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30 May 2022

Resurrection and New Creation


In his letter to the Romans, Paul declares there is “now no condemnation” for anyone who is “in Jesus.” This happy condition now exists because the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set them free from the law of sin and of death.” And he also links the salvation of believers to the inheritance of Christ and the redemption of the creation itself.

The sin of Adam condemned the entire creation to bondage, sin, and death, not just humanity. Under the Mosaic law, humanity could not liberate itself from bondage to sin and death. That would take something, or, more accurately, SOMEONE else.

Moreover, the Apostle to the Gentiles connects salvation in Jesus to the bodily resurrection that will occur when he returns at the end of the age.

Like the other New Testament writers, Paul presents a forward-looking faith. Everlasting life is an inheritance that will be received in all its fullness at the resurrection of the righteous, an event that will coincide with the arrival of the New Creation in all its fullness.

FLESH AND SPIRIT


  • (Romans 8:3-4) - “What was impossible by the law in that it was weak through the flesh, God, by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who, not according to the flesh do walk, but according to spirit.”

In Paul’s theology, “flesh” refers to humanity in its mortal and fallen state, a nature that “prefers death, but the Spirit prefers life and peace.”

The “fleshly man” is the product of Adam’s disobedience, and it remains “hostile towards God, for to the law of God it does not submit itself, neither can it. They who in flesh have their being cannot please God.” To be “in the flesh” is equivalent to being “in Adam.”

  • (Romans 5:18-19) – “Hence then, as through one fault the sentence was for all men unto condemnation, so also, through one recovery of righteousness, the decree of grace is to all men for righteous acquittal for life. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were constituted sinners, so also, through the obedience of the one the many shall be constituted righteous.”

The discussion on “flesh” and “spirit” contrasts the old Adamic life in bondage to sin with the new life that is free from bondage to it, and that life is found in Jesus.

Paul is not speaking about two “natures” that reside within an individual and are locked in mortal combat, the “old man” versus the “new man,” but about the past life in the “flesh” of the Adamic man versus the new life in the “spirit” provided in Jesus.

  • (Romans 8:9-11) – “But you have not your being in flesh but in spirit, if, at least, God’s Spirit is dwelling in you; and if anyone has not Christ’s Spirit, the same is not his. But if Christ is in you, the body, indeed, is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness; If, moreover, the Spirit of him that raised Jesus from among the dead is dwelling in you, he that raised Christ Jesus from among the dead will make alive even your death-doomed bodies through means of his indwelling Spirit within you.”

Christ’s disciples do not have their life in the flesh but in the spirit, that is, “if God’s Spirit is dwelling” in them. But if anyone does not have his Spirit, “the same is not his.” It is that same Spirit that equips disciples to walk uprightly - (Galatians 5:13-18).

Though our physical bodies are “dead because of sin,” if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, “He that raised him from among the dead will quicken our death-doomed bodies through means of his indwelling Spirit.”

RESURRECTION


Next, Paul introduces the resurrection into the equation. Integral to his concept of salvation is the BODILY resurrection of the saints. Final redemption is realized in the resurrection, which, by necessity and logic, includes the redemption of the human body.

The entire man that God created was condemned to bondage, not just Adam’s soul or inner self. Therefore, if God is to redeem humanity and recover all that was lost, the redemptive act must include the individual’s body.

Likewise, the creation that was also condemned to decay and death by Adam’s sin must be rescued from its bondage.

  • (Romans 8:12-14) – “Hence, then, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh that according to the flesh we should live, for if according to the flesh you live, you are about to die, whereas, if in spirit the practices of the flesh you are putting to death, you will attain life; for as many as by God’s Spirit are being led, the same are His sons.

Though believers have been declared righteous, their receipt of final salvation is not a foregone conclusion. They must not live “according to the flesh,” for if they do, they will “die. But if by the Spirit they put to death the practices of the flesh, they will attain life.” It is the men who are “led by God’s Spirit who are His sons.”

  • (Romans 8:15-20) – “For you have not received a spirit of bondage leading back into fear, but you have received a spirit of sonship, whereby we are exclaiming Abba! Oh, Father! The Spirit itself is bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God; And if children, heirs also, heirs, indeed, of God but coheirs with Christ, if, at least, we are suffering together so that we may also be glorified together. For I reckon that unworthy are the sufferings of the present season to be compared with the glory about to be revealed towards us; For the eager outlook of creation is ardently waiting for the revealing of the sons of God, for unto vanity has creation been made subject, not by choice, but because of him that made it subject in hope.”

NEW CREATION


The Spirit of God that dwells in believers “bears witness with their spirit that they are His children,” and that means they are “heirs of God and coheirs with Christ.” But to be a joint heir with him means to suffer in this life for his sake so we also may be “glorified” like and with him.

The creation itself has been subjected “to vanity” - to death and decay - because of the disobedience of Adam. Accordingly, all creation now suffers until the present hour.

But the creation is “ardently awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.” When his sons are “revealed” for all to see, then the “creation itself shall be freed from the bondage of decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God.” THAT DAY WILL MEAN NOTHING LESS THAN THE NEW CREATION.

  • (Romans 8:21-23) – “That creation itself also shall be freed from the bondage of the decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God; for we know that all creation is sighing together and travailing-in-birth-throes together until the present, and not only so, but we ourselves also who have the first-fruit of the Spirit, we even ourselves within our own selves do sigh, sonship ardently awaiting, the redemption of our body.

And so, the redemption of the entire creation is dependent on the resurrection of the “sons of God” - the promises of bodily resurrection and the New Creation are inextricably linked.

And throughout this section of the letter to the Romans, the focus is on the future inheritance of the saints. New Creation and bodily resurrection are two sides of the same coin.

Disciples who are declared righteous in Christ Jesus receive the Spirit of God, and if they continue to live accordingly, they will receive their final redemption at the time of the resurrection when Jesus returns. And that day will result in nothing less than the “new heavens and the new earth.”