Focal Passage: Romans 8:8-17, 26-27
In the final lesson of this study of key texts in Romans, we turn to one of the greatest chapters in all of Scripture, Romans 8. In this passage Paul highlights the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. A life lived in the Spirit is one that claims victory over sin and death.
The spirit empowers our life (vv. 8-13). Romans 8 contrasts two over arching ways of living. One can either live according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. Verse 13 puts it starkly, “if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die.” Like many children this Christmas, my daughter received some gifts that required batteries. Until I went to the department store to purchase batteries these toys remained lifeless and useless. Only when the batteries were installed did they come to life and give my daughter the joy of playing with them. Jesus Christ, whom God raised from the dead through the Spirit, brings our lifeless, fleshly bodies to life through the Spirit, who lives within us (v. 11). Paul puts it this way in II Corinthians 5, “we groan in this body, desiring to put on our dwelling from heaven … and the One who prepares us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.” The Spirit of God dwells within us as a down payment for our ultimate salvation to come. Even though our outward body wastes away in the flesh, our spiritual life is renewed day by day, preparing us for the day when “mortality is swallowed up by life” (I Corinthians 5:1-5). However, if you live your life solely focused on worldly concerns, you will only waste away; there will be nothing left.
The spirit proclaims our adoption (vv. 14-17). Not only does the Spirit give us life, but He also testifies about our relationship in the family of God. We, who were once alienated from and hostile toward God (Colossians 1:21), have now been adopted into His family. In the Greco-Roman world of Paul’s day adoption was the legal act through which one was accepted into a family on an equal basis with any biological children the family may have had, including rights of inheritance. Believers do not receive a spirit of slavery to sin, characterized by fear. Rather, we receive a spirit of adoption into the family of God. In addition we are coheirs with Christ, joined with Him not only in His suffering but also in His glory. John illustrates to us the immensity of this reality, “Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children, and we are!” (I John 3:1).
The spirit amplifies our prayers (vv. 15-18). Through the Holy Spirit’s intercession, the Lord hears our prayers. When we pray, we have the confidence to know that the Holy Spirit takes our burdens to the Father, even though we cannot adequately express them. This points to a true spiritual unity in the life of the believer, where an open pathway of communication is constantly in operation. Although believers do not always know the will of God in prayer, the Spirit speaks for us to God.
The Spirit’s unity with the will and purposes of God acts to fuel the believer’s living relationship with God. Through this we can know that our prayers are answered, since the Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. Through the Spirit we can truly experience victory in Jesus.
— Moore is the director of church relations at Union University in Jackson. He also serves as minister of education at First Baptist Church, Dresden.