A common question arises about Romans 8:1-11
as it does concerning the whole book of 1John. Is this passage referring
to True vs. Nominal Christians, or is it referring to True
Christians, some being more "spiritual" than others?
Notice (vs 4) that the righteous requirements of the law are only met
in those who live according to the Spirit. This seems like performance-based
salvation contrary to the righteousness which is by faith as described
in Rom 4:4,5
"Now when a man works, his wages are not
credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who
does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited
However, we notice that:
If you belong to Christ, the Spirit of God lives in you (vs 9)
If the Spirit lives in you, then you are controlled by the Spirit (vs
(Literally: "you are not in the flesh,
but in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwells in you". The
word "control" in the NIV translation is being used for "in")
Those who are "in the flesh" are unsaved. They do not have
the Spirit and so do not belong to Christ. Therefore they cannot please
God (vs 8).
It is not within the nature of those who have not been born of God
to submit themselves to the law of God. But it is natural for those born
of God to do so:
"This is love for God: to obey his commands.
And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes
the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is
the Son of God." 1John 5:3-5
To "live according to the Spirit" is inevitable for
those born of God. As 1John advocates:
"No one who is born of God will continue
to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because
he has been born of God." 1John 3:9
Which is why:
"No one who lives in him keeps on sinning.
No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."
Quite the contrary for those who are in the flesh, whether they be non-Christians
or nominal Christians.
1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for
those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the
Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that
it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in
the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin
in sinful man,
4 in order that the righteous requirements of
the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful
nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature
have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in
accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind
controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does
not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.
8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful
nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone
does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead
because of sin, yet your spirit is alive 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 through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Edition: Jul 29,2015