Thursday, 11 July 2013
For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13
One commentary concerning Romans 8:13 states: “This verse is perhaps the clearest, most concise statement of the way a person once in grace can lose his salvation.” (New Testament Study Bible).
One must come to the table already believing that the loss of salvation is possible in order to come to this conclusion. If the concept of eternal salvation is taught both explicitly and implicitly throughout the New Testament, then any verse which appears to contradict this must be taken out of context. This is the problem with coming to the Bible with presuppositions. It is also a problem concerning the nature and workings of God.
God doesn’t think as we do. His thoughts are immediate and intuitive, not discursive or syllogistic – within the framework of time (which He created). For a person to be sealed with the Spirit, the act must, by the very nature of God, be eternal in consequence. God cannot err and therefore it is impossible for Him to act against His nature or work against Himself. Further, if loss of salvation were possible because of sin after salvation, then no one would remain saved. God would be saving and then unsaving every person continuously as they re-received Christ and then sinned against Him. One’s ultimate state could never truly be determined. It is folly and it is unclear in thinking.
“For” refers to the conclusion of the previous verse – “We (meaning believers) are debtors, but not to the flesh.” We have been brought out of the body of death and are debtors to the One who brought us out. Therefore, the “for” is speaking of the state prior to this occurring. “For if you live according to the flesh (the life we were previously brought out of) you will die. But (in contrast to this) if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body (which actually occurred in you and which has now made you a debtor to the One who brought you out), you will live.
Though speaking in the present and future tenses in this verse, it is based on the past actions which were noted leading up to the “therefore” of verse 12. In other words, and as Albert Barnes so eloquently states, “No man can be saved in his sins. This closes the argument of the apostle for the superiority of the gospel to the Law in promoting the purity of man. By this train of reasoning, he has shown that the gospel has accomplished what the Law could not do – the sanctification of the soul, the destruction of the corrupt passions of our nature, and the recovery of man to God.”
This verse has nothing to do with a loss of salvation. Rather it has everything to do with what occurred in our salvation. “In Christ, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” This doesn’t give us license to sin, but it does cover the sins which we commit.
Life application: Time and time again we come to verses which appear to contradict each other. Jesus is said to be the Author of eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9) and yet difficult verses cause us to be unsure of this. There are no contradictions in God’s word, just misunderstandings because of our own failure to fully research or understand a matter. Let us come to the Bible without presuppositions and when we come to a passage which is difficult, we need to evaluate it, not as a stand alone thought, but as part of a continuous stream of knowledge which is to be taken in proper context.
Glorious God! Because my time is short and my life is limited, I occasionally become impatient with the events around me. At these times, remind me that You haven’t forgotten my needs or desires. You already know the outcome and have figured in what is best for me, for those I encounter, and for the plan You are unfolding. Help me to remember this and to trust that my impatience is unnecessary. Amen.