In chapter 8 of Romans we see an important shift in theme. If you’ll remember with me, chapter seven was chock full of frustration that came to a head in the last verse of the chapter, which said:
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
In this verse Paul describes a catch 22. In his mind he is a slave to God’s law, but in his sinful nature, or flesh, he is a slave to sin. A person in this condition wants to leave sin but finds that he or she is powerless to do so. In the end, the law simply is not enough.
Now enter chapter 8. Notice what Paul says in verses 1-4:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
In chapter 7, the law was not enough. In chapter 8, something greater than the law is at work! Through Christ we have been set free from the slavery to sin that left us helpless to change. More than this, the Spirit is at work in us, somehow making us able to fulfill the law! The first half of chapter 8 focuses on how living into the Spirit moves us past the frustrations of chapter 7.
Then, the second half of chapter 8 deals with suffering, which is simply a fact of life for Christians. It may be that we suffer for our allegiance to Jesus. Or, it may be that we suffer simply as a result of living in a fallen world. Whatever the case, we Christians are not left out to dry when difficulties come our way. Instead, perspective, hope, and the Spirit enable us to live as more than conquerors in the face of whatever comes our way.