Romans Chapter 8

The book of Romans (see the section on Romans chapter 12) is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the people living in Rome. Following this chapter, Paul takes a minor detour in his thought for three chapters (chapter 9 to 11) and his argument continues with chapter 12.

If you Google “Romans Chapter 8”, you will find that many people consider this chapter to be the most important chapter in the New Testament, but I feel that their estimate is based on a misunderstanding of the opening lines of the chapter, as the Chinese writer of the last century, Watchmen Nee, points out.

The opening line reads “and therefore there is now no condemnation”. As Nee points out, Paul has already dealt with the breakdown of relationship between people and God in the first part of his letter, and does not return to it here again, but rather, picks up on another aspect of difficulty that people have with life – the problem of self-condemnation – or as it would be put in modern jargon, “self talk of the negative variety”.

We are frequently beating ourselves up for things that we have done or omitted in our relationships and in our activities. Paul says that when we become what the Cree call “Spirit Walkers”, that is, people who move at the direction of the Spirit of God, it takes the responsibility for our actions off us to some extent (and hence, the blame when we mess up). However this is not a complete shift of responsibility. In any communication, just because we say something, doesn’t mean that what is heard is what we meant. We always need to own our understanding of what we feel God says to us.

It has been commented that God speaks to us in ways or appropriate to our personality and our needs – but primarily they can be broken down into prayer, Scripture, and activity. It’s not that one channel is better than the other, it’s just that sometimes we can hear things in one context which we can’t here in another.

I have written a series of poems during a group study of Romans chapter 8 during the fall of 2012, reflecting on several aspects of this particular passage.

The final few verses of this particular chapter are very well known, and speak of the fact that nothing can separate us from God’s love – a fact which we sometimes lose sight of.

The fact that this chapter reference comes under the heading of "wanting Christian assurance" arises from both parts of this passage – the opening lines about self-condemnation (which as noted above, some people regard as referring to felt-condemnation from God), and the assurance of God’s love for us which can overcome all barriers.