On to Romans 8:7-14
When G-d created humanity, He gave each person a mind. There are two ways that we can think: either with a mind of flesh (sin) or with the mind of the Spirit. Our minds (thoughts) are so important because it is with the mind that we make our decisions. Sinful decisions lead to death, Spirit filled decisions lead to life.
v7: Carnal mind: Mind of the flesh. Related to sin, which is related to death. This is the mind that we are born with.
- It is not subject to the law of G-d: It does not submit to the law of G-d. If we have been taught that the law (of G-d) no longer has any relevance for our lives, we have been taught a lie. The implication of this verse is that those who live according to the Spirit submit to the law of G-d.
- Nor …can (it) be: The implication of this is that those who live according to the flesh cannot submit to the law of G-d. Conversely, those who live according to the Spirit can submit to the law of G-d.
v8: As already mentioned, people either have the mind of the flesh or the mind of the Spirit. Those who have the mind of the flesh cannot submit to the laws of G-d. It is only through faith in the gospel (receiving the grace of G-d) that we can be saved and experience the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Messiah. Those who reject what Yeshua has done are not able to please G-d. They are unable to receive the Holy Spirit and, therefore, do not have the mind of the Spirit that helps them to live according to the laws of G-d.
v9: You: Paul is talking to believers here.
- If indeed the Spirit of G-d dwells in you: This is the litmus test so to speak. If the Spirit of G-d dwells in us then there is evidence that we have been born again, that we are a new creation, that we have been redeemed by G-d’s grace. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would come upon a person and anoint him for a task. The Spirit could then depart from that person. This was the Old Testament reality of the Holy Spirit. In the new covenant this has changed. In a new covenantal relationship with G-d, the Spirit of G-d will come upon us when we believe, and He will never depart. In this new covenant, G-d has promised that He will never leave us as orphans (John 14:15-20, Heb 13:5). In the Old Covenant, sin caused the Holy Spirit to depart from a person (1 Sam 16:14). In the New Covenant G-d has promised that He will forgive our sins and remember them no more (Heb 8:10-13).
- Spirit of Messiah: Spirit of G-d. The Holy Spirit. These are different names for the same Spirit.
- He is not His: If there is no evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life then that person does not belong to G-d – he is not in a New Covenant relationship with G-d.
v10: The body is dead because of sin: When the Spirit of Messiah is within us, we do not want to sin, and nor do we choose to sin. Although we do stumble and sin at times this is not our consistent behaviour. When Messiah is in us, a desire to live righteously comes alive (resurrection power) within us.
v11: Will give life to your mortal bodies: Previously we were making sinful decisions, but we can have a new beginning, a fresh start.
v12: Brethren: Fellow believers.
- We are debtors: Yeshua redeemed us; He paid the price for us so that we could be redeemed from sin (Eph 1:14).
- Not to the flesh: We do not owe the flesh anything.
v13: You will die: If we live according to the flesh, according to our sinful natures, then we are going to experience eternal death – receive G-d’s judgment. G-d told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge they would surely die (Gen 2:17). G-d was not talking about an immediate physical death (as borne out in the text) but about a death far worse – eternal separation from G-d. When Adam ate of the fruit he was cast out of the garden and no longer had intimacy or fellowship with G-d in the way that He had had in Eden. This is a picture of what is going to happen to those who sin and who do not repent – they will be cast out, barred from entering, the Kingdom of G-d. Instead, they will find themselves in a place of darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Note: We are either going to choose sin (which leads to death) or we are going to choose life – a Kingdom future. Choosing the latter will birth in us a desire to submit to the law of G-d – not according to the oldness of the letter but by the newness of the Spirit, in order to fulfil the righteous intent of the law. How do we know if we are living righteously? By comparing our behaviour or deeds to what the Word of G-d reveals, specifically the commandments of G-d.
v14: As many as: This is a broad term.
- Are led: This is a passive term. We cannot do this by ourselves. It is the Spirit of G-d that leads us.
- Sons: This is not a biased or a sexist term in the Scripture. When Paul calls us “sons of G-d” he is not talking about gender. He is talking about an implication – how G-d sees us. Sons are servants. They serve their father. Those who are led by the Spirit are servants of G-d. Sons are heirs and receive an inheritance. Those who are led by the Spirit are going to be heirs of G-d – our (eternal) future is a wonderful future.