Your New Life in Christ Jesus Proves Your Eternal Security without Condemnation
Romans 8:9-11 (NKJV)
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Paul has moved out of the first concern. The first concern, perhaps that being in my sin or just the very existence of sin in my life is evidence I haven’t made the trip to salvation yet. The second question is: Well, I know if I am saved, sin is not a problem. I understand that can be a part of a saved person’s life. But how do I know that in my case, that the sin I have, is not the evidence that I just never did get saved? That it is evidence I am not there yet. To that, Paul now says if believers sin at times like unbelievers, how do you know you are truly saved
. He says the answer is you have the Holy Spirit living in you and that is the ultimate proof of your salvation. And he gives several reasons how you would know you have the Holy Spirit. eternal security
- The Spirit comes to every believer at the moment of salvation, it doesn’t come at some subsequent point. We are talking about the moment of salvation.
- It is the Holy Spirit Who regenerates you, it is the spirit that brings you to faith
- Your new birth in Christ is accomplished by a work of the Holy Spirit and interestingly, if you remember, Christ Jesus Himself was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. So in fact, we are all born in the same way. Jesus was born that way and we are born in His likeness by the same spirit
Therefore, Paul says if a person does not have the Spirit of Christ, then that person does not belong to Christ. Because it is the presence of Christ’s Spirit in you, birthing you anew, that gives you what you have. That brings you to righteousness and frees you from the condemnation of the Law. So that even though your body remains dead in sin, nevertheless, the spirit in you is what made you alive. Moreover, Paul says in verse 11 that same Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead is going to do the same thing for you
The fact that the Spirit takes up residence in your body tells you He intends to make you a living body to go with that living spirit someday to come. Because He’s doing for you what He did for Christ. After three days, the Spirit of Christ brought Christ’s body back to life, Paul says. And that tells you those three days that stand between when Jesus was alive in His body and when He was made alive again in His body, those three days were just an interlude. They were a prelude to the resurrection. Likewise, you and I are in a longer prelude. Our spirit is alive but our body is still dead. In the sense of how Christ’s spirit was alive below the Earth but His body was dead in the tomb. In a way, we are kind of mimicking that status for a while. We just have a longer period to wait. But just like Jesus, we are going to have a new body to go with our spirit at some point. As Paul says elsewhere:
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
So the first proof that sin isn’t undoing your salvation or proof you never had salvation is this idea the Holy Spirit has come to you, has stayed with you to give evidence of the fact that you are saved. He, in other words, is testifying with you that you are saved. So the sin you have in this body is temporary, it doesn’t change God’s plan. God knew it was going to be there. That’s why He promises to replace your body. In the meantime, you can wait in confidence. eternal security
The second reason that we know that our conflict with sin is no reason to doubt that we are saved salvation, comes on verse 12. Paul says:
Romans 8:12-14 (NKJV)
Sonship Through the Spirit
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors (under obligation)—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
This language of verse 12 is a bit awkward in English, but we could rephrase Paul ’s statement this way… So, brothers and sisters, we are obligated by God not to live according to the wishes of our flesh. Because Paul says if someone is living according to the flesh, that person must die. At first, we may wonder if Paul is talking about an outcome for a believer, because he keeps saying you and you and you. So he’s talking about believers but that starts to sound wrong because why is he saying we are going to die? What does he mean? Don’t we all die physically anyway? What’s the threat here and who is he speaking to? If you look carefully at the context you will see he is not talking to a believer at all. As you’ll see, Paul is contrasting two ways of life and what those two different ways say about someone’s identity. What he is addressing right now is that question of Christians who say maybe I’m not truly saved. Maybe I don’t have what I think I have. Maybe my sin is evidence I am not really Christ’s. To that, he says well there are two kinds of people you could be. There are people who live according to the flesh. Those are people who are controlled by their sinful flesh and the result of that kind of life, we know, is death in the end. Death for the body first and death for the spirit at the Great White Throne judgment. That’s the description of the unbeliever. The unbeliever’s body, the unbeliever’s spirit. The unbeliever’s body will die for its sin and their spirit will likewise experience the second death, which is an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
If Paul was describing an unbeliever, why did he use the second person pronoun, you? Why does he say you? Because we know he is speaking to the church. The answer is he is speaking parenthetically. Notice near the end of verse 12 your English version probably has an em dash (an extended dash) there. It should anyway. That punctuation choice reflects the interpreters’ awareness that Paul is taking a detour in verse 13. What I am saying, back in verse 12, Paul is explaining Christians are under obligation to struggle against their flesh. But then in verse 13, Paul takes a moment to remind us that our prior state of unbelief presented no such struggle to us. Yet it resulted in death. So while our new state involves struggle, well that struggle is proof to us that we will live, eternally. So for anyone who says I am not fond of this struggle, I am afraid what it might mean. Paul’s saying be happy you are struggling because before you knew Christ you never struggled. Because you couldn’t.
So Paul’s parenthetical statement in verse 13 was there simply to remind us that our
current struggle against sin is better than our life lived beforehand in the flesh.
That struggle leads to life and that’s better than the blissful ignorance of unbelief that led us to death. So Paul says this, the Spirit of God obligates us (the believer) to put to death the deeds of the flesh. When Paul says obligation, he doesn’t mean we have a
responsibility to engage in this battle. Paul means it literally…God obligates this battle and you can’t avoid it. He is not asking you, it is happening. Because you are now two parts – you have a perfect spirit and a sinful flesh – and they will wrestle together. They are like two little boys that hate each other in the family. They are like two brothers who can never get along. The fight isn’t optional; you can’t avoid it because the Spirit in you is leading it. And He (God) doesn’t need your permission to prosecute the battle.
You can resist His will. You can resist the spiritual leading in this battle against the flesh. but if you do that you will only be a miserable creature. because the most miserable people you’ll ever meet are Christians determined to let their sinful body rule their life. Because while they might have enjoyed their sin before they knew the Lord, now having come to faith and having a perfect spirit you can’t enjoy it anymore.
The sinning believer will still suffer all the consequences of sin just like anybody else. But on top of that, they also feel guilt from the conviction of the Holy Spirit. So ironically, they can’t even enjoy it for as long as they do it. You don’t have a choice in this fight. The only choice you have is whether you will seek to win the battle or do you just want to keep losing it over and over again. But you can’t avoid the battle. Because it is that part in you that is never going to be content with being sinful. So if you let the mortal body reign over the spirit, the spirit will protest and keep protesting. It’s going to be a slow, progressive battle that is going to last a lifetime. The process is messy and complicated and subject to setbacks from time to time. But that very fact that that wrestling is happening is a reflection of your new identity in Christ. This is the most ironic truth of Romans 8. The proof that you are now not under condemnation is that you are struggling with your sin all the time. eternal security
We can see confirmation that Paul was speaking here about two different identities
in verse 13. When you look at where he lands in verse 14, Paul’s conclusion from this little passage is a definition of a believer: in other words, the believer is the one being led by the Spirit of God. Here’s a question… What is the Biblical definition of being a Christian? There will be answers like, faith in Christ or to believe in Jesus. But those are not a definition of a Christian. That is how you become a Christian. What is the definition of a Christian? And that is one people often miss. But it is just this simple. The definition of a Christian is anyone who has the Holy Spirit. To possess the Holy Spirit is to be Christian. To be led by the Spirit means to have the indwelling of the Spirit. And it’s the presence of the Spirit that makes possible new birth and obligates us to wrestle against the body’s sin from that point forward. It’s the evidence to you that you are truly saved.
But be careful…you can’t apply this truth in measuring another person’s faith, as if their good works are a litmus test of their faith. Some have proposed that in one form or another. But that’s not possible and Paul is not speaking in those terms. Paul is speaking to believers concerning their identity in Christ, He’s not speaking to us about discerning someone else’s identity in Christ. The reason that is so important, Paul says it is the work of the Spirit in your heart that is your proof of faith. So that if sin in your life is a concern to you, rest assured that concern is proof to you that you are new on the inside.
But we can’t look at another person and decide for them whether the presence of sin in their life is concerning to them or not. Because it’s not the presence or absence of sin that Paul is talking about, it’s the presence or absence of a heart response to the sin that is the measure. You sin as much as an unbeliever does in some contexts. The difference is, they don’t mind it and you do. So from the outside, you both look the same to me. But from the inside, one of you knows you are a believer and the other one is oblivious. So I cannot turn to someone else and say your sin proves you are not a believer or your lack of sin in some area gives me confidence in your confession. Because that is not the standard of the Bible, the standard of the Bible is how you feel about it. Now in time, that feeling changes your pertinacity to do it. And we call that sanctification. So in time, I should be able to see that change on the outside. So that struggle we all know is not something that another person can know or measure. Therefore, it’s only purpose in scripture is help alert us to the truth of who we are. And give us confidence that struggle is not a problem to be solved it is a battle to be won. eternal security
“The author’s biblical interpretations and conclusions presented in this document rely on original teaching used by permission of Verse By Verse Ministry International (VBVMI). The author’s views may not represent the views of VBVMI, it’s Directors or staff. Original VBVMI teaching may be found at http://www.vbvmi.org.”
Join our mailing list
Thank you for subscribing.
Something went wrong.