“Wrestling With Romans”
Dead or Alive? (Chapter 8 Verses 1-17)
The contrast Paul sets up here is clear (v6). It is the choice we face in the challenge of the gospel, the way of life or death (Matthew 7.13-14; Deuteronomy 30.19). Sins wages is death (Romans 6.21, 23). In the gospel, in Jesus is life (John 14.6). A person can be alive physically but dead spiritually, the death Paul speaks of here is this. You can spark this person of by speaking of earthly, worldly things, the politician about socialism, the scholar about Cambridge or Oxford, the poet about Shakespeare, the philosopher about Neitzche, the banker about the Economist, the farmer about mad-cow disease, the mother about her new-born child, you will awaken much enthusiasm, lively debate and discussion about things loved, adored, even idolised. But in all these things, death, leading eventually to final, everlasting death, trees which bear no good fruit, which are fit only to be burned (Matthew 7.19). But stop these same folk in their tracks and speak of Jesus Christ to them, of the powers of the world to come, speak of the joys of life in the Spirit, the cross that condemns sin, the blood that clears the guilty, the glorious empty tomb that inspires hope and courage, and you will have a spark of a different nature. Because they are dead, the mind is in the death of sin (Ephesians 2.1-2), and against this death they are powerless, utterly. And resurrection, life, is the only cure. But O how many live in such death around us, no thought of God or his glory, no understanding that they were made to enjoy God (Ephesians 4.18), and the beauties of spiritual life and intercourse with God (Psalm 21.6; 28.7; 33.3; 42.4).
Flip the coin over, and you have life and peace in the Spirit-controlled mind (v6b), the evidence of the presence of spiritual life and its steady increase extending into the blessedness of eternal bliss, enjoying the full benefits of our justification, friendship and peace with God (Romans 5.1) which leads to feelings of peace (Philippians 4.7). The more and more spiritually minded we become, the more and more Spirit-controlled we become, and the fuller, the richer, the sweeter and deeper our peace, harmony, and communion with God becomes. And the more this is a reality with us, the more our uncertainties and fears will be driven from our hearts and minds. This is our pursuit, to live and to feed upon Jesus, to be filled with his Spirit. This only will deliver us from sin, keep us from the world, and right with God (Titus 2.11-14).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)