CMF eZine The online magazine of the Christian Military Fellowship. 5 April Romans 8:8 - The Flesh Cannot Please God By Bob Flynn Romans 0 Comment ROMANS 8:8 — THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD The conclusion. Therefore they that walk after the flesh cannot please God: by which it follows that they are not grafted into Christ. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (NASB) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (KJV) That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (NLT) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (NET) Literally: in flesh no power to please God Those who live "en sarki" are "ou dunamai!" If we are submitted to the fallen flesh then we are governed by fallen flesh and remain powerless to please the almighty. Then we must consider whether we ought to wait for a holy lightning bolt to free us (the sin of passivity) or whether we ought to proceed with intestinal fortitude and cowboy up (the sin of arrogance). Perhaps there is another "way" who is Jesus Christ the Lord (I am the way, the truth, and the life) that if we confess our estate will lead us out of this present darkness into the warmth of His everlasting light! Let us look back in time and hear the words of a grand old saint: A child may be obstinate, proud, and disobedient; and while in this state, it may be affirmed of him that he cannot please his parent. But whether he might not cease to be obstinate, and become obedient, is a very different inquiry; and the two subjects should never be confounded. With his present character he can never please him; neither in health nor sickness; neither in life nor death; neither on earth nor in hell. He is engaged in hostility against God; and if he does not himself forsake it, it will be endless, and involve his soul in all the evils of a personal, and direct, and eternal warfare with the Lord Almighty. (Dr. Albert Barnes) We should contrast this with the real assertion that the latent power of the soul is mightily capable of pleasing self and simultaneously deceiving self into thinking that self is pleasing God! Clearly 85% of the American population believes they belong to Jesus and thus declare themselves Christians! Now compare that with the morning news and see if it is true. NOT! Jesus did NOT say that the way was wide (like an eight lane freeway) but rather "narrow," "difficult" and "few" would find it! If you find that your life is "ou dunamai" don't kid yourself! Either turn up the music of this world, or fall on your knees and find the Way of Hope! "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT) ROMANS 8:8 — THE FLESH CANNOT PLEASE GOD The conclusion. Therefore they that walk after the flesh cannot please God: by which it follows that they are not grafted into Christ. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes) and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (NASB) So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (KJV) That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (NLT) Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (NET) Literally: in flesh no power to please God Those who live "en sarki" are "ou dunamai!" If we are submitted to the fallen flesh then we are governed by fallen flesh and remain powerless to please the almighty. Then we must consider whether we ought to wait for a holy lightning bolt to free us (the sin of passivity) or whether we ought to proceed with intestinal fortitude and cowboy up (the sin of arrogance). Perhaps there is another "way" who is Jesus Christ the Lord (I am the way, the truth, and the life) that if we confess our estate will lead us out of this present darkness into the warmth of His everlasting light! Let us look back in time and hear the words of a grand old saint: A child may be obstinate, proud, and disobedient; and while in this state, it may be affirmed of him that he cannot please his parent. But whether he might not cease to be obstinate, and become obedient, is a very different inquiry; and the two subjects should never be confounded. With his present character he can never please him; neither in health nor sickness; neither in life nor death; neither on earth nor in hell. He is engaged in hostility against God; and if he does not himself forsake it, it will be endless, and involve his soul in all the evils of a personal, and direct, and eternal warfare with the Lord Almighty. (Dr. Albert Barnes) We should contrast this with the real assertion that the latent power of the soul is mightily capable of pleasing self and simultaneously deceiving self into thinking that self is pleasing God! Clearly 85% of the American population believes they belong to Jesus and thus declare themselves Christians! Now compare that with the morning news and see if it is true. NOT! Jesus did NOT say that the way was wide (like an eight lane freeway) but rather "narrow," "difficult" and "few" would find it! If you find that your life is "ou dunamai" don't kid yourself! Either turn up the music of this world, or fall on your knees and find the Way of Hope! "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT) Related Romans 8:12 - We Are Debtors, Not to the Flesh Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. An exhortation to oppress the flesh daily more and more by the power of the Spirit of regeneration, because (he says) you are debtors to God, in that you have received so many benefits from him. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (NASB) Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. (KJV) Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. (NLT) So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (NET) We are no longer obligated! Why? Because we have been adopted into a new family! Paul here introduces us to a new metaphor that is in keeping with Roman law and adoption. We have lost all rights and obligations to the old family and have received a new father and are now heirs to a new estate. Our old self has been wiped out and all debts cancelled. This is demonstrated in history when the Roman Emperor, Claudius, adopted Nero so that he could be his successor (they were not blood kin). (William Barclay, paraphrase mine) Calvin adds that Paul's sentence leaves out the contrast (perhaps because it should be obvious) that we are now debtors to the Spirit. Calvin goes on to warn us against contempt and negligence in our walk lest we again find ourselves fighting against God. Darby equates this with the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt and into a new life where we participate with Christ. The flesh will continue to assert itself saying we must follow its desires but the completed work of Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit will testify that we are participants in a new life and joint heirs with Christ whose power gives us the victory! Perhaps John Wesley says it best: "We are not debtors to the flesh — We ought not to follow it." But it is as it were to fight against God, when we extinguish the grace offered to us, by contempt and negligence. (John Calvin) Eph 4:30 And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. (NLT) Gal 5:25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. (NLT) The key to all this doctrine of the apostle's, and that which unites holy practice, the Christian life, with absolute grace and eternal deliverance from condemnation, is the new position entirely apart from sin, which death gives to us, being alive in Christ now before God. The power of God, the glory of the Father, the operation of the Spirit, are found acting in the resurrection of Christ, and placing Him, who had borne our sins and been made sin for us, in a new position beyond sin and death before God. And by faith I have part in His death, I participate in this life. (Dr. John Darby) Php 3:21 He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control. (NLT) Psa 116:16 O LORD, I am Your servant; yes, I am Your servant, born into Your household; You have freed me from my chains. (NLT) 1Co 6:19-20 Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. (NLT) 1Pe 4:2-3 You won't spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy—their immorality and lust, their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties, and their terrible worship of idols. (NLT) Romans 3:20 - NO Flesh Shall Be Justified "It is in vain to seek for justification by the works of the law. All must plead guilty. Guilty before God, is a dreadful word; but no man can be justified by a law which condemns him for breaking it. The corruption in our nature, will for ever stop any justification by our own works." (Matthew Henry Concise Commentary) By the deeds of the law — By works; or by such deeds as the Law requires. The word “Law” has, in the Scriptures, a great variety of significations. Its strict and proper meaning is, a rule of conduct prescribed by superior authority. The course of reasoning in these chapters shows the sense in which the apostle uses it here. He intends evidently to apply it to those rules or laws by which the Jews and Gentiles pretended to frame their lives; and to affirm that people could be justified by no conformity to those laws. He had shown Romans 1 that “the pagan, the entire Gentile world,” had violated the laws of nature; the rules of virtue made known to them by reason, tradition, and conscience. He had shown the same Romans 2–3 in respect to the Jews. They had equally failed in rendering obedience to their Law. In both these cases the reference was, not to “ceremonial” or ritual laws, but to the moral law; whether that law was made known by reason or by revelation. The apostle had not been discussing the question whether they had yielded obedience to their ceremonial law, but whether they had been found holy, that is, whether they had obeyed the moral law. The conclusion was, that in all this they had failed, and that therefore they could not be justified by that Law. That the apostle did not intend to speak of external works only is apparent; for he all along charges them with a lack of conformity of the heart no less than with a lack of conformity of the life; see Romans 1:26, Romans 1:29-31; Romans 2:28-29. The conclusion is therefore a general one, that by no law, made known either by reason, conscience, tradition, or revelation, could man be justified; that there was no form of obedience which could be rendered, that would justify people in the sight of a holy God. (Dr. Albert Barnes) "because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin." (NASB) "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (KJV) "For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are." (NLT) "For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin." (NET) Because (dioti, again, dia, hoti). By the works of the law (ex ergo?n nomou). “Out of works of law.” Mosaic law and any law as the source of being set right with God. Paul quotes Psalm 43:2 as he did in Galatians 2:16 to prove his point. The knowledge of sin (epigno?sis hamartias). The effect of law universally is rebellion to it (1Corinthians 15:56). Paul has shown this carefully in Galatians 3:19-22. Cf. Hebrews 10:3. He has now proven the guilt of both Gentile and Jew. (Robertson's Word Studies) "For You are God, my only safe haven. Why have You tossed me aside? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?" (Psalm 43:2 NLT) "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law." (Galatians 2:16) "For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power." (1 Corinthians 15:56) "Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. Now a mediator is helpful if more than one party must reach an agreement. But God, who is one, did not use a mediator when He gave His promise to Abraham. Is there a conflict, then, between God's law and God's promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God's promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ." (Galatians 3:19-22 NLT) "But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year." (Hebrews 10:3) We have a debt we owe that we cannot pay! We are locked in a downward spiraling death dance that leads us to only one place! There is only one cure for the disease, death! After this comes the judgment. This indictment is so complete and so well written that they used to teach it in law school. There was a time in the past when a degree in theology was a prerequisite for law school. The prevailing thought was that if you were not steeped in God's law, you lacked the wisdom to govern men. Where does this leave us sinners? Condemned by a perfect and holy God! The law has done its job! But wait! We have God's promise of deliverance by faith in Jesus Christ! This faith brings new life! This is the life that inspires a former slave trader to write "Amazing Grace." This is the life that empowers mere flesh to write "It Is Well With My Soul," in the midst of a great personal tragedy. This is the life that illuminated Martin Luther with the words, "The Just Shall live by Faith." We today are no different. We have a sin and death problem that has only one solution. The solution has a name, Jesus Christ and "no one comes to the Father" but by Him! Romans 8:9 - Not in the Flesh But in the Spirit ROMANS 8:9 — Not in the Flesh But in the Spirit However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. (NASB) 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. (KJV) But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to Him at all.) (NLT) You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. (NET) Translation. But as for you, you are not in the sphere of the flesh but in the sphere of the Spirit, provided that the Spirit of God is in residence in you. But, assuming that a person does not have the Spirit of Christ, this one does not belong to Him. Here again we have the contrasts presented between life in the flesh (en sarki) and life in the Spirit (en pneumati) with the added dimension of "provided that" (eiper) the Spirit of God dwells (oikeo from oikos - home, therefore to dwell as your home) in you. The indwelling Holy Spirit becomes our seal of the faith and our comforter. The other contrast is the unbeliever versus the believer. Those who do not have Christ's Spirit are not believers at all and do not belong to Christ. The "motions" of our life are the testimony. If our lives reflect the vulgarities of sin then we belong to the ruler of this world and our testimony is of death. If, however, the heart has been made clean and the restoration of the temple has begun then the fruit of the Spirit will be seen as a testimony of life. The truth is brought out here that the Holy Spirit is given to the believing sinner the moment he puts his faith in the Lord Jesus, and not some time afterwards, as is erroneously taught in some quarters, since that believing sinner becomes the possession of the Lord Jesus the moment he believes and thus must possess the Holy Spirit as an indweller. Wuest, K. S. (1997, c1984). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Ro 8:9) This does not mean that the unsaved person never does anything good, or that the believer never does anything bad. It means that the bent of their lives is different. One lives for the flesh, the other lives for the Spirit. Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament" The flesh, the sinful principle, dwelt in them before; and its motions were the proofs of its indwelling; but now the Spirit dwells in them; and its testimony in their conscience, and its powerful operations in their hearts, are the proofs of its indwelling. God made man in union with himself, and his heart was his temple. Sin being committed, the temple was defiled, and God abandoned it. Jesus Christ is come by his sacrifice and Spirit to cleanse the temple, and make man again a habitation of God through the Spirit. And when this almighty Spirit again makes the heart his residence, then the soul is delivered from the moral effects of the fall. And that this is absolutely necessary to our present peace and final salvation is proved from this: that if any man have not the Spirit of Christ - the mind that was in him, produced there by the power of the Holy Ghost - he is none of his; he does not belong to the kingdom, flock, or family of God. This is an awful conclusion! Reader, lay it to heart. (Dr. Adam Clarke) Romans 7:25 - Mind With God - Flesh with Sin This is the true perfection of those that are born again, to confess that they are imperfect. (Geneva Bible Translation Notes) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin. (NASB) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (KJV) Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin. (NLT) Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (NET) Perhaps it would be good to remember the beginning of this section of the argument as we come to its conclusion. It began with the thought that: God's law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God's wonderful kindness became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God's wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:20-21 NLT96) Paul has expanded the argument by illustrating that sin is the master and we are the slaves. I would have liked it better had the Lord done away with sin, but instead he did away with the sinner for in Christ we have died to sin. Then he used the illustration of marriage to express the law and its holiness provoking sin to display itself in us. But since we are dead to the law in Christ, it no longer has the power to provoke: So then, dear friends the point is this: The law no longer holds you in its power, because you died to its power when you died with Christ on the cross. And now you are united with the one who was raised from the dead. As a result, you can produce good fruit, that is, good deeds for God. (Romans 7:4 NLT96) This then culminates the finding of fact in Paul's experience that with the "law of his mind," he tries to obey the "law of God," but the "law of sin and death" give him only one choice. We have thus seen the sad but continuous epitaph of the sin in a battle with God Himself and the sinner with a terminal case of self-inflicted wounds. The first husband (the Law) unable to extricate the fallen but the second husband (Christ and His Gospel) bringing not only deliverance but everlasting triumph! Thanks is too small a word to convey the song of a soul set free! Romans 3:27 - Boasting in the Lord-Not in the Flesh Romans 3:27 Where is the boasting then of the Jew against the gentile? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay - This would have left room for boasting. But by the law of faith - Since this requires all, without distinction, to apply as guilty and helpless sinners, to the free mercy of God in Christ. The law of faith is that divine constitution which makes faith, not works, the condition of acceptance. John Wesley Romans 3:27 Where is boasting then?.... There is no room nor reason for it, either in Jews or Gentiles: not in the Jews, who were very apt to boast of their being Abraham's seed; of their circumcision; of their being Israelites; of their having and keeping the law; of God being their God; and of their knowledge of him: nor in the Gentiles, who were ready to boast of their philosophy, wisdom, and learning; of their self-sufficiency, freewill, and of the things they had in their own power. It is excluded; it is shut out of doors; the key is turned upon it; it is not allowed of; it is entirely exploded: by what law? of works? nay; for, that establishes boasting when men seek life, righteousness, and salvation by the works of it, and fancy they shall be able to attain them this way: but by the law of faith: not by a law requiring faith; nor as if the Gospel was a law, a new law, a remedial law, a law of milder terms; but the word "law" here answers to the Hebrew word ????, which signifies any "doctrine" or "instruction", and oftentimes the doctrine of the Gospel, as in Isaiah 2:3, and here particularly, the doctrine of a sinner's justification by faith in the righteousness of Christ; according to which doctrine the most unlikely persons are justified, even ungodly persons, the worst and vilest of sinners; and that without any consideration of works, by faith only, which is freely given them; and by faith in Christ's righteousness only: so that there is not the least room for boasting in the creature, but all their boasting is in Christ, who is made unto them righteousness, and by whom they are justified. Dr. John Gill "Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith." (NASB) "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith." (KJV) "Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith." (NLT) "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded! By what principle? Of works? No, but by the principle of faith!" (NET) Let us then glory in the Lord! Is this not the fruit of the joy of the Lord made real in our lives? We cannot glory in the flesh in the presence of a perfect and holy God. But rather cling to this old promise and boast in the Lord only. Our hearts are in the heavenlies and the things of this world are no longer our primary interest. We live on Calvary time and find our sustenance in God's economy. Ephesians 2:9 NLT "Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." 1 Corinthians 1:29, 31 NLT "As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, 'If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.'" Isaiah 45:25 NLT "In the LORD all the generations of Israel will be justified, and in Him they will boast." Romans 7:05 - Flesh and the Law The illustration in this verse and the following is designed to show more at length the effect of the Law, whenever and wherever applied; whether in a state of nature or of grace. It was always the same. It was the occasion of agitation and conflict in a man’s own mind. This was true when a sinner was under conviction; and it was true when a man was a Christian. In all circumstances where the Law was applied to the corrupt mind of man, it produced this agitation and conflict. (Dr. Albert Barnes) So long as a man continues under the law as a covenant, and seeks justification by his own obedience, he continues the slave of sin in some form. (Mathew Henry) For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (NASB) For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. (KJV) When we were controlled by our old nature, sinful desires were at work within us, and the law aroused these evil desires that produced a harvest of sinful deeds, resulting in death. (NLT) For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. (NET) Gal 5:24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to His cross and crucified them there. (NLT) Tit 3:3 Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. (NLT) Gal 5:16-17 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (NLT) It is our inner nature, lustful passions, that are exercised, because the law prohibits, to seek gratification. This is the very mechanism that the enemy of our soul will continue to use to deceive us even as we endeavor to walk in the Spirit! It is this desire for gratification that can lead us into thinking we are following the Lord when we are merely deceiving ourselves. Should we believe that we are caught up in "holy affections" when we bark like a dog or shake uncontrollably? These are the "fair shows and glistering appearances" of which Jonathan Edwards spoke during the great awakening. "War on the Saints" likewise condemns such things as of the devil. Our inner nature seeks an "experience" and while true religion will bring with it great affections, having such experiences does not necessarily mean they are holy! The human psyche is capable of great things in its own right, including leading a morally upright life. The problem is still the man within that wants to have his own way ("justification by obedience")! However, we know that Jesus is the only way! "the motions of sin" are meant, the evil passions and affections of the mind, the lusts of the heart, sinful desires, evil thoughts, the imaginations of the thoughts of the heart, the first motions of the mind to sin: these "were by the law"; not as the efficient cause of them, that neither produces nor encourages them; (Dr. John Gill) When ye were in the flesh - Carnally minded, in a state of nature; before we believed in Christ. Our sins which were by the law - Accidentally occasioned, or irritated thereby. Wrought in our members - Spread themselves all over the whole man. (John Wesley) Comments are closed.