Chapter eight provides the answer to Paul’s internal struggle from chapter seven, the same struggle many believers consistently fight today. Paul learned that the mindset shift required in chapter six is not something he could force himself to do; rather, he needed to submit completely to the Holy Spirit, “the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1-11). Rather than insisting that he fulfill the Law, Paul realized that Jesus’ death made it “so that the righteous fulfillment of the law may be fulfilled in us.” In us, not by us. Submission to sin and the Spirit are mutually exclusive (Galatians 5:17), because sin and the law bring death, but the Spirit brings life.
Because of this truth our obligation is to live as truly free from sin and alive to the Spirit who is making us alive (Romans 8:12-13). This is a significant change from the early parts of Romans. In the first seven chapters, the Holy Spirit is mentioned only once (Romans 5:5); in comparison, chapter eight refers to the Spirit nearly twenty times in a dozen verses. Not only does he give us life, he assures us that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-17). He empowers us to understand and endure our present sufferings and anticipate our future redemption (Romans 8:18-25). He helps us pray in our weakness and struggles and realize that sufferings are necessary to fulfill God’s will for us – becoming like Jesus himself (Romans 8:26-30).
This section closes with a great series of rhetorical questions in which Paul celebrates the dramatic difference between our state in chapter one compared to what God’s immense grace and righteousness accomplishes by chapter eight. Consider the effects on believers:
- No one can stand against us (Romans 8:31)
- Nothing is withheld from us (Romans 8:32)
- No one can charge us with any sin (Romans 8:33)
- No one can condemn us (Romans 8:34)
- No one and nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:35-39)