Romans 8:1 – God Life versus Sinful Flesh Life

I would like to make some observations about a very important passage of the Bible, the eighth chapter of Romans. Its really important that we get the meaning of this passage right in our minds, because if you have a wrong view of it, it could destroy you eternally.

I’ll come out right away and say that a lot of loose, illogical and extremely perilous thinking has been expressed by perhaps well-meaning Christians who want to encourage people who are enslaved to various sinful lusts that “all is well for them”. They quote the first half of Romans 8:1 in the NIV or a similar version based on the corrupted Alexandrian or Vaticanus manuscripts.

Look up http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%208:1&version=NIV and this is what you will see:

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a]

Footnotes:

1. Romans 8:1 Some later manuscripts Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit,

So they say to the person “struggling” with sin (read “enslaved to sin”) – “Don’t worry, there’s no condemnation!” The idea is that if you “believe that Jesus” – the Jesus who doesn’t demand too much – then you can pretty much set your own desired level of consecration to God and you’ll be covered by the blood of Jesus while you enjoy the pleasures of sin, even if you feel guilty at the same time. But then again, there is nothing to fear and No One to fear, God has underwritten your ticket to heaven regardless of your deeds or your heart condition.

Let me say that if this view is correct, it does not seem to fit with other verses in the same chapter, even if you use the same watered down translation of the NIV.

verse 8 – NIV Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

verse 9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.

12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

“If you live according to the sinful nature, YOU WILL DIE”. Is this talking about physical death only? This cannot be, because the next phrase says, “if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live”. I don’t believe any serious commentator would suggest that if you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will not die physically. Or that if you live according to the sinful nature you will die physically immediately. Let us then be plain about this: the verse here is talking about SPIRITUAL DEATH.

Let’s state it bluntly then, and what it means in practical terms, on the negative side. I am assuming here what the Bible teaches elsewhere, that the spiritually dead will be eternally condemned and thrown into hell.

IF YOU LIVE ACCORDING TO THE SINFUL NATURE [and don’t repent], YOU WILL BE CONDEMNED ETERNALLY AND SUFFER ETERNAL HELL-FIRE.

In the light of this, we see the damage of playing with sin, not fearing God, and telling your church going friends who do the same “There’s no condemnation”.

Let us return to the little piece by the NIV editors. I quote it below:

1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,[a]

Footnotes:

1. Romans 8:1 Some later manuscripts Jesus, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit,

What the editors should say in place of “some later manuscripts” is “the vast majority of extant manuscripts which all Bibles were based on before about 1880 A.D.”. In other words, just about every Bible published before around 1880 DID HAVE these words, which put the condition on this statement of “No Condemnation” to include only those who at the present time are walking by the Spirit of God, not the impulses of the corrupt and satanically infested “flesh”. If you believe that people did not have a reliable Bible before 1880, around the time that the manuscripts forming the basis for new translations like the NIV were found and popularised, then how do you know that we have a reliable Bible today? Perhaps more “ancient” manuscripts will show up with different versions of the text in the future – changes which impact seriously on our understanding of what God requires of us! If such a thing is true, it does not say much for the Bible or for God’s care in preserving His Word to us.

So, then what DOES Romans 8:1 mean?

I will now quote from the NKJV.

Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

This is a GREAT promise for us! It means this: that as we yield ourselves in submission to Jesus Christ and go after the things of the Spirit of God, NOTHING from our past can condemn us at all! Even if in the past we have slept around, cheated, lied, been unkind and selfish, violent or abusive to others, in fact NO MATTER WHAT we have done, none of this can rise up at the end of days to condemn us to the death penalty assigned for sinners. God has totally wiped our record clean! So now, we never need to be plagued by guilt. All we need to do is to keep pressing into God and the things of the Spirit. God DOES require us to press on to know Him, and when we do, we are living in a state of acceptance with God. He wants us to be “hot” for Him (see Revelation 3:16).
But the ability and power to do even THIS comes from the SPIRIT OF GOD, and not from our own inner resolvings. The whole secret to the Christian life is to live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

A revival will come to the church when we realise this is NOT OPTIONAL, but REQUIRED if we hope to make heaven our home at any stage, and if we want to have a glorious resurrection and live as the Children of God eternally.

References:

Rev 3:16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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