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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 8:1-11 (ESV)

Posted on December 27, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 8:1-11 (ESV) - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 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 set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 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.

Question to consider: How do we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?

This can be a very difficult passage if you don’t consider it in light of the arguments Paul has been using so far. The big question in this passage is what Paul means by the law of the Spirit of life and the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death would be a reference to our attempts at self righteousness under the Law. The Law of Moses was a bloody covenant where people tried and failed to carry out the commands of God on their own and then asked God to pass over their sin through periodic animal sacrifices. While it may have covered over sin temporarily, the only way in which sin could be washed away was through the sacrifice of Christ. The people who performed these sacrifices did so believing that God would one day send the promised seed to crush the head of the serpent and redeem them from sin. That faith was credited to them as righteousness through God’s promise to Abraham.

The law of the Spirit of life was a reference to the new covenant in Christ in which we received the promised Holy Spirit. Paul argued back in chapter 6 that we entered into this new covenant by being baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection. The promise given by the apostle Peter in Acts 2:38 was, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Through the Holy Spirit, the righteous requirement of the Law is fulfilled in us— meaning we have been covered in Christ’s righteousness like a coat.

Those living according to the flesh are not only those whose focus in life is on achieving worldly goods and pleasures, but it includes those who seek to do good works in order to gain favor with God. Paul wrote that the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God because no matter how hard we try to earn God’s favor on our own, we cannot achieve it.

The only way we can please God is if we have the Spirit dwelling in us. With the Spirit dwelling in us, even though our flesh still struggles with sin, our Spirit is alive with Christ. The key question is then how do we know we have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us? There are those who preach that we need a special anointing or experience in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, but if we have to earn the Holy Spirit, then it is no longer a gift. If it depends upon my act of righteousness, then I am no longer depending on the righteousness of Christ.

If Peter and Paul are correct, then we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection and receive as a free gift the forgiveness of our sins and the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Any theology that requires a good work on our part to achieve what Christ has freely offered should be rejected.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the free gift of righteousness and Your Spirit whom we have received through Christ Jesus. Help us to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh and to keep our eyes fixed upon Christ. Amen.