“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace, because the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” — Romans 8:1-9, NIV
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus – How good He is! No matter how far off course we get, no matter how far we fall sometimes, those who love and follow Jesus will never be condemned. Why? Because through Him the Spirit sets us free. And His Spirit is not a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. Who then can accuse us? Talk about Good News!
For what the law was powerless to do… The law couldn’t save us. As right and as true and as good as it is, without grace the law brings us death, not life. And the same is true of all who spout ‘right answers’ but fail to love: such words can’t save, they can only cause pain. But Jesus, God in our likeness, was sentenced in our place to satisfy the law, so that we can be declared innocent as His Spirit lives in us.
“Sinful nature” — Here’s a tough concept to define. It means sin is an integral part of us. It does NOT mean people were created evil. Everything God created in Genesis was good, including humanity. As a working definition we might say colloquially: “nobody’s perfect”. And no matter how hard we try to be perfect, we can’t be. That’s the bottom line of a sinful nature.
Those who live according to the sinful nature – those who choose to cave in; people who shrug their shoulders and say “oh well, nobody’s perfect” and use that as an excuse to do whatever they feel like doing — have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit — those who agree with God — have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. And as Paul points out in chapter 7, we are then divided inside ourselves: our minds are on the things of the Spirit, the things of God, but our nobody’s-perfect-ness still wants what it wants and refuses to shut up.
The mind of sinful man is death… the mind set on things of this world, that is — because this world and everything in it is transitory. Because the mind of sinful man stores up treasures “where moth and rust consume, and thieves break in and steal”. The corruption and fallenness of this world will all come to an end someday, along with those who have given over their souls to it.
…but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace… “into Your hands I commit my spirit” should be our prayer every day; submission to the Holy Spirit God has sent to live in us. This is not ‘mind control’ in any way shape or form. The Spirit never forces His will on us. Rather, it’s living in agreement with the Creator of the Universe, being all we were created to be by living into His promises. In doing so we discover, for the first time, a meaningful life and deep peace.
…because the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. I’m actually reading this a little differently, and someday when I learn Greek I’ll check to see if my interpretation would be acceptable. But for now, try this on for size: “Because the sinful mind is hostile to God, it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” It only makes sense. Our nobody’s-perfect-ness absolutely cannot tolerate Anyone who is perfect. Nor do we want to hear anything such a One might have to say, especially in terms of laying down rules for how we should live. (those words came just a little too easily…)
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. Which also only makes sense. How could a holy and perfectly loving God possibly be pleased with some rebellious little creature who thinks it’s will is more important than anything else in the universe? But in spite of ourselves He loves us too much to leave us to drown in illusions of our own making:
You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. May God’s Spirit dwell in us all richly. May each day bring deeper knowledge and deeper joys in knowing and serving Him. May each morning be one more opportunity to say “take my life and live through me, sweet Lord Jesus”. Amen.