These small group studies of Romans contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Romans 8:1-17 Inductive Bible Study
I. The Law of the Spirit frees us from sin (verses 1-4)
II. Contrast of the old and new natures (verses 5-11)
A. The goal of the mind is different (verses 5-6)
B. The old is an enemy of God (verses 7-8)
C. The new life is filled with the Spirit and with life (verses 9-11)
III. We are given the high position as children of God (verses 12-17)
What key words do you see in this passage that indicate the main point or points?
1. What does the word “therefore” indicate? What is the connection of these verses to the previous verses?
2. What is the law of the Spirit of life? Why does Paul use the word “law” here? (Probably he uses it loosely for the gospel to maintain parrallelism.)
3. Then what does “the Law” in verse 3 refer to?
4. What does it mean that Jesus was in the likeness of “sinful flesh”? In what way did Jesus’ coming condemn “sin in the flesh”?
5. Who are those who “are according to the flesh”? (The unregenerate) What does it mean to set their mind on the things of the flesh? Give some examples. Can you think of one word that means “set your mind on” (meditate). What does it mean to set one’s mind on the things of the Spirit? Give some examples. Will the inner thoughts and meditations of a person come out in their actions? How? Give some verses that show us what a believer should be setting their mind on and meditating about. Negative: James 4:4, 1 John 2:15, Positive: Psalms 1, Colossians 3:2, Php 4:8
6. What are the consequences of the two different mindsets? In other words, where do they lead?
7. What is the point of verse 7? (No neutrality) What did Jesus say about those who weren’t for Him?
8. Can an unbeliever please God? Why not? What does the Bible say our good deeds are like in the sight of God?
9. What is true of those who belong to Christ?
10. What doctrine is taught in verse 10-11? Why is it important that the Holy Spirit indwells believers? How is this different than the Old Testament? What will the Holy Spirit do for believers? (Seal us, convict of sin, intercede for us, give us wisdom such as disciples when they were confronted by authorities.)
11. What does it mean that the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies?
12. What doctrine is taught in verses 12-17?
13. What does it mean “you will live” at the end of verse 13?
14. How does the Spirit lead us?
15. What does “spirit of slavery” mean? What does “spirit of adoption” mean? What is the difference between how a slave and how a son feels? How might their actions be different? How might their motivations be different?
16. What are the benefits of being children of God? What are the obligations?
17. What does it mean that we are “heirs”? What do we inherit? In what way are we fellow heirs of Christ? What condition is attached to the verse? This seems like a strange condition, why do you think Paul mentions it? How can we suffer with Christ? What does suffering for Christ show evidence of a person’s relationship to God? What does God normally allow to happen to someone before He exalts them? What is the difference between the Jewish form of passing on inheritances and the form God will use with believers? (Romans divided the inheritance equally among all children.)
Law- Once again the “law” is a key word. The first few verses contrast the results of the old law that could not free us from being slaves to sin and death and the new law we have since Christ, which sets us free.
Flesh- I’m not sure what word your Bible has for this, possibly yours has the word “body”. Both mean the same thing. This is a word used for our old sin nature. It talks about the old self, the one that is full of evil desires, lusts, temptations and selfishness. Those who are still living in the flesh and practicing the deeds of the flesh found in Galatians 5:16-21 (please read it) are not believers and are selfish, pursuing goals to serve themselves.
Spirit- The spirit was mentioned only once in the first seven chapters, but is mentioned over 20 times in chapter 8 alone. This is not surprising since the first 5-6 chapters focused mostly on sin and judgment and the law. But after justification and the indwelling of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit’s role in our lives becomes paramount. This is the opposite of the flesh. If we are following the Spirit our new life in Christ is having the victory. Our goals are completely different than before. What about you? What are your goals now? Is it your goal to be rich? Is it your goal to get a great job? Is it your goal to get respect and honor from others? I ask myself the same questions. If these types of worldly things are our goals then we are living in and serving the flesh. If we are living in the Spirit and following the deeds of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-26 then we are children of God and His heirs.
There are probably some other key words you will find besides these. What are they? Why are they important? I look forward to reading your thoughts!
Verse by Verse Commentary
Verses 1-4: This part of the chapter has several sections. The first is in verses one to four. You can see that verse one is almost connected to the last chapter. In the last chapter Paul was describing his difficult struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. In verse 24 of the last chapter he asks, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Also in the last chapter he shows we should be condemned for our sin. But here in verse one he says we have NO condemnation because we believe in Christ. Consider this for a moment. It is an amazing thought.
For example suppose you are little baby with no home. A very kind and rich old man makes you his son or daughter. He gives you a beautiful room and raises you up with everything you could ask for. But he gives you one command, one rule. You ungratefully break this rule so he must put you out of the house. Later he sends his one and only son to help you, but instead of welcoming him you beat him, make fun of him, and finally kill his only son. You would expect the old man to be very angry and put you in jail or give you some large punishment. But instead he forgives you and gives you a great inheritance. That would be an amazing thing and in this world it will probably never happen. Except it did happen once. That is what happened when God forgave you and me our sins and did not condemn us for the evil we did. Now I know this story isn’t exactly like the one in the Bible. I just made it up, but it shows the great mercy and love of God. And you may say, “but we didn’t sin in the garden of Eden, Adam did”, or, “I didn’t kill Jesus on the cross, the Jews did.” Actually each of us are responsible. We would have done the same thing if we were there. And it was our sins that put Jesus on the cross. He was thinking of you in particular when He died. And if you were the only person in the whole world Jesus still would have given His life for you. That is amazing! (Luke 15 has some good examples of God’s love).
Ok, back to the verses. So we have no condemnation. The law of the OT was not enough to take away our sins. In the OT they had to make the same sacrifices again and again and again. But it was never enough. It only covered the sin. It did not take it away. What thousands of sheep and cows could not do Jesus did when He died on the cross. He was the perfect Lamb of God, the final sacrifice. Sins were taken away and we were redeemed. This is what set us free. Only by the power of Christ’s blood (Hebrews 9:22b) could do it.
Verses 5-6. Look at questions. These are two of my favorite verses in the chapter. They show the completely different goals that we have after we believe in Christ. It says, “set their minds”. To me the word “set” is important. It shows a complete focus on something. They are making a firm decision. Sometimes I stubbornly “set” my mind on something. You can see the change in my face as my eyes focus in and my jaw hardens and I clench my teeth! (Give example from playing basketball the other day.) Are you ever like that? You make a decision and follow your decision with action; no one should get in your way! Well this is like what these verses are talking about. Before Christ we are “set” on doing the evil deeds of the flesh. Look at verses in Hebrews 12:1-29, Php 3:7-16, 1 Cor 9:24-7. After Christ comes in our lives we live by the Spirit and are “set” on following the Spirit of life and peace, God’s law. You see there are two choices. We can’t “set” our mind to do both things. We either have to give our hearts and lives completely to following God or we have to give ourselves completely to following the flesh. I choose God. This doesn’t mean we never make mistakes or sin. But our firm desire, our main goal for our life is to serve God. Negative: James 4:4, 1 John 2:15, Positive: Psalms 1, Colossians 3:2, Php 4:8.
Set your mind on something also shows that you continue thinking about it through force of will. It describes deliberate meditation. If we allow our minds freedom to roam as they choose, they will naturally turn to the worries and troubles we face, our worldly dreams, or even worse, temptations that may cause us to stumble. Do you control your mind or do you allow your mind to control you? What is the solution if our mind roams to an area it shouldn’t? Simply take it to God in prayer and then occupy your mind with something else. Can you think of any verses that touch on this? We’ve looked at some. Proverbs 4:23, Psalms 26:2, Proverbs 18:15.
Verses 7-8 This is very simple. If we set our mind on serving our-self we make ourselves enemies of God. Only non-believers will set their mind on this. They do not want to submit to God’s law. They cannot submit themselves to God’s law. Believers on the other hands are regenerate. Titus 3:5. We are new creatures. We are born again and there has been a radical shifting of our priorities. The unregenerate cannot please God. This is a very important truth, but one that is hard to accept for many people. They think that God should be pleased with the “moral” unbelievers actions and look more to what a person does and less to what he believes. This is why you have many people accusing God and Christians of being narrow-minded. After all, aren’t good things done by people of other religions? How would you answer this?
Imagine the story of the prodigal son taking place in modern day India. The boy rebels against his father, steals the estate, runs off and uses it in wild spending and crazy business ideas. One of the crazy business ideas takes off and the son ends up rich and successful, all the while still living in rebellion and pursuing his wild lifestyle. Is the father pleased? No, he is not. He is grieved by the sons’ actions and until the major issue of rebellion, theft, and lack of respect are solved, the sons’ other accomplishments fade in comparison. More importantly, the father knows the son’s heart. He knows that the son is evil and desperately wicked and has an “angle” for any good he does.
As humans, we can’t look into people’s hearts and that often makes us conclude that a good action shows a good heart. But Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their motivations although their actions were often right. This is why the unregenerate cannot please God. They are living in rebellion of their Maker. Their hearts are sinful and desperately wicked. And the good that they do, they probably have a selfish motivation for. You might say I am being cynical, but this is what the Bible teaches. We are all naturally sinful. In the flesh, we cannot please God, because the flesh is inherently sinful.
Only by walking in the Spirit can we please God.
Verses 9-11 But the regenerate are not like this. Each of us who has been born again is in the Spirit. Christ often describes Himself as “life”. And He often tells of the “life” He will give to us who believe in Him. I was thinking about it and I realize that non-believers don’t have a good life even if it looks like they do. Suppose they believe in evolution (Darwin). In this case they are just believe they are just a higher animal. They will live and die and that is the end. There is no God or no one in control. Life is meaningless. There is no goal, no purpose, no meaning. They only serve themselves. There is no hope for them. There is no peace for them. Just like James 4:14 says they are just a vapor, mist, steam, that appears for a little while and disappears. This type of life is very sad. It is dark and empty. But for us it is totally different. Because of the new life we have in Christ we do have a goal. We do have meaning. We do have peace and hope and our life is full of light and love. Here are some verses talking about the great life that is Christ or the great life we have in Christ. John 6:35, John 11:25, John 14:6, John 17:3, John 20:31. Also these verses guarantee that the Holy Spirit lives in EVERY believer. There is no question about this. If you are a believer the Holy Spirit will always live in your heart. Discuss the effects of the Holy Spirit indwelling us.
Verses 12-17 There are sort of two parts in these verses. The first is in verses 12 and 13. These tell us to “put to death” the deeds of the flesh. We must have a changed life. If someone lives just like their colleagues or neighbors or mother or father or brother or sister or classmates who don’t believe in God then probably they don’t believe God either. We must be different (1 Peter 1:13-16).
The second part is from verses 14 to 17. This tells us of the high position we have in Christ. We were enemies, now we are friends (This is called reconciliation). We were strangers, now we are children (This is called adoption). In verse 15 the word for father or Abba really means “daddy”. It is a very close and personal word. It shows the very close and loving relationship we can have with the God of the universe. Verse seventeen is one of my favorite in the whole Bible. It tells us we are God’s children and we have a great inheritance through God. What is this inheritance? I will let you think about that. There is one requirement for this inheritance. We must be willing to suffer for Christ. If we do He will glorify us. Check out Ephesians 1 if you want to read more about the high position we have in Christ and specifically Ephesians 1:4-5 to read about our adoption into God’s family.
Well, this part of the chapter surely had many great treasures in it. Continue meditating on this chapter through the week. Remember we must put to death the deeds of the flesh and follow the fruits of the Spirit. We must be different. The Holy Spirit is always with us and will help us. We should thank God for and rejoice in the wonderful (notice the “ful”, our life is full) life we now have. We should “set” our mind on following spiritual goals. And we should thank God for the high position we have since God adopted us.
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