I just absolutely love the writing of Paul. There is so much content in these chapters, I would encourage you to read it twice before you settle to understand it and apply what it says. Try to read it in a Bible where you haven't already made notes. I am trying to even read the chapter the night before as well as in the morning, so I have some time to meditate on it before I dive in.
Verses to Remember:
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
At the moment that you accept Christ into your your life, you also accept the Spirit of Christ in your body- and He dwells in you. People ask, how do you know you are saved? Verse 9b says, Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him. The minute you surrender your life to Him, you go from being condemned for all your transgressions, to being completely free of them. It is so amazing to grasp that reality. From one minute you are a slave to the desires of the flesh- your destiny is eternal hell, and in the next minute, only by the grace of God, you are made completely clean and blameless in His sight! Then, if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.(verse 11e) Life in this verse refers to eternal life- life with Jesus in heaven after our earthly death.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
This is a great reminder about the things we ought to be spending our time and energy on. Why would anyone that does not love the Lord set their mind on things of Him? Seems like a silly question, doesn't it? We should be asking ourseves the same question about living by the Spirit. If we live by the Spirit, why would we set our minds on things of the flesh? So often, the desires of our flesh overtake our time and energy. We realize, or don't, that we are spending our time, energy or money on things of this world. About a year ago, I cancelled the magazine subscription I had to House Beautiful. It was my favorite magazine. Something you should know about me before understanding this example- I love designing houses- from the blueprints to the paint colors. I would cut out ideas, draw up house plans- dreaming up the house I would one day build. I chuckle at myself even now- as God leading our family in a new direction lately, I have said goodbye to those dreams. Desiring an awesome house with your design and style isn't the issue. For me, it was contentment. By spending minutes looking and drooling over houses and concepts in the magazine, I became less and less content with the house God had provided for us now. I started looking around at my walls and rooms, wishing we could make more money so I could adopt ideas from this magazine in my house. Please note, House Beautiful displays houses of splendor- ones that even if my husband made three of four times his income, probably couldn't afford. The ideas in there aren't for DIY entrepeuners with a piggy bank. They weren't for me. It may sound silly to you, but this was extremely hard for me to let go of. I have always had dreams of nice houses, with all the luscious interior decorating to boot. It wasn't wrong of me to desire a nice home decorated nicely, as long as it didn't take precedence over my relationship with God...and it was. As I said I was becoming discontent with what He had provided and I was beginning to envy the life of some of my unbelieving, success driven friends. My mind was set on things of the flesh.
My study notes say: "To set the mind on the flesh means to think continually about and constantly desire the things characteristic of fallen, sinful human nature, that is, to think just the way the unbelieving world things, emphasizing what it thinks important, pursuing what it pursues, in disregard of God's will."
With the world screaming at us, BUY THIS, DO THAT, it's easy to get caught up in worldly things without realizing it. But the closer we are to Jesus, the more we have discernment of these things. The closer we get to Jesus, the more we can hear His Spirit in us- guiding us, convicting us, giving us wisdom. We need to be more aware of Him who dwells in us.
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
"Good" here does not refer to things on earth, but conformity to Jesus. As we continue to conform to Jesus, even the term good as we know it, changes. It changes from earthly contentment to things which have eternal reward. It's amazing to see that change happen in our hearts and minds.
31b If God is for us, who can be against us?
We have the most mighty, magnificant Being EVER that loves us and stands for us- who could ever stand against up to that? May you be encouraged by this verse!
To the right you will see a YouTube of Chris Tomlin's "Our God" which includes this verse in the bridge of his song. Great song!
35,37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or danger, or sword? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. There is nothing you can do that will stop God from loving you. There is no one who can change God's love for you. He will always love you. This isn't saying that we can't separate ourselves from God by our sin- for sin does separate us from Him, but even in our sin God loves us.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
If God is for us, who can be against us?