- Lesson 5 in the BaptistWay Press Connect360 unit “Living in the Spirit” focuses on Romans 8:1-4.
The Apostle Paul begins this passage with a connecting word: “therefore.” This is, then, a reflection on his struggle in chapter 7 about feeling powerless on his own to defeat sin. That chapter concludes with good news: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Our passage follows naturally from that rejoicing.
Paul’s reference to “no condemnation” in verse 1 speaks to the indwelling of the Spirit. He does not mean we are free from feelings of conviction or from physical consequences of our sin. But we are free from the eternal consequences of sin, eternal separation. In fact, the indwelling of the Spirit results in a constant presence of God with us. We carry him with us everywhere. But this is only the case if we are “in Christ” and if the Spirit is in us. It is about an intimacy and a transformation that only comes through spiritual indwelling. There is a direct link between our lack of condemnation and our sanctified, transformed life.
The Trinity in action
To be “in Christ” (or in union with Christ) coupled with the Spirit being in us (indwelled by the Spirit)—both of which have been and are sent by God—begins to paint a beautiful picture of the Trinity in action. The deep, interdependent identity of each with the other is on full display in these verses. But this interdependence does not merely show the relationship of the members of the Trinity alone, but the involvement they have with us as the church for the furtherment of God’s kingdom. But to be this close to the divine interaction of the Trinity requires a new way of living on our part. As we see in verse three, this is a life not of flesh but of Spirit. And as we see in verse two, with this new life comes freedom.
Verse 2 likewise begins with a connecting word: “For.” Like verse 1, it reflects to chapter 7 and Paul’s bondage to sin. But in Christ, that bondage is broken. In Christ, there is now freedom from the law of sin and death Paul describes so well in chapter 7.
Reading verse 2, you can feel the lightness of the Law of the Spirit compared to the weight of the law of sin and death—freedom vs. bondage. This single verse paints a divergent picture. There is old life in sin and new life in the Spirit. This old life was about selfish ambition and conceit (Philippians 2:3-4). This new life is completely influenced by the indwelling of the Spirit, resulting in new principles and new values—or “fruit” as Paul refers to them in Galatians 5.
The indwelling Spirit does more than just influence us, it shapes our very identity. We learn to move freely in the Spirit. We rid ourselves of chains to our old self and freely “float” in movement with the Spirit. This lightness is learned through spiritual practices and disciplines that help us know God more fully and steward his likeness more effectively.
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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