Following the law, or rules, can never make us spiritual, but walking in the Spirit fulfills the law. Institutions, and people in general, are inclined to use rules to attempt to control others, using the threat of condemnation to control them. But there is no condemnation for those who are in Jesus, so there is no reason for believers to submit to such control. Paul is arming the Roman believers receiving this letter, who are already world-famous for their faith, with the knowledge that no person or circumstance can separate us from the perfect and all-encompassing love of Jesus, so they will reject the competing Jewish “authorities” attempt to condemn them in order to gain control.
Further, Paul offers up the reality that serving Jesus (rather than men) will bring the suffering Jesus suffered (including rejection by men) but that suffering leads to an unfathomable reward – to be a joint-heir with Jesus, to co-inherit what Jesus inherited for His faithfulness to His Father. For all these reasons, Paul exhorts the believers in Rome, and by extension us, to reject the control of rule-making legalism and serve Jesus with a true heart.
God sent His son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to free us from sin and the condemnation of the law. Christ died and resurrected to restore our relationship with God, to save us from eternal condemnation. Now, saved from Hell, we can also be delivered from the earthly consequences of sin, if we walk by the power of the Spirit. We do not have to suffer from sin. Although we are not under the law, we fulfill the requirement of the law when we walk by faith in the power of the Spirit.
Every believer has the power to choose to follow the Spirit, rather than the flesh.
If you don’t have the Spirit, then you’re not a Christian, which means all Christians have the Holy Spirit, the Helper, living inside them. The only way to truly live the fulfilling life God has for us, despite our sinful body, is through the Holy Spirit, through His power, and through our willingness to follow Him in faith.
Paul wants the Roman Christians to realize, since we have the Holy Spirit, we are free from our sin nature and can continue to follow Him rather than our selfish desires. We are now obligated to God, who has saved us, and has empowered us to live real life while fighting off our sin. Putting our sinful actions to death, ending them and choosing our new life in the Spirit. If we are following the Spirit, we are living as sons of God; we are living out our new identity in Christ.
Christians have been spiritually adopted by God. We are not so much slaves who are afraid of their old evil master, but sons taken in by a new master, whom we endearingly call “Father.” The Holy Spirit indwelling us is a sign that we are indeed children of God.
Christians are children of God, and from Him every believer unconditionally inherits being justified in His sight and the promise of one day being with Him in His glory. For Christians who suffer as Christ did, there is a specific inheritance reward; Jesus was given authority over earth by God for what He did as a man—dying and resurrecting to take the punishment for our sins. God rewarded Jesus Christ for this suffering. For those of us who suffer as Christ did, He bestows the privilege to be fellow heirs with Him in His coming kingdom. Ultimately, the sufferings on this earth are trivial in light of this wonderful opportunity of reigning with Christ in His future reign on earth.
All of God’s creation desires for God to finally restore it to a perfect, harmonious state. One day God will do this, and all of creation will be freed from its corrupted state and will once again be as God originally designed it. And believers who receive the reward of reigning with Christ will take their proper place as joint-heirs, or “sons.” But for now, we’re looking forward in hope to this day, despite whatever pains we experience.
Even though believers have been gifted with the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we continue to struggle in this world. We eagerly await the finalization of our adoption by God, when He will fully raise us up as sons and give us new bodies that are freed from sin and pain. This is Glorification Salvation. The word “groan” expresses a deep, powerful, inherent desire for relief and restoration.
We have hope that one day God will restore everything to the way He first designed it, a time when the world is redeemed as well, and no longer resists the will of God. It is in hope that we look forward to this event, because it has yet to happen, and so we are determined to wait with excitement for this restoration to happen.
In the same way that we are not fully redeemed, our ability to communicate with God is not fully restored. In our weakness, the Holy Spirit helps us talk to God, in ways we could never express in mere words. In our struggle against our sinful nature, our struggle to walk in faith to live harmoniously, it is God who helps us. It isn’t the law, it isn’t a set of rules, it is God who is our constant helper. He sent His Son to save us from eternal death, and then He sent His Spirit to speak on our behalf and guide our steps.
God promises in Romans 8:28 that He causes every circumstance to conform believers to the image of Christ, with the intent that many would rule with Christ as joint heirs.
Because of Jesus’s sacrifice and our faith as believers in that sacrifice, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God. The Heavenly Father who loved us enough to have His Son die for us, obviously wants us to have ultimate and lasting fulfillment, He wants to give us “all things.” The world cannot rightly judge how we should live; only God can, He who loves us.
Paul is nailing this point down, that because of the love of God, a love that is shown to us through Jesus’s death on the cross, we as believers cannot be separated from that love.