The Holy Spirit in Romans, Lesson 3

The Holy Spirit in the Book of Romans

August 25, 2019

Daniel L. Segraves, Teacher

[1] Because Christ dwells in the believer, “the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Contextually, the word “body” refers to the human body. (See Romans 8:11.) Paul’s point was that even though the human body – even of a believer – is subject to death because of the lingering effects of the sin nature, the believer still possesses eternal life through the effect of the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit imparts life to believers because the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to them. Death will be the final effect of sin, which will be destroyed in the believer’s life by the resurrection. (See I Corinthians 15:54-57.)

[2] Somewhat of a grammatical puzzle appears in Romans 8:13. The verse is made up of two first class conditional statements: “If you live according to the flesh” and “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body.” Since the first class condition asserts the reality of the condition, these statements seem self-contradictory. On the one hand, Paul seems to have assumed that his readers do indeed live according to the flesh, and on the other hand, that they do, in fact, put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit.

[3] There is no question that it is possible for a Spirit-filled believer to live according to the flesh, or after the impulses of the Adamic nature. (See Galatians 3:3; 5:16-21.) Just because believers are filled with the Holy Spirit, they do not become robots or automatons incapable of making their own choices, including sinful ones. If believers make the decision to live as if they were debtors to the Adamic nature (Romans 8:12), they will experience spiritual death (i.e., separation from fellowship with God). (See Romans 6:16, 21, 23.) On the other hand, if believers, by the power of the Holy Spirit, put to death the impulses of the unredeemed outer man (i.e., the body [see Romans 7:24; 8:23]), they will enjoy life (i.e., fellowship with God).

[4] But the question remains: How could Paul assume that his readers are at the same time living according to the flesh and putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit? The solution lies in the fact that Paul wrote to the entire congregation in Rome. The “you” is the second person plural, referring to the entire church. Some in the church were apparently living according to the flesh; others, by the Spirit, were putting to death the deeds of the body. Thus, the verse addresses the situation of each one who would read or hear this letter.

[5] According to Romans 8:14, those who are the sons of God give evidence of their sonship by being led by His Spirit. This does not mean the sons of God are characterized by sinless perfection (see I John 1:8), but that they deal with all of life – even their sins – as the Spirit of God directs. The Spirit of God leads believers to confess their sins (I John 1:7, 9; Romans 2:4). Those who are unregenerate are led by the flesh, the Adamic nature. (See Romans 6:19-20.)

[6] In Romans 8:15, we learn that when believers are born again, they do not receive “the spirit of bondage” which produces fear as it pertains to one’s relationship with God. The “spirit of bondage” is an apparent reference to the slavery to the sin nature experienced by all those who are unregenerate. (See Romans 6:17, 19-20.) It may also refer to the condition of the Jews under the law of Moses. (See Romans 7:2, 6.) The Spirit received by believers is the “Spirit of adoption,” which, instead of producing fear about one’s relationship with God, prompts the adopted child to cry out, “Abba, Father.” This is significant, for “Abba” is an Aramaic word to which the closest English equivalent is “Daddy” or “Papa.” In the Aramaic language, it was the most intimate term for one’s father. It was thought by those who spoke the Aramaic language that “abba” was the first word formed by a baby, and it thus expresses the complete, innocent reliance of babies on their fathers and the absence of any tension or fear in the relationship. (See Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6.)

[7]        Romans 8:16 indicates that the new birth occurs in the realm of the human spirit. Jesus declared to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). It is not the material part of a person that is born again, but the immaterial. The Holy Spirit, in regenerating the human spirit and restoring it to fellowship with God, gives testimony to the fact that believers are the children of God.[archive]