Romans 8:10–13 (NKJV)
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.
13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The common objection from this passage to the believer’s security is that Verse 13 refers to born-again believers and dying or living there refers to eternal death and eternal life. According to this understanding, Verse 13 reads in the following way: “If believers live according to the flesh, and do immoral things, they will die eternally and lose their salvation; but if by the Spirit they put to death the deeds of the body—the immoral things, they will live eternally, and retain their eternal salvation to the end.” Is this true? Of course not. Let’s see together why.
It’s true this passage clearly refers to brothers in Christ based on how Verse 12 addresses the audience as brethren. However, the context of Verse 13 is not about eternal salvation but about the physical body and about the life and death here on earth. Here are a few clues: “the body is dead because of sin” (Verse 10), the Spirit of God “will give life to our mortal bodies” (Verse 11), and if we put to death “the deeds of the body,” we will live (Verse 13). When Verse 11 says the Holy Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies, it doesn’t mean He will replace our mortal bodies with new glorified bodies only at the second coming of Jesus. If it were so, it would have said it differently. However, the construction of words shows the Holy Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies as they are here on earth before they are replaced with glorified bodies. He will rejuvenate and energize our mortal bodies with life from the spiritual realm so they will live longer and sickness-free.
Paul uses the terms “die” and “live” to convey temporal effects, which result from sin or obedience, respectively, but don’t reflect eternal truths. Sinful deeds, especially those against the physical body, like excessive drinking, drug addiction, sexual immorality, smoking, and overeating, produce various forms of death here and now: premature physical death (1 John 5:16; James 5:19–20), mental distress and guilt (1 Samuel 15–16; Psalm 51:2–9), broken relationships, etc. However, putting to death the various fleshly desires and passions of the body can produce multiple blessings of life like physical wellness and longevity (Psalm 119:144; Proverbs 4:4, 7:2, 15:27; Ephesians 6:3), psychological wellness (Psalm 69:32), and abundant quality of life in general (John 10:10, 15:11).
Let’s suppose Romans 8:13 had in view eternal salvation. How do we measure the level of our fleshly living? What is the level of living according to the flesh that will cause us to lose salvation or still keep it? No one knows, right? Even the Bible is silent about this lethal dose of fleshly living, if I may say so. In other words, you could strive your whole life to live as morally and healthily as possible, from your point of view (because we all have different and relative levels of morality and right living), and find out at the end, to your eternal dismay, that you have actually lost your salvation along the way and you didn’t even know it. God is not like that. He would be much clearer on such a matter of eternal damnation and eternal life.
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