The Believer's Freedom (Romans 8:1-17)

By Andrew E. Courtis

After dealing with the believer’s struggle with sin in the previous chapter, Paul now moves on to provide instruction concerning the believer’s freedom. He does this by highlighting the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. In this chapter there are around twenty references to the Holy Spirit. This instruction concerning the work of the Holy Spirit provides the Christian with assurance that though they struggle with sin, His indwelling presence will empower them in a holy direction that leads to glory. Paul begins by showing how a person obtains freedom (8:1-4) and then shows the outcome of this freedom (8:5-17).

 

1. THE OBTAINING OF FREEDOM (8:1-4)

The Christian has obtained freedom. Paul states the reality of this freedom when he said, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (8:1). The believer did not achieve it or earn it, because their freedom from God’s judgment comes by virtue of being in Christ Jesus. This freedom is being released from the wrath of God. The reason for this freedom is because God sent His Son to be condemned in our place (8:2-3). At the cross Jesus did what the law could not do, He paid the penalty for our sins. Jesus became a man, though He was without sin, to be a substitute for us. The result of this freedom is “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:4). Jesus died so that we would not only be forgiven, but free to serve Him. This freedom from God’s condemnation is a blessing and reality every believer has and enjoys.

 

2. THE OUTCOME OF FREEDOM (8:5-17)

Once the believer obtains this freedom, what is the outcome? In terms of their conduct, the outcome of the believer obtaining freedom is seen in three dramatic changes. Firstly, the believer has a new outlook (8:5-8). By God’s transforming grace and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, the believer has a new mindset. Unlike the mindset of an unbeliever who fails to please God (8:8), the believer’s new outlook produces a pleasing pattern of living. Though it is not one of perfect, it certainly is one of a new direction. Next, the believer has a new occupant (8:9-11). Even though the believer struggles with indwelling sin (7:14-25), the Holy Spirit dwells within every believer (8:9, 11). This indwelling is a mark of genuine salvation and is the means of growing sanctification in their life. Apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, a believer cannot grow in holiness. Finally, the believer has a new obligation (8:12-17) that is the logical outcome of the previous point. In step with the Spirit’s work, we have a responsibility to put to death sin (8:13). A precious outcome of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is our new identity in Christ (8:14-17). We are sons of God because we have been adopted. This should not only help us in our struggle against sin, but it should provide us with hope in our inheritance of future glory (8:17).

 

Study Questions:

  1. Review Romans 1:18-3:20 and discuss why all humanity is condemned by God.
  2. Why is there no condemnation for a believer? See 8:1-4
  3. What is the believer’s new outlook? See 8:5-8
  4. Who is the new occupant within the believer and how does this change their outlook? Why is this an amazing privilege? See 8:9-11
  5. After reading 8:12-17, describe the believer’s new obligation. How does the description of sonship provide assurance and comfort in our Christian living?