The Apostle Paul links the future resurrection with the New Creation, the promised redemption includes both events – Romans 8:1-23.
In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul wrote that for all those who are “in Jesus” there is “now no condemnation,” the result of the “law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and of death. Adam’s sin condemned humanity and the creation to bondage under sin and death even though God had declared the entire universe “good.”
Under the Mosaic Law, humanity could not liberate itself from bondage to sin. That would take something or someone else:
- (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 flesh do walk, but according to spirit.”
The “flesh,” humanity in its mortal and fallen state, “prefers death, whereas the Spirit prefers life and peace.” The “carnal man” was the product of Adam’s disobedience and is now “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 flesh” is equivalent to being “in Adam.”
- (Romans 5:18-19) – “Hence then, as through one fault the sentence was to all men for 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 of “flesh” and “spirit” contrasts the old Adamic life under sin with the new life free from servitude to it that is found in Jesus. Paul is not speaking of two “natures” locked in mortal combat within each individual, the “old man” versus the “new man,” but instead, about the past life of the “flesh” in Adam versus the new life of the “spirit” in the man, Jesus Christ.
- (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 by reason of sin, whereas, the spirit is life by reason 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 shall make alive even your death-doomed bodies through means of his indwelling Spirit within you.”
His disciples do not have their life in the flesh but in the spirit. However, if anyone does not have his Spirit, “the same is not his.” It is the Spirit that equips the disciple to walk uprightly and prepares him or her for the future life in the resurrection. Though our present bodies are “dead by reason of sin,” if the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us – “He that raised from among the dead Christ Jesus will make alive, even our death-doomed bodies through means of his indwelling Spirit.”
At this point, Paul has brought the future resurrection into the discussion. Integral to his concept is the bodily resurrection of the saints. Final redemption is realized at the resurrection, the “redemption of the body.” The entire man that God created was condemned to bondage, not just his soul or inner self. Therefore, if God is to redeem humanity and recover that which was lost, His redemptive act must include the body. Likewise, the creation was also condemned by Adam’s sin.
- (Romans 8:12-14) – “Hence, brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh that according to flesh we should live, for if according to flesh you live, you are about to die, whereas, if in spirit the practices of the flesh you are putting to death, you shall attain life; for as many as by God’s Spirit are being led, the same are His sons.”
Though believers have been declared righteous through Jesus, receipt of their final salvation is not a foregone conclusion. They are obligated to live “not according to the flesh.” If they do, they will “die.” It is the men and women who are “led by God’s Spirit who are His sons.”
- (Romans 8:15-20) – “For you have not received a spirit of servitude leading back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption, whereby we exclaim: 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 co-heirs with Christ, if, at least, we are suffering together in order 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 the creation been made subject, not by choice, but by reason of him that made it subject in hope.”
In believers, the Spirit is “bearing witness with their spirit that they are children of God,” which means they are “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” But to be his co-heir means to suffer in this life for his sake so that we “also are glorified.” And present sufferings are incomparable with the “glory about to be revealed.”
The creation itself has been subjected “to vanity” – death and decay – due to the disobedience of Adam, and it is “ardently awaiting the revelation of the sons of God.” When his sons are “revealed,” then the “creation itself also 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, even we ourselves within our own selves do sigh, adoption ardently awaiting, the redemption of our body.”
Thus, Paul has linked the promised New Creation to the bodily resurrection of the saints. Like the other writers of the New Testament, he presents a forward-looking faith. Everlasting life is a future inheritance that is received in all its fulness at the bodily resurrection, an event that will coincide with the arrival of the New Creation. Moreover, the redemption of the Cosmos is dependent on the resurrection of the “sons of God.” The promises of bodily resurrection and New Creation are inextricably linked – (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).
Throughout this section of Romans, the focus remains on the future inheritance of the saints, which Paul connects to and defines as the New Creation and the resurrection. New Creation and bodily resurrection are two sides of the same coin. Believers who have been declared righteous in Christ and received the Spirit of God will receive their final redemption at the resurrection – (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).