Jesus did what the Law couldn’t do. He died in our place “as an offering for sin” (8:3), “so that the requirement of the Law,” that is, death to sinners, “might be fulfilled in us” (8:4). He was our substitute. So we who are in Christ will not be condemned as we would have been otherwise (8:1). And what characterizes those who are “in Christ?” They “do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:4). Those who walk according to the Holy Spirit are holy, obviously.
The decision to walk according to the flesh or the Spirit rests with each one of us. We are two-natured, and we can set our minds on the things of the flesh or on the things of the Spirit (8:6). The former results in death, the latter results in life and peace (8:6). Paul plainly warned, “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (8:13). This is hardly a promise of unconditional eternal security, and once again, we encounter biblical truth about the necessity of holiness for eternal life. Paul was of course speaking of eternal death and life in this solemn warning, as everyone will one day die physically, even those who are “by the Spirit putting to death the deeds of the body” (8:13).
How blessed are we who have believed in Christ! We’ve been adopted into God’s family, having been born of Him. He is our Father, and that makes us heirs of His eternal glory with Christ our Lord. Paul says, however, that we must suffer with Christ if we hope to be glorified with Him (8:17), indicating that persecution is par for the course for true believers. Our temporal sufferings, however, are “not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (8:18). We long deep within our hearts for the coming day of our redemption. Paul says that all of creation, currently under God’s curse of futility, also waits longingly for it.
Note that Paul did not write in 8:29-30 (or anywhere else in the New Testament) that God had predestined anyone to be saved or unsaved. Rather, Paul wrote that God predestined those whom He foreknew to be conformed to the image of His Son. God obviously foreknew those of us who would believe in Jesus, and He predestined us to be His sons, like Jesus. That is a far cry from being predestined to be saved by God’s alleged sovereign “unconditional election” that eliminates our free will in believing in Christ.
Paul concludes this chapter by asking five wonderful questions. First, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (8:31). Obviously, there are many who are against us, but since God is for us, our opposition is ultimately meaningless.
Second, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” The supreme proof of God’s love for us was demonstrated on the cross. How can we doubt, in light of the giving of His Son, that He will freely give us every future blessing He has promised, as well as supply all our present needs?
Third, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?” (8:34), and a related question, “God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns?” Others may judge you as guilty, but if God declares you not guilty, you’re not guilty! The evidence for our justification is seated at the Judge’s right hand!
Finally, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Rom. 8:35). Paul then lists some specific adversaries and adversities that might tempt us to think God’s love has diminished. None can nullify what Christ has done for us on the cross. Even if we are slaughtered like sheep, God’s love for us ensures that ultimately we “overwhelmingly conquer” (8:37).
Out of allotted words!