Romans: Chapter 8:1-17


Chapter 8


Author’s comment. These verse-by-verse notes are taken from Andrew Womack’s commentary (sometimes edited), John Wesley’s commentary (unedited), The Passion Translation notes, the English Standard Version notes, Seemuth Commentary notes, and personal thoughts. Translations are taken from


These notes may provide useful background information/insight for the reader in his or her personal devotions or in Bible study/sermon preparation.


Chapter 1.

Verse 1.


“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” ESV.


AMP. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation, no guilty verdict and no punishment, for those who are in Christ Jesus – for those who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior.


CJB. (Complete Jewish Bible). “Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua.”


EXB. “So now, those who are in Christ Jesus are not ·judged guilty – there’s not condemned about even the smallest offense nor punished for any of their sins.”


TPT. “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” Or “those who are in Christ Jesus cannot be condemned.” Although there are some manuscripts that add to this verse “for those who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit,” the addition is not supported by the oldest and most reliable Greek manuscripts.


Note: of 63 translations I checked, 53 use the shorter translation.


“Condemnation is the act of judging something awful or evil. So, condemnation encompasses “judgment.” It relates to an act, but satan expands that to include the person. Instead of “this act was bad, the tenor becomes you are bad.” The word also includes the idea of judgment for the wrong act committed. Synonyms for condemn are criticize, blame, denounce, censure. They mean “to find fault,” and it suggests a final, unqualified and final unfavorable judgment.”


Note that the word condemnation (condemn) includes (1) “the act of condemning” and the (2) “state of being condemned, (3) punishment for each act of alleged or actual wrongdoing, including the most trivial of wrongs. There is now none of this. Wuest: “there is not even one tiny bit of condemnation.”


Most manuscripts (to not include the final clause which is included in verse 4. The ones that do not include the clause are the oldest manuscripts. Conservative, Bible believing translators, commentators agree that the clause was probably added to the margin of verse one because of verse 4 and at some point, was added to verse one in some manuscripts. The problem with the addition is that it causes you to think that the promise is conditional, and satan is quick to say, “but you’re not walking in the spirit” or “remember what you did at the light.”


Wesley. There is therefore now no condemnation — Either for things present or past. Now he comes to deliverance and liberty. The apostle here resumes the thread of his discourse, which was interrupted, Romans 7:7.


Seemuth. God liberates those who are in Christ Jesus by faith by Jesus’ work on the Cross. He fulfilled all the demands of the law on our behalf. No condemnation flows to the believer because we have the righteousness of Christ. With such righteousness comes exoneration.


ESV. “Therefore” means that Paul is stating an important summary and conclusion from the preceding argument. The “therefore” is based on 1) the exclamation of victory that comes “through Jesus Christ our Lord” (7: 23-25), (7:6) and 2) the whole argument about salvation in Christ (3:21-5:21). A new ear of redemptive history has been inaugurated by Christ through being united with Christ. No condemnation relates back to 5:1 that “now we have peace with God.” There is no condemnation for the Christian because God has condemned sin in the flesh at the cross.


“In” denotes a fixed position. Christians are “in” Christ. A true Christian cannot be “in” the flesh (Romans 8:9).

We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have a new identity. We are a new spiritual man.

Out of 63 translations that I checked, 53 translate the verse as there is NO condemnation from the Lord to those who are in Him, PERIOD. \

Prior to Romans 8, the Holy Spirit was only mentioned once in this epistle (Romans 5:5 - Holy Ghost). In this chapter alone, the Holy Spirit is referred to nineteen times. The way to overcome the effects of sin in our lives is through the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Womack. Now means “the immediate present” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). Living with no condemnation is a present-tense experience of the believer, not something reserved for the future.

The Greek word that was translated “no” in is an emphatic term meaning “not even one...i.e. none” (Strong’s Concordance). Wuest translated this as “There is not even one bit of condemnation” (“The New Testament: An Expanded Translation” by Kenneth S. Wuest).

The Greek word translated “condemnation” means “an adverse sentence (the verdict)” (Strong’s Concordance). God has no adverse sentence against us once we accept Him. All our punishment has been placed on Jesus, and we don’t bear it. Those of us who still walk in condemnation are being condemned by the devil or are condemning ourselves. It’s not God who condemns us (Romans 8:34). 2 Corinthians 3:9 called the Law a “ministration of condemnation.” It was the Law that brought God’s adverse sentence against us. Romans 3:19 says the Law was given to make us guilty before God. Guilt is the emotional response to condemnation. This can be illustrated by the way a building is condemned. When the government condemns a building, it is declared unfit for use and must be destroyed. Likewise, when Satan condemns us, he makes us feel unfit for use and ready to be destroyed. Since we as Christians are no longer under the Law, we should no longer be condemned or feel unfit for use. We have been accepted by the Father through Jesus (Ephesians 1:6).

God placed the judgment that the Law prescribed against us upon His Son. Therefore, those of us who accept Jesus as our Savior are not condemned now and will not be condemned at the Day of Judgment, because Jesus was condemned and punished for us (Romans 8:3). He took full punishment. This truth, and the fact that this phrase, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” is not in some of the old Greek manuscripts, has led many scholars to believe that this phrase does not belong here. They say it was borrowed from Romans 8:4 by some scribe who was copying out the scriptures.


Verse 2.


“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”


AMP. “For the law of the Spirit of life, which is in Christ Jesus, the law of our new being, has freed me from the law of sin and of death.”


EXP. For in Christ Jesus the Spirit-empowered principle (the Spirit Himself) that brings life set you free from the ·former and deceased power that brought you sin and death.”


Phillips. “No condemnation now hangs over the head of those who are “in” Jesus Christ. For the new spiritual principle of life “in” Christ lifts me out of the old vicious circle of sin and death.”


MSG. “Those who enter Christ’s “being-here-for-us-eternally-now” no longer must live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”


Seemuth. A new law enters the picture. The law of the Holy Spirit bursts on the scene with Christ’s victory over sin and Satan and obliterates the law of sin and death. The very powers that brought shame and frustration in Chapter 7 are now destroyed through the working of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. This liberation is twofold: freedom from condemnation and the freedom from the bondage to sin and its deadly consequences. The way of the Holy Spirit is the way of freedom and righteousness. Law orientation does not bring such righteousness.


ESV. The power of sin is broken in the believer’s life because the believer is in Christ. “Law” in this verse refers to principle.


Wesley. The law of the Spirit — That is, the gospel. Hath freed me from the law of sin and death — That is, the Mosaic dispensation.

Womack. A law is consistent and universal, e.g., the law of gravity. If gravity only worked in one country or sometimes, then it would not be a law. The life the Holy Spirit brings to the believer is consistent and universal. It always exists to set and keep believers free from the death that sin produces. But this freedom must be appropriated.

Romans 7:15-24 describes the hopelessness of those attempting to overcome the law of sin and death in their own ability or holiness. But Romans 8, and specifically this verse, proclaims the good news that what could not be done by human effort has been done through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians are no longer slaves to the law of sin and death. According to Romans 6:23, death is the wages of sin. Therefore, this phrase, “the law of sin and death,” is referring to the influence of sin and the resulting wages of that sin. Another way of saying “the law of sin and death” is “the law that when we sin, we receive death instead of life” or “when we sin, we reap the curse instead of the blessing.” Deuteronomy 28:1-14 lists the blessings that come if we keep the whole Law. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 lists all the curses that come as the wages of not keeping the Law. Because the law of the Spirit of life has set us free from the law of sin and death, we no longer reap Deuteronomy 28:15-68, even though we haven’t kept every precept of the Law. Christ redeemed us from these curses of the Law (Galatians 3:13). Praise God that we don’t have to receive the wages of sin, which is death. Not only have we been redeemed from the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68, but also, through Jesus, the righteousness of the Law is fulfilled in us so that the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 are ours. So, through Christ, we receive what we don’t deserve (the blessings of Deuteronomy 28:1-14), and we don’t receive what we do deserve (the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68).

Verse 3.

“For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”

AMP. “For what the Law could not do, that is, the Law could not remove the sin-nature, could not remove the power of sin over us, and could not remove sin’s penalty – eternal death), because the Law rendered powerless by the man’s sinful nature which was without the Holy Spirit, God Himself did: He sent Jesus as a man who lived a sinless life according to the flesh and God make him an offering for our sin. God condemned sin in the flesh, subdued it, and overcame it in the person of His own Son.”


TPT. “Yet God sent us his Son in human form to identify with human weakness. Clothed with humanity, God’s Son gave his body (and soul) to be the sin-offering so that God could once and for all condemn the guilt and power of sin.”

Wesley. For what the law — Of Moses. Could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh — Incapable of conquering our evil nature. If it could, God needed not to have sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh - We with our sinful flesh were devoted to death. But God sending his own Son, in the likeness of that flesh, though pure from sin, condemned that sin which was in our flesh; gave sentence, that sin should be destroyed, and the believer wholly delivered from it.

ESV. The Mosaic Law could not solve humanity’s problem because sin employs the law for its own purposes. God sent his Son as a sacrifice for sin (a sin offering) and paid the full penalty for sin in his sacrifice (condemned sin). In the flesh refers to Christ’s body, and in the likeness of sinful flesh means that Jesus became fully human, even though he was sinless.

Seemuth on Sin. Man fell into sin at Satan’s temptation. He continues to lure people into sin (I Pe. 5:8). Never less, people are responsible for what they do. God is not the author of sin but His plan for world redemption includes dealing with the reality of sin. (2 Sam. 24:1; I Chr. 21:1). This truth is dramatically witnessed in the death of Jesus. The crucifixion happened according to God’s will, but at the same time it was the worst crime of human history.

Sin is not the absence of good. Sin is a real and positive evil. It’s more than unwise, expedient, calamitous behavior that produces sorrow and distress. It’s rebellion against God. Ps. 119:160.

Sin God demands righteousness, sin must be defined in terms of man’s relationship to God. Sin is the rebellion of creatures against the just authority of their creator. If we break the law at any point, we break it at all points.

Violation of God’s law in thought, word, or deed shows the sinfulness of the human heart. Sin is a contradiction of God’s holiness, whose image man bears. All man has it from Adam – original sin. It characterizes all people from the moment of their birth.

Man’s moral state is irrevocably fallen without Christ. Ro. 8:7. Apart from Christ, all are dead in trespasses and sins. Ep. 2:1. People can hold back the worst outworking of sin in their lives, but not overcome it on their own. The corruption of sin is not developed to the same degree in every person. Neither is it expressed in the same way from person to person. Sin involves the denial of the Living God from whom all men draw their life and existence (Acts 17:28). The consequence of this revolt is death and the torment of hell. Death is the ultimate penalty imposed by God for sin. Ro. 6:23.

Seemuth. The righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled, not because people strive to follow God’s law but because they rely on the Holy Spirit. The way of the Spirit is always in line with God’s will. A life focused on the Holy Spirit will always fulfill God’s desires. With a life that is Holy Spirit focused, God is fully at work.

Womack. The Law wasn’t weak. It was perfect, but we weren’t perfect. Our flesh was weak, and therefore, the Law could never set us free from the bondage of sin. The Law only pointed out our sin (Romans 3:20). God placed all man’s sin on Jesus’ body and soul and condemned Him in our place.

The Amplified Bible translates this as “flesh,” the same as the King James Version, and gives further amplification: “the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit.” That is more accurate than “the sinful nature,” because a carnal Christian’s soul is flesh that will stop the power of God from manifesting wholeness in his or her life.

Again, the Law was not weak. In Romans 7:12 Paul said, “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” The Law wasn’t weak, but our flesh was weak. The Law and our flesh were linked together like a chain, and a chain is no stronger than its weakest link. Our flesh was the weak link in the chain. Although the Law was strong, it couldn’t accomplish righteousness in us, because of the weakness of our flesh.

This last “flesh” in Romans 8:3 speaks of Jesus. God placed the condemnation that was directed toward us upon the flesh of His Son, Jesus. The Law was strong enough to produce life if we could keep it, but our human flesh rendered us impotent to keep the Law. This was the dilemma. The Law was ordained to bring life (Romans 7:10), but none of us could keep it (Isaiah 59:16) and gain life that way. So, God became flesh (John 1:14 and 1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus did what no sinful flesh had ever done: He kept the Law, thereby winning the life of God as His prize. This granted Him eternal life, but before He could give it to us, we still had a debt that He had to pay. This is like a man receiving the death penalty for a crime, and then some billionaire leaves his whole estate to him. It would do the condemned man no good. But if that billionaire took that man’s place and died for him, then he could go free and enjoy his new wealth. That’s what Jesus did for us. He took our sins and gave us His righteousness. Jesus did much more than just obtain eternal life for us; He also paid all the wages of our sins (Romans 6:23). God literally placed the condemnation, or judgment, that was against us upon His Son. Jesus’ perfect flesh was condemned so our defiled flesh could go free. What a trade! Since Jesus bore our sentence (condemnation), we don’t have to bear it. The debt has already been paid.

Note: It was Jesus’ keeping the Law and accepting the punishment of God’s wrath that should have fallen on me that allows God to give me Jesus’s righteousness. I am justified in this manner.

Verse 4.

“That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

AMP. “So that the righteous and just requirements of the Law might be fulfilled, carried out, and completed in us who do not live our lives in the ways of the flesh – not guided by worldliness and the residue of our sinful nature - but instead live our lives in the ways of the Spirit guided by His power.

TPT. “So now every righteous requirement of the law can be fulfilled through the Anointed One living His life in us. And we are free to live, not according to our flesh, but by the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit.” Note: What joyous truths are found in Romans 8 All that God requires of us has been satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The life of Jesus in us is enough to satisfy God. The power of our new life is not the works of our weak humanity, but the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit released in us.

ESV. Says that the phase “righteous requirement of the law…fulfilled” could mean 1) the requirement is fulfilled in the new life that Christians live based on Christ’s life and work; or 2) the full penalty of the law was paid at the Cross.

Womack. God placed the condemnation for sin (judgment of wrongdoing and eternal punishment for it) that was due me on Jesus. What are the consequences of that?  I have the Law’s righteousness given to me and I do not pay the punishment of eternal separation from God – and it’s all a gift. Jesus walked it out (righteousness and taking the punishment) and imputed it to me. Jesus paid a debt He didn’t owe, and I owed a debt I couldn’t pay. He took my sin, condemnation, and wrath, and I received His righteousness and eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Walking “after” the Spirit doesn’t mean we are perfect and holy. It means we seek to wholeheartedly follow the Lord. In the same way that there are varying degrees of being “after” the flesh, there are varying degrees of being “after” the Spirit.

Through the sacrificial death of Jesus, we can now fulfill the righteousness of the Law. There are two ways that we need to understand this. First, the righteousness of the Law is now fulfilled in our new, born-again spirits. Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17) and has given us His righteousness. Every believer’s spirit is righteous and holy. Second, through the Holy Spirit we are empowered to live holy lives. This was required by Law, but we were unable to do in our strength. That’s what Paul referred to when he said, “Who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” It needs to be pointed out that although we are Spirit-filled believers and can live holy lives, we will never keep every detail of the Law. That could not be done before salvation, and it cannot be done after salvation. The Greek word translated “righteousness” in Romans 8:4 is translated “ordinances” in Luke 1:6. Luke was speaking of Zacharias and Elizabeth, that “they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” Notice that they were both righteous and blameless before the Lord but not sinless. So, the righteousness of the Law can be fulfilled without keeping every commandment. The purpose of the Law was to make us despair of saving ourselves and to point us to a Savior. When we put faith in Jesus as our Savior, then we are fulfilling the purpose of the Law. So, this verse is speaking of us as believers being empowered to live holy lives, but fulfilling the righteousness of the Law is not the same as keeping every detail of the Law. Therefore, all Christians have fulfilled the righteousness of the Law in their spiritual man through Jesus. But only those Christians who are under the control of the Spirit of God are fulfilling the spirit of the Law in their actions.

The word “walk” is translated from the Greek word that means “to tread all around, i.e. walk at large...figuratively, to live, deport oneself, follow” (Strong’s Concordance). The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “to conduct oneself in a particular manner.” Therefore, this phrase, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” is speaking of those who do not conduct their lives according to the flesh but follow the leading of the Spirit. Romans 8:5 goes on to further explain this and uses the terminology “mind the things of the flesh” to describe those who “walk after the flesh” and “[mind] the things of the Spirit” to describe those who “walk after the Spirit.” So “walking after the flesh” is simply having your mind focused on carnal things, and “walking after the Spirit” is having your mind stayed on spiritual things (John 6:63).

Wesley. That the righteousness of the law — The holiness it required, described, Romans 8:11. Might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit — Who are guided in all our thoughts, words, and actions, not by corrupt nature, but by the Spirit of God. From this place St. Paul describes primarily the state of believers, and that of unbelievers only to illustrate this.

Verse 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.”

AMP. “For those who are and live according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are and live according to the Holy Spirit and are controlled by the His desires set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the Holy Spirit.

Seemuth In Chapter 7, Paul said that he fixed his mind on the commandment, but it brought frustration. Here, Paul does not say that people should “set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Instead, he says that people who live according to the Spirit have their minds fixed on things the Spirit desires. Life in the Spirit comes first. Perhaps praise is the first order of business.

Wesley. They that are after the flesh — Who remain under the guidance of corrupt nature. Mind the things of the flesh — Have their thoughts and affections fixed on such things as gratify corrupt nature; namely, on things visible and temporal; on things of the earth, on pleasure, (of sense or imagination,) praise, or riches.

But they who are after the Spirit — Who are under his guidance. Mind the things of the Spirit — Think of, relish, love things invisible, eternal; the things which the Spirit hath revealed, which he works in us, moves us to, and promises to give us.

Womack. Many people desire to walk after the Spirit but are confused about how to do it. This verse makes it simple. Those who mind spiritual things are walking after the Spirit and those who mind carnal things are walking after the flesh. We can evaluate our carnality or spirituality by examining where our minds are focused.

The Greek word translated “mind” is “PHRONEO,” and it means “to exercise the mind, i.e. entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication, to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively, to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience)” (Strong’s Concordance). So, what we exercise our minds with or are mentally disposed toward or are interested in indicates whether we are walking after the spirit or the flesh.

Romans 8:5-8 explains why those who walk after the Spirit experience the righteousness of the Law fulfilled in their lives. It is because what people think on is what they are going to become or do (Proverbs 23:7). Those who are after the flesh think on carnal things and therefore do carnal things. Thinking carnally can only produce death, while thinking spiritually (according to the Word, John 6:63) can only produce life.

If we consistently think on the things of the Spirit (John 6:63), (my note: or if the Spirit is consistently controlling our thoughts) then we are walking after the Spirit. If we are dominated with carnal thoughts, then we are walking after the flesh.

Verse 6.

“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

AMP. “Now the mind of the flesh, defined as sense and reason without Holy Spirit influence, is death - death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both now and in eternity. But the mind of the Holy Spirit is God-life and soul peace both now and for eternity.

Seemuth. The translation “spiritually minded” is unfortunate. A literal translation would be “the mind of the Spirit.” The mind of the Spirit in the believer allows the fruit of righteousness to dwell in the mind allowing frustration and shame to be replaced with life and peace. The mind of fallen humanity without the renewing of the Holy Spirit is set against God fully. Sin is deep and evil. Even when unregenerated people do a good act, it is tainted with selfishness and egoism. They may be very good but are not measurable when the holiness of Jesus is considered. For the natural mind to be set against God means that it does not, cannot and does not want to submit to God. Therefore, the natural mind cannot please God.

Wesley. For to be carnally minded — That is, to mind the things of the flesh. Is death — The sure mark of spiritual death, and the way to death everlasting.

But to be spiritually minded — That is, to mind the things of the Spirit. Is life — A sure mark of spiritual life, and the way to life everlasting. And attended with peace - The peace of God, which is the foretaste of life everlasting; and peace with God, opposite to the enmity mentioned in the next verse.

Womack. Carnal mindedness equals death. And spiritual mindedness equals life. What is the dominant fruit in a person’s life? What grows in the garden was planted in the garden.

Death is more than physical and eternal death, although this is the most frightening, where our bodies and souls and spirits separate. Sickness, depression, anger, poverty, and all else resulting from sin is a “lesser included” of death (Romans 6:23).

The Greek word translated “carnally (KJV)” in v. 5 and 7 is sarx. That’s the same word that translated “flesh” in the previous verse (v. 5; and in Ro. 8:1, 3-5, 8). Therefore, “carnal” and “flesh” are used interchangeably here.

Verse 7.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Note: “the mind set on carnal things.”

AMP. “That is because the mind of the flesh with its carnal thoughts and purposes is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s Law; indeed, it cannot submit to God’s law.”

TPT. “In fact, the mind-set focused on the flesh fights God’s plan and refuses to submit to his direction, because it cannot.”

Wesley. Enmity against God — His existence, power, and providence.

Womack. A mind focused on what can be seen, tasted, heard, smelled, and felt will always oppose God.

The NIV’s translation/interpretation of the Greek word “SARX” as “sinful” is misleading. The KJV correctly translates the word “carnal.” All sin is carnal, but not all carnality is sin. “Carnal” describes a mind controlled by physical realities as perceived by the five senses. Carnal things are not always sinful things; a person who is carnally minded will not receive or understand spiritual things.

Notice that the carnal mind cannot be subject to God. It is naturally opposed to God and His ways. So, we must lose our minds (carnal way of thinking) to serve God.

This word “carnal” is translated from the same Greek word as “flesh.” Just as with “flesh,” “carnal” can mean more than one thing. All sin is carnal, but not all carnality is sin. The word “carnal” can also refer to human ability. Trying to live the Christian life from our own ability is carnal. In context, Paul was contrasting the hopeless struggle of the flesh to live holy, which he described in Romans 7:15-24, with the Spirit-filled life that he presents in Romans 8. Trying to obtain holiness through the flesh is carnal.

The carnal mind is hostile and opposed to God. The carnal mind hates the things of God. Therefore, no one naturally pleases God. It is impossible for the natural mind to think as God thinks. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” We must deny our natural way of thinking and be led by the Spirit of God to please God in our walk.

Verse 8.

“So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

ESV clearly sees “sarx” as unregenerated men.

AMP. “So, then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God or be acceptable to Him.”

TPT. “For no matter how hard they try, God finds no pleasure with those who are controlled by the flesh.”

Seemuth also sees these two verses as speaking of unregenerated man.

Wesley. They who are in the flesh — Under the government of it. Note. It seems that Wesley also believes that these verses speak of the unregenerated man.

Womack. “In” describes someone who is not born again. A Christian can be “after” the flesh but not “in” the flesh (Romans 8:9). The ones who are “in” the flesh are those who have not received Jesus as their Lord. Romans 8:9 confirms this. Being in the flesh is not being in faith (Hebrews 11:6).

Psalms 35:27 says the Lord takes "pleasure in the prosperity of his servant." So, if we are in the flesh, God can't prosper us. Luke 12:32 says, “It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Therefore, if we are in the flesh, the Lord can't give us the kingdom.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please him,” so Romans 8:8 could also read, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot have faith” because faith is the only way to please God. Faith is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and cannot be produced by human efforts.

This is the sum of what Paul says in Romans 7:15-24 and the reason we can’t trust in our holiness to gain justification in the sight of God. The Christian life is not just hard to live; it is impossible to live in our own ability. Christianity only works when the Spirit of God indwells and controls us, thereby giving us supernatural ability. Without the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, we can’t even believe God and receive salvation. Many religions of the world believe in one God–some of them even worship the God of Abraham–but they don’t believe in Jesus as their Savior. Without Jesus, they are in the flesh and cannot please God. They may even live more holy lives than those who have put faith in Jesus as their Savior, but their flesh will fail to be holy enough to earn salvation.

Verse 9.

“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.

AMP. “However, you are not living in the flesh, controlled by the sinful nature, but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God lives in you, directing and guiding you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him and is not a child of God.

TPT. “But when the Spirit of Christ empowers your life, you are not dominated by the flesh but by the Spirit. And if you are not joined to the Spirit of the Anointed One, you are not of Him.

TPT Notes: 1) “Empowers your life” could be “makes His home in you.”

Seemuth. Only God can change a human from being in the flesh to being in the Spirit. Redemption, reconciliation, and justification are instantaneous works of the Holy Spirit, just as the Spirit’s entry into a person is immediate. So, upon conversion, the transformation from being in the flesh to being in the Spirit is accomplished. That’s why it’s absurd to go back and try to live in the flesh. It’s a denial of the Holy Spirit’s work in a person. When we belong to Christ, the Spirit resides within us. Of course, that does not always mean we walk by the Holy Spirit in everyday life. Transformation must continue to take place into maturity.

ESV. By definition, Christians are not in the flesh, for all who believe in Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul alternates between the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ here, showing that Christ and God share the same status.

Wesley. In the Spirit — Under his government. If any man has not the Spirit of Christ — Dwelling and governing in him. He is none of his — He is not a member of Christ; not a Christian; not in a state of salvation. A plain, express declaration, which admits of no exception. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear!

Womack. All Christians are “in” the Spirit even if they walk “after” the flesh.

Paul made a clear distinction between being “in” the flesh and “after” the flesh, and “in” the Spirit and “after” the Spirit. Born-again people cannot be “in” the flesh, but they can walk “after” the flesh. Lost people cannot be “in” the Spirit although they seek to walk “after” the ways of the Spirit. The word translated “in” denotes a “(fixed) position (in place, time or state)” (Strong’s Concordance). In contrast, the word translated “after” in Romans 8:1, 4-5, and 12-13 denotes “according to anything as a standard, agreeably to” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon).

Therefore, when Paul spoke of being “in” the flesh or Spirit, he referred to a fixed position or state. When he spoke of being “after” the flesh or Spirit, he referred to whatever we use as a standard of conduct or whatever we agree to at any given time. Christians can agree to or conduct their actions according to some standard other than God’s will and keep their position in Christ. So, Christians can walk “after” the flesh, but they are never considered “in” the flesh.

According to Jesus’ statement in John 14:17, people cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless they have first received Jesus as their Savior. Therefore, those who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them are born again and are not in the flesh.

This passage makes an emphatic statement that every believer receives the Spirit of Christ at salvation. The supposition that the “Spirit of Christ” and the “Spirit of God” are synonymous terms has led many to believe that every Christian receives the Holy Spirit at salvation. However, this seems to contradict the examples given in the book of Acts. It is likely that “Spirit of Christ” refers to the born-again spirit that every believer receives at salvation. The phrase “Spirit of God” possibly refers to the Holy Spirit that only indwells believers if they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 10.

“And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

AMP. “But if Christ lives in you, then although your natural body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, your spirit is alive because of the righteousness that He imputes to you.”

ESV. The previous verse speaks of Spirit’s indwelling, but here Paul describes Christ’s dwelling in Christians. Christ and the Spirit are both fully God, and work cooperatively. Since the bodies are not yet redeemed, they still die. Yet the presence of the Spirit within believers testifies to the new life they enjoy because of the righteousness of Christ that is now theirs.

Seemuth. We have life in our mortal bodies because of the presence of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, we are aware of the deadness that resides in our bodies. But God intends to give life to the body through the Holy Spirit because of righteousness. The same power that gave life to the dead body of Jesus is now resident in believers. Thus, the resurrected life of Christ is our assurance of a life that is pleasing to God. Only by the Spirit is this possible. Human will is destitute in this regard.

Wesley. Now if Christ be in you — Where the Spirit of Christ is, there is Christ. The body indeed is dead — Devoted to death. Because of sin — Heretofore committed.\ But the Spirit is life — Already truly alive. Because of righteousness — Now attained. From Romans 8:13, St. Paul, having finished what he had begun, Romans 6:1, describes purely the state of believers.

Womack. Our physical bodies are not literally dead. That’s obvious. This speaks of our physical bodies and un-renewed minds (or flesh) being separated from God. Our bodies and carnal minds cannot relate to God because they can’t perceive God through one of the five senses. To contact God, we must do it through our spirits. God is a Spirit, and we must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Spiritual men don’t enshrine the body the way unbelievers do. Those without Christ are carnally minded; therefore, the body is everything to them. But believers “keep under” their bodies (1 Corinthians 9:27) and are look forward to their spiritual bodies (1 Corinthians 15:44). So, believers who live “after” the spirit should keep under their bodies, not as the unbelievers who think the physical is all there is, but because they are exalting the spirit.

Sin kills (Romans 6:23), both emotionally and physically.

Based on Romans 8:9, as well as John 14:20, 2 Corinthians 13:5, and Colossians 1:27, Christ is in every born-again believer. Therefore, for all Christians, our bodies are dead because of sin.

The body is dead “because” of sin, but the Spirit is life “because” of righteousness. The Greek word translated “because” denotes “the channel of an act; through” (Strong’s Concordance). Therefore, our bodies are dead through, or because of, the influence of sin in our lives. In the way that some people who have recovered from the polio virus still have crippled bodies, so Christians who have been delivered from the old sin nature still have to deal with the corruption that the old sin nature released into their physical bodies and minds.

No one can please God in the flesh. The flesh has been corrupted and is therefore dead, or incapable of living up to God’s standard. To counter this, the Spirit of God releases life because of our righteous spirits that we received through faith in Jesus. Sin left its mark on our bodies, but the Spirit of life within us is more than enough to overcome those “marks.” We must learn to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh.

Verse 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.”

AMP. “And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then He who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore to life your mortal, short-lived, perishable bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

TPT. “Yes, God raised Jesus to life! And since God’s Spirit of Resurrection lives in you, he will also raise your dying body to life by the same Spirit that leaves life into you.”

Womack. Is this the quickening that will take place when we receive our glorified body, or is this the Spirit quickening our mortal bodies now, as in healing? Maybe it’s both.

This verse speaks of more than the quickening of our bodies at the return of Christ, although that is included. In Romans 8:10, Paul said the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. This is our situation in life. Our flesh is incapable of serving God, because of the effect sin has had on us. God gave us His Spirit, and we let Him live through us (Galatians 2:20). In Romans 8:11, Paul commented on the Holy Spirit’s quickening power for the body in this life as well as His delivery of ultimate victory to us when He resurrects our bodies.


Verse 12.

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”

AMP. “So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but not to our flesh - our human nature, our worldliness, our sinful capacity - to live according to the impulses of the flesh (our nature without the Holy Spirit).

TPT. “So then, beloved ones, the flesh has no claims on us at all, and we have no further obligation to live in obedience to it.”

Note. We are debtors to the Spirit of God. If we find we are living according to the flesh, it is evidence that we have submitted ourselves to the old manner where the flesh rules. As followers we are to live by the Holy Spirit. Our obligation to the flesh is terminated.

ESV. Since Christians live in the Spirit, they are no longer captive to the flesh and should no longer live according to the flesh.

Wesley. We are not debtors to the flesh — We ought not to follow it.

Womack. Since the Spirit is the life-giver, we should give priority to walking “after” the Spirit and not “after” the flesh. The flesh profits nothing. The words of Jesus are Spirit, and they are life (John 6:63).

Paul says that the flesh has been rendered powerless through sin. Only through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power can we live in victory. Therefore, we are indebted to the Spirit and should yield to Him.

Verse 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.

AMP. “If you live according to the impulses of the flesh, you are going to die. But if you live by the power of the Holy Spirit, you will and are habitually put to death the sinful deeds of the body and you will taste his abundant life and live eternally forever.

Wesley. The deeds of the flesh — Not only evil actions, but evil desires, tempers, thoughts. If ye mortify — Kill, destroy these. Ye shall live — The life of faith more abundantly here, and hereafter the life of glory.

Seemuth. True life is found through the life-giving Holy Spirit, but the way of the flesh ends in death. Those who are without the renewing work of the Holy Spirit die without joy, peace, and eternal life. Their only expectation is wrath, distress, and condemnation. Yet the deeds of the body which are akin to the works of the flesh are terminated through the Spirit who gives life. For we have been translat4ed from the era of law and death to the era of the Spirit who brings life eternal.

ESV. Those who give their lives over to the flesh will face eternal death, but those who slay the desires of the flesh through the power of the Spirit will enjoy eternal life. God and believers each have a role in sanctification; it must be by the Spirit and his power, but you put to death shows that one must take an active role in battling sinful habits.

Womack. This speaks of spiritual life and death, since everyone dies physically. It says those who put their minds predominantly on spiritual things will have God’s kind of life. Those who keep their minds predominantly on the flesh will suffer all the wages sin can pay (Romans 6:23).

The word “mortify” means “to kill” (Strong’s Concordance). We are to kill our actions that are inconsistent with the Lord’s will.

Paul speaks of death in a figurative rather than literal sense. He addresses believers who have eternal life through the new birth. He doesn’t say that they will lose their salvation if they walk “after” the flesh. “Death” refers to physical death but also can denote all the effects of sin in our lives. Paul spoke about experiencing defeat as we walk after the flesh compared to experiencing victory when we walk after the Spirit.

“Mortify” was translated from the Greek word meaning “to kill.” “Mortify” is “to discipline one’s body and appetites by self-denial.” If we deaden ourselves to the flesh by self-denial and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we will live.

Verse 14.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

AMP. “For all who are allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

ESV. Those who yield to the Spirit are those who are God’s sons. See Gal. 5:15, 17; 5:18.

Seemuth. Those who have the Spirit of God are sons of God. Sons goes further to indicate the privileged standing of a son as an heir of the father. As sons, we fully receive of the blessing of heirs with full legal status to act on behalf of the Father.

Wesley. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God — In all the ways of righteousness.

They are the sons of God — Here St. Paul enters upon the description of those blessings which he comprises, Romans 8:30, in the word glorified; though, indeed, he does not describe mere glory, but that which is still mingled with the cross. The sum is, through sufferings to glory.

Womack. Being led by the Spirit of God is the standard whereby we know someone is a son of God. It is true that everyone who is born again is led by the Spirit of God. There are degrees of being led by the Holy Spirit. All believers could follow the Lord in a greater way. Believers have been led by the Spirit to some degree in making Jesus their Lord. All believers have the Spirit of God to lead them, but not all believers heed His leading. In context, Paul had just spoken about denying the flesh through the power and leading of the Holy Spirit. Here he was simply pointing out that all Christians have the leading of the Holy Spirit available to them to accomplish this.

Some people make a distinction between a “child of God” and a “son of God.” They say a “child of God” is any born-again believer, while a “son of God” refers only to a mature Christian. This looks good on the surface, but study reveals there is no difference. In Galatians 4, these same terms are used, and “son” or “sons” is applied to all believers. Galatians 4:6 says, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father,” and Romans 8:9 says, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Since every believer must have the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9) and every son of God has the Spirit of God’s Son in him, crying, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6), then every born-again believer is a son of God.

Verse 15.

“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”

AMP. You no longer have a spirit of slavery that puts you in constant fear. No! The Holy Spirit which you have received is the Spirit of Adoption. The Holy Spirit cements you into sonship, in the bliss of which we cry, Abba! Father!

TPT. “And you did not receive the “spirit of religious duty” leading you back into the fear of never being good enough. But you have received the “Spirit of full acceptance,” enfolding you into the family of God. And you will never feel orphaned, for as he rises within us, our spirits join him in saying the words of tender affection, “Beloved Father.”

TPT notes: 1) “spirit of religious duty” is the same as “spirit of slavery.” 2) “fear of never being good enough.” Implied in both the greater context of finding our true life in the “Spirit of full acceptance.” It can also refer to the fear of judgment that has been removed from us through Christ. 3) The Spirit of full acceptance could be “the spirit of adult (complete) sonship.”

Wesley. For ye — Who are real Christians. Have not received the spirit of bondage — The Holy Ghost was not properly a spirit of bondage, even in the time of the Old Testament. Yet there was something of bondage remaining even in those who then had received the Spirit. Again — As the Jews did before. We — All and every believer.

Cry — The word denotes a vehement speaking, with desire, confidence, constancy. Abba, Father — The latter word explains the former. By using both the Syriac and the Greek word, St. Paul seems to point out the joint cry both Jewish and gentile believers. The spirit of bondage here seems directly to mean, those operations of the Holy Spirit by which the soul, on its first conviction, feels itself in bondage to sin, to the world, to Satan, and obnoxious to the wrath of God. This, therefore, and the Spirit of adoption, are one and the same Spirit, only manifesting itself in various operations, according to the various circumstances of the persons.

ESV. Christians are no longer slaves to sin but are adopted as sons into God’s family, as evidenced by the Spirit that cries out within them that God is their father. For sons see Gal. 3:26. Abba is the Aramaic word for Father. Jesus used the word in Mk. 14: 36.

Seemuth. Paul contrasts “slavery” and “adoption into a family.” A first century slave had no assurance that he would live beyond that day. The owner could for any reason, or no reason, kill the slave. There was no legal protection. In the new birth, the believer is brought into the family of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit is proof of the new relationship. We cry out “Abba” like in the Psalms where we “cry out” to God. Seen many times in Psalms. Our urgent cry to the Father is sure to be heard. Abba is opposite to slave. Young children to address their loving father would use the term, Abba.

Womack. Our born-again spirits are not bound by fear, like our old sinful natures were (Hebrews 2:15). We have received the Spirit of Adoption that leads us to call God our Father, a term of intimacy unknown to O.T. saints. The inner witness of the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are Sons of God (next verse). We have an inner witness that assures us of unseen reality.

This “spirit of bondage” refers to the old man sin nature. That Paul said, “Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again,” declares that our old sin nature is crucified, dead, eradicated, and gone from our lives.

We are Sons of God by adoption. Jesus was the Son of God by nature. As Jesus said to the Jews, we were of our father, the devil (John 8:44 and Ephesians 2:3), but Jesus purchased us and made us adopted Sons of God.


Adoption is God’s grace bringing sinful people into His redeemed family. In the N.T., the Greek word translated “adoption” means “to place as a son.” It’s a legal term that expresses the process by which a man brings another person into his family, endowing him with the status and privileges of a biological son or daughter.


In the O.T. adoption was not common in Israel. There is no Hebrew word to describe adoption.


Roman customs influenced Jewish family life. Roman law required that an adopter be a male and childless. The adoptee had to be an independent adult – legally able to consent. In the eyes of law, the adoptee became a “new creature.” He was regarded as being born again into the new family – an analogy at what happens to the believer at conversion.


The word “adoption” used in a theological sense is used only by Paul in the N.T. (Ro. 8:15, 23; 9:4.


Abba is an Aramaic word which corresponds to our “daddy” or “papa.” It is found 3 times in the N.T.: Mk. 14:36; Ro. 8:15; Gal. 4:6.


Verse 16.

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”

AMP. “The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.”

Seemuth. The inner work of the Holy Spirit testified with our spirit that we belong to God. This is the inner confirmation of the renewing work of God. The various manifestations of the Spirit are further evidence of our sonship. Of course, the children of the Father become His heirs as well; rather, they are joint heirs with Christ. In this privileged position, what rightfully belongs to Jesus flows to us.

Being linked with Christ cuts wo ways, however. We are certainly heirs and will receive the glorification that Christ received through the resurrection from death. But we also are to share in his sufferings. One does not occur without the other. As His heirs, we equally receive glorification and suffering.

ESV. The witness of the Holy Spirit gives the Christian’s spirit assurance that he or she is God’s child.

Wesley. The same Spirit bears witness with our spirit — With the spirit of every true believer, by a testimony distinct from that of his own spirit, or the testimony of a good conscience. Happy they who enjoy this clear and constant.

The Spirit (Holy Spirit) bears witness with our spirit (born-again human spirit) that we are children of God.

God sends His Spirit to our born-again spirit Who assures us of the Father’s reality, forgiveness, and love. Without the Holy Spirit’s ministry, salvation would just be blind faith. But with the Holy Spirit’s ministry, there is assurance of our salvation and His presence.

1 John 5:10 says, “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself.” John went on to say in 1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” So, the Spirit bearing witness with our spirits is to assure us that we are the children of God (1 John 3:19).

Verse 17.

“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.”


ESV. All who are God’s children are also heirs of his promises, but a willingness to follow Christ in suffering is another sign of being God’s child.

Wesley. Joint heirs — That we may know it is a great inheritance which God will give us for he hath given a great one to his Son. If we suffer with him — Willingly and cheerfully, for righteousness' sake. This is a new proposition, referring to what follows.

Womack. Our relationship with Jesus makes us heirs of God. What a statement! We are joint heirs with Christ of everything God owns and possesses. The term “joint heir” signifies a shared inheritance. A joint checking account means two people share the account, and both signatures are needed to cash a check or make a withdrawal. One signature will not release funds from a joint account. Jesus is our joint heir. Even though we may be tempted to sign our inheritance away as Adam did, Jesus will never cooperate with that. Our inheritance is secure because Jesus will never put His signature on any of our bad choices.

Adam was not a joint-heir with Christ; he was a joint-heir with Eve. They shared dominion over the earth. For their transgression to be valid, both had to participate. They did (Genesis 3:6); they signed away their authority over the earth to Satan. He became the god of this earth (2 Corinthians 4:4) through what Adam did. God didn’t create Satan; He created Lucifer, a powerful angel. Adam and Eve created Satan when they gave him the power and authority they had been given over the earth.

We’re more than heirs; we’re joint-heirs with Christ. How wonderful to inherit any amount of God’s glory and power, but that we share equally with Jesus, who has inherited everything God is and has, is beyond comprehension. It’s an awesome blessing, but it places responsibility on us too.

As a check made out to two people cannot be cashed without the endorsement of both, so our status being joint heirs with Jesus cannot be threatened or taken advantage of without Jesus’ cooperation. Unaware of this, many Christians are trusting that the Lord will produce the benefits of salvation for them. They are acutely aware that they can do nothing without Him but don’t realize that He will do nothing without them (Ephesians 3:20).

The way we endorse a check is to believe and act like what God promised in His Word is true. Jesus has already signed His name to every promise in the Word.

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