More Than Conquerors! A Study of Romans 8 #5 The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Rom. 8:9-11

16 Sep

Romans 8:9-11 (ESV)
9  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
10  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11  If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Romans 8:9-11 (NASB)
9  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.
10  If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

That is as plain as you can make it. Nothing could be plainer than that. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. You see, you cannot tell if a person is a Christian by what he does at any given moment. He may do exactly the same thing as a non-Christian, and he may be very cruel, vindictive, natural, lustful, and sinful in every way when he does it. At that moment, you cannot tell any difference between the Christian and the non-Christian.

But there is a difference, Paul says. One has the Spirit of Christ in him, the Holy Spirit, and eventually that will make a fantastic difference in his behavior. The other does not, and he will continue in sin and even get worse and worse.

In fact, the apostle suggests by this that the actions of a non-Christian may actually be much better than those of a Christian. There are non-Christians who are kinder, more thoughtful, and more gracious than Christians. People say, “Look at them! If their lives are so nice and pleasant, surely they must be Christians.” But it is not necessarily so. He that does not have the Spirit of Christ is none of his.

The difference will show up in the ultimate tests of life. When the crunch comes, one will collapse and fall and the other will rise and, eventually, conquer. A Christian can live “according to the flesh” even though he is not “in the flesh.” Those distinctions have to be made very clearly.

The evidence of conversion is the presence of the Holy Spirit within, witnessing that you are a child of God: (Romans 8:16)  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Your body becomes the very temple of the Holy Spirit:  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; {20} you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Even though the body is destined to die because of sin (unless, of course, the Lord returns), the Spirit gives life to that body today so that we may serve God. If we should die, the body will one day be raised from the dead, because the Holy Spirit has sealed each believer:

(Ephesians 1:13-14)  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, {14} who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

What a difference it makes in your body when the Holy Spirit lives within. You experience new life, and even your physical faculties take on a new dimension of experience.

Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

Paul, and every Christian, faces two problems as dealt with in our text: first, the problem of sin; second, the problem of righteousness. Our problem with sin is that we do it. Our problem with righteousness is that we do not, and cannot, do it.

God solved the first problem by condemning sin in the flesh through the death of our Lord at Calvary. Now, in verses 9-11, Paul tells us how God has provided the solution for the second problem.

God’s Law reveals the standard of righteousness. The Law tells us what righteousness is like. The Christian agrees with the Law of God, that it is “holy, righteous, and good.” The problem is the strength of sin and the weakness of our flesh. As Paul has shown in verses 5-8, the flesh cannot please God. God has provided the means for Christians to live in a way that enables them to fulfill the requirement of the Law and to please God. God’s provision—for Christians only—is the power of His Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christian.

The flesh is dead, because of sin. But the Spirit is alive, living within us, so that righteousness will result. The Spirit, who indwells every true believer, is the same Spirit who raised the dead body of our Lord from the dead (verse 11). Our problem, as Paul says in Romans 7:24, is “the body of this death.” Our bodies, which are dead due to sin, so far as doing that which is righteous, the Spirit will raise to life, as He raised the body of our Lord to life. And so the problem of righteousness has been solved. We cannot, by the flesh, please God and do that which is righteous. We can, by means of the Spirit, fulfill the requirement of the Law and please God.

And so the two problems (1) of sin and (2) of righteousness have been solved, by God, through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is no condemnation for sin for all who are in Christ, by faith. Sin, on the other hand, has been condemned in the flesh. The righteousness which we could not do, because of the deadness of our fleshly bodies, God accomplishes through His Spirit, who raises dead bodies to life.

8:9 Controlled . . . by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.NIV The Holy Spirit lives in us, taking over control from our sinful nature. This gives us great assurance. “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit ” (1 John 4:13 niv). Paul is saying that the process of salvation has begun but is incomplete, for in order to have the Spirit within, a person already must have trusted Christ as Savior

Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.NRSV This phrase may create doubt in our life. In our experience, we may feel a void, a conflict a deficit an overbearing problem. We can have such experiences and still have the Holy Spirit. The titles Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ both mean the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can make us acceptable to God; therefore, anyone who does not have the Spirit cannot belong to Christ. Paul does not voice this as a threat or warning, but a statement of fact.

Having the Spirit of Christ is the same as belonging to Christ. This is not a criterion for judging others’ lives, it is a helpful encouragement in our struggles. When facing times of doubt, Paul’s statement supplies us with two questions that must be answered: (1) Do I have the Spirit of Christ? and (2) Do I belong to Christ? Paul’s point is that answering yes to either determines the truth of the other. The first tends to be a less settled answer experientially; the second is clearly answered by the assurance given in God’s Word.

In his writings, Paul often speaks of the Spirit and Christ synonymously. This is evident in Romans 8:9-10. The terms Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, and Christ are all used interchangeably. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Christ is Christ. In Pauline terminology, being “in Christ” and being “in the Spirit” are the same thing because in Christian experience they are absolutely identical. There is no such thing as an experience of Christ apart from the Spirit.

This verse categorically defines the person who is “in the flesh.” He is the man, any man, who does not have the Spirit of Christ. The great human delusion is to the effect that there are really three kingdoms, Gods, Satan’s, and OURS! But OURS apart from God is not ours at all, but Satan’s. It’s really that simple! Man, by the very nature of his creation, is free only to the extent of being able to choose between good and evil, between God and Satan. There are not ten thousand ways, but only two. Jesus called them the narrow way and the broad way (Matt. 7:13,14). But that glorious right of decision makes all the difference. It is the most priceless endowment of life on earth. Man was created in God’s image; and, although sin has eroded and defaced the sacred likeness, enough divinity remains in every man, regardless of how wicked he is, to enable him to exercise the option of whom he wills to serve. Not even Satan can demur or countermand the soul’s high order to re-enthrone the Christ within!

To every man there openeth A high Way and a low; And every man decideth The way his soul shall go.

The ability to establish an acceptable pattern of behavior in the sight of God is therefore dependent, first of all, upon a person’s decision. Once the right decision has been made by hearing and obeying the gospel invitation of Christ, God sends his Holy Spirit into the lives of his children, thereby enabling them to live “in the Spirit.” Such a new manner of life frees them from “the mind of the flesh” and embarks them and sustains them upon the right pathway. The importance of God’s Spirit in the hearts of Christians is of the very first magnitude, and a more particular attention to what the word of the Lord reveals concerning this truth is appropriate.

The Indwelling Spirit

Not merely here (Rom. 8:9), but throughout the New Testament, the fact of the indwelling Spirit of God is emphasized. The first promise of the gospel is that believers in Christ who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins shall “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38f), and for this reason he is called “The Holy Spirit of Promise” (Eph. 1:13). To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of “the Holy Spirit which is in you” and declared that “the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (1 Cor 6:19; 3:16), To the Galatians, likewise, he said, “God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (Gal. 4:6); and the Saviour himself said of the Holy Spirit to his disciples that “he dwelleth with you, and he shall be in you” (John 14:17).

The degree of impartation of this glorious gift is only a portion but marvelously sufficient. Paul called this partial infusion of the Holy Spirit “the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13,14) The token quantity of this gift is ample to supply the child of God with all the help that he needs, but it is not enough to make him independent, either of the community of believers or of the word of God. The limited nature of this impartation should ever be remembered. The Holy Spirit within Christians is not a full measure of prophetic, healing, and discerning power, such as that enjoyed by the apostles of Christ. No true Christian, by virtue of his possessing the Spirit, should ever consider himself free to discard the sacred scriptures and “feel” his way to glory; and yet one gets the impression that some feel that way about it.

When does one receive the indwelling Spirit? The Scriptures are very plain with reference to this: (1) It occurs “after that ye heard the word of truth” (Eph. 1:13); (2) It comes after people have believed in Christ (Eph. 1:13); (3) the indwelling begins after believers have become sons of God and as a consequence of their being so (Gal. 4:6); and (4) the blessed Spirit is promised as a gift contingent upon and following the believer’s repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38f). In the light of these sacred teachings, how true are the words of Brunner with reference to how the life of the Spirit is achieved. He said, “It is nothing less than being in Christ.” It may be accepted as absolutely certain therefore, that the Holy Spirit never enters a believer for the purpose of making him a son of God, and he, in fact, never enters any person whomsoever except those who decide to serve God and obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The results of the indwelling of the Spirit in the hearts of God’s children are also spelled out in Gal. 5:22,23, where such results are defined as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. Specifically it should be observed that certain things are not said to be the fruit of the Spirit. Such things as miracles, gifts of prophecy, and speaking in tongues are not included. The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of contradicting the scriptures, nor of noise and confusion, nor of dreams and illusions, nor of strife and sectarianism, nor of pride and envy, nor of unfaithfulness and division.

There are many misconceptions regarding the Holy Spirit in Christians’ lives, perhaps more than with regard to any other major doctrine of the Bible. Some of these are:

(1) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a commandment of God; on the other hand, it is not a commandment at all but a promise;

(2) that the Holy Spirit is promised to all believers; on the contrary, he is promised to all believers who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38f);

(3) that the Holy Spirit baptism was promised to all Christians; but this promise was to the apostles alone (Luke 24:49 :);

(4) that the Holy Spirit is imparted to make people sinless; yet Peter sinned after he had received even the baptism of the Holy Spirit;

(5) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a subjective experience within men’s hearts; to the contrary, it was a visible and outward manifestation of God’s power, as exemplified by the two New Testament examples of it at Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius;

(6) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is followed by speaking in tongues; and, while it is true that the apostles did speak in tongues on Pentecost, after the power of the Spirit came upon them, the kind of tongues manifested there was nothing like the incoherent, unintelligible jabberings of the so-called “tongues” affected today;

(7) that the Holy Spirit must work directly upon an unbeliever before he can obey God; but this is wrong if any other type of work is expected beyond the preaching of God’s word, there being absolutely no New Testament example of any conversion in which the convert did not first hear the word of God preached and then upon believing it, obey it.

(8:9) Indwelling Presence—Holy Spirit, Power of: the Spirit dwells within the believer, putting the Spirit of Christ within him. There is so much in these two verses that cannot be outlined beside the verses. There just is not enough space.

  1. The power of the Spirit is seen in the word “dwell” (oikeo). The word “dwell” is the picture of a home (oikos). The Holy Spirit dwells within the believer: He makes His home, takes up residence, and lives within the believer just as we live in our homes.
  2. The power of the Spirit creates the glorious truth of the indwelling presence of God within the believer and of the believer within God.
  • The believer is said to be “in the [Holy] Spirit” (Romans 8:9).
  • The Spirit of God is said to “dwell” in the believer (Romans 8:9).
  • The believer is said to have “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9).
  • Christ is said to be in the believer (Romans 8:10).

Note how the deity of Christ is being proclaimed. The “Spirit of Christ” is said to indwell the believer the same as the “Spirit of God.” Both are said to be equally within the believer.

(2 Corinthians 3:18)  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

(Galatians 4:6)  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

(Philippians 1:10)  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,

(1 Peter 1:11)  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

  1. The power of the Spirit removes the believer from being “in” the flesh and places him within Himself, within the Spirit of God. Very simply…
  • the believer is no longer positioned “in” the flesh: not in God’s eyes and not in God’s accounting. The believer no longer dwells “in” the flesh: he no longer makes his home in the flesh nor lives in the flesh. He is no longer at home, that is, no longer comfortable with the things of the flesh.
  • the believer is positioned “in” the Spirit of God. God sees and counts the believer as being placed and positioned in His Spirit; therefore, the believer dwells “in” the Holy Spirit. He makes his home in the Spirit, and he takes up his residence and lives “in” the Spirit. He is at home and comfortable only with the things of the Spirit.
  1. The power of the Spirit identifies the believer as being “in” Christ. This is easily seen. Whatever spirit dwells within a man, it is that spirit to whom man belongs. If he has the spirit of selfishness within, he belongs to the spirit of selfishness and is known as being selfish. If he has the spirit of complaining, he belongs to the spirit of complaining and is known as being a complainer. If he has the spirit of evil, he belongs to evil and is known as an evil person. If he has the spirit of caring, he belongs to the spirit of caring, and he is known as a caring person. If he has the Spirit of Christ, he belongs to Christ and is known as a follower of Christ.

A person is spirited, driven to live according to the spirit that is within him. The Holy Spirit has the power to drive the believer to live as Christ lived. We can look at the spirit of a person and tell if he has the Spirit of Christ. If he does, then he bears the fruit of Christ’s Spirit. The Spirit and His fruit are seen in the life of the believer. The true believer proves that he is “in” Christ, that he is placed and positioned “in” Christ by the life which he lives.

Instances of miraculous activity through the Holy Spirit’s clothing or coming upon these Christians throughout the book of Acts are in contrast to the general promises made to all Christians. Penitent, baptized believers are promised the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

John referred to the Holy Spirit as being given to Christians (1 John 3:24; 4:13), as did Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

In Galatians 4:6 we read, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.”

It is important to notice the contrast of the Spirit’s being given or sent “into our hearts” and the Spirit’s “falling upon” Christians. When the Spirit “fell upon” or “came upon” someone, miraculous activity was always involved. However, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the first century did not always involve miraculous activity.

John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit” from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15), yet he “performed no sign” (John 10:41). Every Christian is commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), but this does not mean that all Christians are to perform signs and wonders.

Today the Holy Spirit’s work is providential (behind the scenes) rather than in the same open, obvious, and miraculous way characteristic of His work in the first-century church. Our present lesson will focus upon His providential work.

8:10-11 If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.NIV Christ’s Spirit lives within our human spirits, but our fleshly bodies are still infected by sin and are dead—that is, they are mortal. Sin has been defeated by Christ, but sin and death still claim their hold on our mortal bodies. Yet in these bodies we are alive spiritually and can live by the Spirit’s guidance. In addition, we are promised the physical resurrection of our bodies into eternal life, for God will give life to [our] mortal bodies (niv) because of the Holy Spirit within us. So there is wonderful hope even for our prone-to-decay bodies. Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42 niv; see also 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).

If Christ is in you … is exactly synonymous with several other Pauline expressions, such as: being “in Christ,” the Spirit “dwelling in” Christians, and “having the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5), etc. These expressions may not be precisely differentiated, for they all refer to the saved condition.

The body is dead because of sin … emphasizes the truth that the redemption in Christ does not remit the sentence of physical death upon all men. The body of the holiest Christian is dead (that is, under sentence of death), even as it is with all. Godet has this:

The primeval sentence still holds sway THERE; the body is deathful still; it is the body of the Fall; but the Spirit is life. He is in that body, your secret power and peace eternal. “Because of righteousness” (means) because of the merit of your Lord, in which you are accepted, and which has won for you this wonderful Spirit life.

Some commentators insist that “spirit” in the second clause of this verse means the spirit of man, this being required as the antithesis of “body” in the first clause. Others, like Godet, interpret it as meaning the Holy Spirit. Godet wrote:

We refer the word (Spirit) here, as throughout the passage, to the Holy Spirit. No other interpretation seems either consistent with the whole context, or adequate to its grandeur.

Another view is possible, and is broad enough to include both viewpoints. By understanding “spirit” to mean not merely the spirit of an unregenerated man, but the spirit of the Christian in the state of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the antithesis would be fulfilled and the appropriate emphasis upon the Holy Spirit would both be achieved by such an interpretation. This also harmonizes with the text. for it is not of any human spirit that Paul here wrote, but the spirit of Christians; and, furthermore, the life imparted is due absolutely to the Holy Spirit’s residence within the Christian’s spirit.

In the preceding verse (vs. 10) , Paul mentioned the body’s being sentenced to death, due to that portion of the primeval sentence being still operative, even upon Christians; but even the death of the body is at last to be nullified by the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Such a nullification will take place when the “dead in Christ” rise to meet the Lord in the air. The resurrection itself, in this verse, is made to depend upon the indwelling of the Spirit, for it is promised, “If the Spirit … dwelleth in you.”

The resurrection of Christ appears here as a pledge of a similar resurrection of Christians, a resurrection of their “mortal bodies,” just as Christ’s mortal body was raised and recognized by his disciples. Thus salvation is more than merely saving the soul, although that is likewise glorious; but this teaches that body and soul alike will participate in the ultimate glory of eternal life. The great connective between the resurrection of Christ and the ultimate resurrection of his disciples is the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christian hearts, and thus appears the absolute necessity of the Spirit’s residence in Christian hearts. This place, along with Rom. 8:9 compels the conclusion that if one does not have the Spirit of God in his soul, he is not a Christian, not in Christ, not saved, and is not in any sense Christ’s.

8:9 In vv. 5-8 Paul gives an objective description of the two orders of flesh and Spirit. Now he begins a personal application to the Roman Christians and Christians everywhere. His point is this: despite the law of sin and death that continues to work in and through your as-yet-unredeemed bodies, and despite the reality of your continuing struggle against its enslaving power, you need not despair, for God has given you a gift of grace second only to the gift of justification through Christ’s blood. This second gift of grace is the indwelling Holy Spirit himself. His very presence within you gives you all the resources you need for victory over your flesh now, and for ultimate victory over death in every sense.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. Literally, “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.” The “you” is emphatic and draws the Christian reader personally into the sphere of the truth enunciated in the text. Paul flatly states that you (Christians) are not “in the flesh,” or “controlled by the flesh.” Your life is not oriented to this world; your mind is not set upon the things of this earth. Rather, you are “in the Spirit.” Some take this to mean the human spirit. I.e., you are not governed by the desires of your bodies but by the higher inclinations of your spirits. As in the preceding verses, however, it is best to take this as referring to the Holy Spirit. That is, your life now falls within the sphere of the Spirit’s influence and power.

This is true, of course, only if the Spirit of God indeed dwells in you. The word “if” is εἴπερ (eiper), which sometimes means “since” (3:30; 2 Thess 1:6). Some take it thus here, in order to eliminate all uncertainty as to the status of Paul’s readers. “If” or “if indeed” is probably the intended meaning, though, as in 8:17 (see 1 Cor 15:15). It simply states the condition for being in the Spirit. The point is not to create uncertainty as to one’s status, but rather to eliminate other conditions, especially those having to do with human achievement. The fact that we are “in the Spirit” depends not upon what we have accomplished in ourselves, but upon what God has accomplished in us through his Spirit.

The word for “lives” is οἰκέω (oikeō), and is related to the word for “house, dwelling place.” The word implies not a temporary, transient visit, but a permanent settling down. When the Holy Spirit is given to us in baptism (Acts 2:38), he takes up permanent residence and makes himself at home within us. He comes to dwell in our very bodies (1 Cor 6:19), which continue also to be indwelt by sin (7:17, 23). Thus he is in position to do battle for us in the very place where we need him most.

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. This makes the same point in a negative way. Those who do not have the Spirit are outside the sphere of the redeemed. This is not applied personally to Paul’s readers, but is stated of the impersonal “anyone.” That the Spirit is called both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ suggests that Christ as God the Son is on the same level as God the Father; it implies his deity.

How can we know whether or not the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us? First we must ask whether we have done that which God has specified as the condition for receiving the Spirit: Acts 2:38; 5:32; 19:1-7. Then we must look for the signs of his continuing presence. These signs do not necessarily include the possession of miraculous powers, since these can be present even where Christ and his Spirit are absent (see Matt 7:21-23). The best sign is the presence of the fruit of the Spirit in our character and conduct (Gal 5:22-26), though even this is not an infallible indicator. What we can say is this, that where such fruit is absent, the Spirit is also absent.

This verse clearly ties our relationship to the Spirit with our relationship to Christ. When the Spirit lives in us and we thus “live in the Spirit,” we belong to Christ. (This is the implication from the negative statement that one who does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ.) This same connection is made in 1 Cor 6:19-20.

8:10 But if Christ is in you…. Here Paul returns to second person, indicating his confidence that this condition is indeed the condition that applies to his Roman readers. Verse 9 says the Holy Spirit dwells in us; now Paul describes our saved state by saying that Christ dwells in us. This does not equate Christ with the Spirit, but shows the intimate interrelation between them. It also indicates how difficult it is to give an exact or literal description of the Christian’s own intimate relation with both Christ and the Spirit. The Spirit is in us; we are in the Spirit. Christ is in us; we are in Christ. Some say the Holy Spirit dwells in us personally and directly, while Christ dwells in us only indirectly through the Spirit (Lard, 258). This is not necessarily the case, however. Both may certainly dwell in us, each for his own purpose.

If Christ is in you, here is where you now stand. First, your body is dead because of sin…. The body here no doubt is the physical body, as in v. 11. In what sense does Paul say that “the body is dead” (present tense)? The primary and most obvious reference is to physical death (see v. 11), the idea being that the body is subject to death, under the curse of death, “irrevocably smitten with death” (Godet, 305). It is doomed to die. “Because of sin” must then refer to the sin of Adam (5:12-17), since even sinless infants and young children sometimes die.

But it is also true that the Christian’s body is even now still permeated with the spiritual effects of his own sin and thus with a kind of spiritual death (see Romans 7:24). I.e., the physical body is spiritually dead because of the sin that indwells it (7:17-18, 23). Because the Christian’s body has not yet been delivered from the power of this spiritual death, it is thus the source of constant struggle.

That we still have “this body of death” is the bad news, but there is also some very good news: yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. The most difficult question here is whether pneuma (“spirit”) means the human spirit or the Holy Spirit. Many say the latter, the strongest argument being that the Greek does not say “the spirit is alive” but rather “is life.” In view of the close connection between the Holy Spirit and life (8:2), the affirmation that “the Spirit is life” makes very good sense. On the other hand, to say “the redeemed human spirit is life” is somewhat problematic. (See Cranfield, I:390; Hendriksen, I:252-253.)

Nevertheless many do believe pneuma refers here to the human spirit, the strongest argument being the apparent parallel between “body” and “spirit.” I believe the case for this view is stronger, and that the NIV translation is appropriate: “your spirit is alive.” Either way the phrasing is a bit awkward.

Whichever view was intended, the other is still true and is actually present by implication. If Paul is saying “the Spirit is life,” since this is in contrast with “the body is dead,” then we must understand that the Spirit’s first and best gift of life was the life he gave to our spirits in the act of regeneration. If Paul is saying “the spirit is alive,” then we must understand that the source of this life is the Holy Spirit. (See Titus 3:5.) Either way, the Holy Spirit is the source of our power over sin and our ability to stand against its attacks. This is the main point.

The spirit is alive “because of righteousness.” Many take this to mean the imputed righteousness that is the basis for justification. This would mean that in some sense our regeneration is grounded in our justification through the blood of Christ. This is not at all unlikely since “the law of the Spirit of life” is able to operate only “through Jesus Christ” (8:2). Others take it to mean a kind of imparted righteousness. This is not as likely, since it is difficult to separate imparted righteousness from our own righteous living, and since our spirit’s being alive seems in no way attributable to our righteous living. It is rather the opposite: we can live righteously because we have been made alive by the Spirit.

8:11 The Christian is a combination of “a dying body and a living spirit,” as Stott says (226). But this is not the whole story. Just as our spirits have already been raised from the dead, so also will our bodies one day be rescued from the grip of sin and death and restored once more to a state of pure life. This “body of sin” (6:6), “this body of death” (7:24), is appointed to undergo physical death (Heb 9:27); but after that we shall be raised in new bodies that are no longer susceptible to such death and are no longer infected with sin and spiritual death. While the resurrection of Christ has certainly paved the way for this bodily resurrection and has made it possible, its immediate agent is the Holy Spirit.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…. Paul has already established that the Spirit of God dwells in all who exist according to the Spirit (v. 9). The word “if” (εἰ, ei) does not suggest uncertainty but is simply establishing the basis for our hope regarding the resurrection of our bodies. Some would translate it “since.”

We may note that this clause reflects the Trinitarian nature of God. “Him who raised Jesus” is God the Father; “the Spirit” of the Father is God the Holy Spirit; Jesus is God the Son.

… he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies…. If God raised Jesus from the dead, he can also raise up our bodies as well (see 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14). The resurrection of Jesus is thus a basis for our assurance that we too will be raised up in the day when Christ returns. “Mortal bodies” refers to the physical body; it is mortal in the sense that it is subject to death and pervaded by death both physically and spiritually (6:12; 8:10). But no matter how strong a grip death has on our bodies, its power will be completely broken through his Spirit, who lives in you. The present indwelling of the Spirit is a further assurance of our future resurrection. See 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14.

It is significant that our promised rescue from this body of sin and death (7:24) does not consist merely of physical death and freedom from bodily existence as such, as many pagan religions teach. According to the Bible physical death itself is something to be rescued from, and the human spirit was not designed to exist apart from a body. Thus our rescue comes only through “the redemption of our bodies” (8:23) in the form of resurrection.

(8:10-11) Holy Spirit—Resurrection, Believers: the Spirit gives life to the spirit of the believer. The idea of the Greek makes this verse clear: “If Christ be in you, although the body is to die because of sin, the spirit shall live because of righteousness.” Very simply stated, the body of man does die, but his spirit can live forever if Christ is “in” him. Note two points.

  1. The Spirit of Christ gives life to the spirit of man now, the very moment a person believes. Man’s body is to die because of sin: the body is corruptible, aging, deteriorating, decaying, and dying. It is in a process of dying—in such a rapid movement toward death—that it can actually be said to be dead. The body is dying; therefore, its death is inevitable. However, it is in the midst of death that the Spirit of Christ enters. He enters and converts the spirit of man from death to life. How?
  2. The spirit of man lives because of the righteousness and death of Jesus Christ.
  3. The spirit of man lives by living a righteous and godly life.
  4. The Spirit of Christ quickens the mortal body in the future, in the great day of redemption. Note two things.
  5. The word “quicken” (zoopoiesei) means to make alive, to give life, to cause to live, to renew and remake life.
  6. The “mortal body” shall be quickened and made alive.
  • The mortal body is the same body that died. The person is the very same person.
  • The mortal body is given a totally new life; its elements are recreated and remade into a perfect and eternal body. The new body is to be given the power and energy of eternal elements, eternal molecules and atoms or whatever the most minute elements are. All will be arranged so that the mortal body becomes an immortal body.
  1. There are two great assurances of the believer’s resurrection.
  • The assurance of Jesus’ resurrection.
  • The assurance of the Holy Spirit, of Him who indwells the believer. The very same Spirit who raised up Christ shall raise up the believer (2 Cor. 4:14). He is the power and energy of life, and He dwells within the believer. Therefore, He shall raise up the believer.


The relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Christian today is described by the Greek word oikeo. This word is translated in the New American Standard Bible as “dwell,” “indwell,” and “live.” It comes from the Greek word meaning “house” (oikos), and it is used four times to describe the Holy Spirit’s relationship with Christians (Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14).

What a beautiful thought Paul conveyed in teaching how the Holy Spirit takes up His personal residency within the bodies of Christians and dwells in them, for they are God’s New Testament temple.

This leads us to the important question “If the Holy Spirit is present and is working in our lives today, what does He do for us?” Some sincere Christians are asking this question today. Several years ago I was visiting with an elder who confessed that he had believed for a long time that he had been given the gift of the

Holy Spirit at his baptism. “But,” he added, “I really do not know why I received this gift. If the Holy Spirit no longer imparts miraculous gifts, why is He present?” We need to give some serious thought to this question.

 The Spirit as a Seal

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit seals us as the children of God. Paul wrote, “You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). As we repent and are baptized by water baptism into Christ, we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27).

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes into our lives, and God places His seal upon us, marking us as His children. In the first century, seals were used to assure protection and security. For example, the

tomb of Jesus was sealed by the Roman government (Matthew 27:66) to ensure that no one could steal the body of our Lord. The 144,000 in Revelation 7 were sealed as a means of identification and protection of God’s saved ones.

The seal of the Holy Spirit is God’s invisible sign to the spirit world that we are His property and that He will personally protect and provide for us until “the day of [our] redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit is God’s mark, His living assurance of our sonship and of the Father’s love.

 The Spirit as a Pledge

The Holy Spirit is also “given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). Some translations render the Greek word arrabon as “earnest” or “deposit.” The idea is that the Holy Spirit is God’s down payment toward our eternal inheritance in heaven. He is God’s personal pledge to us that He will faithfully keep His part of the new covenant we have entered into with Jesus. It is interesting that the modern Greek word arrabona is the word for engagement ring.

When a young man gives a young woman his personal pledge to marry her, he gives her an arrabona (engagement ring) to show his commitment to the future marriage. This figure is full of meaning as we remember Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 11:2:3 “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is God’s personal pledge that if we remain faithful to our marital vows to Jesus that one of these days we will be presented to Him as His perfect bride (see Ephesians 5:25–27; Revelation 21:2). In a sense, in this earthly life we are Jesus’ fiancée, while in the heavenly realm we will be His wife.

The Spirit as a Gift

The gift of the Holy Spirit also involves God’s gift of eternal life to His children. In contrast to being dead in sin and indwelt by the spirit of Satan (Ephesians 2:1, 2), God’s children are “alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). Separation from God is spiritual death. To be joined “together with Christ” through the indwelling Spirit is life. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His

Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11, 12).

When our souls were washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Himself began to live in us, imparting eternal life to our spirits! To be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) is to have the very life of Jesus planted into our spirits through God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus illustrated the life of the Spirit in His parable of the vine and the branches in John 15.

Just as the branch draws its life from the vine, so we draw our life from Jesus, the spiritual Vine. We abide in Christ through faith; and as we draw life from Him, He produces His spiritual fruit of righteousness in us (John 15:4; Galatians 5:22, 23). “And if Christ is in you, . . . the spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit becomes in each of us “a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14) and flowing from our inner beings as “rivers of living water” (John 7:38, 39).

The Spirit as an Inner Strength

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit strengthens God’s children in spiritual warfare against Satan. Paul declared that “by the Spirit” we put “to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). Many Christians trust their own strength and determination to overcome Satan. They need to be reminded of Jesus’ warning: “For apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In contrast to having an attitude of self-sufficiency, Paul expressed a confident faith: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). The Christian life is a life of faith in which we fix “our eyes on Jesus, . . . so that [we] may not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2, 3). Our victory is in the Lord Jesus Christ and “in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Have you ever noticed how the Christian armor described in Ephesians 6 is related to the Lord Jesus Himself? We are to gird our loins with truth, and Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6). We are to “put on the breastplate of r i g h t e o u s n e s s ” (Ephesians 6:14), and Jesus is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30).

We are to “shod [our] feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), and Jesus is the gospel message (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:3, 4). We are to take up “the shield” (Ephesians 6:16), and the Lord is our shield (cf. Psalm 33:20). We “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17) as we trust Jesus for our eternal salvation (cf. Acts 4:12). Jesus, as the Word of God, (John 1:1) is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), through whom we can fight the attacks of Satan.

No wonder the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, and not Himself (John 16:14). It is through the Holy Spirit that we are “strengthened with power . . . in the inner man” so that “Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16, 17). “Christ in you, [is] the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Spirit strengthens us as we focus the eyes of our faith upon Jesus and trust Him for His strength to fight the good fight of faith.

Alexander Campbell wrote, . . . without this gift [of the Holy Spirit] no one could be saved or ultimately triumph over all opposition. . . . He knows but little of the deceitfulness of sin, or of the combating of temptation, who thinks himself competent to wrestle against the allied forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil. . . . [But] by His Holy Spirit, in answer to our prayers, [God] works in us, and by us, and for us, all that is needful to our present, spiritual, and eternal salvation.1

 The Spirit as a Helper

The Holy Spirit also helps God’s children in prayer. Paul commanded Christians to “pray at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). To “pray . . . in the Spirit” involves more than praying from the heart. Any worship offered “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) is worship that recognizes the role of the Holy Spirit as He helps us in our prayers to God. What a wonderful assurance that the Spirit who abides in heaven is also the Spirit who abides in the church! We read, “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints  according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26, 27). When we pray, the Spirit Himself prays with us, giving us the great assurance that prayers offered in faith and from our innermost beings arise to the Lord as sweet incense (Revelation 8:3, 4).


As we learn of the Spirit’s activity in helping us to live the Christian life to the glory of our God, we can see the need to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). A Spirit-filled life is a life focused upon Jesus rather than upon self. It is a life yielded to Jesus as Lord, and our Lord is not just some distant king we serve.  Through His Holy Spirit He is an ever-present Shepherd who promises to restore our souls and to provide for our every need. Each Christian can say with the psalmist, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). Amen!

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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in Romans


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