Romans 8:12
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
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(12-17) These verses form a hortatory application of the foregoing, with further development of the idea to live after and in the Spirit.

(12) We are debtors.We are under an obligation. Observe that in the lively sequence of thought the second clause of the antithesis is suppressed, “We are under an obligation, not to the flesh (but to the Spirit).”

Romans 8:12-13. Therefore, brethren — As if he had said, Since we have received such benefits, and expect still more and greater, we are debtors — We are under obligations; not to the flesh — Not to our animal appetites and passions; we have formerly given them more than their due, and we owe our natural corruption no service; to live after the flesh — The desires and inclinations of which we ought not to follow; but we are under an indispensable obligation to be more and more holy. Or, as Dr. Doddridge paraphrases the verse, “Since it is certain the gratifications of the flesh can do nothing for us like that which will be done at the resurrection; and since all present enjoyments are mean and worthless when compared with that; here is a most substantial argument for that mortification and sanctity which the gospel requires. And it necessarily follows that we are debtors to the Spirit, which gives us such exalted hopes, and not unto the flesh, that we should live after the dictates, desires, and appetites thereof.” “To be a debtor,” says Dr. Macknight, “is to be under a constraining obligation, Romans 1:14. The apostle’s meaning is, Since men are under the gracious dispensation of the gospel, which furnishes them with the most powerful assistances for correcting the depravity of their nature, and for performing good actions, they are under no necessity, either moral or physical, to gratify the lusts of the flesh, as they would be, if, in their present weakened state, they had no advantages but what they derived from mere law,” the law of Moses, or law of nature. “Further, we are under no obligation to live according to the flesh, as it offers no pleasures of any consequence to counterbalance the misery which God will inflict on all who live according to it.” For if ye — Though professing Christians, and even eminent for a high and distinguishing profession; live after the flesh — Be governed by your animal appetites, and corrupt nature; (see on Romans 8:4-9;) ye shall die — Shall perish by the sentence of a holy and just God, no less than if you were Jews or heathen. But if ye through the Spirit — Through his enlightening, quickening, and sanctifying influences, and the exercise of those graces which by regeneration he has implanted in your souls; do mortify — Resist, subdue, and destroy; Gr. θανατουτε, make dead; the deeds of the body — Or of the flesh, termed, Galatians 5:19, the works of the flesh: and including, not only evil actions, but those carnal affections and inclinations, whence all the corrupt deeds arise, wherein the body or flesh is concerned; ye shall live — The life of faith, love, and obedience, more abundantly here, and the life of glory hereafter. Here we have the fourth motive to holiness: the Spirit of God dwelling in believers, to enable them to mortify their corrupt passions and tempers.

8:10-17 If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the soul is alive to God, and has begun its holy happiness which shall endure for ever. The righteousness of Christ imputed, secures the soul, the better part, from death. From hence we see how much it is our duty to walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. If any habitually live according to corrupt lustings, they will certainly perish in their sins, whatever they profess. And what can a worldly life present, worthy for a moment to be put against this noble prize of our high calling? Let us then, by the Spirit, endeavour more and more to mortify the flesh. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit brings a new and Divine life to the soul, though in a feeble state. And the sons of God have the Spirit to work in them the disposition of children; they have not the spirit of bondage, which the Old Testament church was under, through the darkness of that dispensation. The Spirit of adoption was not then plentifully poured out. Also it refers to that spirit of bondage, under which many saints were at their conversion. Many speak peace to themselves, to whom God does not speak peace. But those who are sanctified, have God's Spirit witnessing with their spirits, in and by his speaking peace to the soul. Though we may now seem to be losers for Christ, we shall not, we cannot, be losers by him in the end.We are debtors - We owe it as a matter of solemn obligation. This obligation arises,

(1) From the fact that the Spirit dwells in us;

(2) Because the design of his indwelling is to purify us;

(3) Because we are thus recovered from the death of sin to the life of religion; and he who has imparted life, has a right to require that it be spent in his service.

To the flesh - To the corrupt propensities and passions. We are not bound to indulge them because the end of such indulgence is death and ruin; Romans 7:21-22. But we are bound to live to God, and to follow the leadings of his Spirit, for the end is life and peace; Romans 7:22-23. The reason for this is stated in the following verse.

12, 13. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh—"Once we were sold under sin (Ro 7:14); but now that we have been set free from that hard master and become servants to Righteousness (Ro 6:22), we owe nothing to the flesh, we disown its unrighteous claims and are deaf to its imperious demands." Glorious sentiment! Therefore; this illative particle sends us to the things before delivered: q.d. Seeing we are not in the flesh, but have the Spirit of God dwelling in us; not only sanctifying and enlivening our souls for the present, but raising and quickening our bodies for the time to come;

therefore we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; i.e. we are not debtors to sin, or the corrupt and sinful nature that is in us; we owe it no service, there is nothing due to it from believers, but blows, and the blue eye that the apostle gave it. The antithesis is omitted, but it is necessarily implied and understood; and that is, that we are debtors to the Spirit, to live and walk after it.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors,.... The appellation, "brethren", is not used, because they were so by nation or by blood, though many in the church at Rome were Jews; nor merely in a free familiar way of speaking; but rather on account of church membership, and especially because they were in the same spiritual relation to God and Christ: and the use of it by the apostle, shows his great humility and condescension, and his love and affection for them, and is designed to engage their attention and regard to what he was about to say, to them and of them; as that they were "debtors"; which is to be understood of them not as sinners, who as such had been greatly in debt, and had nothing to pay, and were liable to the prison of hell; for no mere creature could ever have paid off their debts; but Christ has done it for them, and in this sense they were not debtors: but they were so as saints, as men freed from condemnation and death; which doctrine of Christian liberty is no licentious one; it does not exempt from obedience, but the more and greater the favours are which such men enjoy, the more obliged they are to be grateful and obey; they are debtors, or trader obligation,

not to the flesh, to corrupt nature,

to live after the flesh, the dictates of that; nor should they be, both on God's account, since that is enmity to him, and is not subject to his law; and on their own account, because it is an enemy to them, brings reproach on them, and exposes them to death; but though it is not expressed, it is understood, that they are debtors to God; to God the Father, both as the God of nature, and of grace, as their covenant God and Father in Christ, who has blessed them with all spiritual blessings in him; to Christ himself, who has redeemed them by his blood: and to the Spirit of God who is in them, and for what he has been, is, and will be to them.

{14} Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

(14) An exhortation to oppress the flesh daily more and more by the power of the Spirit of regeneration, because (he says) you are debtors to God, in that you have received so many benefits from him.

Romans 8:12. Ἄρα οὖν] Draws the inference not merely from Romans 8:11, but from the contents closely in substance bound up together of Romans 8:10-11. “Since these blissful consequences are conditioned by the Spirit that dwelleth in us, we are not bound to give service to the flesh.” That has not deserved well of us!

οὐ τῇ σαρκὶζῆν] In the lively progress of his argument, Paul leaves the counterpart, ἀλλὰ τῷ πνεύματι, τοῦ κατὰ πνεῦμα ζῆν, without direct expression; but it results self-evidently for every reader from Romans 8:13.

τοῦ κ. ς. ζῆν] in order to live carnally. This would be the aim of our relation of debt to the flesh, if such a relation existed; we should have the carnal mode of life for our task. Fritzsche thinks that it belongs to ὀφ.: “Sumus debitores non carni obligati, nempe debitores vitae ex carnis cupiditatibus instituendae;” so also Winer, p. 306 [E. T. 410]. But in Galatians 5:3 Paul couples it with the simple infinitive; as in Soph. Aj. 587, Eur. Rhes. 965. Since he here says τοῦ ζῆν, that telic view is all the more to be preferred, by which the contents of the obligation (so Hofmann) is brought out as its destination for us. The idea conveyed by κατὰ σάρκα ζῆν is that of being alive (contrast to dying) according to the rule and standard of σάρξ, so that σάρξ is the regulative principle. The more precise and definite idea: carnal bliss (Hofmann), is not expressed. We should note, moreover, τῇ σαρκὶ with the article (personified), and κατὰ σάρκα without it (qualitative), Romans 8:5.

Romans 8:12-17. Accordingly we are bound not to live carnally, for that brings death; whereas the government of the Spirit, on the other hand, brings life, because we, as moved by the Spirit, are children of God, and as such are sure of the future glory.

Romans 8:12 f. The blessed condition and hopes of Christians, as described in these last verses, lay them under obligations: to whom, or to what? Not (Romans 8:12) to the flesh, to live according to it: to it they owe nothing. If they live after the flesh they are destined to die—the final doom in which there is no hope; but if by the spirit (i.e., God’s Spirit) they put to death the doings of the body, they shall live—the life against which death is powerless. We might have expected τῆς σαρκὸς instead of τοῦ σώματος, but in the absence of the spirit the body in all it does is only the tool of the flesh: the two are morally equivalent.

12. debtors] An emphatic word in the verse. Q. d., “We are debtors to the Giver of the Spirit; to the flesh we indeed owe nothing, for its result is death.” The first part of this statement is unexpressed, but obviously in point.

Romans 8:12. Ἐσμὲν) we are, we acknowledge and consider ourselves to be. A kind of teaching, which borders on exhortation; (so, we are, is also used in Galatians 4:31) and which presupposes men already of their own accord well inclined. A feeling of delight [see ch. Romans 7:22] mitigates the sense of debt. [But what is the condition of carnal men? These are really debtors, and confess themselves to be debtors, as often as they declare that it is not in their power to live spiritually.—V. g.].—οὐ τῇ σαρκι, not to the flesh) add, but to the spirit; but this is elegantly left to be understood.—κατὰ σάρκα, after the flesh) which endeavours to recall us to bondage.

Verses 12, 13. - So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; for if ye live after the flesh, ye must (μέλλετε, expressing here a result that must; follow. The Authorized Version has "shall;' not distinguishing the force of the phrase from that of the simple future ζήσεσθε which follows), die; but if by the Spirit ye do mortify (rather, do to death, or make to die, so as to correspond to the die preceding) the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Here "the body" (τοῦ σώματος) must be taken in the same sense as in vers. 10, 11. True, the "deeds" spoken of are, in fact, those of the flesh; but the body is regarded as the organ of the lusts of the flesh, and it is fitly named here in connection with the thought of the preceding verses. The word translated. "deeds" is πράξεις, denoting, not single acts, but rather doings - the general outcome in action of fleshly lusts using the body as their organ. Μέλλετε ἀποθήσκειν and ζήσεσθε, viewed in connection with ζωοποιήσει in ver. 11, seem to point ultimately to the result hereafter of the two courses of life denoted: but not, it would seem, exclusively; for our future state is constantly regarded by the apostle as the continuance and sequence of what is begun in us already - whether of life in Christ now unto life eternal, or of death in sin now unto death beyond the grave. The general idea may be stated thus: If ye live after the flesh, the power in you to which you give your allegiance and adhesion will involve you in its own doom, death; but if ye live after the Spirit, you identify yourselves with the Spirit of life that is in you, whereby you will be emancipated at last even from these your mortal bodies, whose doings you already slay. Romans 8:12
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