Romans 8 has been described by some as the greatest chapter in the greatest letter ever written. I am convinced that you could spend a lifetime digging through its thirty-nine verses and never mine all the riches this text has to offer. Still, its basic truth is as easy to lay hold of as a stone laying in a field. Romans 8 urges us to live by the Spirit, not by the flesh.
It does so by teaching us that those who live according to the flesh have flesh-centered minds (v. 5). These flesh-centered minds are bent toward their own destruction (v. 6) and ever at war with God (v. 7). Romans 8 shows us that those who live according to the flesh will die (v. 13).
But you – if you are in Christ – have a different story. You live by the Spirit and not by the flesh (v. 9). You stand without condemnation (v. 1), freed from sin and death (v. 2). God has done for you what you could not do for yourself (v. 3). He has sent his Son (v. 3) to bear the penalty for sin so that death would have no claim on you (v. 4, 11). He has given you his Spirit that you might have life and peace, living fearlessly as sons of God (v. 5, 14-15). But to be at peace with God means we are ever at war with that which would separate us from him. And so, we join with the Spirit of God to kill the sin that remains in us (v. 13).
We can kill sin because of the amazing truths God has revealed to in this chapter. Romans 8 tells us the truth about sin. It teaches us that when our first parents sinned, they tore a hole in the universe and all that is painful and destructive has crawled into our lives through that hole. These destructive forces wreak havoc in our world and our lives. Hurricanes, drought, tornados, and cancer; they are all children of that first sin. And so, creation groans and we groan along with it (vv. 19-23).
But, in the midst of this groaning, there is hope. We find hope in the realization that all the pain wrought by sin cannot compare with the glory that will one day be ours (v. 18). We can hope because we have a helper who is constantly interceding for us (v. 26). The Spirit so works in our lives that all things, even the most shaking, work only to anchor us more firmly in God (v. 28). And this is true because God has chosen us to be made like his Son and those whom he chooses he calls, justifies, and glorifies (v. 29-30).
The great truth of Romans 8 is that the God of heaven is for you. Because God is for you, none can stand against you (v. 31). No charge will stand. Death shall not stand. Angels and rulers shall not stand. No power in all the universe, nothing in all of creation shall stand against those who are loved by God and found in Christ (vv. 31-38). Do you believe this? You can. You can believe it because the Christ who was slain, was also raised (v. 34) and so my friend shall you be for nothing can separate you from the love of Christ (v. 38).