Tagged: surprise

Romans 8:1-11

This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on July 16, 2017.

The chapter designations in the Bible make it easier to find texts when we are studying Scripture, but too often they break up a free-flowing thought from one chapter to the next. Such is the case from Romans chapter 7 to chapter 8. Paul concludes the final verses of chapter 7 with two agonizing cries from the heart: “Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Paul has described the problem of human bondage to sin and the deeply personal struggle that ensues from it in Romans 7 (marked by the first person singular pronoun used more than 30 times), and now in Romans chapter 8 he offers an explication of the answer (marked by the recurrent use of the word Spirit throughout these verses).

Paul begins chapter 8 with a contrast between the bondage of sin and death with the freedom that comes from knowing Christ and experiencing the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” In Jesus, God has done what the law could not do. God has created a path to righteousness through the gift of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, which offers forgiveness to all believers. In verse 3 he describes the incarnation of Jesus as the “sending of his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh” so that Jesus might “condemn sin in the flesh so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” In other words, Jesus, as God’s incarnate Son, does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Through the incarnation of Jesus, God becomes flesh in the form of a human being, condemns sin through his salvific suffering and dying, and sets us free from slavery to sin and death through his resurrection – freedom from a life lived in servitude to our own selfish desires. God’s justice has been fulfilled in Jesus who sets us free through the Spirit of God that dwells within us. So that those who “walk according to the Spirit,” not according to the flesh, might have forgiveness and new life in Christ. Faith in Jesus does what trust in the law cannot do.

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