Community Group Study “Romans 8:1-13 The Defeat of Sin”
Read Romans 8:1-13
Jesus frees people from the condemnation that comes from sin. Many of us could be familiar with John 3:16, but we often stop there and do not move onto the next verse which says “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). Condemnation is to stand under judgment and carries with it the idea of be disapproved of and awaiting penalty. In Romans 8, Paul desires for us to see how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus changes things for those who are “in Christ”. This first part shows us how that freedom from condemnation empowers us to walk in the Spirit towards life and peace.
Let’s begin by looking at where condemnation came from.
In Genesis 2:17, we get the first hint of condemnation being tied to being “in sin”. Adam and Eve were warned that if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that they’d face death. The result of their sin was shame, guilt, hiding and all this twisting of what was once good and is now infected by the virus of sin. We all know what it is like to be condemned. You may never have been in a legal court room with a judge declaring a judgment over you, but you have likely experienced what it is like to have your sin found out and to face the consequences for that in real time. It may be that you were cutting some corners at work, lied to your spouse or disobeyed your parents and had to face the consequences. The Bible shows us that sin is an enemy that needs to be defeated because being “in sin” instead of “in Christ” leads to separation from God and judgement.
Followers of Jesus need to hear Paul’s words in Romans 8:1 “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. It could be that you are in Christ, but still live like God is out to condemn you and what we see in this passage is that God is condemning sin, not his people. If that is where you are at and you think of God as a grumpy father or manager who is only concerned with whether you follow the rules or meet your quotas then you need to have your thoughts shift to who God really is. This passage shows you that sin is the unjust master in your life and sin needs to be replaced with the “Spirit of Life”. Sin is the great enemy and sin will stand condemned because of the work of Christ (Romans 8:3).
How are the people of God set free from condemnation and the power of sin?
Let’s look at 4 things Romans 8:1-13 shows us:
First, this freedom did not come from the Law.
The Law is the covenant God made with Israel through Moses about how they were to live and worship him so they could be distinct from the world and show God’s character to the world. You find the Law in books like Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. While God’s law is called good and perfect in the scripture, Paul wants us to know it has limits, it cannot give you what you really need and it only leads to death and not life. Look at Romans 8:2-3. Paul calls it the law of sin and death; likewise, look over to 2 Corinthians 3:7 where Paul calls it the “ministry of death”. Keeping the Law perfectly would not lead you to eternal life, it would make you a “moral” person who was different from the world, but it could not deal with your sin problem because you’d still be “in sin”.
Paul tells us that the Law is great at revealing to us our need for a savior but the core problem is not that we just “do” sin, but that sin lives in our hearts apart from Christ and that is what leads us to be condemned apart from Christ.
Second, freedom comes from the Spirit of Life.
God desires to set you free from being “in sin” to what is really “life”. Notice Romans 8:3-4, Jesus took on “sinful flesh” meaning he took on humanity for the purpose to defeat sin on the cross so that sin would be condemned and those who look to Jesus in faith would be set free to life and peace. Jesus did what the Law could not do and has freed his people so that they no longer need to walk by the flesh which leads to sin and death. Instead we are to live in the Spirit which leads to life and peace. Look at Romans 8:1-13, seven times the Spirit is either called “the Spirit of Life” or we are told to live by the Spirit. Many of us today need to know this truth today with what’s happening all around us. God wants to lead us to life and peace. In Christ, we do not get a “fresh start” but a new quality of life as new creations. The Lord gives his people the Spirit as his very presence leading them to righteousness and peace. Look at Romans 8:11, take a moment and let the power of this verse fill your heart; the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in followers of Jesus. The Spirit is how God lead you to freedom from sin, confirms peace to your troubled hearts and gives you life.
Third, your thought life matters.
Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”
Many of us are not experiencing the presence of God or the peace of God because we are not walking with the Spirit and putting our mind on the things of God.
Romans 8:5-8 contrasts living according to the flesh and living according to the Spirit and how that gets entangled with your thought life. Your identity, namely being either “in sin” or “in Christ” will influence your actions which will also influence your thought life. For those who are “in Christ” you need to know that you can and will experience more life and peace as you live according to the Spirit and as you guard your thoughts. What you watch, read, meditate on and what happens in your internal dialogue matters.
By definition, if you are a Christian you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit and we ought to set our minds on the Spirit. This is great news because God is not just giving you new commands to follow, but through the Spirit, he is giving you new desires. And as we live and walk in the Spirit we will be led to what God delights to give through the Spirit: life and peace.
Finally, we are called to put to death sin in our lives.
Romans 8:12-13 gives us hope for how being set free from the condemnation and power of sin can practically change our lives. You don’t have to walk in the flesh and God will empower you towards righteousness and holiness as you put sin to death. If you are in Christ and the Spirit dwells in you, you are not powerless to just live by the flesh. Ask for God’s help, look to the word and remind yourself that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus and fight for holiness.
Main idea: Jesus Christ has come not to condemn but to set his people free from sin and death and to give them life and peace by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. God has empowered his people by freeing them from judgement and giving them the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead so they can live by the Spirit, set their mind on the Spirit and put to death sin.
Read and Observe:
Take 10-15 minutes and write down observations you have from the passage.
Note how things are contrasted and what the flesh leads to vs what life in the Spirit leads to. What is condemned and what isn’t? What does the passage say about being “in Christ” or “in the Spirit”?
Read Romans 8:1-13
What does this passage say followers of Jesus are set free from? Notice specifically what the passage says we are “not in”.
How did Jesus defeat sin and put his people into a place where there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”? Note Romans 8:1-4.
How does this passage speak to the identity of a follower of Jesus? Notice the language around “live according to” and who dwells in your (Romans 8:11).
We see in this passage that how we live and what we think about are interconnected. Are there areas of your thought life that need to shift? What are they and what empowers you to “set your mind on the things of the Spirit?” Look at passages like Philippians 4:4-9 and Ephesians 3:14-17.
Questions for Elementary Age Kids:
Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
To “condemn” is to punish someone and push them away. Imagine committing a crime, going to a court and being sentence to prison. Why doesn’t God push away those who are “in Christ”?
Many of us struggle with doing the right thing. Romans 8:4 tells us that Jesus was able to do the right thing when we couldn’t and we learn that he did that to defeat sin and help us walk with him. Read Romans 8:9. What does this verse tell you about having the Spirit in you? Now do the same thing for Romans 8:10 and 8:11.
If you can ask God for help with one thing in your life right now, what would that be? Pray with your parents about it and remind yourself of Romans 8:11, if you trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit desires to help you.
Question for Jr High and High School Students:
Read through the passage and write down each verse that talks about “the Spirit of life”. Based on those verses, what does the Spirit do in the life of people who follow Jesus?
The “flesh” is a term the Bible uses to talk about our sinful nature. Even if you’re a follower of Jesus you still have a “sin nature” that battles against the new life you’ve been given in Jesus (See James 4:1-10 as an example). What does it mean to “live according to the flesh” and what does it lead to based on Romans 8:7-8? Write out the opposite Romans 8:8, what does it say about how we can please God?
Why does Romans 8:5-8 talk about your thought life so much? How do your thoughts influence your life? Is there an area of your thought life that you need to repent of? Look at Romans 8:6, what does God promise those who set their minds on the Spirit?
This passage talks about how followers of Jesus are no longer “in sin” but “in Christ” or “in the Spirit” and this leads to life and peace. Write out a short prayer based on this scriptural truth.