Rom 8:9-11 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”
Sometimes we need to be reminded of who the audience is for these writings. Paul addresses this particular work to those who are “beloved of God, called to be saints (Romans 1:7).” The Holy Scripture was written to the children of God about the things of God that affect them. God’s word will only have meaning to those who have the Spirit of God.
Paul tells us in the eighth verse that if we are living according to the flesh we cannot please God. Once the Spirit of God comes to remain (dwell) in us, we are no longer in (living according to) the flesh. It should be obvious to us that Paul was not telling us we are suddenly no longer in our body once the Spirit moves in. Instead, although we are still in our natural body, we love spiritual things.
Paul’s next statement was never meant as a tool for us to use to decide whether or not someone is a child of God. It is a simple statement of fact that without the Spirit of Christ, we are not and cannot be alive to God. However, we are not a discerner of men’s hearts. We can never judge from the outward appearance what is going on in the heart of an individual (consider the harlot, Rahab, the thief on the cross, or your own walk).
Even though Christ is in us, these bodies of ours are still going to die. This is such a certainty that Paul wrote that “the body is dead,” placing this condition in the present tense. Sin will pay out its wages. However, the gift of God overcomes the wages of sin.
Several other translations of the Bible interpret this next phrase as “the spirit is alive.” That is a far cry from the KJV’s statement that the Spirit IS life. The Spirit of Christ in us is not only alive but is our life. We have this life through His righteousness imputed unto us by the grace of God.
The Spirit that dwells in us, and is life, is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. Think about that for a moment: the power of the resurrection is dwelling in us! The resurrections makes itself manifest in us, not only because of our hope in the resurrection at the last day (Matthew 11:24), but also because it quickens (revitalizes, makes alive) these mortal bodies. Even though our bodies are dead because of sin, yet we live by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Because the Spirit of our Lord Jesus dwells in us, we can face both life and death unafraid. Because the Spirit is life, we can say with Paul “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory (1 Corinthians 15:55)?” Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to remove our sin and thus bring us into His divine favor (1 John 4:10). That divine favor culminates in our being alive to praise God for all eternity.
May we rejoice that the Spirit is life and has overcome the death that exists because of sin!