Today I had the pleasure of experiencing one of those Bible-induced revelatory moments whilst reading through Romans 8, a chapter which is itself fascinating, challenging, and uplifting all at once. When I reached verse 10, so many avenues of thought were about to be opened.
And then I read, “If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
By itself it is a clear and concise statement of the basic truth of salvation, yet within the context it is so much more. Paul had been writing of the usurpation of the Old Testament law by the New Testament of grace, whereby those who believe in Jesus are freed forever from the penalty of sin, which itself was made evident by that law. He then deals with the conflict between the mind and flesh of a believer—a battle that is ongoing even after justification in God’s eyes is assured. Paul exhorts us to consider our new freedom and serve God with all our effort, even while our subsequent inevitable failings are covered by the momentous sacrifice of Christ.
Verse 10 then comes along to clarify all points of thought. Our bodies are bound to the pull of sin while we remain on this earth, and because of their continued imperfection they must die. However our spirits—what Paul elsewhere identifies as our “inner man”—are escalated to immortality and freedom from sin at the moment we accept the free gift of God—the sacrifice of his son Jesus, who through his life, death, and resurrection exemplifies true righteousness perpetually.
In the verses that follow, Paul exhorts his readers to succumb to the leadership of God’s Spirit in their everyday lives, even through the worst this world has to offer. Through pain, sorrow, loss, and even death, we might truly take pleasure in the fact that even though those things are bound to happen to our sinful bodies, they can have no effect whatsoever on our spirits—the “real us” as it were.
As I see it, verse 10 answers in large part that most troubling question, “If God is so good, why is there so much evil in the world?” Evil is not just something that sneaks about this vast world and strikes us unawares. Evil is always very much at hand, because it resides within the very flesh of our bodies. We will still experience physical death as a punishment for sin even after we accept Christ, because these physical bodies are still under the influence of sin. Our spirits meanwhile belong to God from the moment we place faith in Jesus Christ as our means for salvation and eternal life—a life no longer encumbered by our sinful bodies. Indeed we should celebrate the fact that we will not have to deal with these bodies for much longer.