Meditations in Romans : 31: Dead & Alive
Rom 8:10,11 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
Remember from the previous meditation, Paul has just declared, “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ,” and we noted that, in our conclusion of the thought that there are two sorts of people in the world, as Paul’s teaching at the beginning of this chapter makes it abundantly clear. But that is not to say that sometimes his phraseology doesn’t sometimes lack clarity as we’ll see in a moment.
He speaks to Christians in Rome: “if Christ is in you.” That is the amazing claim of Christianity, that the Spirit of the founder lives within each one of us. This doesn’t mean ‘spirit’ as it is sometimes used, to mean the moral or mental attitude, but means The Holy Spirit referred to throughout Scripture as the living third person of the Trinity, part of the Godhead, the Spirit sometimes referred to as the’ Spirit of God’ or the ‘Spirit of Christ’. This Spirit is ‘He’. Thus Christ by his Spirit literally lives within each believer and communicates with each believer, whether they are aware of it or not. This, assumes Paul, is a given.
So he continues, “if Christ is in you, your body is dead.” Now we’ll stop it there to take it in small steps. Now of course we know that he cannot mean that physically and literally, so what does he mean? He must mean, surely, that our body does not contribute spiritual life. If it’s not physical, then it must be spiritual, so your body is spiritually dead, or as we just said, it contributes nothing to our spiritual life. Now realise that he is referring here to how we were before we came to Christ. He is comparing past with present.
Now let’s add to it: “if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin.” i.e. your body contributes nothing towards your spirituality, towards your relationship with the Lord, because of the indwelling presence of sin lurking there, as we’ve seen in Paul’s examples in chapter 7.
But that’s not the end of it now, he continues, because “your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” That’s the difficult phraseology bit we referred to earlier. How many of us just read the words and don’t bother to think through what they mean? It means that now your spirit is alive because God has made you righteous at the point you turned to Christ and were born again. At that moment you were justified by faith, as we saw in earlier chapters in Romans, and at that moment it means God declared you righteous because you no longer have the issue of your past sins to be dealt with by justice, because Jesus has fully dealt with them by taking the punishment for them. That means you are left, in God’s sight, clean and pure – and righteous! Because you were that new person who was clean, pure and righteous at that moment of conversion, He then put His Holy Spirit in you to continue the work of change in you, to help you work out this new righteousness in a practical day to day way.
So your body was dead because of the prevailing Sin, but when you came to Christ you were made alive by the Spirit of God in you, and He is going to continue to being changes in you for the rest of your mortal life. In fact Paul has a dynamic way of putting it: “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (v.11) i.e. we’ve just spoken of the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in you but this is the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus’ dead body. It’s the same power and so if He was able to literally raise Jesus from the dead, He will be able to bring new life and energy to your physical body as well.
So, whereas previously you were only able to use this body for self-centred, godless and unrighteous activity, now He’s come you’re going to use that body to bring about the will of God on the earth. So whereas you had no power to overcome smoking, excessive alcohol use, excessive eating or whatever else it was that dominated your body, now you have a power within you that is stronger than the power that used to make you do those things and so He will set you free from those things so you will no longer do them. That is the power you have within you today. All we need to do, is believe it! If you struggle with believing it, ask the Holy Spirit to show you the reality of this so it will impact you and you can walk free. Hallelujah!