4.9 Romans -- the New Man
Without the Law as a foundation for religion, Paul had to start over from scratch -- he had to invent an entirely new orthodoxy of doctrine and practice for the infant church. All aspects of his teaching are inter-related: righteousness through faith, being born from above, freedom from Law and sin, no partiality, and the gift of the Spirit. It's a package deal -- you can't have one without the others. And if you try, you lose them all.
If it is sin that unifies fallen humanity -- "all have sinned" -- it is the gift of the Spirit that empowers and unites believers.
Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children (Rom 8:14-16).
This is the "mark" of the child of God that replaces circumcision. The Spirit is the guarantee of our identity and inheritance:
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Cor 5:5).
Paul goes into the tension between the sinful nature and the indwelling Spirit of God, and between the outworking of salvation in our lives and all creation (Rom 8:18-27). In daily life, reliance on the Spirit is the substitute for obedience to the Law. But whereas the Law could not be fully obeyed by sinful men,
the Spirit helps us in our weakness (Rom 8:26).
The task of the Spirit is to mold the believer into
the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8:29).
In the final half of Romans 8, Paul presents a picture of the triumphant destiny of the Spirit-empowered believer:
a. God works on his behalf:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28).
b. he can overcome all adversity:
If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom 8:31).
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Rom 8:37).
In this passage, he is writing autobiographically, not hypothetically. Here is a man who has experienced all the perils he writes about: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword (Rom 8:35). Yet he still has confidence in God and in God's good purpose for his life. He is tightly bound to God, not by rules and rituals, but by God's love for him (Rom 8:39). This reverses the polarity of the Old Testament, in which the destiny of the faithful Jew depended on his showing wholehearted love for God. Here, Paul is secure in his destiny because of God's love for him revealed in Jesus Christ and the daily presence of the Spirit. The picture of an Old Testament Nazarite vowing and fasting in order to win God's favor is replaced by "Christ Jesus...at the right hand of God...interceding for us" (Rom 8:34).