that life from above. Christ is our life above (Col. 3:4); and as He by His Spirit and grace maintains the life of faith in the soul, it manifests itself in gracious actings upon Himself. Without this spirituality of mind, religion is but a mere name, an empty mask, a delusion, and a snare. God does not take into heaven, into the fulness of His own eternal bliss, those whom He does not love, and who do not love Him. It is a prepared people for prepared mansions. And this preparedness for Heaven, as an inward grace, much consists in that sweet spirituality of mind whereby Heavenly things become our only happiness, and an inward delight is felt in them which enlarges the heart, ennobles the mind, softens the spirit, and lifts the whole soul, as it were, up into a holy atmosphere in which it bathes as its choice element. This is "life," not the cold, dead profession of those poor carnal creatures who have only a natural faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the truths of His Gospel; but that blessed life which shall never die, but live in the eternal presence of God when earth and all it holds shall be wrapped in the devouring flames. And it is "peace"— the Redeemer's dying legacy—whereby, as He Himself fulfils it, He calms the troubled waves of the soul, stills every rebellious movement, and enthrones Himself in the heart as the Prince of peace. — J. C. Philpot (1802-1869).
The spiritually-minded come unto the ordinances of Divine worship with the design, desire, and expectation of being directed and excited by them to the exercise of Divine faith and love; and their design is not useless and inactive, but they diligently endeavor to be found in the exercise of them, not suffering their minds to be diverted from the pursuit of their designs; and when they find it otherwise, they can have no rest in their souls. — John Owen (1616-1683).
Verse 7. The natural man corrupts all life and destroys the earth. The enmity against God that is in his heart becomes a foul fountain of all manner of iniquity. From this corrupt fountain gushes forth spiritual darkness that envelops his mind, so that he loves the lie and pursues it. From that source of enmity against God there issue forth evil desires that corrupt the will, and cause him to pursue after the things of the flesh. From that fountain of evil in his heart proceed not only actual sins against God directly, such as idolatry, profanity, rejection of the Word of God, worship of man’s wisdom, ungodly philosophy, cursing and swearing, pride and rebellion, rejection of Christ and hatred of His people; but also those sins that corrupt all of human life in every relationship, such as malice, envy, greed, and covetousness, lying and deceit, strife and contention, war and destruction, murder and robbery, fornication, adultery, divorce, love of pleasure, faithlessness, and the like, of all which the world of today is a living testimony. — Herman Hoeksema (1886-1965).
It is inimical to God, or (in plain terms) hates Him, dislikes His precepts, His character, and His ways. — Moses Stuart (1780-1852).
Why is the working of God’s “mighty power” necessary in order for a soul to be converted? Because of the nature of the work performed. As in the case of one who is physically ill, the more desperate his case the more skill is required from the physician if he is to be healed. Only as we learn from Scripture and actual experience the hopeless condition of fallen man can we see the need of Omnipotence intervening if ever man is to be saved. The converting of a sinner is a greater miracle and calls for the putting forth of more power than the creating of man did. How so? Because creation is simply the bringing of a creature into existence, but conversion is the transforming of one who is opposed to it. In the one there is no impediment; in the other there is every possible resistance. Though there is nothing to help, yet in the creation there was nothing to oppose. But in connection with the new creation there is the carnal mind which “is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Water is not more unlike fire than sin is unlike holiness, the natural man unlike God. Only Omnipotence can subdue that enmity and impart a love for His law. — A. W. Pink (1886-1952).
The emphasis of the word “enmity” is not upon rebellion, but upon its hatefulness — not upon its opposing God, but upon the individual’s contempt of God, not so much upon its action, but upon its nature. — L. R. Shelton, Sr. (d. 1971).
Verse 8. He that thinks to draw saving graces out of natural principles, but spins out his bowels to die in his own web. — Elisha Coles (1608-1688-?).
Though the righteousness of a man’s person can never make a bad action good, yet the wickedness of a man’s person doth always make a good action bad; and, therefore, though a good man may do a bad act, yet a bad [i.e., an unregenerate] man can never do a spiritually good act and such as is pleasing to God. — Bishop William Beveridge (1637-1708).
What dismal prospects are before all men, who from the very state of their hearts and minds cannot please God. Every hope built on human merit or human strength is delusive. No unregenerate man can delight in God’s holy Law, or be subject to it; and how can it be expected that God should be pleased with the formal services of enemies and rebels? — Thomas Scott (1747-1821).
Verse 9. The gift of the Spirit to a truly converted soul is an absolute gift, and not upon condition on our part, but to work and maintain in us what God requires of us. The gift of the Spirit is not founded upon qualifications in us, to continue so long as we preserve grace in our souls, and do not sin it away (Ezek. 36:26-27). — Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680).
We may grow wise apace in opinions, by books and men; but vital, experimental knowledge can only be received from the Holy Spirit, the great Instructor and Comforter of His people. — John Newton (1725-1807).
It means that we have a new nature and are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, who is the dominant influence in our lives. To be in the Spirit is to be ruled over, influenced and controlled by the Spirit. They who are justified in Christ are also sanctified in Christ and have the Spirit of Christ. If a man does not have the life and Spirit of Christ, he is not one of Christ’s own. — Henry T. Mahan (b. 1926).
Verse 10. If Christ be in you by His indwelling Spirit, though your “bodies” have to pass through the stage of “death,” in consequence of the first Adam’s “sin,” your spirit is instinct with new and undying “life,” brought in by the “righteousness” of the second Adam. — David Brown (b. 1803).
Let us acknowledge the justice of the sentence of death upon our bodies. They are dead, that is they are dying, are under the sentence of death, are liable to death at any moment. This should not, need not disturb us. Jesus has conquered death . . . To the believer death is no longer a judicial infliction. It is the consecrated way to his Father’s house . . . Christ’s resurrection makes sure the resurrection of all who are His (1 Cor. 15:20; Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5). — William S. Plumer (1802-1880).
This body of flesh and all that pertains to it is subject to death because of sin, but our spirits, which are vitally united to Christ, have no stain, no sin, and they enjoy eternal life because of His righteous. — Henry T. Mahan (b. 1926).