Romans 8:18-23 – Groans and Laments – The “Now” Stuff

Romans 8:18–23 (ESV) — 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

 

Introduction:

Paul uses verse 18 to outline and frame his thoughts in verses 29-21.

  • He does so by presenting yet another now and not yet motif.
  • He speaks of the “sufferings of this present time” – the now.
  • He speaks of the “the glory that is to be revealed to us” – the not yet.

 

In verses 19-23, he fills out what he started.

 

The Now:

  • Sufferings of this present time” – vs. 18.
  • Creation…subjected to futility” – vs. 20.
  • Creation is in a “bondage to corruption” – vs. 21.
  • Romans 8:22 (ESV) — 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
  • We, “groan inwardly” – vs. 23.

 

The Not Yet:

  • Glory that is to be revealed in us” – vs. 18.
  • Revealing of the sons of God” – vs. 19.
  • Romans 8:21 (ESV) — 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
  • We, “wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” – vs. 23.

 

Observing these two distinctions is significant enough.

  • The future for those in Christ is going to be pretty awesome.

 

But Paul didn’t speak of them just to be observed.

  • He wants them to be tasted and savored.
  • So we need to dive deep into a few of the ideas Paul has raised.

 

 

The “Now” Stuff – Suffering, Corruption, Groaning:

Paul makes quite a few allusions to The Fall.

  • Three highlights of The Fall ground much of what Paul is saying in Romans 8.
  • Genesis 3:17b (ESV) — 17b …cursed is the ground because of you…
  • Genesis 3:19b (ESV) — 19b …for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
  • Genesis 3:23–24b (ESV) — 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24b He drove out the man…

 

These three excerpts capture the “now” that Paul is contending with in Romans 8.

  • (1) Creation has been corrupted and warped due to sin.
  • (2) God’s image bearers will die.
  • (3) God’s image bearers have been expelled from the presence, blessing and life of God and have corrupted creation.

 

He spoke of these things previously in Romans 5.

  • Romans 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

 

Adam sinned; Adam was exiled from the Garden; Adam died.

  • We, therefore, were born in exile, so we sin and we die.

 

The fact of our death is why Paul laments in Romans 7 and in Romans 8:

  • Romans 7:24 (ESV) — 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
  • Romans 8:10 (ESV) — 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

 

So, lets deal with two questions that pop out.

  • To dive deep in God’s word – you have to question it!
  • Don’t worry, it can take it; its not going to break.

 

 

Question 1:

What does it mean that “creation has been groaning” and that we “groan inwardly”?

 

The BDAG gives us a couple of ideas:

  • “to groan together with, lament, groan”
  • “to express oneself involuntarily in the face of an undesirable circumstance, sigh, groan”

 

The EDNT puts it this way:

  • Groaning is “a powerful metaphor for the dejection and powerless yearning of believers in their present suffering”.

 

Simple enough, but these lead to more questions.

 

How does creation groan?

  • It seems the idea is that its current “cursed” condition is the expression of its groaning.
  • And such language points to the cosmic size of The Fall.
  • Which would mean the solution has to be cosmic in scope.

 

Why do we groan “inwardly”?

  • Given the fact that inwardly we are indwelled by the Spirit…
  • Wouldn’t make more sense to say we groan outwardly, in our bodies?
  • This would seem to fit the way that creation groans – outwardly, as a result of The Fall.

 

Paul helps us out in some other texts (X-Refs).

  • 2 Corinthians 5:2 (ESV) — 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,
  • 2 Corinthians 5:4 (ESV) — 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

 

So it appears that our inward groaning is…

  • Our Spirit filled heart and mind expressing a lament of the “now” because we know there is a glorious “not yet”.

 

Before we move on to our next question…

  • I want to take a short, but important, rabbit trail.

 

 

Jesus Rabbit Trail:

When we do a Logos inline search on the Greek word for groan, we find an interesting use of the word.

  • Mark 7:33–35 (ESV) — 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
  • Sadly, there was only one interpretation I could find that translated it with the more accurate “groaned” – the NAB.

 

This is actually a beautiful picture of the “now” and “not yet” of which Paul speaks.

  • A “now” and a “not yet” that are both wrapped up in Jesus!

 

Who is it that is also groaning inwardly with us?

  • Answer – Jesus.
  • The 2nd person of the Trinity.

 

Over what is Jesus groaning?

  • The “now” of creation that Paul has been speaking about.
  • A corrupted, cursed, futile creation and a “body of death”.
  • In this case has manifested in a deaf and mute man.

 

What is Jesus’ solution to the corruption of creation found in this man?

  • Jesus groans!
  • Jesus heals!

 

This is awesome stuff!

  • The incarnation is God groaning with His creation and us!
  • The incarnation is God giving us glimpses of new creation.
  • A new creation in which all is put right.

 

So this means that Jesus’ healing miracles are the future breaking into the present (N.T. Wright).

  • They demonstrate that Jesus has the power to reverse the effects of The Fall!

 

 

Question 2:

Earlier in Romans 8, Paul has been speaking of some splendid things such as…

  • Our life in the Spirit.
  • The indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  • The believer as sacred space.

 

Why does Paul turn into such a buzz killer with all this groaning stuff?

  • What might be the reason he brings all this bad news up after having pumped us up?

 

It appears he might be doing a couple of things.

 

(1) Explaining why those who are in Christ and indwelled by the Spirit still have a “body of death”.

  • Michael Bird puts it this way:
  • “…if believers have been freed from the ‘law of sin and death,’ why does death still engulf them? If believers have a share in the glory of Christ, where is this glory now?”

 

Paul certainly has experienced immense physical hardship since he put his believing loyalty in Christ.

  • And we certainly know that believers fill our hospitals; they die of cancer; they are murdered; they starve to death, etc.

 

So how might his description of the “now” address all this?

 

(2) And he also wants to bring our attention to the fact that God isn’t done.

  • Creation groaning and the “body of death” indicate things aren’t right.

 

But the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ have secured a resurrection future for us.

  • A future in which God will redeem all the suffering and groaning of the believer.

 

The Christian, then, is awaiting God’s action to put creation right – something that began with Christ.

  • And, for Paul, this is understood only against the backdrop of the “now”.
  • “…the fact of suffering [is] the dark backdrop against which the glorious future promised to the Christian shines with bright intensity” – Doug Moo.

 

In other words, to be glorified like Christ, we must suffer like Christ.

  • “Paul makes clear that this suffering is the condition for the inheritance; we will be ‘glorified with’ Christ (only) if we ‘suffer with him’’’ – Doug Moo.

 

So given all this Paul says:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:17 (ESV) — 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
  • We will deal with this “not yet” future next week.

 

 

Romans 8:12-17 – In Debt, Adopted and Heirs

Romans 8:12–17 (ESV) — 12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

 

 

Debtors – Vss. 12-13:

12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 

Paul sums up his previous statements about flesh and death, and Spirit and life with a new twist – “opheiletes”.

  • He essentially says – though he cuts himself off…
  • That we are “opheiletes” “not to the flesh”…
  • But “opheiletes” to the Spirit.

 

The ESV translates “opheiletes” as “debtors”.

  • Whereas the NET, NIV and HCSB versions translate it as “under obligation”.
  • The latter does a much better job of conveying the meaning of Paul’s thoughts.

 

Why?

  • The idea is that those in the Spirit are…
  • “under obligation to” do the things of the Spirit.

 

We are no longer “under obligation to” do the things of the flesh (“power of the old age” – Moo).

  • Only those in the flesh are “under obligation to” “live according to the flesh”.

 

What does it look like to live “under obligation to” the Spirit?

  • …you put to death the deeds of the body…”.

 

Importantly, “…you put to death” is in the indicative.

  • Paul is speaking of what you already do in the Spirit.
  • It is done.
  • This is not a command.
  • “Paul refers to a fact that is true of believers, not a quality of life to which they are exhorted to attain” – Tom Schreiner.

 

This runs parallel to “phroneo” – setting our minds on the Spirit.

  • Those empowered by the Spirit both…
    • Already have a mindset for things of the Spirit…
    • And already live “under obligation to” the Spirit.
  • Both of these things are a work of God!

 

These speak to the awesome freedom for those in Christ and in the Spirit!

  • We have been freed from “phroneo-ing” in the flesh.
  • We have been freed from our slavery to – our obligation to – the flesh.

 

 

But – Sin Killing:

Paul makes clear in our text and in prior verses…

  • That our new orientation to sin is owes itself to our new address…
  • To being in Christ…
  • To being in the Spirit…
  • All of which is a done deal – an indicative.

 

But this does not mean that there is no imperative to be sin killers.

  • There most certainly is.
  • Colossians 3:5a (ESV) — 5a Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…

 

Because we “phroneo” in the Spirit and are “under obligation to” the Spirit…

  • We are “are empowered to resist the flesh” – Bird.

 

So we are called to act in ways to kill sin.

  • And we will desire to kill sin.
  • Though we will often fail.

 

And it is the Spirit that gives us a footing from which to kill sin.

  • “It is by the agency of the Spirit that the believer [kills] the deeds of the body and attempts to erect a barricade against fleshly intrusion” – Michael Bird.

 

Doug Moo nails the interplay between the Gospel indicatives and imperatives:

“Neither the ‘indicative’—what God has done for us in Christ—nor the ‘imperative’—what we are commanded to do—can be eliminated. Nor can they be severed from one another; they are inextricably connected. The point of that connection in this passage is the Spirit. The same Spirit that ‘set us free from the law of sin and death’ has taken up residence within us, producing in us that ‘mind-set’ which tends toward the doing of God’s will and resists the ways of the flesh” – Doug Moo.

 

 

Gospel Application – Vss. 14-17:

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17a and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…

 

In line with Paul’s strategy in previous verses…

  • Here he once again applies the facts of the Gospel to the life of the believer.
  • And, as before, he does so with theology.

 

I want to focus on two of his applications.

  • (1) His positional application.
  • (2) His assurance application.

 

 

(1) Positional Application:

Paul uses a series of phrases to heap on some more good news for those indwelled by the Spirit.

  • Sons of God” (vs. 14).
  • Adoption as sons” (vs. 15).
  • Children of God” (vs. 16).
  • Heirs of God” (vs. 17).

 

The central of these (we are told) is the idea of adoption.

  • The rest flow from it.

 

What’s cool here is that…

  • Paul is the first person to use the Greek word for adoption “in a theological context” – DPP.
  • So in order to make his point, he repurposes a Greek word.

 

The question is what did he mean by it?

  • And the language that flows from it – “children” and “heirs”?

 

A simple way to understand the language is that by it Paul is giving us…

  • Both a now and not yet position with God.

 

 

The “Now” of Our Position:

So by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit acting on behalf of the Father, through the Son…

  • The Spirit bestows and confirms adoption upon us – right now (Doug Moo).
  • At this very moment, we are “made/declared/constituted” as God’s children (Bird).
  • We are adopted as sons/children of God.

 

The idea behind this son/children language is thoroughly Old Testament.

  • In the OT, Israel is known as God’s son.
  • Exodus 4:22 (ESV) — 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son,
  • Jeremiah 31:9 (ESV) — 9 With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.

 

Paul also mentions this in Romans 9.

  • Romans 9:4 (ESV) — 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.

 

But what about the Gentiles?

  • If God promised to bless the nations through Israel…
  • How are the nations (Gentiles) to be made sons?
  • To be included in the blessing that comes with sonship?

 

The answer is by adoption.

 

I like what Moo points out about this:

  • “Paul has taken a term that depicts Israel’s unique status as God’s people and ‘transferred’ it to Christians” – Doug Moo.

 

By adoption, we are now God’s people.

  • We are God’s sons and daughters.
  • We are God’s chosen, covenant people.
  • We, like Christ, can now called the Father, “Abba”.

 

And it is certainly true that…

  • Even the Jew requires adoption into the New Covenant.

 

BTW – Most believe the slavery-adoption-son language pictures the Exodus.

“When Paul talks of believers being ‘led,’ being adopted as ‘sons,’ and escaping ‘slavery’…it is difficult not to be reminded of a cohort of texts about the exodus tradition. Remember that the exodus was the event where Israel was brought out of the land of slavery and made a ‘son of God’” – Michael Bird.

 

Moving on.

 

 

Our Now and God’s Turf:

Paul also speaks of adoption and son-ship in Galatians too – but with a twist:

  • Galatians 3:29–4:5 (ESV) — 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. 1 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

 

Notice in this passage the curious phrase in 4:2:

  • were enslaved to the elementary principles [stoicheion] of the world”.
  • This word “stoicheion” refers to the powers of darkness – the rebellious elohim, demons, Satan, etc.

 

Paul sees our adoption and son-ship as relating to the cosmic turf war against such powers (like we discussed last week).

  • This is another feature of Paul’s adoption language that is shared with the Exodus event.
  • Egypt’s god’s vs. Yahweh.

 

As God’s adopted children we are, obviously, His turf.

  • This means we are no longer under the authority of the powers of darkness.
  • We are no longer property of “the elementary principles of the world”.
  • We are sacred space – like Eden, the Holy Mountain and the Temple.

 

John’s Gospel has a related text that speaks of the alternative to being God’s adopted children.

  • John 8:44 (ESV) — 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

 

 

The “Not Yet” of Our Position:

So we have just seen that, right now, we are adopted children – sons and daughters – of God.

  • But, Paul also uses language that speaks of a future aspect of being children of the Father.

 

In verse 17, he says we are “heirs of God”.

  • This is the benefit of being God’s child that is “not yet” come.
  • It is an inheritance that we will receive as heirs.
  • We, “must look to the future for the full enjoyment of ‘sonship’” – Doug Moo.

 

What is the future benefit and enjoyment of an heir of God?

  • It is God Himself.
  • And it is all the promises – OT and NT – that God has made to his sons and daughters.
  • This involves everything from the people, nation and land promise to Abraham…
  • To resurrection life in the age to come.
  • As heirs, all of these are our inheritance.

 

 

(2) Assurance Application:

Paul says in Romans 8:16:

  • The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”.
  • This is a beautiful text that speaks of the assurance we have has God’s sons and daughters.
  • But what does it mean?

 

We first need to understand what this text is literally saying.

  • It is not speaking of a one-way flow of bearing witness from the Holy Spirit to us.

 

But rather, it is saying that the bearing witness happens on two fronts (Tom Schreiner).

  • The Holy Spirit bears witness that “we are children of God”.
  • And “our spirit” bears witness that “we are children of God”.
  • There are two witnesses!

 

How does “our spirit” bear witness that “we are children of God”?

  • The short answer is found in the previous verse.
  • we cry, Abba Father!” (vs. 15).

 

This is an intimate, emotional cry.

  • One that comes only from a child of God.
  • One that comes from the heart.

 

Doug Moo describes it this way:

“In crying out ‘Abba, Father,’ the believer not only gives voice to his or her consciousness of belonging to God as his child but also to having a status comparable to that of Jesus himself” – Doug Moo.

 

Martin Luther describes it this way:

  • “Although I be oppressed with anguish and terror on every side, and seem to be forsaken and utterly cast away from thy presence, yet am I thy child, and thou art my Father for Christ’s sake: I am beloved because of the Beloved” – Martin Luther.

 

What are ways we cry out, “Abba, Father”?

 

How does the Holy Spirit bear witness that “we are children of God”?

  • On one level, the answer is the same – “we cry, Abba Father!
  • This can only be done by those indwelled by the Holy Spirit.

 

On another level, the Holy Spirit testifies…

  • By confirming for us the truth of the indicatives of the Gospel that Paul as been talking about.
  • The Spirit applies them to our hearts/minds.

 

The subject of assurance is admittedly difficult.

  • And it manifests in different ways for different people.

 

Some look to feelings.

  • And some look to the Gospel propositions found in the Bible.
  • I think an overemphasis on emotions can be dangerous.

 

And I don’t see how the propositional truths of the Gospel…

  • Can ever be overemphasized.
  • In fact, they should be foundational to an assurance that comes from our emotions.
  • The fuel for our “Abba, Father” cries.
  • If the propositions aren’t true, it makes no difference how profound our emotions are.

 

There is no assurance if:

  • God is not who He says He is…
  • And hasn’t done, isn’t doing and going to do what He says He will.
  • All of these are Gospel propositions.

 

 

Provided We Suffer – Verse 17b:

“…provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

 

Our inheritance as heirs is conditional.

  • “…we will be ‘glorified with’ Christ (only) if we ‘suffer’ with him” – Doug Moo.

 

The point here is not that we have to try and suffer…

  • Or perform a “work” of suffering.

 

The point has to do with the “body is dead” idea from verse 10.

  • We will suffer; we will get sick; we will die – our body is dead.
  • But this must happen “with him” – in union with Christ, indwelled by the Spirit.

 

Paul explains all this in 2 Corinthians.

  • 2 Corinthians 4:7–10 (ESV) — 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

 

And he continues:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16–17 (ESV) — 16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

 

 

Romans 8:9-11 – We Are Sacred Space – Garden and Mountain

Romans 8:9–11 (ESV) — 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

 

 

The “Spirit of God dwells in you”.

  • This has to be one of the most profound statements in the Bible.

 

As with virtually everything in Romans…

  • The implications are huge.

 

Paul says that the one in whom the Spirit of God dwells is:

  • (1) “Not in the flesh” – vs. 9.
  • (2) Belongs to God (by implication).
    • Because those who don’t have the Spirit do “not belong to him” – vs. 9.
  • (3) Have a body that “is dead
  • (4) Yet, in spite of this “the Spirit is life because of righteousness” for the believer – vs. 10.
  • (5) Will be given “life to your mortal bodies” – vs. 11.

 

We saw what the first two of these meant last week.

  • The second three are some exciting ways Paul applies the presence of the Spirit to the life of the believer.

 

Specifically:

  • The third one tells us that the believers “body is dead”.

Meaning, “…their physical bodies remain subject to death because of sin. The corruption and mortality introduced by Adam’s sin have not as yet been fully eradicated. The eschatological tension of the ‘not yet’ remains as the tragic cycle of birth, life, and death continues for the time being” – Michael Bird.

 

Yet, Paul’s fourth point tells us that even in the midst of this death…

  • The believer has the “no condemnation” (vs. 1) life in the Spirit – the life and peace of verse 6.

 

The reason the believer has this life is because the presence of the Holy Spirit demonstrates that…

  • We are in Christ and have been declared righteous – “because of righteousness”.

 

The fifth is the “not yet” blessing of having the Spirit of God.

  • The declaration of our righteousness in God’s law court…
  • Also means that in the future, our righteousness will be fully fleshed out…literally…in our glorified resurrected bodies!

 

Certainly, more can be said of these.

  • And there are also the normal “Christianeze” descriptions of this indwelling:
  • Indwelling as the power that “empowers them to live a life pleasing to God” – DPL.
  • Indwelling as the “power to make the saving events of Jesus’ life-death-resurrection present in an effective way for the believer” – DPL.

 

But what I want to dive deeper into Paul’s revelation that…

  • …the Spirit of God dwells in” the believer.

 

We’re going to do so in a little different way.

  • Specifically, we are going to tease out some Old Testament concepts.

 

We will see that the indwelling of the Spirit in the NT fulfills two expectations of the OT.

  • Lasting Submission
  • Lasting Sacred Space

 

 

Lasting Submission:

A constant theme in the OT is that of a heart/mind in rebellion to God.

  • Moses speaks to this as well as anybody in Deuteronomy.
  • Deuteronomy 9:24 (ESV) — 24 You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you.

 

An idea repeated even in the N.T.

  • Acts 7:51 (ESV) — 51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.

 

But along with the recognition of the problem…

  • There is an understanding of the nature of the solution.

 

Moses speaks of the solution this way…

  • Deuteronomy 10:16 (ESV) — 16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.

 

This solution is a transformation of the heart/mind.

  • But how exactly is this to be accomplished?
  • How are those with believing loyalty in God to have a lasting (in a now and not yet since) submission to God from a circumcised heart/mind?

 

Ezekiel and Isaiah shed some light on how this would happen.

  • Ezekiel 36:26–27 (ESV) — 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
  • Isaiah 44:3 (ESV) — 3 For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

 

The thirsty land and the dry ground of the stubborn heart and mind…

  • Need to be permanently (or at least “now and not yet” permanently) broken up and softened.
  • The occasional softening by natural rain, and will power, doesn’t last.
  • These don’t bring lasting submission.

 

Lasting submission to God comes from a new heart and renewed mind.

  • It comes from the “phroneo” of the things of the Spirit that Paul speaks of in Romans 8.

 

And this only happens when the believer is made new by the Spirit of God.

  • “The Spirit is the power of new creation…” – DPL.

 

So the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the regeneration – being born again – language of the NT.

  • And it is the fulfillment of the hope for a lasting submission as expressed by Moses and others.

 

So when the Spirit dwells in us – regenerating our hearts/minds…

  • We enter into lasting submission to God.
  • The stubborn heart/mind is “now and not yet” vanquished forever!

 

There is one more cool aspect to what Paul has in mind with being dwelled by the Spirit.

  • Along with lasting submission, it brings lasting sacred space.

 

 

Lasting Sacred Space:

I’ll let Paul get us started.

  • 1 Corinthians 6:19 (ESV) — 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own

 

This revelation of Paul is awesome.

  • We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit.
  • And thus, this means we are “a temple”.
  • “We are the place where God dwells— the same presence that filled the temple in the Old Testament” – Michael Heiser.

 

Wow!

  • What are we to make of this?

 

To begin to fathom the implications of this aspect of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…

  • We need to unpack exactly what this temple imagery represented to a first century Jew.

 

We are going to look at two examples.

  • Both of which deal with the idea of Sacred Space (or Cosmic Geography).
  • (1) Temple as the Sacred Space of the Garden of Eden
  • (2) Temple as the Sacred Space of a Cosmic (seen and unseen realms) Mountain

 

 

Sacred Space – Garden of Eden:

In the OT, the Temple was seen as analogous to the Garden of Eden.

  • “As the divine abode, the tabernacle/temple was also analogous to Eden” – Michael Heiser.

 

G.K. Beale gives a number of reasons to make this point – here are 5.

  • (1) The Garden, like the Temple, was “the place of God’s special presence where he made himself known and felt to Israel”.
  • (2) The Garden, like the Temple, had a priest (Adam) to guard and keep the sacred space.
  • (3) “The tree of life served as a model for the lampstand, which was clearly shaped as a tree, in the Temple”.
  • (4) The Garden was known as “the holy mountain of God” (Ezk. 28), just like Mount Zion – the location of the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

We might also recall from our lessons on Genesis 1-3…

  • That the Garden implied God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.

 

But Adam, the High Priest of the Garden Temple, was thrown out.

  • God’s Garden presence, blessing and life didn’t last.

 

And every person born since then has been born in Garden Exile.

  • Born outside of God’s Garden presence, blessing and life.
  • The Sacred Space of Eden didn’t last!

 

How can the Sacred Space of Eden be restored?

  • By the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

To be a “temple of the Holy Spirit” is to be, (in some sense), a new Garden.

  • The Spirit’s indwelling means (in some sense) we have returned to Eden.

 

 

Sacred Space – Cosmic Mountain:

We saw that the Garden in Eden and the Temple in Jerusalem were God’s Holy Mountains.

  • Simple enough.

 

But we need to know that…

  • In an ancient Jewish context, God’s Holy Mountain was the place where His divine council (1 Kings 22:19-21) met.
  • Zechariah 8:3 (ESV) — 3 Thus says the Lord: I have returned to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

 

This means that the Holy Mountain was also the place from which God battled the powers of darkness.

  • The Psalmist speaks of this.
  • Psalm 48:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, 2 beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north [Zaphon], the city of the great King.
  • (Also think of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel).

 

We need to notice:

  • In Ugarit, “Zaphon” is the mountain from which Baal ruled – Heiser.
  • The HALOT actually uses the phrase “mountain of the gods”.

 

In fact, the Canaanites referred to “Zaphon” as:

  • “Baal’s ‘beautiful hill,’ his ‘inheritance,’ his ‘holy mountain,’ and a ‘lovely, mighty mountain’” – NIVZSB.

 

All of this means the mountain, “Zaphon”, would be where Baal held his divine council.

  • A council operating in opposition to Yahweh.

 

And interestingly it is “Zaphon”, Baal’s mountain…

  • That was the mountain in “the far north”.
  • But the Psalmist identifies Mount Zion, which is south, with the northern mountain “Zaphon”.

 

So what is going on in this text?

  • Why associate Mount Zion with a Northern mountain?
  • How does it reflect a battle against the powers of darkness?

 

By associating Mount Zion with “Zaphon”, the Psalmist is describing a Cosmic Mountain turf war.

  • One in which the winner is YHWH (Heiser).

 

It is YHWH who is:

  • The “great king” – not Baal.
  • And it His Mountain, Zion, that is “the joy of all the earth” – not “Zaphon”.

 

So what we have is:

  • “The psalmist is stealing glory from Baal, restoring it to the One to whom it rightfully belongs— Yahweh” – Michael Heiser.
  • And he does so by rightly subsuming and collapsing Baal’s mountain and council into Yahweh’s.
  • So Psalm 48, “deliberately argues that Yahweh is greater than Baal and that his dwelling place is greater than Baal’s” – NIVZSB.

 

In other words, this is a polemic turf war against Baal, his mountain and divine council.

  • Just like the ones we saw in our Joshua study.
  • Such as when God controlled the chaos of Baal’s river (the Jordan) and enabled the Israelites to pass through.

 

BTW – Michael Heiser makes this observation about the OT turf war:

“The New Testament portrays the Christian life— even the very Christian existence— as prompting a spiritual turf war. But we often don’t pick up on the messaging. Sacred space and realm distinction are not just Old Testament concepts” – Michael Heiser.

  • He goes on to say – “wherever believers are and gather, the spiritual ground they occupy is sanctified amid the powers of darkness” – Michael Heiser.

 

But, like the Garden, the Cosmic Mountain’s reign was temporary.

  • The throne room of Mount Zion’s Temple was repeatedly destroyed.
  • It didn’t last.

 

So how can the Sacred Space of God’s Holy Mountain be restored?

  • How about through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
  • Like “Zaphon”, we have been claimed as God’s turf – His Holy Mountain – His Sacred Space.

 

Isaiah knew this “lasting” Sacred Space would come:

  • Isaiah 33:20 (ESV) — 20 Behold Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an untroubled habitation, an immovable tent, whose stakes will never be plucked up, nor will any of its cords be broken.

 

Isaiah’s words express the hope for a lasting Mount Zion and Temple/tabernacle.

  • One to be fulfilled by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that Paul teaches.

 

And yet – even as awesome as all this is…

  • There is still a “not yet” aspect to it to be fulfilled.
  • A fulfillment that punctuates the “Lasting Sacred Space” idea.
  • Revelation 3:12 (ESV) — 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

 

Romans 8:5-8 – We “Mind” What We Are

Romans 8:5–8 (ESV) — 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

 

For Starters:

We need to be aware up front…

  • This is not a command, an imperative, to be “of the Spirit”.
  • He is declaring an accomplished fact.
  • Those in Christ areof the Spirit”.

 

Specifically…when Paul says “those who live”…

  • The word for “live” – eimi – means to already be and exist according to a specific reality.
  • In our text, this reality would be either “the flesh” or “the Spirit”.

 

Tom Schreiner says it this way:

“…those who ‘walk’ by the flesh or the Spirit do so because they ‘are’ of the flesh or the Spirit. In other words, [Paul’s] argument is that behavior stems from the being or nature of a person” – Schreiner.

 

This is hugely significant!

  • I will unpack why this is later.
  • First we need to unpack some phrases to understand our verses.

 

 

Flesh and Spirit Stuff:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” – Verse 5.

 

(1) What does Paul mean by “flesh” and “Spirit”?

 

Flesh” here does not refer to anything physical specifically, such as the body.

  • In keeping with Paul’s usage in previous passages…
  • Flesh” refers to humanity’s rebellious human nature.

 

Spirit” here is the Holy Spirit.

  • Paul’s use of the Spirit here signifies that the believer is no longer alienated from God.
  • And participates in the life of the Spirit.

 

 

(2) So what is “live according to” the flesh or Spirit?

  • This is more dominion or address language from Paul.

 

To “live according to the flesh” is…

  • To exist under the dominion or address of sin.
  • This is to be slaves to sin and under the sway of the rebellious human nature.

 

To “live according to the Spirit” is…

  • The believer’s life giving experience of the Holy Spirit…
  • Under the dominion of grace, freed from the condemnation of the law.

 

 

(3) What is the “set their minds on” the flesh or the Spirit?

 

First, it is important we get something here.

  • This phrase is simply one word, the verb “phroneō.
  • And as we saw with the word “eimi/live”, this is not a command.
  • It is an indicative – a done deal.

 

This means it is a description of how the person’s mind already operates…

  • By virtue of being of the flesh or Spirit.
  • It is not a method of thinking a person can “will”.

 

Given this, what does “phroneō” mean?

  • It relates to our desires, intentions and will as shaped by our address/dominion.

 

The DPL says, “phroneō denotes an attitude of mind which finds expression in the will” – DPL.

  • The BDAG says, it means, “to be intent on” – BDAG.
  • The EDNT says, it means, “single-minded commitment to something and the conditions for such commitment” – EDNT.

 

So to “phroneō” in the flesh…

  • Is to, by default, desire, intend or will the things that are sourced by the power and dominion of sin.
  • Those who “live according to the flesh” don’t try to “phroneo” this way…they just do.

 

Paul gives a list of some of the “things of the flesh” in Galatians.

  • Galatians 5:19–21 (ESV) — 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21a envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.

 

So to “phroneō” in the Spirit…

  • Is to, by default, desire, intend or will the things that are sourced by the Spirit – the dominion of grace address.
  • Those who “live according to the Spirit” don’t try to “phroneo” this way…they just do.

 

Paul also gives a list of some of the “things of the Spirit” in Galatians.

  • Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV) — 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

So let’s look at verse 5 again, and parse it out.

  • For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Given what we have just learned we can paraphrase it this way:

  • Those who live under the power and dominion of sin…
  • Dominated by the rebellious human nature…
  • Persist in a “will,” desire and intention towards its things.

 

Those who live under grace…

  • Dominated by the Spirit…
  • Persist in a “will,” desire and intention towards its things.

 

We can also put it this way:

  • To exist in the dominion of sin is to be orientated or inclined in its direction.
  • To exist in the dominion of the Spirit is to be orientated or inclined in its direction.

 

BTW – This doesn’t mean those in the Spirit can’t or don’t do the things of the flesh.

  • In fact, it doesn’t mean that we don’t continually struggle with the same sin.
  • But this means that our sinning doesn’t condemn us.

 

The persisting in sin that leads to condemnation, for Paul…

  • those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” – Gal. 5:21b.
  • Is to continually sin from the address that is “situated in” (resides in) the flesh – EDNT.

 

 

Paul’s Implications:

Paul doesn’t leave it there.

  • He tells us what the “phroneo-ing” in verse 5 means in verses 6-8.
  • For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

 

If you live according to, and thus “phroneo” the flesh…

  • You die the death of condemnation and alienation from God – eschatological death.
  • You live life hostile to God.
  • God’s law condemns you for your rebellion.
  • And you “cannot please God”.

 

BTW – What does it mean that a “flesher” cannot please God?

  • Does this mean they can do no good works?
  • Can a “flesher” persist in good works?

 

But if you live according to, and thus “phroneo” the Spirit…

  • You have life and peace.
  • You are free from “the law of sin and death” – Doug Moo.
  • You are no longer alienated from God.
  • And you do not suffer eschatological death of condemnation and alienation from God.
  • There is therefore now no condemnation.

 

Importantly, this life and peace aren’t something we do.

  • They aren’t feelings.
  • In other words, they are “an objective reality not a subjective state of mind” – Doug Moo.

 

 

Back to the Hugely Significant:

Earlier we saw that:

  • “…those who ‘walk’ by the flesh or the Spirit do so because they ‘are’ of the flesh or the Spirit….[and that] behavior stems from the being or nature of a person” – Schreiner.
  • In other words, it’s “being” before behavior – Robert Jewett.
  • Inside to outside.

 

I said that this was hugely significant!

  • Now I want to unpack why this is so.

 

The reason this is hugely significant is because…

  • This truth speaks volumes on how we mature as believers under grace.

 

What is the typical way we are taught to be better Christians – to be more Christ-like?

  • Usually we are given “to do” lists – imperatives.
  • Pray more, give more, love more, learn more, sin less, etc.

 

And, of course, our actions do matter.

  • So, we should strive to “do”.
  • Commonly known as “applying” God’s word.
    • Making God’s word about us by translating it into actions we can do.

 

But we sometimes operate under the illusion…

  • That spiritual growth and transformation…
  • Comes only from this type of application of God’s word.

 

In other words…we find value in God’s word…

  • Mostly when we can take home a “to do” list…
  • That we can add to the routines of our life.

 

 

The Problem:

Knowing God’s word for its own sake and on its own merits…

  • Gets short shrift.
  • It is characterized as just an intellectual exercise.

 

A false narrative is created that pits…

  • The heart against the mind.

 

So this is what we desperately need to realize.

  • If our behavior “stems from” what we are in Christ and the Spirit…
  • If we act because we are…a process that flows inside to out…
  • And not the other way around…
  • What should we spend more time understanding and comprehending…
  • What we are to do or what we are?

 

The answer is:

  • Valuing, Knowing, and Understanding…
  • For its own sake and on its own merits…
  • What we are in Christ and the Spirit…
  • And how God has secured what we are.

 

And how does this valuing, knowing, and understanding of what we are happen?

  • With a to do list?

 

Answer – by consuming the living and active word of God!

 

Here’s the thing:

  • What do you think happens when a person that “phroneo’s” in the Spirit…
    • That is to say, desires, intends or wills the things that are sourced by the Spirit…
  • Consumes God’s living and active word?

 

I can testify from years of doing so…

  • That it actually changes you!
  • No to do list required!

 

To say that knowing God’s word is a mere intellectual exercise?

  • Is to devalue and downplay both…
  • God’s word, your Union with Christ…
  • And the very thing Paul is teaching us today…the power and life of the Holy Spirit…from which we “phroneo”.

 

It is time for us to see that…

  • Consuming, Valuing, Knowing, and Understanding God’s word…
  • Is of utmost importance.
  • And it brings lasting application that to do lists and will power can’t.

 

 

Close with This:

Jeremiah and Ezekiel understand how powerful it is to consume God’s word:

  • Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.” – Jeremiah 15:16
  • And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.” – Ezekiel 3:3

 

We need to know that there is no Hebrew word for “mind” or “brain”.

  • They thought that the heart and mind stuff happened together in the bowels.
    • Which could be the heart, the stomach, etc.
  • So they did not pit the heart and mind against each other like we do.
  • It was all the same stuff.

 

So these texts mean exactly what we have been saying.

  • To eat God’s word and find it to be a joy, delight and taste of honey includes…
  • The valuing, knowing and understanding of God’s word for its own sake and own its own merits.
  • If there is something we need to “do” – it is this!

 

 

Romans 8:2-4 – According to the Spirit and Trinitarian Gospel

Romans 8:2–4 (ESV) — 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

 

Last week we looked at the “therefore” in verse 1.

  • We saw it contained history – the man Adam, and the man Jesus with His one act.
  • We saw that it also contained theology – the application of the history; the meat on the bones of history; the thing that gave the history meaning.
  • We also briefly explored union with Christ.

 

 

In our verses today, Paul gives us more theology.

  • Specifically, the “what” that the history, the theology and union with Christ do for the believer.
  • In effect, Paul describes some of the results of our union with Christ.

 

 

Verse 2:

He sets it up in verse 2.

  • For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

 

For those “in Christ Jesus”…

  • the law of the Spirit of life”…
  • Has set the believer free from “the law of sin and death”.

 

So what are these two “laws”?

 

I am with Douglas Moo on this one.

  • Paul isn’t talking about the Mosaic law in verse 2.
  • He is referring to law as a “binding authority” or “power”.

 

We have seen him do this before.

  • Romans 3:27 (ESV) — 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.
  • Romans 7:23 (ESV) — 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

 

So the two laws are:

  • The power and authority of the Spirit of life…
  • The power and authority of sin and death.

 

This means what we have in Romans 8:2 is this:

  • The authority and power of the Spirit – found in Christ…
  • Has set the believer free from the authority and power of sin and death.

 

What does the power of sin and death bring?

  • Why would one want to be set free from it?

 

BTW – to tie this back to Paul’s dominion theology:

  • Where does the power and authority of the Spirit of life operate?
    • The domain of grace – “under grace”.
  • Where does the power and authority of sin and death operate?
    • The domain of sin – “under sin”.

 

 

Holy Spirit:

We have to take special notice of something hugely significant in verse 2.

  • Paul establishes the necessity of the work of the Spirit.

 

Doug Moo says Paul’s citation of the Spirit…

Introduces, “the Spirit as a key agent of liberation from the old realm of sin and death” – Doug Moo.

 

And importantly Paul also establishes cooperation between the person and work of Christ…

  • The “therefore” from 8:1…
  • And the liberating work of the Spirit…

 

“The Spirit’s liberating work takes place only within the situation created by Christ” – Doug Moo.

  • As Paul says, the power and authority of the Spirit sets us free in Christ.
  • The Spirit plays a role in the believer’s address change.

 

BTW – This should remind us of what we learned in 1 Corinthians 8:6.

  • There we saw how the Father and Son were coworkers in creation.
  • Here, Christ and the Spirit both work to provide freedom.

 

So, by virtue of union with Christ…

  • The power and authority of the Spirit has set us free from sin and death.

 

 

Verses 3-4:

In verses 3-4, Paul then tells us how it is the Spirit sets us free in Christ.

  • It is basically a play-by-play description of exactly how the history and theology set the believer free.
  • For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

Before we unpack Paul’s play-by-play…

  • I want us to notice two things.

 

First, notice that it is all God!

  • God has done
  • Sending his own Son…He condemned sin
  • According to the Spirit

 

Second, notice that Paul’s play-by-play…

  • Highlights the work of all three persons of the Trinity in securing the believer’s freedom.
  • God, Son and Spirit.
  • So we see the Trinitarian Gospel.

 

Now, let’s unpack the details of how Father, Son and Spirit set the believer free.

  • Let’s unpack the Trinitarian Gospel.

 

 

The Father:

(1) “God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh [“this-worldly orientation”], could not do.

  • As we have seen in previous lessons on the law (here the Mosaic law)…
  • It is “incapable of rescuing people from the domain of sin and death” – Doug Moo.

 

In fact, in the domain of “under sin” where all are “in Adam”…

  • The law actually “strengthens the power of sin” – Doug Moo.

 

Tom Schreiner puts it this way:

  • “Without the Spirit the law only produces death. But for those who have the Spirit the law plays a positive role” – Tom Schreiner.

 

Remember – the law was never the problem.

  • Paul never threw the law under the bus.
  • One’s address – under sin – and the power of sin and death is the problem.

 

BTW – this means that one of the many things the Gospel does is…

  • Provide the proper address, or context, for God’s law to work as intended.

 

So God, obviously knowing the problem that the law presents in the domain of sin…

  • Sends His Son.
  • John 3:16 (ESV) — 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

 

The Son:

(2) “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.”

 

When Paul says God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh, three verses really help us get at the meaning.

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
  • Galatians 3:13 (ESV) — 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
  • Romans 3:25 (ESV) — 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

 

These three verses hit on various dimensions of Paul’s words.

  • The sinless Son of God took our sin upon Himself.
  • As our substitute, He became a curse “for us”.
  • The Father could then condemn and bring His judging righteousness upon our sin without killing us.
    • Because, the history and theology of the Son’s and Spirit’s work separated us from our sin.

 

Tom Wright puts it this way:

  • In Christ, our sin was executed – Tom Wright.
  • Sin was condemned, not Jesus – Wright.

 

How was it that Jesus could do this for us?

 

If He were a mere human being – a divinely appointed human agent – there would be some problems.

  • He would be “in Adam”, born in Garden Exile (outside of God’s Garden blessing, presence and life) and be under sin and death.
  • He would be powerless before the authority of sin and death.
  • He would be a sinner Himself…in need of a remedy.

 

But wouldn’t the Virgin Birth have remedied this?

  • Perhaps, if one thought, as Augustine, that the sin nature was transmitted through the “seed”.
  • But as we know, this view of the Fall is virtually non-existent now.

 

So, how is it that Jesus could be a human but not be in Garden Exile – subject to the domain of sin?

  • He somehow had to be share in the divine nature of the Father…
  • While at the same time taking on humanity.
  • The God-Man who came in the “likeness of sinful flesh”.

 

What does this phrase mean?

  • “Total identity” with – Tom Schreiner.
  • “Mere similarity” with – Tom Schreiner.

 

Both Schreiner, Moo, and just about all of Christendom opt for the first.

  • So Paul intends us to know that Christ did not come in “superficial or outward similarity, but inward and real participation” in our sinful flesh.

 

What does it mean that Christ fully participated in our sinful flesh?

 

I really like how Tom Schreiner answers this question.

  • It means that Jesus’ “body was not immune to the powers of the old age: sickness and death”.
  • “His body was subject to the disease, death, and weakness of the old order, yet the Son himself was not sinful, nor did he ever sin” – Tom Schreiner.
    • As Paul affirms in 2 Cor. 5:21.

 

But isn’t being “subject to…death” an indication of being in Adam and in Garden Exile?

“Paul is walking a fine line here. On the one hand, he wants to insist that Christ fully entered into the human condition, became ‘in-fleshed’ (in-carnis), and, as such, exposed himself to the power of sin (cf. 6:8–10). On the other hand, he must avoid suggesting that Christ so participated in this realm that he became imprisoned ‘in the flesh’ (cf. the negative use of this phrase in 7:5 and 8:8, 9) and became, thus, so subject to sin that he could be personally guilty of it” – Doug Moo.

  • Bottom line – we don’t have all the answers.

 

One more very important thing to notice about this “likeness of sinful flesh” language:

  • Paul certainly understands Jesus to be a man…
  • But maintains a very strong distinction between Jesus’ humanity and everyone else’s humanity.

 

Jesus came from the Father – as in existed with and was sent from there to us.

  • And Jesus’ flesh was “in the likeness” of ours.

 

If Jesus were only human, why say this?

  • It would be very awkward indeed, for example…
  • To describe Moses, a divinely appointed human agent of God, as being “the likeness of sinful flesh”.

 

Couple this with the association that Paul makes…

  • Between the Father and the Son in 1 Corinthians 8:6…
  • And we see yet another piece of the Trinity puzzle.

 

So God sent…

  • And in Christ, the believer’s sin was condemned.
  • So what about the Spirit?

 

 

The Spirit:

(3) “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

In the interplay between God’s judging righteousness and His holiness…

  • There exists a righteous requirement…
  • One that must be met in order to enter back into His life, presence and blessing.
  • Specifically, the requirement is perfect love, obedience and righteousness – Moo.

 

This requirement is met in the believer – fulfilled in us – by Christ’s work on the cross.

  • And Paul links this fulfillment to the Holy Spirit.
  • This requirement is met in the context of walking not “according to the flesh”…
    • e., in rebellion to God.
  • But those who walk “according to the Spirit”.
    • Life in our new domain.

 

The transfer out of sin and into grace…

  • Is achieved by the work of Christ…
  • And applied by the Holy Spirit.

 

So why does the theology and history of the “therefore” from verse 1 bring no condemnation?

  • God’s sending…
  • And Jesus’ work on the cross…
  • Freed the sinner from the law of sin…
  • And put us under the life of the Spirit

 

We will dig deeper into the life of the Spirit next time.