Knowing You Have Confidence in Your Eternal Security by Faith in Christ Jesus
So our body’s sin has no bearing on our standing before God. This is not to say your sin doesn’t matter or that you should have a license to sin. What Paul is addressing is your eternal security because your eternal security doesn’t hinge on your body but only on your spirit. The spirit having been made perfect and sinless, you have now no condemnation. The body itself being put to death eventually. With this argument, Paul addresses the first doubt that was mentioned in the introduction. (He answers the doubt for any who might wonder if they are truly saved.)
For the Christian who wonders if the continuing presence of sin in them draws their salvation into question, the answer is clearly no. Because the source of your sin is your flesh, which will go to the grave before you ever reach the judgment moment. So that, as you arrive before Christ, you will have already shed that part of you that remains unrighteous. All that will remain at that moment is your perfect spirit made so by Christ. You would be hard-pressed to find a more important truth in scripture than the one Paul is opening with at the start of chapter 8.
A Christian cannot engage in the serious and productive pursuit of God’s grace, truth, and godliness until he or she understands this truth. As long as someone remains confused about this point, their eternal security, their perfection in their spirit already, their coming glory as a result of all of Christ’s work. If they aren’t clear on any of that, then they will either revert to self-righteousness, that is trying to work for something they have already obtained by faith. Or they will go the other direction, they will become so discouraged or defeated by the presence of sin in their life and the fear that it evokes in them. That they will just give up the pursuit of Christ altogether…both are mistakes. You probably have seen one or more cases of each of these. Particularly in the case of the first. Christians who just can’t seem to understand what they have from Christ’s work for them is sufficient and they aren’t improving it. By keeping laws and rules and strict lifestyles merely for the sake of pleasing God. You cannot improve perfection. You cannot do better than Christ did. Your spirit is already equal to the best that it can be. All you can do now is, live in it. And living in it is a response to it, it is not a means to securing it or reassuring yourself of it.
Instead, you need to appreciate the freedom you now have to serve Christ without worry for your future. Because you have already been granted all that’s required to be approved by God…because you have Christ’s perfect spirit. Even as your flesh is ever before you in its sin…you have the freedom to just act as the spirit leads you in serving Christ without respect to whether it makes you look good before Him or not. In fact, if you are the kind of Christian that is bothered by the sin you still have in your body, that is a great thing because it seeks to motivate you to do better for Christ in that regard. But that sin does not weaken your relationship with Christ. You can’t sin your way out of a relationship that you gained on the basis of grace alone. Because if it were possible your actions could withdraw you from Christ, then you are saying your actions are the key to the relationship. And that is called a works based gospel. In fact, the very reality of your concern for your sin is ironically proof that you are a child of God. It is evidence that you have the mind of Christ.
Romans 8:5-11 (NKJV)
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally (fleshly) minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal (fleshly) mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
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 (because of) His Spirit who dwells in you.
Paul labels some conditions here. And in this little passage here, I am amazed at how many perspectives there are in what Paul is saying and all the wrong ones are wrong because they completely divorce what he is saying here from the larger context of what he has been saying. It doesn’t connect the dots so to speak from where he’s been and where he is going. It is a sure way to get something wrong. So we are not going to do that of course. Let’s try and connect these dots.
What Paul starts to do now, is address that second question of, how I know I am truly saved, if I, in fact still sin? He’s not calling that question out necessarily or explicitly here, but it is evident what he is getting to, we’ll see. He begins by labeling a couple of conditions. He labels the unsaved human condition as “living according to the flesh.” Before coming to faith to Jesus Christ, there was no tug of war inside you. There was only the desire of the flesh with no counterweight to resist it, apart from our conscience. Paul says the unsaved mind, the way unbelievers think about life is set entirely on the fleshly desires of the body, which are always sinful.
While you and I were unbelievers, to the extent you refrained from doing what the flesh wanted, it was only because you were avoiding the negative consequences you assumed would follow from that activity. You wanted to rob the bank because you wanted the money, but you knew if you did that you would spend your life in prison and that wasn’t worth the money. it’s just that basic kind of human instinct keeping us from doing the worst things we could imagine. But if we thought we could get away with it, we probably would be inclined to go do it. That’s the nature of who we were. But there is nothing righteous in our motives or desires no matter whether we did good things or not Our motives were always corrupt and our desires were always evil. That’s the nature of unbelief.
Notice Paul says in verse 6 that the mind, set it that way is death. He’s saying that the mind you and I possessed before faith was one that knew only sin and condemnation, which Paul sums up with the word “death.” Because that was its end result. And in verse 7, Paul says that mind was hostile toward God and it was not subject to the Law of God. In fact, he says it wasn’t even able to be subject to the Law of God. And of course, that is something that was learned in earlier chapters.
So the fleshly mind of every unbeliever is set against God and toward sin to such an extent that it can’t think or see nothing else. That’s its only interest. It is literally impossible to please God because what God wants will always be the opposite of what a fleshly mind wants. And even when the Lord does reveal to men, here is what I want in the form of the Law, the fleshly mind merely took an opportunity in that knowledge to sin all the more. The Law became a new recipe, as mentioned before, as a new way to sin. So under those circumstances, certainly the unbeliever gives absolutely no regard to their own sin, apart from whatever consequences arise. They aren’t troubled by the notion they had sinned or even knew what that was. That was the nature of unbelief, they do not understand what God wants because they lack access to His thoughts.
They do not have the internal desire to please Him.
By contrast, after you come to faith in Jesus Christ your spirit is born again and
becomes perfectly aligned with the will of God. Now from that point on, Paul says our mind is set on righteous things. Paul says in verse 6, that that mind, the one we receive following faith knows only eternal life and the peace we have with God. It is as mutually exclusive as the other was. Our thinking moves literally 180º from opposing God to pleasing God. And that difference means that now we think about eternal matters and we share the Lord’s concern over our sin. Where before we only had concern if our sin led to consequences that we didn’t prefer. That was the only time it mattered to us.
Now you will feel burdened over the presence of sin even if there is no chance anyone would know about it. Even when it is an internal issue, how you feel, how you think about somebody. Where it is never going to come public as far as you are concerned. And yet, you are still troubled by that. Think about that change. Your thoughts about the consequences of your sin have changed as well. Because now you care more about the eternal consequences of your sin rather than the earthly consequences. Where before your only concern was for the Earthly consequences.
That is where we eventually land when you’re thinking about eternal consequences or where you have people worry about their eternal salvation. It’s this idea, because they have become believing (ironically), that because they have salvation, they are now in a position to worry about what God thinks of them. Which then contributes to them having concerns for the salvation that led them to have the ability to have these concerns. Can you see the irony in this? So… concerns about eternal security are the result of being saved. They are not evidence of what you might not be. I often think only believers worry about not having salvation. God becomes their chief concern. These concerns are unique to the believer. Unbelievers don’t sit around worrying over whether they are saved, for that notion never even enters their mind. But the believer, especially the new immature follower of Christ, you can get fixated on this concern. And it is ironic because only a living spirit can have such a concern. In other words, because you are alive in Christ, you now have the capacity to know what it means not to be saved. Which is why Paul wants us to understand that our new thinking is proof that now you are not under condemnation.
“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.”
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