Romans 8: The Meaning of Spirit in Romans

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter (law or flesh); whose praise is not of men, but of God. Ro 2:29

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The Word Spirit in Romans

Paul's, often confused, statement about flesh and spirit begins:

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;  Ro 1:3

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness (as to his spirit), by the resurrection from the dead:  Ro 1:4

And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. Ac.10:42

Jews would not doubt that their eternal Yahweh had the power to resurrect a human being. There are many Old Testament examples of God doing great miracles. However, to reveal God's glory in the physical body of Jesus Christ, He must be resurrected as He predicted -- and by His own power to "lay my life down and take it up again."

It would not make much sense to interpret this as: "According to the Holy Spirit of holiness." "Spirit" as we have shown stands for God Himself or for His own mental attributes and power. By analogy, the spirit of jealousy is not the Holy Spirit of jealousy:

And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled: Numbers 5:14

In Romans 11:8, Paul used a similar statement: "the spirit of slumber." The spirit of slumber is the mental disposition toward sleep. This means that Christ was proven to be the Son of God because He demonstrated the mental disposition or nature of holiness and the power of self-resurrection. The Living Bible translates this as:

and by being raised from the dead he was proved to be the mighty Son of God, with the holy nature of God himself. Romans 1:4 LIV

Jesus told the Apostles that He had the power to lay His life down and the power to take it up again.  When He was resurrected by the Glory of God He was "justified in the Spirit." Paul follows this closely by showing that he serves God by his own spirit:

For God is my witness, whom I serve (worship) with my spirit in the (preaching of) gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;  Ro.1:9

For we are the circumcision, which

worship God in the spirit,

and rejoice in Christ Jesus,

and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Eph 6:17

Praying always with all prayer and supplication

in the Spirit,

and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Eph 6:18

The Holy Spirit does not war against our bodies. Our spirit wars against our flesh:

If the "spirit" in Romans eight is a "person" separated from God then we have the spectacle of the Holy Spirit fighting against our fleshly body. No wonder our flesh always loses. However, Paul always makes it clear that the battle is between the human flesh (nature) and the human spirit nature or mind:

The Human Flesh:
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: Ro 2:28
The Human spirit:


But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter (flesh); whose praise is not of men, but of God. Ro 2:29

It is not unusual to preach that the Old Law was written on stone or parchment but the New Testament is written on the mind by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit "person" living inside of the body.

This automatically results in a total denial of the written Word and making God a liar. The evidence is seen in human-composed songs and sermons to replace the Words of Christ which evidently do not have the charisma or power of persuasion to "revive" this old dead church.

The fact is that the written Law of Moses was directed to the human body and the cleansing was of the external flesh so that God would not destroy sinners. It could not reach the conscience.

The New Testament is addressed to the spirit or mind of the believer. However, it is still written on paper with ink. You see, God's laws have the power to do what He wanted done with them: outward cleansing under the Law; spiritual cleansing under the New Covenant. Therefore, any time the church "falls away" and attempts to work through external rituals you can be assured that God is being made into a liar.

Note that Paul equates the spirit of a person to the heart of a person.

Kardia (g2588) kar-dee'-ah; prol. from a prim. 2595, (Lat. cor, "heart"); the heart, i.e. (fig.) the thoughts or feelings (mind); also (by anal.) the middle: - (/ broken- heart (-ed).

Generally, mind is used of the thinking part of a being and the spirit is the mental disposition of that mind or being. For instance, we may posses an "unholy" spirit or a "holy" spirit. This describes the mental health of our inner being or heart. Among the Jews, it was not enough to have the foreskin (flesh) circumcised but one must have the heart, spirit or mind changed or cut off. This is clearly symbolic language and does not speak of the Holy Spirit as a person "cut off" from full Deity.

Romans 8:5-6 - Christ as visible God is The door to the Invisible God

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: Col.1:15

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: Col.1:16

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17

In addition to being the visible off-flash of the invisible God, Jesus said that He was the "door" into the sheepfold; to get in one must go through Him. My visible body with its senses is the door into my invisible spirit self. However, we are not two people.

Think of two dimensions occupying the same place at the same time. It is impossible for the physical mind to comprehend or move into the other dimension. However, when the One Infinite God decides to communicate, He becomes the Arm, Door, Lord, ruler or means of access. Christ stands between the two worlds. We can identify with Jesus and by being "in" HIm we have access into the Spiritual world.

When no man could be this door or Intercessor, God sent His own ARM through the impassable gulf to find and save mankind. The following chart from article one shows how this works:

Spiritual World


Great Fixed Gulf

Physical world



As Arm to mankind


God in man, Christ in man, man in Christ, Citizenship in Heaven

Paul shows that when God pours out His love it is by pouring out His Holy Spirit.  However, notice that it is Lord Jesus Who is our only Mediator, Intercessor or channel of Peace to Himself as our Lord God:

THEREFORE being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Romans 5:1

By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  Romans 5:2

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  Romans 5:3

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  Romans 5:4

Mankind is both an "outer" or fleshly body and an "inner" or spirit nature. My body and its senses are the through-way into my spiri nature. Jesus condenscended to make Himself into both a human body while His Holy Spirit remained His true nature. The outer and inner nature (purely for our understanding) of God always works together along with His Mind or Spirit. When we have any relationship with God's True, Spirit nature we have to go through His outer body. This is why there is no other Name by which God can be approached.

Notice that Paul said that we are justified by faith. There is absolutely nothing I can do to gain God's initial approval but believe what He has said. For instance, we cannot transact any human business without having faith and trust in the other party.

Next, however, faith just opens the door or access. This, in turn, gives us "the power to become children of God." You cannot walk through a door until you believe that it is there. However, faith does no good until it matures by obeying Whom and what we come to believe.

Let us say it again: By analogy, you can only have access to the true me or my innermost being or my heart or my spirit through my flesh. There is no way to get information into my spirit nature except through the five, God-designed human senses. Therefore, when Christ becomes the through to God by His flesh, we are not to delude ourselves into thinking that the flesh and Spirit are two different "persons" standing at the bar of Divine justice. Faith is also God's throughway or mediating powers to Himself.

Romans 5:1-4 speaks of qualities of holiness or the fruit of the Spirit.  However, these are qualities of the human mind under the influence of the gospel of Christ.

The fruit of the Spirit is the fruit of Christ and comes because of our access into grace through faith in Jesus (5:2). Love, as well as the rest of the fruit, is shed or spills forth by Christ who lives in our spirit by His Spirit. It was Jesus Christ who shed forth what was seen and heard at Pentecost (Acts 2:33).

The fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is a product of belonging to Christ in the same way that "fruit" is the produce of abiding in the vine or of being married to Christ. The Spirit is not another separate person or we would have spiritual "fruit" by two persons.

Verse 6 explains verse 5: the Holy Spirit sheds love when the blood of Christ is shed. God's love is given by no other means than the blood of Christ. This is not strange because Paul equates our mind to our spirit and the Holy Spirit to Christ Who now lives in the mind or spirit of mankind:

Christ was God before He took on the "tabernacle" of a man:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Philippians 2:5

who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, Philippians 2:6LIV

but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. Philippians 2:7LIV

The symbolism is this: God is clothed with majesty and glory as badges of His eternal power. To open the way to Himself He "took off and laid aside" these garments and put on the garment or tabernacle of a human body. When He had finished His work as a human he tore the veil into the most holy place from top to bottom. This opened the door, through his flesh, into heaven itself. Then He, as Right Arm, sat down at the right hand of the glory and majesty He laid aside to be fully God Who is Holy or pure (nothing but) Spirit.

What God as Spirit Did:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:5

The Spirit is the Giver and not the gift: love is a gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God is the Mind of God (1 Corinthians 2). Christ promised to return again as the "Another Comforter" (John 14:16-18) to guide the Apostles into all truth, and He named Himself to Paul as "Jesus whom you persecute." Jesus would prove Himself as Full Deity (Colossians 2:9) only after He had been exhalted and returned to visibly and audibly prove that He had returned as pur or Holy Spirit:

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.  Acts 2:33

Jesus said, "The Father and I are One." Therefore, when He sat down beside the Majesty He laid aside to become a human, He was symbolically "reattached" to or put back on the Majesty and Glory to become full Deity (Col. 2:9) and therefore The Father. As the promise of restoration was fulfilled, Christ could as promised personally send forth His Spirit nature from the Father.

If "the gift of the Holy Spirit" is the Holy Spirit "person" as a gift then

"the promise of the Father" is the Father merging again with the Son.

This makes the Father and Son One Divine Being expressed in two roles.

Notice that it is Christ in His exalted position having put on the garments of glory He laid aside to become man who sheds forth the visible symbols of His Spirit presence at Pentecost.

How God Who was Manifest in Flesh did it:

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. Romans 5:7

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. Romans 5:9

God demonstrates Himself as Father, Son and Spirit. It was God as Son who, like Father Abraham, commended His love to us by enabling Himself to identify with the full suffering of all humanity.

Christ gave up His full dignity and glory as God to become a man in whom full Deity dwelled. Jesus said that He had the Father with Him. To be in Christ the Son is to be in God the Father. Christ then was fully God and fully man. The access to the invisible God is through His outward image of flesh. Therefore, He was not the agent but the "door" into the "inner sanctuary." By analogy, our outward senses of flesh are the doorway or mediator to our mind or spirit.

This means that if we want a relationship with God we cannot, as did the pagans, try to force our way into His Spirit presence by outward body stimulation: singing, clapping, playing music, dancing or trying to outshout Him. To relate to the Spirit God it is necessary to relate to the physical image of God. This rebukes the loud, the proud and the self-promoters. This means that only the meek willing to abandon their own self need apply.

God demanded that worship is not in "place" but in "spirit" or in mind. Therefore, if you try to take your body into God's presence by the use of mind manipulators or facilitators you ain't gonna get in.

Paul summarized how this was done:

Again, God functions in the human-like roles of Father, Son and Spirit or mind. The Father gives the Son for the sins of the World. This means that God projected Himself into the physical dimension like a light beam projecting itself from utter darkness to create light.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. John 1:4

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended (could not understand it) t not. John 1:5

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. John 6:63

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. Jn.6:68

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. Ac.5:20

Father reached His Arm or Right hand as Son into the physical world. This was why Jesus the Son could say that He was the Father or "had the Father with Him." To see the Son is to see the Father in this analogy.

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. 1Ti 3:16

To "tear the veil" and open the way by purifying believers, God became the High Priest and offered His own "indwelled body" as the sacrifice. When the Son was resurrected by Himself He was justified in and through the Spirit or the invisible manifestation of God's presence. To complete the "round trip" He sat down beside the glory of the immaterial, spirit world.

The Comforter Who was presently with the Apostles would Return in a different form:

In one of the final discussions with His disciples, Jesus told them that He must leave them in a physical sense and send "another" Who would be in Spirit form. This was another but not a different being. If words have any meaning then Jesus said that the Spirit was with them present tense. As "another" He would be able to make His home with every believer throughout all of the world. When He returned in another form He returned as the Holy Spirit Who is full Deity:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another (same but fuller not different) Counselor to be with you forever- John 14:16

Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. John 14:17

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John14:18

To validate His Word it was necessary for Jesus Christ to prove His Deity.  Fulfilled prophecy has always been the most powerful sign of God's work in the physical world.  Jesus promised to come back as a fuller Comforter.  If he did not, then the sign would not be fulfilled and the power the apostles already had would not be increased unless the prophecy was fulfilled on Pentecost:

The returning Comforter would be Father-Son or Full Deity in Spirit form:

At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. John 14:20

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23

Again, God who is pure or Holy Spirit has manifested Himself to the human world as Father and Son. Therefore, when God dwells in the human mind or spirit it is as the Father-Son manifestation of pure or Holy Spirit. "Spirit" is not manifested as a "person" with body parts but as the "wind" or "dove" or "tongues of fire." This is true because Spirit is Diety in operation in the physical world.

Like any writing, the Bible makes statements and then shows how supernatural or Spirit events are carried out in the physical world. God sent Himself as Spirit to live in the "body prepared for me." His fleshly blood was shed but the Spirit was still alive. Christ died for mankind and returned in Spirit to pour out the love at Pentecost. The display of that Spirit was the power to speak the Words of Christ to all people out in all of the world.

Notice that the Holy Spirit as a separated person would not be a "pourable" substance. Therefore, it was the personal Lord Jesus Who returned as His Spirit had promised and He personally poured out everything they saw and heard:

Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed (poured fourth) forth this, which ye now see and hear.  Acts 2:33

The promise is an announcement or pledge and is from the Greek word:

Epaggello (g1861) ep-ang-el'-lo; from 1909 and the base of 32; to announce upon (reflex.), i.e. (by impl.) to engage to do something, to assert something respecting oneself: - profess, (make) promise.

Jesus said that He had the Father with Him and to see Him was to see the Father. As fully God and fully man Jesus made a promise on behalf of the One Spirit Being. The promise was the announcement the Spirit God made through Father and Son.

For emphasis we again quote:

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; John 14:16

I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. John 14:18

Jesus promised to return as the fuller Comforter, He poured out what was seen and heard on the day of Pentecost, therefore, Jesus returned as the One Holy Spirit as Father and Son to live in the minds or hearts of believers. This image or manifestation of the incomprehensible Spirit was important because we can never relate to a purely Spirit being.

The Lord Is The Holy Spirit

Jesus said that all authority was given to Him. His Name is the only Name by which we might be saved. Therefore, we can baptize in the Name of Father, Son and Spirit. There is only one Name but three images by which God expresses Himself. The Father's "name" is Jesus or Joshua or Jehovah-Saved. The Name of the Son is Jesus. The name of the Spirit is Jesus.

In other words, Jesus Christ is God presenting or manifesting Himself in the only way our physical eyes and other senses can "see" God.

When we try to find the purely Spirit God by looking for the invisible or trying to "bounce ourselves into the presence of God" by "ascending into heaven," then we have not turned to the true, humanly-understandable and worsh-able God.

If we have not turned to the One and only God of the universe, then the door is shut in our face and we cannot see through the veil in front of our eyes and we are self-deceived.

But their minds (spirits) were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:14

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:15

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 2 Corinthians 3:16

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18NIV

Doves (or more likely rock pigeons), tongues and forked flames are not symbols of a person. At Pentecost, Christ as full Deity would figuratively come walking upon the wings of the wind or Spirit:

BLESS the Lord (Jehovah), O my soul. O Lord my God (Elohim), thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Psalm 104:1

Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain: Psalm 104:2

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind (same Spirit):  Psa 104:3

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire: Ps.104:4

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.  Psa 104:5

Pentecost, like the Creation, the Flood and the Red Sea, and the Israelite nation was a creation or re-creation out of a world of emptiness and chaos. In all of these events the wind was a symbol that God was Personally restoring order. The old order would be destroyed as the straw of carnal men:

Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.  Isaiah 5:24

The fire which devoured the Jewish nation following Pentecost was the foul breath of self-composed messages rather than the inspired Word of God:

Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you. Isaiah 33:11

In summary, God is pure or Holy Spirit Who manifests Himself as Father and Son. Our spirit is our mind which finds trouble overcoming the human, fleshly nature of the human senses. By turning to Christ to have our bodies crucified and "buried," so that our minds or spirits can become like the Mind of Christ Who is the Spirit of God.

In the next chapter we will see how Paul uses the word "Spirit" in Romans Seven.

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Kenneth Sublett

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