Romans 8 could be called the chapter of the Spirit. Out of the 31 references to the Spirit in Romans, 15 of them occur in this chapter. The Spirit heralds a new way of living, giving us the power to live in a different way, the power to choose God’s way above the way of sin and death which dominated Romans 7.

The law could instruct us and show us right from wrong, but that was the extent of its reach, rather like we might shout out warnings to someone walking too near the edge of a cliff but from a distance can’t actually prevent them from falling. God’s Spirit, living in us, making us children of God (Rom 8:9,14, gives us the power to live according to the Spirit. Our obligation is now not to the flesh, not to the sinful way of living, but to God’s way, since we were bought at a price and are not our own (1 Cor 6:19-20). There has to be cooperation with the Spirit: “if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” (Rom 8:13) The old saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’ will ultimately lead us into wrong thinking, believing that there are things we can do to save ourselves. Even the saying ‘Let go and let God’ only has elements of truth in it, for we need to work with the Spirit in these matters: we are the ones who ‘put to death the misdeeds of the body’, but we do so ‘by the Spirit’, not in our own strength.

Christ’s sinless life condemns us, for it shows us that it was possible to live in perfect submission and obedience to the Father. But His death and resurrection show us that God has made a way for us to know freedom from judgment and condemnation. We are free now to live according to the Spirit, free to choose rightly, and we can know also the sure hope of the resurrection of our mortal bodies because of the hope that the resurrection of Christ brings (Rom 8:11).

As a result of all that Christ has done, we are brought into this new relationship of adopted children of God where we also, amazingly by God’s grace, become heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). That spirit of sonship does not lead us into the yoke of slavery but gives us a new relationship and standing. Praise be to God!