Romans 8:5-8 tells us of those who operate in the flesh – in their own strength and wisdom – rather than by faith – in the strength and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Those who operate in the flesh are “trying” to live the Christian life; trying to please God in their own power through their own ingenuity. It cannot be done! The requirement of the Law is not being fulfilled in those who walk according to the flesh, whether they are religious or irreligious (Romans 8:4). It is impossible because the flesh does not and cannot subject itself to the Law of God (Romans 8:7) and therefore the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8).
Since the flesh does not have the power to obey God and please God, then the Christian life cannot be lived by inspiration but only by incarnation. The Christian life can only be lived by the indwelling Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The flesh may wrongly believe that it has the ability to obey and please God, but it doesn’t! Christianity is not a reformed life but a replaced life. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Those in the flesh can only live by inspiration in their own power and are certain to fail in their attempts to obey God and please God. It is impossible that they can succeed – if they could then Christ died needlessly! Those in the flesh are excluded from being able to fulfill the requirement of the law and from being able to please God – they are excluded from exalted living. Only those in the Spirit can live the exalted life and that life is lived by faith and not in the power of the flesh. Those in whom the Spirit of God dwells and who by faith are guided by the Word of God will experience three aspects of the exalted life.
The extraordinary life - Romans 8:9 – those in the Spirit; in whom the Spirit of God dwells are able to live the exalted life because Jesus is able to live His life in and through them. Those in the Spirit live the exalted life because they are in the process of living the extraordinary life (Galatians 2:20). Anyone who is not living the extraordinary life cannot live the exalted life and does not belong to Christ.
The exchanged life - Romans 8:10 – here we see that the essence of Christianity is the exchanged life – “If Christ is in you”. Colossians 3:3-4 gives us a clearer understanding of this verse showing that the essence of Christianity is the exchanged life – “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
Galatians 2:20 also gives more clarity to this verse so that we can understand what is meant by “though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.” “Though the body is dead because of sin” corresponds to “It is no longer I who live.” “Yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness” corresponds to “But Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The essence of Christianity is the exchanged life. It is the replaced life and not the reformed life. Don’t forget that Jesus warned of the extreme dangers of having a reformed life but not a replaced life (Matthew 12:43-45).
The expectant life - Romans 8:11 – to get clarity and understanding about this verse we go back to Colossians 3:3-4 – “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” The Christian is sealed by the Holy Spirit who was given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:14). Our resurrection from the dead is guaranteed by the indwelling Holy Spirit.
We don’t have the power in and of ourselves to live the Christian life and neither do we have the power to raise ourselves from the dead. The Christian life is by faith from start to finish! The Christian life is by incarnation – “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and not by inspiration.
Can you imagine someone in the flesh getting inspired to raise himself from the dead? No – because he doesn’t have that capability! Neither does the man in the flesh have the capability of living the exalted life – it can only come by the exchanged life which is a result of true and saving faith in Jesus Christ. No one who wants to keep control of his own life has understood the gospel or responded properly to Jesus Christ. If Christ isn’t your Lord – if the government of your life doesn’t rest on His shoulders – then there has not been an exchanged life and neither can there be an experience of the exalted life which only comes by faith in the Son of God.
We can’t live the God-pleasing life; He never said we could; He can and He always said He would. We don’t have to try – we have to trust – hallelujah! Christians have the Spirit and can therefore live the exchanged life which will translate into the exalted life. The Christian will be sanctified because he no longer lives for himself but for Him who died on his behalf