8: Romans Eight Reckoning

   Does putting on some nice clothes make you feel different?  Does it make you feel more important?  It does me.  It does Tyler also as he explains in The Psychology of Dressing Well.  The Apostle Paul instructed the Church to put on new clothes: 

Ephesians 4:22-24 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

This section will show a corresponding benefit in the spiritual realm of our lives which is most important to us.
As seen at stepstudyteach.com
This is a review of the fourth book in The Green Letters series with comments and study questions along the way. Feel free to answer questions or ask your own in the comments to enrich our learning. To go to the start of this series click here.

8: ROMANS EIGHT RECKONING

There is a Spirit-fostered hunger and longing in the heart of every growing Christian for the heaven-on-earth walk of Romans Eight. The very purpose of reckoning is that we may live in this wonderful – and practical – realm of life in Christ. All that the Holy Spirit teaches us in Romans Six, and takes us through in Romans Seven, combines to prepare us for the walk of Romans Eight. This, in turn, brings us on to the blessed heights of Ephesians and Colossians.

Through the years, whether we realize it or not, the Holy Spirit is developing us “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18) along His prescribed path. Romans Six is the step that deals with the principle of sin, and is the answer to its power. Romans Seven is the struggle (usually years in duration) that has to do with the principle of law, and brings the answer to its bondage. Romans Eight is the walk based on the principle of life in Christ as ministered by the Spirit of Life.

In studying some of the truths of this heart-satisfying eighth Chapter of Romans, we must once more give special attention to the very first verse. This is another instance where the King James Version might lead us into bondage, unless we study with care. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (vs. 1). This text is actually stating that there is no condemnation for us if we do not walk after the flesh, and if we walk after the Spirit. Thus, our eternal safety would depend upon our present walk; this is law, rather than grace.

We can praise the Lord that the entire New Testament teaches differently – that we escape condemnation through our eternal position in Christ, not our present condition in ourselves.[1] Once more we apply to the corrected American Standard Version: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” We are free solely because of our redemption and position in Christ, apart from “conditions.” The remainder of the King James Version’s verse (the conditions) , belongs in verse 4 of this chapter and has to do with something else, as we shall see later.

Notice how correctly and powerfully the truth is now revealed, as these first two verses fit together without the erroneous interpolation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death” (Rom. 8:1, 2, ASV).

There is actually a dual application in the truth of Romans 8:1 and 2. Concerning the future, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has freed us from the eternal condemnation of the law of sin and death. As to the present, the Holy Spirit ministers the life of the Lord Jesus within for our daily walk, progressively freeing us from the power of sin and the deathly influence it spawns. “For if while we were enemies e were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more (certain), now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His (resurrection) life” (Rom. 5:10, Amp.). We are saved from the condemnation of sin because of His reconciliation; we are delivered from the power of sin because of His life.

Especially in our early years as believers, most of us have felt that it was our responsibility, with the Lord’s help, to live the Christian life. Our unqualified failure in attempting to do so has been the Holy Spirit’s means of showing us that we cannot “produce,” nor are we meant to. Only the Lord Jesus can live His life through us; and He does this as we reject our own resources, to walk in reliance upon the Spirit of Life. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). This is the addition we noted in verse 1 of the King James Version. It belongs here as verse 4, not having to do with our redemption or condemnation, but with our walk and growth.

What it takes years for us to learn thoroughly is that the Holy Spirit ministers all. By the Spirit we are sealed, we live, we grow, and we shall be raised (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 3:8; Rom. 8:11). It is especially important for us that He is the Spirit of Life. Even though we are alive in Christ Jesus, we have no power by which to live the new life; for that, as well as for everything else, we must rely upon the Holy Spirit. (Incidentally, He should not be referred to as the “Holy Ghost.”)

Too many Christians today are seeking to live for the Lord on the basis of the principle of love. Their thinking is, “He loved me and gave Himself for me, therefore the least I can do is love Him and give myself to Him.” Such a motive is good, high, and altruistic; but it is neither the best nor the highest, nor is it spiritual.[2] Our love is far too weak and vacillating for such an undertaking. Self will see to that! “For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not…. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see another law in my members…bringing me into captivity to the law of sin” (Rom. 7:18, 22, 23).

There is only one true and adequate motivating power for living the Christian life, and that is the very life of the Lord Jesus ministered within by the Spirit of Life Himself. This is not a motivation of love, but the empowerment of life. “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21). It is not, “Only what is done for Christ will last,” but rather, “Only what is done by Christ will last.”

In Romans 8:6 we must again take a close look at our King James Version: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” This particular translation runs counter to the actual teaching of the Word. For the believer to be “carnally minded” does not bring death, as all believers pass through a great deal of carnality as part of their growth. To be “spiritually minded” does not bring life, as all believers are alive in Christ.

Once more, the American Standard Version states the truth accurately: “For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6). Here, the Word is stating that the make-up, the bent, the life of the flesh, is nothing but death; whereas that of the Spirit is life and peace – the life of Christ, and the peace of God. Verse 7 further reveals the nature of the flesh: “Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.”

The flesh in its entirety, all of self, is dead set against God and everything spiritual. “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). The flesh is at absolute enmity with God, and can neither be reconciled nor redeemed.[3] It took the death of the Son and our newly created life in Him to bring us to God. Our old source was not changed, but crucified; it was exchanged for the new creation in Christ Jesus. “For they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).

We exchanged the position of death for the position of life. By means of our identification in the Lord Jesus on the cross, we were “cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature [Adam],” and were “grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree [Christ]” (Rom. 11:24). How glorious to be a newly created branch grafted into the True Vine!

As the life of the Vine flows by the Spirit of Life, the fruit of the Spirit is increasingly manifested in the branch: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22, 23). In the Vine, we are complete; in ourselves, we are being “completed” through the growth based on reckoning. We are gradually being conformed to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29).

Questions

  1. We escape condemnation through our eternal _________ in Christ, not our present condition in ourselves.
  2. The motive behind thinking “He loved me and gave Himself for me, therefore the least I can do is love Him and give myself to Him” is good, high, and altruistic; but it is neither the best nor the highest, nor is it _________.
  3. The _________ is at absolute enmity with God, and can neither be reconciled nor redeemed.
Click on the "The Reckoning That Counts" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here.

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