The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

By G. Campbell Morgan

Chapter 14


1. The Proclamation. Rom 8:1

a. The State. No Condemnation.

b. The Sphere. In Christ Jesus.

2. The Explanation. Rom 8:2-11

a. The contrasted Sovereignty. Rom 8:2

The Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

The Law of Sin and Death.

The Victory in Christ Jesus.

b. The contrasted Strength. Rom 8:3-4

The Weakness of Law.

The Strength of the Son of God.

The Victory of the Son of God.

c. The contrasted Spheres. Flesh. Spirit. Rom 8:5-11

The First Contrast - Of Inspiration. Rom 8:5

After the Flesh.

After the Spirit.

The Second Contrast - Of Issue. Rom 8:6

Of Flesh- Death.

Of Spirit - Life and Peace.

The Third Contrast - Of Experience. Rom 8:7-11

The Flesh. Rom 8:7-8

At Enmity against God.

Incapable of Subjection to God.

Incapable of pleasing God.

The Spirit. Rom 8:9-11

The Indweller. Rom 8:9 a

(Parenthesis. A Test. Rom 8:9 b)

The present Position. Rom 8:10

The Body dead.

The Spirit alive.

The Ultimate Victory. Rom 8:11

The Quickened Body.

3. The Obligation. Rom 8:12-17

a. Responsibility. Rom 8:12-13

Negative- Not to Flesh. Rom 8:12-13 a

Positive- By the Spirit. Rom 8:13 b

b. Resource. Rom 8:14-17

Sonship. Rom 8:14-15

Heirship. Rom 8:16-17

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


The final section of this division sets forth the life of sanctification on its positive side. It is perfectly evident that the word "Therefore" is not related to the final statement of the previous section. In order to discover the teaching which the word recalls, it is necessary to go back to the first section, and to its last declaration. That this may be clearly seen, let us bring the last verse of the first section and this first verse of the third section together.

"But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were holden; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.''

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus."

The connection is self-evident; "discharged ... no condemnation." Thus after having in the first section dealt with the provision for sanctification, that of identification with Christ by which the believer passes from death into life; and having illustrated his principle in that section in which he described the condition of death under law; he now returned in order to set forth the privilege of sanctification to be that of life in the Spirit.

That to which we now turn stands in startling contrast to that which we have been considering. Throughout the whole of the paragraph of autobiographical illustration, the overwhelming sense was that of condemnation. In this most glorious passage the language is ever that of one discharged, and free from condemnation. From the slavery of the law of sin and death we emerge into the freedom of the law of the Spirit of life.

The section falls into three parts: a brief proclamation; a careful explanation; and a final statement of consequent obligation.

1. The Proclamation

In the final stages of the previous section the apostle, as though unable to avoid it for very gladness of heart, had exclaimed, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." As we saw in considering it, this was an interpolated answer of the man in Christ, to the wail of the man under law.

He now turned to the full and positive statement of the truth which compelled that cry of victory. The opening proclamation is brief but all-inclusive. It rings with the note of absolute assurance. The state of the believer is described in the words, "no condemnation." He has escaped from the intolerable depression of the awful agony resulting from the sense of sin created by the law. This escape is the result of entrance into a new sphere of life, which he described by the words "In Christ Jesus." The omission of the words, "who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit" is no loss, but rather gain. While what they suggest is true, and will be stated presently under the consideration of obligation, the statement is more complete, as a definite proclamation, without them. It is indeed a gracious announcement that in Christ Jesus man is under no condemnation; and inspired the great verse in Charles Wesley's hymn,

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness Divine,

Bold I approach the eternal throne.

And claim the crown, through Christ, my own.

2. The Explanation

Having thus comprehensively stated the privilege of sanctification, the apostle passed to a careful explanation thereof in a series of contrasts between life in the flesh, and life in the spirit.

My own interpretation of this passage adopts the distinction indicated in the spelling of the Revised Version in the case of the word "spirit.'' Therein a small letter is used when the word refers to the spirit of man, and a capital when it refers to the Spirit of God. I am aware that some of our best expositors do not agree with the interpretation resulting from this spelling. I do not propose to enter into any argument concerning the matter, for I do not believe that anything of vital importance is involved. Let readers desiring to compare other interpretations refer to the works of Dr. Handley Moule and Dr. Agar Beet. My own understanding of the passage leads me to the conclusion that where the distinction is maintained as indicated in the Revised Version, the result is a clear presentation of the truth that sanctification is the full realization of the forces of regeneration; and that a "picture of remarkable strength is presented, of a regenerate man living under the control of the Spirit of God, his own spirit being restored to its proper place of dominion over his body.

The first contrast is that between the two sovereignties of life. In this relation the word law is used, not in reference to the Mosaic economy, but as describing a master-principle.

On the one hand there is that of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, on the other that of the law of sin and of death. These two stand related to the two sections of the division already considered, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus having been revealed in the first section, and the law of sin and of death having been dealt with in the second; the law which the apostle therein described as "a different law . . . warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin/' If this is the contrast, it is stated only in order to declare that the victory is that the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus makes us free from the law of sin and of death.

The second contrast is between the ability of the law - and in this case the reference is to the Mosaic economy - and that of the Son of God. The weakness of the one consisted in the fact that it had to do with man as the apostle had described him in the central section, unable to obey. The strength of the Son of God lay in the fact of His incarnation, and His work on the cross, all of which had been dealt with in the first section. Again the contrast is made, in order to declare that the victory is that of the Son of God, because in all such as walk not after the flesh but after the spirit, the ordinance or requirement of the law is fulfilled.

In the third contrast, which has to do with the two possible spheres of life, flesh and spirit, the overwhelming victory of sanctification is revealed. There is a three-fold movement in this contrast, dealing with the two inspirations, the two issues, and the two experiences.

As to inspiration, there are those who live after the flesh, and those who live after the spirit. The first mind the things of the flesh, that is, desire them, and seek after them. The second mind the things of the spirit, and again that is, desire them, and seek after them.

As to issue, the result of seeking the things of the flesh is death, a present death, the death of the mind, its darkness and limitation. The result of seeking the things of the spirit is life and peace, present life and peace, the life of the mind, its light and comprehension resulting in abiding peace.

Finally, in dealing with the contrast of experience the apostle first declared that to live in the flesh is to be at enmity against God, incapable of subjection to Him, and therefore unable to please Him. His description of the experience of life in the spirit is fuller. Declaring that the secret of spiritual life is that of the indwelling Spirit of God, he parenthetically declared that this indwelling Spirit of God will be manifest as the Spirit of Christ, and that this manifestation is a test of possession. The immediate result of the indwelling Christ is that the body is dead, that is to say, the body does not immediately escape the consequence of past sin; it is still mortal, not exempt from dissolution. But the spirit is alive, and that fact will have its bearing upon the whole man, including the body.

In this connection there is finally one word declaring that the ultimate victory of this life will be that of the quickening of the mortal body.

This picture, then, is that of a regenerate man. Sanctification is the full realization o f regeneration, and consists in the spirit of a man being in subjection to the indwelling Spirit of God; with the further result that the body of the man is under the dominion of the spirit of the man, which is controlled by the Spirit of God.

3. The Obligation

The argument as to obligation immediately follows, and of course is entirely dependent upon that which has already been considered. The apostle stated it in relation to our responsibility and our resource.

The negative responsibility of believers is that they are not debtors to the flesh. There is no longer any need for them to live after the flesh, that is, to obey the dictates of the flesh without reference to the claims of the spirit. Being free from the law of sin and death which operates through the body, making it the master of the life; to yield to its claims alone will issue in death. The first responsibility of sanctification is that there shall be no such yielding. The positive responsibility is that of the exercise of power by the spirit over all the things of the flesh.

In order to the fulfillment of this responsibility the resources of sanctification are then stated. The first is that of sonship. The victory of the spirit of man results from the leading of the Spirit of God, and those who have such leading are the sons of God. They have received the spirit of adoption whereby they are able, under the tender and gracious impulse of the indwelling Spirit, to call God, Father. The witness of the Spirit of God with our spirits that we are the children of God is the proof necessary, and granted, of our justification and sanctification. All the logical method is nothing save as we have this inner witness, the absolutely certain knowledge, proof against all argument, that we are the children of God.

The sequence of this glorious sonship is that the saints are heirs of God. This statement is so overwhelming that it defies analysis, or exposition. In the presence of it the heart can but be still in exulting meditation, while it confesses that the profundities of the Divine love defy the fathoming of human intelligence.

O love of God, how strong and true.

Eternal and yet ever new,

Uncomprehended and unbought.

Beyond all knowledge, and all thought.

O love of God, how deep and great!

Far deeper than man's deepest hate;

Self-fed, self-kindled, like the light,

Changeless, eternal, infinite.

Children are heirs of the Father's wealth and the Father's home. And yet the apostle kept plainly in view the ground of our claim. We are joint-heirs with Christ. He Who identifies Himself with us in death, identifies us with Himself in life, and in all that life means as to breadth, and richness, and continuity.

This joint-heir ship with Christ, and heirship of God, brings us into fellowship, not only with the consummation, but with the process. We are brought into the place of suffering with Him, Who came into the fellowship of our suffering. This statement of the case reveals responsibility. The privilege is evidenced by the declaration of the same truth from the other side. Having fellowship with His sufferings through the process, we shall at last have partnership with the glory in the consummation.