There are two things that every believer wants above all else. (1) He wants deliverance from the guilt and curse of sinTO LIVE IN CHRIST. (2) He wants deliverance from the power and practice of sinTO WALK IN THE SPIRIT. A saving interest in Christ and our living union with Christ do both.
(Vs. 1) The apostle does not say that we are not condemnable; for there is still sin within us, and all sin is condemnable. But sin cannot bring us into condemnation, for we are IN CHRIST (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8:33-34). Christ has borne the penalty, judgment, and condemnation for all our sinspast, present, and future (Col. 1:20-22).
"Who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." This is not the REASON why we are not condemned but is a DESCRIPTION of those who are in Christ. The flesh is not our master nor our guide. Christ is our Lord and the Holy Spirit is our guide.
(Vs. 2) The gospel of Christ (or the covenant of grace in Christ) has forever freed all believers from the law of sin and death (or the covenant of works) (Rom. 3:19; Gal. 3:10), for every requirement is met in Christ (Rom. 6:7, 18).
(Vs. 3) The weakness and inability to save does not arise from any defect in God's Law, for the Law is perfect and holy. The defect and weakness is in our flesh. The Law cannot save because we are unable to keep the Law (Rom. 7:18; Rom. 3:10-12). But Christ can justify the ungodly and make righteous the chief of sinners; for as our representative, God sent Him here in the likeness of sinful flesh; and He not only obeyed the perfect Law but was condemned and punished for our offenses (Rom. 5:19; II Cor. 5:21; I Peter 2:24).
(Vs. 4) "The righteousness of the Law fulfilled or fully met in us." This is the reason why Christ came to earththat by His active and passive obedience all believers might be justified, sanctified, made holy, and accepted in Him. In Christ we have honored the Law and satisfied justice; we are perfect before God (I Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:9-10).
Again the phrase appears, "who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit." The next ten verses reveal the meaning of this phrase.
(Vs. 5) Unregenerate, unsaved people DO MIND (are concerned, anxious, and taken up with) the things of this world and of the flesh (Matt. 6:24-33). Health, happiness, and honor for the flesh is their main concern. Not so for those who are in Christ! They are concerned and their thoughts occupied with their relationship with Christ, a growth in grace, a right relationship with others, and attaining unto the resurrection of the dead (Phil. 3:8-11).
(Vs. 6) This carnal flesh-mindedness is a state of spiritual death. The man who is swallowed up in the kingdom of the world is dead; and all that he has, seeks, and attains is already judged and condemned (I Cor. 7:29-31). The regenerated believer, who sets his affection on things above, is part of a living kingdom. God lives; His kingdom lives; His possessions live; His people live. They not only live but they live in a blessed state of peace and joy (Luke 12:15; I Tim. 6:6-11).
(Vs. 7) Flesh-mindedness hates God and reasons against God. Carnal men do not hate their idols (their gods), but they hate the Living God (James 4:4). The carnal mind will not be subject or submissive to the will of God, the way of God, the providence of God, nor the gospel of God (Jer. 13:23; Jer. 17:9). Augustine said, "How can snow be made warm? Only by making it cease to be snow. The natural mind cannot be mended or modified, only destroyed." (Isa. 55:7-8.)
(Vs. 8) Outside of Christ there is nothing that we can be, think, say, or do that is pleasing co God. The elect are accepted and are well-pleasing in His sight because we are in Christ (Eph. 1:3-6; Heb. 11:6).
(Vs. 9) "Ye are not in the flesh." This does not mean that we are not human (that we have no passions, appetites, and desires, or that our old nature is eradicated); but it means that we have a new nature and are indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, Who is the dominant influence in our lives. To be in the Spirit is to be ruled over, influenced, and controlled by the Spirit. They that are justified in Christ are also sanctified in Christ and have the Spirit of Christ. If a man does not have the life and Spirit of Christ, he is not one of His own.
(Vs. 10) This body of flesh and all that pertains to it is subject to death because of sin; but our spirits which are vitally united to Christ have no stain, no sin, and they enjoy eternal life because of His righteousness.