For If Ye Live After the Flesh, Ye Shall Die – Romans 8:13 EXPLAINED
In this video, I’m going to answer a question I was asked in an email regarding the meaning of Romans 8:13, which says “…if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die…” This verse has been misused and taken out of context by many people who claim that it teaches how saved believers in Christ can lose their salvation if they don’t put to death sin in their lives, which is pretty ironic because Romans 8 is considered by many to be the strongest chapter in the New Testament that teaches and exalts our eternal security in Christ, how we can NEVER lose our salvation. So, let’s breakdown the meaning of this verse in the context of chapter 8, where Paul repeatedly describes two types of people: those in the flesh and those in the Spirit. Let’s look into it.
Here’s the verse, Romans 8:13, written by the Apostle Paul to the church. He wrote:
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13 KJV)
For people who say this verse teaches that you can lose your salvation, their thinking goes like this. They say:
“This verse is clearly written to saved Christians, telling them that if they continue to live in the flesh, committing fleshly sins, after they have come to know Christ, then they will die, a word that means loss of salvation and eternal death. Therefore, once you are saved by placing your faith in Christ, keeping your salvation depends on you mortifying or putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, to stop giving in to sin. If you do mortify the sinful deeds of the body, your salvation will be assured. But if you don’t, then you will lose your salvation and face eternal death in hell.”
Well, this is a horrible analysis of God’s Word, taking the verse completely out of the context of chapter 8 and viewing it in isolation, imposing a meaning that Paul never intended. In fact, Paul’s message in chapter 8 is just the opposite. Paul teaches assurance of salvation in this chapter, not how we can lose it. But when supposed teachers of God’s Word promote this kind of lazy, word-salad analysis to impressionable believers in Christ, and particularly new believers who do not yet know how to interpret Scripture, this interpretation is terrifying. I’ve received countless emails from saved believers who are scared to death because they hear interpretations like this and, even though they have already trusted in Jesus Christ as their Savior, they become terrified that sin in their lives can still send them to hell.
An interpretation like this is a complete and utter denial of the Gospel. It is not trusting in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection to save you, but really saying that your salvation is up to you and how you live. Live obediently, put sin away, and you shall live for eternity. But if you let sin into your life, then you shall die eternally. So, salvation is no longer a free gift of God’s grace, His unmerited favor for those who trust in Christ. Instead, your salvation depends on you and what you do. That’s a complete and utter denial of the Gospel. I truly don’t understand how people who believe this can be saved. They’ve fooled themselves by saying, “Christ did His part. Now I’ve got to do my part, or I won’t be saved.” That’s not the Gospel. That’s a false gospel. Such people are not believing in the all-sufficiency of Christ and, instead, are following a false gospel.
The true Gospel is that we are saved completely and forever by believing in Christ. Nothing more. Christ plus nothing. Nothing we do adds to what Christ has already done. Jesus said:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)
There’s one and only one requirement to be saved and that is to believe in Him. If you do, you shall not perish but have everlasting life. Period. Nothing more. Believing in Him means believing that He is God’s Son, Who died on the cross to pay for your sins, was buried, and then rose from the dead. God is perfect and cannot allow even one sin into His holy presence. God has declared that the penalty for sin is death, eternal separation from God in a place of punishment. All of us deserve death. But out of God’s perfect love, He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, paying our debt of sin for us, and then rose from the dead to give us eternal life, so that whosoever believes in Him will be saved.
Nothing we do adds to that. Nothing we do makes us worthy of salvation. None of us are worthy. Even the very best of us still fall short of God’s perfection and His perfect standard. Therefore, salvation must be a free gift of God’s grace, or as Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)
A “work” is anything you try to do to make yourself worthy of salvation. Salvation is “not of yourselves.” Nothing you do earns it. Nothing you do helps you keep it. Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, which means unmerited favor. Nothing we do merits God saving us. Nothing we do merits God keeping us saved. God gives us eternal salvation as a free gift when we place our faith in Christ, believing that He alone paid for every one of our sins on the cross and then rose from the dead.
If you are not sure of your salvation, I want you to stop this video right now and ask God to save you. Admit to Him that you are a sinner and believe in Jesus to save you, that only through Him can you be saved.
That is the true Gospel. It’s not a gospel of works where we have to prove ourselves worthy by our behavior. As saved Christians, we believe in obedience to God, that we should put an end to sin in our lives. But our obedience is not what saves us and it’s not what keeps us saved. Our obedience is an offering to God that we give out of reverence for Him and out of our thankfulness for what He alone has already done for us.
That’s why this false interpretation of Romans 8:13 is so wicked, because it perverts the true Gospel that we are saved by God’s grace, unmerited favor, through faith in Christ alone.
Then what does this verse truly mean? For the rest of this video, let’s look at this verse in context of chapter 8, which is an amazing chapter that tells us many times over how, once we place our faith in Christ, we can never, never, never, ever lose our salvation.
In the first half of this chapter and to set the stage, Paul describes two types of people: those in the flesh and those in the Spirit. We’re going to look at this and I’m going to show you how those whom Paul refers to as being “in the flesh” are unsaved. They’re not saved Christians who are living in fleshly sin. They are unbelievers. For believers in Christ, verse 9 says that we are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit. We’ll look at that.
But let’s start with the strongest statement ever on salvation assurance:
There’s No Condemnation For Those in Christ (Rom. 8:1)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 KJV)
To make this bold statement, verse 1 uses the word, “therefore,” which connects this verse to what was just said in chapter 7. Chapter 8 is a continuation of chapter 7, where Paul wrote about his own struggle with sin. He wrote:
“I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 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.” (Romans 7:21-25 KJV)
As saved Christians who are still alive here on earth, we have not been perfected yet. God has given us His perfect Holy Spirit to live inside us, but we still have to live in these mortal bodies of flesh that crave pleasures and things not of God. Paul described this war within himself, how in his mind he loved God and wanted to serve Him, but in his flesh, his body wanted to serve sin. Every Christian can relate to this. We want to do good before God, but then we find ourselves giving in to sin and struggling with sin.
With this background, Paul begins chapter 8 with this unbreakable declaration of salvation assurance:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 KJV)
The key phrase here is the phrase, “in Christ Jesus.” The very moment you place your faith in Christ for salvation, God’s Holy Spirit indwells you and is sealed inside you forever. From that moment on, Christ is in you and you are in Christ. For those “in Christ,” there is now no condemnation. You will never be condemned. Sin can never send you to hell. That is salvation assurance.
Now, the King James version which I’m quoting from, has an added phrase at the end of this verse which most of the other translations do not have. It’s the phrase, “who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” You won’t find this additional phrase in other translations. The reason is that the original Greek manuscript used as the basis for the King James Bible had that phrase in it. Other Greek manuscripts used as the basis for those other translations didn’t have that phrase in it.
Either way, with this phrase present or absent, the verse is true. The question is: What does this phrase mean in the context of this sentence? The mistake I’ve seen some commentators make is thinking that this phrase makes the first part of the verse about there being no condemnation conditional on the believer walking in the Spirit instead of walking in the flesh. If you walk in the Spirit, they reason, then there’s no condemnation, but if you walk in the flesh, then there is condemnation. This is an incorrect interpretation.
Why is it incorrect? Two reasons:
- The phrase is descriptive, not conditional – The phrase doesn’t say “there’s no condemnation IF you walk not after the flesh but after the Spirt.” Instead, Paul uses the word “who.” There’s no condemnation for those in Christ WHO walk not after the flesh but after the Spirt. Paul is simply describing a believer in Christ, not imposing a condition. As believers, we ARE people who walk after the Spirit. In fact, verse 9 coming up says we are no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit. That doesn’t mean we never sin or never commit fleshly sins. It means the Spirit of God is in us, is leading us, and that our lives are changed to where we desire the things of the Spirit of God, and no longer are we helplessly controlled by the desires of the flesh.
When you become a saved Christian and God’s Holy Spirit indwells you forever, that will change you. It may take time, but you are no longer the person you were before.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)
When we are saved, we are a new creation in Christ. We start to desire the things of God because God’s Spirit is in us. If you claim to be a Christian and there’s no change in your life but instead you are still living just as sinfully as you did before you claimed to have been saved, was your salvation real? Maybe not. Those who are in Christ have a new bent, a new direction. It may take a while to get there, because it may take the Holy Spirit time to expose and break away patterns of sinful thinking within us. But we’re no longer who we were. We’re now in the Spirit. We are no longer in the flesh. Therefore, as Christians, we ARE people who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.
How else do we know that the phrase in verse 1 is not imposing a condition of walking in obedience for there to be no condemnation? By looking at the very next verse.
- Verse 2 directly refutes the idea that “no condemnation” is conditional – Verse 2 says:
“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:2 KJV)
What is the “law of sin and death?” That all who sin will eternally die. It is Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death…”
What is the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ?” It is the Gospel.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the Name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18 KJV)
The Gospel has defeated the law of sin and death, setting us free from the law of sin and death. John is quoting Jesus as saying that those who believe in Him will not be condemned. This sounds a lot like Romans 8:1, that there is no condemnation for those in Christ.
So, the meaning of Romans 8:2 is this: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (believing the Gospel) hath made me free from the law of sin and death (the power of sin to send me to hell).”
Because of Jesus, every saved believer is now free from the law of sin and death, which means sin can no longer condemn us to hell. Why is that? Because all sin (past, present and future) was nailed to the cross when we placed our faith in Christ.
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened (made alive) together with Him, having forgiven you ALL trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;” (Colossians 2:13-14 KJV)
All sin in our lives has already been paid for on the cross. Therefore, even when we sin as believers, there is no condemnation. All of our sins were placed on the body of Jesus. He bore our condemnation for us completely so that we might live with Him forever. God will still chasten us when we sin, but the punishment of eternal condemnation in hell has forever been taken away by Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross.
Our Sin Has Been Condemned, Not Us
In verses 3 and 4, Paul then tells us that our sin (past, present and future) has already been condemned. Sin itself was condemned on the cross, not us, to free us from the bondage of sin in order that we might live for righteousness.
“For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4 KJV)
First, Paul tells us that our efforts to earn our salvation through obedience is a hopeless cause because our obedience is weakened by the flesh – “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh…” No matter how hard we try to obey God, our salvation cannot be earned through our obedience, because our obedience is weakened by our flesh. God’s standard is perfection, not just being sort-of good or intending to be good. God will not give up His perfect holiness, so not even one sin can enter His perfect presence without being condemned.
If God’s perfect holiness were His only attribute, then we’d all be condemned. But God is also perfect in love. And in His perfect love, He sent His Son Jesus in the “likeness of sinful flesh.” This means Jesus came in the flesh. He lived a perfect life under the Law, which qualified Him to be our perfect sacrifice. He did not sin, therefore He did not come in sinful flesh, but in the “likeness” of sinful flesh, to be our perfect sacrifice.
Jesus sacrificed Himself to pay for our sins (all of them) and “condemned sin in the flesh.” Our sin has already been condemned. There is no longer any sin that we have done, are doing, or will do that HASN’T been already condemned and paid for on the cross.
If all sin has already been condemned and paid for on the cross,
then sin in your daily life can no longer cause you to be condemned to hell.
That is why Paul started this chapter by saying:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1 KJV)
We are now free from the fear of condemnation. And it’s all because of what Jesus did for us, not because of what we did to control our sin. But then Paul goes on in verse 4:
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4 KJV)
The power of sin in our lives to control us has been broken. We are no longer slaves to sin. God has given each of His children the power to say no to sin, something we could never do before because we were slaves to the flesh. Therefore, with Christ now in us, we now have the power to walk in a way that pleases God and fulfills His righteous laws. And there’s that phrase again describing who we are in Christ: “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Sprit.” We now have the Spirit of God in us to help us walk in righteousness. As we learn to walk with the help of the Spirit of God now inside us, we find a new ability to say no to sin and instead, to walk in righteousness. We begin to fulfill God’s Laws, not under compulsion because of the threat of condemnation, but naturally because we are now indwelt with His Spirit and are learning to walk in His Spirit. So, the righteous requirements of the Law can now be fulfilled in us. We can now walk in righteousness before God because His Holy Spirit is now inside us, empowering us.
Two Types of People
With this introduction, Paul now describes and compares two types of people: those in the flesh (the unsaved) and those in the Spirit (the saved). Paul is NOT describing two types of believers: those who continue sinning and those who don’t, because every saved Christian who is still alive still sins. Even the best and most obedient Christian still sins. Paul is not talking about two types of Christians. He’s comparing an unsaved person, one who is still in the flesh and controlled by the flesh, with a saved person, one who is now controlled by God’s Spirit. Paul is comparing an unbeliever in the flesh to a believer in the Spirit to show us how radically different and changed we are, now that we are “in Christ.”
“For they that are after the flesh (the unsaved) do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit (the saved) the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8 KJV)
How do we know that these verses aren’t talking about a wayward believer who is carnally minded? Because it says, “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, NEITHER INDEED CAN BE.” This is describing a person in a state where they CANNOT be subject to God. It doesn’t just say that they are refusing to be subject to God, like a sinning believer might refuse God. It says that they CANNOT be subject to God. That’s not a saved Christian, for even when saved believers commit carnal sins and go after the flesh, we still have the Spirit of God in us and have it within us, within our minds, bodies and Spirit, to turn back to God.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)
God is faithful to His children to provide a way of escape from sinful temptations. Even the most wayward Christian is able to turn back to God. But verse 7 describes a mind that is totally incapable of being subject to the Law of God. Paul is talking about an unbeliever who is still in the flesh.
Second, verse 7 says that the person with the carnal mind is at enmity with God. This word “enmity” also means hatred. This person has hatred toward God and His Laws. That’s not describing a saved believer who is straying into fleshly sins. Far from being at enmity with God, every believer in Christ is reconciled to God:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1 KJV)
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled” (Colossians 1:21 KJV)
Notice in Colossians 1:21 that it is God Who did the reconciling. This word “reconciled” means “to bring back into a state of harmony.” God reconciled us. He brought us into a state of harmony with Himself through Jesus Christ. We didn’t reconcile ourselves to Him. He reconciled us. He saved us. We don’t save ourselves or reconcile ourselves. Now that we are saved, we are no longer at enmity with God, even when we sin. When we sin, God will correct us and may discipline us to lead us back to holiness. But our sin never breaks the reconciliation or harmony or peace we have with Him. Because of Christ, we are forever reconciled to God.
But Romans 8:7 is describing a person who is truly at enmity with God. This person “in the flesh” is an unsaved person, an unbeliever.
How else do we know that this phrase “in the flesh,” is referring to an unbeliever? From the very next verse:
“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.” (Romans 8:9 KJV)
A saved believer is no longer “in the flesh,” PERIOD. We may and likely will commit fleshly sins as long as we have these fleshly bodies, but we are no longer “in the flesh.” We are no longer controlled by the flesh. We’ve changed kingdoms. We are now “in the Spirit,” because the Spirit of God dwells in us. If anyone does not have the Spirit of God indwelling them, then they are not saved.
Paul goes on then in verse 10 to say that:
The Body is Dead But the Spirit is Alive
“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10 KJV)
As saved believers, we still live in the fleshly bodies that draw us to sin. These bodies will die, for:
“… flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…” (1 Corinthians 15:50 KJV)
But even though our bodies are still subject to physical death, our Spirit is alive forever “because of righteousness.” This is not referring to OUR righteousness. It is Christ’s righteousness. Christ is the One Who is perfectly righteous. Because of His righteousness, God’s Spirit is alive in us. This isn’t saying you have to live righteously, or you won’t be alive. It’s saying we are alive because of Christ’s righteousness.
In summary, Paul has described two types of people:
The Unsaved = “In the flesh”
- Not “in Christ”
- Carnal minded = death
- Have their minds on (which means they seek and strive for) the flesh
- At enmity (hatred) against God
- Incapable of being subject to God
- Controlled by sin
- Cannot please God
- Cannot fulfill the righteous requirements of God
- Subject to the law of sin and death (will eternally die for their sins)
- Spiritually dead
Paul contrasts this with:
The Saved = “In the Spirit”
- “In Christ” (we’ve placed our faith in Christ for Salvation and Christ now lives in us)
- Spiritually minded = life and peace
- Have our minds on (which means we seek and strive for) the Spirit of God
- Reconciled to God
- Capable of being subject to God
- Not controlled by sin but by the Spirit
- Can please God
- Can fulfill the righteous requirements of God
- No condemnation, no longer subject to the law of sin and death
- Spiritually alive
Paul then goes on in Romans chapter 8 to say that there’s
Even Better News: We will be given new bodies!
“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 (make alive) your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11 KJV)
God’s desire is for us to live with Him forever. That’s a problem if our physical bodies are going to physically die because of sin. But there is coming a day when the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead will also give us resurrected bodies that will last forever and will never be subject to or tempted by sin. We have resurrection bodies that are coming. Once we have them, the problem of sin will be forever a thing of the past. We will be given our eternal bodies at the moment of the rapture, which could happen any day now.
“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 KJV)
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 KJV)
At that moment, we will be truly free from sin and will be fit to live with God for eternity. Our salvation will be complete. We will be:
- Freed from the PENALTY of sin (eternal death) – This happened the very moment you placed your faith in Christ for salvation.
- Freed from the PRACTICE of sin – This happens daily during discipleship AFTER salvation, as we learn to walk in obedience to become like Christ.
- Freed from the PRESENCE of sin – This happens at the rapture when we have eternal bodies that can no longer be tempted by sin.
In light of all that God has done for us, Paul then gets practical, beginning in Romans 8:12, describing how we ought to live, saying:
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.” (Romans 8:12 KJV)
The implication here is that we are now debtors to God to live in the Spirit in our daily lives, given all that God has done for us. We are no longer debtors to live after the flesh. We don’t owe the flesh anything. By contrast, we owe God everything. Paul is now speaking to the Church, to saved believers. He’s no longer comparing unsaved verses saved. He’s speaking directly to us about how we should live. In light of all that God has done for us, having set us free from sin, we are debtors to God to live for righteousness, not to live after the flesh.
Then we get to the verse in question, Romans 8:13:
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13 KJV)
Paul is still speaking to the Church, to believers who are already saved. He already told us that we’re no longer under condemnation but have been reconciled to God. So, he’s not talking about eternal condemnation in this verse. That would contradict everything we just read in Romans 8. Plus, such an interpretation would contradict the verses that come after this verse. For example, we haven’t gotten to this verse yet but in verse 15 Paul says:
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 KJV)
If a saved believer can still be sent to hell by walking in the flesh, then we are indeed in bondage to fear. If that’s the case, we should be afraid, if sin can still send us to hell, because we all still sin. But Paul says we have not received a spirit of fear but one of adoption. We are now children of God. So, verse 13 cannot possibly be referring to being sent to hell if we walk after the flesh or it would contradict the verses before it and the verses after it.
Then what does Paul mean when he says, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die?”
Paul is talking about the possibility of physical death for a believer who persistently lives after the flesh. The Greek word for “die” in this verse is the word, “apothnēskō,” which primarily means “to die of the natural death of man.” As a secondary meaning, it can also be used to speak of eternal death, but not here. In fact, not anywhere in the New Testament. This Greek word was used 111 times in the New Testament, each and every time referring to physical death. That’s very significant. Not even once is this Greek word used in the New Testament to refer to eternal death. For example:
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die (apothnēskō), but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)
Paul is talking about physical death. He’s not talking about eternal death. He just told us how we can no longer be condemned and haven’t been given a spirit if fear as if we could be condemned. He’s talking about physical death.
When we sin as believers in Christ, God will chasten us.
“But when we (saved believers) are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1 Corinthians 11:32 KJV)
Hebrews 12:10-11 says that God chastens us that we may share in His holiness and that His chastening of us has the objective of producing in us righteousness. God chastens every one of His children. Sometimes He chastens us not because we’ve done something wrong but to help us become more like Christ. But other times, when we have done something wrong, He chastens us to correct patterns of sin that He sees in our lives. Either way, that chastening is not condemnation but correction. This verse clearly says that no matter how severely He chastens us, we will “NOT BE CONDEMNED with the world.”
“For whom the LORD loveth He correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” (Proverbs 3:12 KJV)
God’s chastening of a believer can be mild or severe, but it will never involve condemnation to hell, because the eternal consequences of sin have already been removed and paid for on the cross. However, God is still holy, and He never wants His children to sin, and He will faithfully correct us if and when we do.
When we sin as believers, God will first warn us gently, possibly through His Word. That’s why those warnings are in His Word. If we don’t take the hint but continue in sin, He may then chasten us more severely. If we still don’t turn back from sin, he may allow bad consequences to happen in our lives because of our sin. If after all that we still continue in our sin, God can reach a point where He simply says, “Enough!” and takes us home early. Such a believer who is rebellious in sin is put to physical death, but he or she is still saved.
The Apostle John also referred to this when he wrote that:
“…There is a sin unto death…” (1 John 5:16 KJV)
John wasn’t talking about eternal death but physical death, for up to that point, John had been giving us one assurance of eternal salvation after another, such as just 3 verses before this one, where he wrote:
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…” (1 John 5:13 KJV)
After saying that, he wouldn’t three verses later contradict himself by saying that there is still a sin unto death that could send you to hell. No. John was saying that there is a sin unto physical death, just as Paul is saying that here in Romans 8. Both Paul and John wrote that a saved believer could sin to a point where God may decide to end that believer’s physical life and take him or her home early. But even then, that person will still be saved.
There are examples in Scripture of saved believers who lost their physical lives due to sin. The best example we have of this is in 1 Corinthians 5, where a rebellious, sinning believer refused to stop living a life of fornication, even after being confronted and warned by the church. To that person, Paul said he had decided:
“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5 KJV)
Such a wayward, sinning believer who refused to repent would be physically put to death. Nevertheless, Paul said that person would still be saved. How could that sinning believer still be saved if he refused to repent? The ONLY way that could be possible is if ALL sins (past, present and future sins, even the sins for which there was no repentance) were nailed to the cross and paid for by Christ the moment he had placed his faith in Christ. His rebellious sin as a saved believer would not nullify the gift of eternal life that God had given him the moment he trusted in Christ to save him. He would lose his physical life because of sin but not his eternal soul. A saved believer can NEVER lose salvation. Luckily, in this case, we know from 2 Corinthians that the wayward believer did repent before he was put to physical death.
But still, we have other examples of believers who were put to physical death, such as Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5, or believers who were partaking of the Lords Supper in an unworthy manner in 1 Corinthians 11. They were put to physical death. It doesn’t say that any of these lost their salvation, but they did lose their physical lives because they allowed sin to dominate their lives.
So, the message of Romans 8:13 becomes clear, speaking to saved believers:
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” (Romans 8:13 KJV)
God expects us to become disciples of Christ, becoming like Him in holiness. If instead we, as saved believers, continue to live for sin, continue to pursue sin, in rebellion against God, continuing to go after fleshly sins, we may reach a point where God may decide to end our physical lives. But even if He does that, He never stops loving us. He never abandons us. He is a good and faithful parent. Your salvation is never at risk, but still, we need to respect Him and take Him seriously. If we don’t, it could cost us blessings in this life and in the next, or it could cost us even our physical lives.
The thing is, a wayward believer never knows when that point is reached when God may say, “Enough. Come Home.” God in His mercy could allow you to continue living another year, or He could decide to take you home the very next time you continue in that pattern of sin. So, don’t push God, tempting Him to discipline you. Instead, do what Paul said, namely, that “if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
How do we put to death sin in our bodies? Paul says, “through the Spirit.”
Through God’s Spirit now indwelling us and with His help, we now have the power to not be controlled by sin. That is why Paul said two chapters earlier in Romans 6:
“Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. … For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:12, 14 KJV)
Sin can no longer send us to hell. The power of sin has been broken. We are free from the law of sin and death. Instead, we have something better, something that will actually help us break free of sin: God’s grace in the form of His Holy Spirit living in us. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead can help deliver us from sinful practices in our lives.
How do we do that? How do we put an end to sin through the Spirit? We do that by drawing near to God and letting His Spirit inside us have control of our lives.
The closer we get to God, the more we become transformed to be like Him.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2 KJV)
When we are saved, even though we’ve been set free from the power of sin to condemn us, our minds still have sinful pattern of thinking that draw us into sin. We break those patterns of thinking and transform our minds by spending time with God, in His Word, in prayer, praising him, listening to praise music, thinking about Him. There are a million ways to do it, but the key is to draw near to Him. As we do that, as we spend time with Him, our minds become transformed to where we start thinking like He thinks. We then begin to act like He acts, and we naturally start to obey His will for our lives, because that’s how we now think. It’s not a forced obedience. It is natural obedience. It is obedience that flows naturally from us because our minds are now becoming transformed to think like He thinks.
Natural obedience. Not forced. And it’s a natural obedience that lasts, because it’s coming from the inside. It’s not just outward obedience, but inner obedience. It’s obedience that flows from the inside, from a mind that is now transformed to be like Christ.
What the Law could not do, what trying to obey commandments cannot do, we can now do by the grace and power of God’s Spirit in us. We can become more and more like Christ. And when we do that, obedience becomes a natural outcome, not something we force ourselves to try and do. Through His grace and the power and reliance on the Holy Spirit now living in us, we become like Christ. That is how you destroy patterns of sin in your life. Just spend time with Him and become like Him. The more you do that, the faster will be the transformation. Then obedience starts to flow naturally. Nothing forced. Nothing too difficult. All natural, because that’s the way you now think.
Paul talks about this in Romans 8: 14-15 by using the phrase “led by the Spirit of God” –
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:14-15 KJV)
The key to defeating the practice of sin is to become more and more “led by the Spirit of God.” You do that by spending time with God, just as a child would spend time with his or her father. As children of God, Paul again gives us assurance that we are forever under no condemnation from God, even when God disciplines us, for he wrote that we “have not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear.” In other words, there’s no law that we could break or command that we could disobey that could still send us to hell. We’re not in bondage to that fear anymore.
Instead, we have been adopted. We are now children of God and can call out to Him, Abba, Father. The term “Abba” is an intimate term that is similar to the word, “Daddy.” We are now in an intimate relationship with God. We have not been given a spirt of fear that we could still be sent to hell. It’s not going to happen, EVER!
It even gets better than that, for Paul goes on to say that we are joint-heirs with Christ:
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:16-18 KJV)
This phrase “if so be that we suffer with Him” is not presenting a condition for all this blessing. The English phrase “if so be” is one word in the Greek that means, “if indeed, since, if after all.” “Since we suffer with Him…”
Paul isn’t laying out a condition. He’s stating a matter of fact, that those who are “in Christ” in this world will suffer persecution, some more than others. Paul is simply saying that after all we have suffered for Christ in this world, as all believers will suffer, we shall one day be glorified with Him in heaven, and that glory will be far greater than any suffering we could possibly endure here on earth.
For the rest of this chapter 8, verses 19-37 then go on to speak of
Our Victory in Christ
- We are the sons of God (v.19)
- Christ has freed us from corruption into liberty (v.20-21)
- God will provide us with glorious eternal bodies (v. 22-23)
- God has filled us with hope (v. 24-25)
- God’s Holy Spirit intercedes for us for our good (v. 26-27)
- God makes all things work together for good (v. 28)
- God foreknew us, predestinated us to be like Jesus,
called us, justified us, and will glorify us (v. 29-30)
- God is for us so that no one can stand against us (v.31)
- God will freely give us all things (v.32)
- God has made us His elect (v.33)
- God has removed us from all condemnation and intercedes for us for our good (v. 34)
- God loves us and has made us more than conquerors (v. 35-37)
Paul then sums up his argument for salvation assurance in Romans 8 with these last two verses:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)
That’s salvation assurance to all who are in Christ. That’s Once Saved, Always Saved. That’s saying once you are saved, God’s never going to allow anything or anyone to change that. God is a good Father Who will NEVER abandon even one of His children. We can count on Him. We can rely on Him. He’s always there for us. He is always good. He always wants what’s best for us. He has a perfect heart for us. Therefore, let’s live for Him, while we can in this world.
All who are in Christ have that salvation assurance.
The real question is, are you in Christ? Do you know with certainty that you will be glorified with Him, that you can truly call God the Father your Abba, your Daddy, and know with certainty that He is for you?
If you are not sure of your salvation, make yourself sure of it today.
to believe in Christ to save you, believing that He died on the cross to pay for all your sins and rose from the dead to give you eternal life, and that He will not only save you but will keep you saved forever.
Decide today to place your trust in Christ to save you.
Or, if you are sure of your salvation, have you been living for Him by not letting sin reign in your life? Nobody is going to be perfect at this as long as we live in these fleshly bodies, but we can all do better, right? Maybe it’s time to rededicate your life to God, to draw nearer to Him and to recommit yourself to walk in His Spirit, breaking off patterns of sin. If you seek God’s help to do that, you’ll find that God has never stopped loving and caring for you, that He is ready to help you, just like when the prodigal son returned home, thinking that his father would punish him. Instead, his father saw him coming from a long way off and ran to meet him and kissed him. That’s the reception you’ll get from God whenever you turn to Him for the very first time or if you turn back to him for the millionth time.
So, whether you are deciding today to trust in Christ for salvation or you are deciding to rededicate your life to Him, to return to Him as His child, know this:
The Lord Desires You!
He is For You, Not Against You.
God is patient with us, giving us time to turn to Him.
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)
It is not the Lord’s desire that even one person should perish and, once saved, He wants to lead you into a life of righteousness and honor. God is for you, not against you, and He desires you with an everlasting love. He longs to pour out blessings upon you. Let Him.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47 KJV)
So, turn to Him and let Him set you free!
Salvation = God’s Grace Alone Through Faith Alone on Christ Alone
Believing the Gospel means placing your entire trust on Christ for your salvation, believing that Christ:
- Died for your sins
- Was buried
- Rose from the dead
As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
Nothing more. Nothing less. There are no other requirements to be saved than to believe on Jesus. Once you place your faith in Christ for your salvation, you are born again, and you are forever a child of God. Our Father is a good Father Who will never abandon you but will preserve you in the faith and never let you go.
If you are not certain about your salvation or if you just need to rededicate your life to God, time is getting very late. Don’t put it off any longer.
Turning to God Is As Easy As ABC
Admit to God that you have sinned.
Believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay for
your sins 100%, was buried and rose from the dead.
Call upon Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and save you.
If you make that decision to call upon Him, God gives you this assurance:
“For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV)
Thank you for watching.