Our hope is not uncertain, it is both certain and unseen.
An examination of Romans 8:1-25
8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua, who don’t follow their fallen humanity but instead follow the Spirit.
What has gone before? In Chapter 7 Shaul/Paul has shown that even those who are in Messiah continue to be tempted by and at times fall into sin. This shows us the potential for condemnation if we forget who we now are in Messiah, unto G-d. Shaul/Paul is effectively saying, “Those who receive the gift of G-d in Messiah will have a realization of the reality of sin in their lives and will be strengthened by G-d to be progressively changed.” We are being transformed as we learn to see ourselves from G-d’s perspective, outside of time and space. Because G-d sees those of us who have accepted His gift (Messiah) as perfect, He seals that truth with these words, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua, who don’t follow their fallen humanity but instead follow the Spirit.” May HaShem engrave these words into the very core of your being, may you come to know what freedom truly means.
Chapter 7 is directly prior, however the, “therefore,” of 8:1 is drawing our attention to all that has gone before. As we read on we find that Shaul/Paul is revealing a convergence of the various key concepts of chapters 1 through 7. Chapter 8 reminds us of creation, slavery, Torah, righteousness, Messiah and adds the revealing of the sons of G-d and the inseparable love of HaShem.
It is of great importance that Shaul/Paul links the statement of freedom from condemnation with an illuminating reference to the Torah of the Spirit of life, in Messiah. Yeshua continues to be the focus of Shaul’s letter, his rhythm of affirmation followed by sober judgment and then returning to affirmation is continued throughout what is effectively a half time conclusion in the verses of chapter 8.
2 For the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the anti-torah of sin and of death.
The Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah, is the Living D’var (Word) of G-d at work in us. The anti-torah is both the acts of rebellion against the written Torah and the legalistic misuse of the written Torah. Therefore it results in death, in fact it is in itself born of death.
3 For what the written Instruction could not do, because of the weakness of our humanity,
There neither was nor is a problem with the written Torah of G-d. The written Torah is not responsible for sin or death, however, like any inanimate object, it is unable to animate us. Human sin addiction could only—up until Messiah’s coming—misuse the written Torah. It is humanity’s weakness and not the weakness of Torah that is being exposed here.
G-d did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful humanity and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in humanity,4 so that the requirement of the Torah might be fully filled in us, who do not walk according to the sinful humanity but according to the Spirit.
HaShem, the Author of Torah, has animated the Torah in us through His person within us, which is Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua was born to a sin addicted mother and thus was like us, and yet He was entirely without sin being also seeded by the Ruach ha-Kodesh and is fully G-d, with us.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been proved in all things as we are, yet without sin.” –Hebrews 4:15
What is the requirement of the Torah? How is it fully filled in us? With regard to the context of this passage the requirement of the Torah relates to the shedding of blood for the remission or covering and wiping away of sin. Messiah—whose word is written as Torah—fulfilled the requirement of His own word essence by giving His life as a sacrifice for all sin, past, present and future. This sacrifice bears the fruit of resurrection life and is the inception of the hope of a glory yet to be seen, the resurrection of the dead at the last day.
“’For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’” –Vayikra/Leviticus 17:11
“And according to the Torah, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” –Hebrews 9:22
Therefore, the Torah requires both the shedding of blood and the resulting reconciliation of the offender. Messiah embodied these requirements, and for us, in newness of life He embodies resurrection, having swallowed up death with victory.
5 For those who are according to sinful humanity set their minds on the things of the fallen nature, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
There are two distinct motivations at work here. Sin addicted humanity motivates rebellion, but those who have received the gift of G-d are motivated by the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah. It is important to note then that having received the gift of G-d, the Spirit of G-d through Messiah lives in us to usurp the old motivation of the sinful nature, replacing it with the motivation toward good. Thus we do the things of the Spirit, not because we are able to obey in our own strength but because we have been given the very Spirit of G-d, who, in us, transforms our very being.
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” –2 Corinthians 4:18
6 For the mind set on the fallen nature is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,
Death is a mindset, life is a mindset. Death is a mindset of the fallen nature, life is a mindset of the Spirit of G-d. Shalom, peace, wholeness, integrity, wellbeing and security are the blood that flows through the veins of life.
7 because the mind set on the fallen nature is hostile toward G-d; for it does not subject itself to the Torah of G-d, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the fallen nature cannot please G-d.
The rejection of G-d’s gift is hostility toward G-d. There a very few things as offensive as the refusing of a gift which has been given with positive intention. To refuse Yeshua is rebellion. Why is this so? It is because in pride the fallen nature has refused to humble itself before G-d? Why? Because unless the Spirit of G-d is received through Messiah, the human addiction is insurmountable. Those who reject Messiah cannot subject themselves to the Torah because only the Spirit of G-d is able to motivate the human being to do so. Without humility no one can come to G-d.
9 However, you are not in the fallen nature but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of G-d dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Messiah, he does not belong to Him.
You are not in the fallen nature but in the Spirit. Notice the beautiful rhythm of G-d, as He inspires Shaul/Paul to write, firstly to bring sober understanding and then an affirmation of freedom and hope in Messiah. We have G-d’s guarantee that we who have received His gift are already and always in the Spirit.
Note the interchangeable use of G-d and Messiah, with regard to the Spirit (Ruach ha-Kodesh). The Ruach ha-Kodesh is both the Spirit of the Father and the Spirit of the Son. The following Rabbinical sources support this understanding:
“‘And the Ruach (Spirit) of Elohim (G-d) hovered over the face of the waters.’ This phrase from Bereshit/Genesis 1:2 alludes to the spirit of Messiah, because Isaiah 11:2 says, ‘And the Spirit of HaShem will rest upon him’ [that is upon the ‘shoot of Jesse’, which is a name for Messiah]. Also we learn from the same text in Bereshit/Genesis 1:2 that this spirit of Messiah comes through the merit of repentance, for in Lamentations 2:19 repentance is likened to water: ‘Pour out your heart like water.’” (Bereshit/Genesis Rabbah 2:4)
“At the beginning of the creation of the world the king Messiah had already come into being, because he existed in G-d’s mind even before the world was created.” (Pesikta Rabbati 33:6)
10 If Messiah is in you, though the body be dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Yeshua from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Messiah Yeshua from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
The body is dead in respect to the sin addiction that still permeates creation as a whole. We are new creations but we live in a fallen creation. However, we see that the mortal body is not forsaken by G-d, rather He also gives the mortal body life through His Spirit which dwells within us. Baruch HaShem! This can also be seen as the certain promise of the coming resurrection of the dead at the last day and the revealing of the sons of G-d
12 So then, ami--my people, we are under obligation, not to fallen humanity, to live according to the sinful nature-- 13 for if you are living according to the sinful nature, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the (anti-torah) deeds of the body, you will live.
Notice that while Shaul/Paul has been speaking to the wider Roman ecclesia prior to this, he now uses specific Jewish terminology in order to briefly single out his own people once again. Thus he says, “So then ami, we are not under obligation to the fallen humanity so as to live according to its nature.” Any Jewish person familiar with the daily prayers and the penitent liturgy of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) will know that the words, “it is incumbent upon me.” Are a repetition that rings in the consciousness of our people.” Perhaps this same weight of condemnation is being addressed here by Shaul/Paul. It seems to me that Shaul/Paul is using this very idea in reverse. What I hear him saying is that as a Jew in Messiah I am obligated to become unobligated, or, it is incumbent upon me to be non-incumbent.
We could read, “If by the Spirit you are putting death to death, you will live.”
14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of G-d, these are children (literally, sons, significant because in Hebrew culture sons are heirs) of G-d.
The same Spirit that hovered over the waters in Genesis 1:2 is here present in the new creation of each believer. Why? Because in Messiah we have become heirs of the Glory of G-d.
15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery returning you again to fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as children (sons, heirs) by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of G-d, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of G-d and fellow heirs with Messiah, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
We cry “Abba” because the Son in us cries “Abba.” This unifies us in relationship, destroying the illusion of separation that has been proliferated by the evil one.
What is meant by, “If we suffer/endure hardship with Him (Yeshua)”? How will we be glorified with Him? In what way did Messiah suffer hardship? In every way. If we are known to belong to Him we will suffer, this is a promise of G-d through Messiah, “In this world you will have trouble.”
We are glorified with Him in His resurrection and finally in our resurrection at the end of the age, we are yet to be revealed as children of G-d. And yet, we are already being revealed as heirs of G-d. Like Abraham we have received our reward, which is G-d Himself. This is a past, present and future reward which will find its completion in eternity. G-d with us in the New Jerusalem in the Olam Haba (world to come), this is the Glory that awaits us.
Why do we read, “Sons, children and heirs”? It is because the Scripture says, “’Thus says HaShem Elohim, “If the prince gives a gift out of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance…” ‘His inheritance shall belong to his sons’ alone; it shall belong to them.” –Yechezk’el/Ezekiel 46:16-17
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons (sons, heirs) of G-d.20 For the creation was subjected to futility, unwillingly, for the purposes of Him (G-d) who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of G-d.
In Chapter 1 of Romans we learned that there is no excuse for failing to accept G-d because the creation itself has proved His existence from the beginning. Here Shaul/Paul explains that although G-d can be seen at work in creation, the creation is also affected by the human addiction to sin. Death entered the world through human sin and leaves the whole of creation awaiting its ultimate freedom. This too is purchased by the blood of Messiah who has made atonement for the purpose of wiping clean the entire Universe and will manifest the completion of this work in the revelation of the reconciliation of all things to G-d.
Why does creation eagerly await the revealing of the heirs of G-d? Because heirs inherit the land and no father worth his salt will leave a despoiled property to his sons. G-d, the perfect Father has already purposed to renew creation and give her as an inheritance to His Son who in turn will give it to His brothers and sisters, you and me. No longer will creation be enslaved to corruption because corruption will no longer be possible. Our hope is not uncertain, it is both certain and unseen.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
Child birth is a long process, I recall the birth of our first daughter, the contractions began in the afternoon and by nightfall had progressed only a little; at 1am they strengthened and then leveled out again, my wife yelled, “rub my back,” then as I began rubbing her back she yelled, “don’t touch me!” This went on for hours until finally it was almost too much for her. At one point both her and the baby were in great danger, their respective heart rates were in juxtaposition, one racing and one failing. The midwife acted quickly and the pain was eased slightly by an epidural, another temporary calm. In one final courageous act my wife Julia pushed through the last part of the delivery and as our daughter’s head came forth I placed my hands on her and offered her to HaShem with blessing. As I held my firstborn daughter in my hands I beheld the glory of new creation, I saw through the veil of time and space and into the future. My wife will testify that when she held our daughter for the first time she was utterly encapsulated by her innocent countenance and was in awe of the creator.
We have watched this very same process taking place throughout history as we await the birth of completion in G-d.
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons (children, heirs), the redemption of our fallen bodies. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
We too eagerly await the fulfillment of the promise which was purchased with blood and is sealed by the deposited Ruach ha-Kodesh. Our Father sent word to the adoption agency and having paid the price to redeem us He is on His way to pick us up, we are about to see the One who chose us to be His sons and daughters. We have known that He is near and we are preparing to behold Him with unveiled face.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then we shall see face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know completely, even as I am fully known.” –1 Corinthians 13:12
Our hope is not uncertain, it is both certain and unseen. Our hope is Yeshua Himself.
© 2014 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.