Romans 8.

J. A. Trench.

Article 13 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.

It is clear to me that the three first verses resume respectively the argument of Rom. 5, 6, 7, only in each case (as always when the Spirit resumes) adding fresh light. No condemnation is not the sequence of thought of Rom. 6 and Rom. 7, but is the consequence as to sins of Rom. 3 — Rom. 5:11, only that now verse 12, etc., carries it further and what we are by nature from Adam comes into view. And two or three elements at least of being in Christ, i.e. a reigning in life "through" Him in contrast to death reigning over all, and a justification of life towards all, "through" one righteousness (i.e. a life to which no charge of sin ever did or could attach), and then the many under Him positively constituted righteous "through" the one obedience. All this involved His death, and the end of all we were in Adam, for God and for faith in His death, which becomes the basis of faith's reckoning in 6: 11, but which carries the truth one step further. "Alive unto God" in that reckoning "in" Jesus Christ. Now all this combines to set out the position which Romans 8 opens with. It does not seem to be the point of the Spirit how we enter into it, which after all must come in second to what it is we enter into, but to present this last as in the mind of God for us (we know from Eph. 1, in the counsels of eternity); first presenting simply that such a position carries with it all the impossibility of condemnation for Christ (it must first reach Him to reach those to whom it is presented that we are in Him, that God's thought about us may become ours about ourselves by faith). And then the power of the realisation of it is introduced in the Spirit, the position itself being opened out to us first in the light of the delivering power of the good (ver. 2), and then on the side of the total condemnation of the evil. "In Christ" of verse 1 answers now to "in the Spirit" of verse 9, as the power of the position, as Christ in us answers to the Spirit as life. (Ver. 10) As again the power of the reproduction of it. There is thus, I have no doubt, by divine wisdom a mingling of the Christian position as in the mind of God for us, and the power of our realisation of it by faith and the Spirit, which makes the difficulty, and yet the blessedness of the passage. (See ver. 2 for instance)

It is not simply now a soul brought to God, as up to verse 11, by the perfection of the work done for us, but involves the transference of our souls from conscious connection with Adam, with all its entail of sin and death, to Christ with its contrasted entail of life and righteousness, which is an experimental process; though it is deeply important that we should be able to present the position, or standing, as in God's mind, because it is faith laying hold of this by the power of the Spirit that leads us into it. And all the process of Romans 7 helps the soul to this by showing the hopelessness of the evil in which we were involved by Adam. The Lord help us to maintain the balance of the truth, and to learn, not by skilful manipulation, but by observing diligently the way things are presented to us in Scripture. I give you what I have seen for years on the subject, but should be thankful for any fresh light on it that preserves these foundation truths; but it must be from the epistle itself.