Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Romans 8:10-13

10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you. 12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, 13 because if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The Original Intent

1) What is the background and purpose of this letter?

Paul wrote several letters to the first churches scattered across Asia Minor, but his letter to the church in Rome is a bit different than his other letters. Paul’s purpose in his other epistles is to provide encouragement and chastisement to churches he had either visited as they had developed, or he had personally helped plant the church.

For the church in Rome, he had yet to personally visit them when he wrote Romans. Though he didn’t have personal connection with anyone there, he did know something about the culture and society as he was a Roman citizen. He was familiar with the makeup of the early church in Rome and its political struggles. Paul was also looking for another potential base for his ministry and wanted to urge them towards supporting the expansion of God’s kingdom growth as much as possible.

Some sources suggest Paul used this letter as a way of introducing himself and his beliefs since the believers in Rome hadn’t previously heard him preach or speak. He probably heard about the church from his friends, Priscilla and Aquila. (Acts 18:18-21)

The church of newly established Christ followers wasn’t just made up of Gentiles (non-Jews). Jews, God’s chosen people of Israel, had settled in Rome for a variety of reasons such as immigration and to escape persecution for following Jesus. Paul wanted to unite them for a single cause as Christ-followers. (Romans 11Galatians 3:27-28) 

There were factions of Jews that felt compelled to continue adhering to the laws of the Torah (the first 5 books of the Old Testament). This was a hot point of debate between Jews and Gentile believers, but Paul consistently pointed them towards unity in Christ. (Ephesians 2:11-22)

The Everyday Application

1) What is the background and purpose of this letter?

Humans in the first century weren’t very different from humans in the twenty-first century. We still encounter prejudices and biases, even among believers.

Paul championed unity between believers in the early church and Jesus prayed for all believers, across all of time, to be united by His Spirit. (John 17:21-22) There is still much disunity even in the 21st century not only between Gentiles and Jews, but between races, genders, and differing denominations among Christians.

Following Christ brings us all to level ground, it unites us, no matter where we came from, our backgrounds, our ethnicity, or our past. If you believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior, and in His redemption of your life, it frees you from any cultural mindsets and social parameters. It allows us to understand how we are each made in the image of the Creator God. (Genesis 1:27)

Our job as Christ-followers is to do all we can to live at peace with those around us, especially fellow believers. (Romans 12:17-18) Consider your local church, your believing friends, and believing acquaintances; how are you working to guard against disunity while cultivating unity that reflects God’s heart for His people?

Prayerfully ask God to practically show you how to encourage the kind of unity He desires in your home, relationships, and church!

The Original Intent

2) Does “dead to sin” mean believers in Jesus never sin again? (verse 10)

When Paul says we are dead to sin, he intended to teach both Jews and Gentiles an essential truth about the spiritual state for all who chose to repent (turn away) from their sin and trust Christ. All who have surrendered themselves to Christ have been rendered “dead to sin”, meaning we no longer have an obligation to obey the cruel taskmaster of Sin. (verse 12)

Our bodies and souls are no longer owned by Sin, we are Christ’s and have been freed from the slavery of sin. (Romans 6:20-22) We are now free to live out what was impossible before by following Christ! For the Jews who felt tied to Old Testament law, and were constantly burdened by a lengthy list of “do not’s”, even a slight misstep became sin. Paul wanted them to fully embrace being “dead to sin”. They were no longer slaves to the Law. Now, there was no condemnation in Christ because forgiveness was always available through Jesus! (1 John 1:9Romans 8:1-2)

This good news was just as wonderful for Gentiles who followed the lusts of their flesh by sinning against a Holy God. (Ephesians 4:17-19) By following Christ, there would still be temptation to sin, and sometimes even genuine believers would still choose to give in to the desire of sin, but through repentance and by the grace of Jesus, God’s forgiveness and grace would always be available. (Romans 5:20-21)

All who trust Christ are given the power of the Holy Spirit within them, they have been freed from the chains of sin and can choose to put sin away; they are no longer slaves to sin. Christ provides the power to overcome temptation and sin!

The Everyday Application

2) Does “dead to sin” mean believers in Jesus never sin again? (verse 10)

All Christians, though their souls have been renewed and they have been given new life in Jesus (John 3:6-7), are still human beings living in a fallen world. All Christians are still surrounded by temptation to return to their dead ways of sinfulness. Because of this, Christians will still sin.

Peter lived and traveled with Jesus for three years and still sinned when he became angry and drew his sword on a guard in Gethsemane. (Matthew 26:51-52) In Christ, however, all who surrender to Him are declared new creatures. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19) We no longer need to be bound by the flesh and its desires. (verse 12) When we sin, we don’t live as God designed and we miss out on the peace, joy, and sweet communion with Him. God intended us to be free of sin (Hebrews 12:1-2), which is what we find at the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve walked with God in perfect delight. (Genesis 3:8)

That all changed when Adam and Eve chose to satisfy their fleshly desires instead of continuing in unmarred relationship with God. (Genesis 3:6-7, 23-24) Because of Jesus’ blood shed for you and me, He paid the price for our sins which is death. (Romans 6:23) With His perfect payment and victory of death as He rose from the grave, the curse of Genesis 3 is reversed and undone! “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us…” (Galatians 3:13)

We can lean into Him when we feel tempted. We can repent when we do sin. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we have divine power to resist temptation. (John 14:16-17Acts 1:8)

The Original Intent

3) Paul wrote, “Our mortal bodies will be brought to life”. Does this mean we won’t physically die? (verse 11)

Again remembering his original audience, Paul wanted to encourage the new believers, both Jew and Gentile, that belief in Christ equaled a new-birth in this life and a life that would continue for eternity after death for “our mortal bodies”.

When on earth, Jesus had frequently taught on the resurrection of physical bodies (John 11:23-24) and had even called dead people to live again like Lazarus (John 11:43-44) and a pre-teen girl (Mark 5:41-42). Paul knew reports of these “death-to-life” miracles had spread across the region along with news of Jesus’ many other prophecy-fulfilling miracles like opening blind eyes and healing the lame and mute. The news had certainly become known in Rome as well. 

Paul wasn’t telling them that physical death wouldn’t happen, rather, their souls would experience immediate life with Christ (Philippians 1:23). One day, even their physical bodies would be resurrected; He would raise them up when He returned to earth. (Revelation 20:12-13)

The Everyday Application

3) Paul wrote, “Our mortal bodies will be brought to life”. Does this mean we won’t physically die? (verse 11)

Eventually, our mortal bodies will indeed physically die, unless Jesus returns to earth before our death. As wonderful and hope-giving as this message of eternal life after death was to Paul’s audience, the main thrust of this passage is for us to understand how the divine life of righteousness is available to us right now in our everyday lives.

We are given new life in Jesus when we trust Him. (verse 11) We are given power to overcome fleshly desires and sins that so easily beset us. (Hebrews 12:1) Our old flesh has died, and now, the same Spirit who raised Christ’s body from the dead is alive within us teaching us to reject sin and live free now in “our mortal bodies”. 

We have hope for the future life, and hope for our life now. We are free and alive and dead to sin! This is radically good news! In our present day, we fight against the same sins and temptations that plagued the first century church and other Christians down through the ages. 

This message of power to flee sin is absolutely necessary for us to hold onto in our everyday lives. As believers, we can know with confidence there is Hope and Joy in the life to come as well as in the next few minutes. One day, there will be eternal life with Jesus, and right now, we can enjoy communion with Him. 

On earth, as we put down temptation and flee sin by the power of the Holy Spirit, we find a new life of victory. Our flesh has no power over us when we live fully surrendered to the Spirit’s work, we have Christ’s power inside us!

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