In Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 of Romans, the apostle Paul clearly defines a Christian as someone who is behaviorally perfect. Once we understand this, it really takes the joy out of the many famous promises of Romans 8. This chapter starts out with that famous line:
Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom. 8:1-2)
But as we learned in our previous lesson, the only ones who qualify as being in Christ Jesus are those who never sin. When Paul talks about being set free from the law of sin and death, he means you should no longer be struggling with sin if you are truly saved. As the apostle John says:
Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. (1 Jn. 3:9)
So are you born of God? No, because you sin. If you were really a Christian, you would be unable to sin—at least that’s what Paul and John say. And once we stop ignoring the way these men are defining a true Christian, we realize what garbage their epistles are. They aren’t teaching truth, but instead they are heaping lie upon lie and making us a bunch of empty promises.
It is utterly ludicrous for any human to claim to be sinless. Yet by calling themselves Christians, this is exactly what John and Paul are claiming. These men aren’t saying that their current sins are being “covered by the Blood”—no, they’re saying that they don’t sin. Sinning was what they did prior to salvation, but it’s not something they do anymore. How arrogant do you have to be to make such a claim?
Now because we don’t want to face what spiritual morons the early apostles were—and because we don’t want to face what dingdongs we’ve been to be calling these records “God breathed” for so many centuries—today we work hard to try and cover for their arrogance and idiocy by boldfaced lying about what they say. You’ll commonly hear it said that what Paul and John teach is that we are blameless before God because Christ is perpetually atoning for any sins we commit. We sin, we confess, Christ blots our record clean again, and we’re blameless in the eyes of Yahweh. This is what we say, but it’s not what Paul, John, Yahweh, or Christ said. The only way John and Paul say we can be blameless in the eyes of God is to truly be perfect—something which they say is quite doable, so stop with the lame excuses. These men don’t leave any room for you to sin after you have come to Christ. Instead, they both adamantly insist that the very proof that you are in Christ is that you no longer sin. It is only before you came to Christ that you sinned—and they both insist that you own up to that. This is why John says:
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 Jn. 1:8)
But once you come to Christ and confess those sins, Christ magically fixes you and all sinning must stop.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn. 1:9)
Once you’re cleansed from all unrighteousness, how can you possibly sin again unless you’re some hardcore little rebel who has never really come to Christ? This is why John says:
Little children, let no one deceive you! The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. (1 Jn. 3:7-10)
So then, you child of the devil, there’s no room for patching things up between you and God with confession and repentance after you’re saved. If you were really with God, you wouldn’t be sinning. This is how John and Paul both lay it out. If we actually accept what they’re teaching, then we will be forced to conclude that we’re all going to Hell because we all sin. Well, yikes, we can’t deal with that, so bring on those denial games. Let’s start slicing and dicing the crazy teaching of these two men and trying to make it sound like they’re saying something totally different than they are. With centuries of practice, we’ve become very good at yanking passages out of context, which is why today you’ll find the New Testament epistles being constantly quoted and celebrated, even though what they actually say is that we’re all going to Hell.
So how important is it to you to grow? Is Christianity just a game to you, or are you serious about pleasing your Makers? If you’re wise, you’ve decided that inventing your own rules for Christianity is not going to fly with your Gods. You can’t please Them on your terms, you have to meet Their terms, and to get a clear understanding of what They want from you, you need to unlearn all of the rot that’s been shoved on you thanks to the Church’s idolatrous exaltation of the New Testament epistles. When truth is a muddled mess in our minds, we end up getting easily spun off course by deceptions and our own core fears and struggles. So how do we get unmuddled? We stop relying on other humans to do our thinking for us. We stop trusting in titles and manmade labels like “God breathed” and “sacred.” There’s only one way to learn the truth, and that is to ask your Gods directly to reveal it to you. Here’s a useful prayer that every mature Christian needs to get around to praying at some point in their walks:
“God, I’m coming to realize that I have no wisdom apart from You. I want to know the real truth about You, and not keep putting my faith in lies. I need You to go through my entire belief system and fix anything that needs to be fixed. Show me where I’m clinging to lies. Show me where there are errors in my thinking and show me how to correct them. Help me accept the changes You tell me to make. Help me to be open to receiving Your truth, even if it turns out to be something that upsets or scares me. Truth isn’t going to change because I’m not facing it, and I don’t want to live in some fantasy land of delusions. I want to really know You and clearly understand what You want from me so that I can please You as much as possible. You are my God, and Your opinion is the only one that matters. I’m not going to make anything off limits—everything is up for revision, even my most basic beliefs. Teach me and help me to be totally receptive to everything You say.”
What’s so fabulous about this prayer is that you’re practicing three key soul attitudes. You’re submitting to God by acknowledging that He is superior to you and being willing to yield to His definition of truth. You’re trusting Him to teach you, and you’re embracing your dependency on Him as the only One who can help you accurately discern truth from lies. It’s all about soul attitudes with our Gods. When we come to Them with requests, we want to be shaping those requests with the soul attitudes that They say honor Them: things like submission, reverence, trust, dependency, and humility. When we focus on soul attitudes, we’re going to fly down the road of spiritual maturity and end up greatly pleasing our three glorious Creators.
DEFINING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Focusing on soul attitudes not only helps us improve the way we treat our Gods, but it also helps us identify bad teaching. Let’s now continue on with our study of Romans 8, which we should expect to be loaded with bad teaching given that Paul is the one talking. This chapter is commonly used to explain the role that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives. The problem is that Paul isn’t talking about the Holy Spirit who we know—that magnificent third God who made a royal ruckus on Pentecost. No, to an Old Covenant Jew like Paul, Yahweh is the only real God. Jesus is just a man, and the Holy Spirit is just another title for Yahweh.
Check out references to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament and you’ll only find a few. Far more often the term used is “the Spirit of the LORD” and that all caps LORD is a substitution for the Name of Yahweh. So what you really find in the Old Testament are references to Yahweh and the Spirit of Yahweh.
Suppose your friend’s husband Mark dies. She was so bonded to him, that she refuses to accept his death, so she goes on talking to him even though he isn’t there. Then one day she says to you, “I felt Mark’s spirit with me at breakfast today.” What does she mean by this? Is she referring to a totally separate being than her husband? No, she means she felt her husband with her—the same husband she’s always known. Well, this is how Old Covenant Jews used the term the Spirit of Yahweh or the Holy Spirit. In Psalm 51, a guilt ridden David prays to Yahweh:
Do not cast me away from Your Presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Ps. 51:11)
David isn’t referring to a second God here. He’s saying to Yahweh, “Please don’t leave me. Don’t turn away from me. Don’t cut me off and disown me.” The Holy Spirit was simply a title for Yahweh. Sometimes the Spirit of Yahweh came on people in a dramatic way, and when this happened, others often noticed that those anointed ones were displaying some supernatural abilities. Everyone could see that Moses was the only guy being invited to talk face to face with Yahweh at the Tent of Meeting all of those years in the wilderness. Elijah and Elisha both had Yahweh’s Spirit on them, and their special anointing was demonstrated through miraculous knowledge and abilities. To other people, it appeared as if Elijah was raising people from the dead and calling down fire from Heaven. It appeared as if Elisha could read minds when he knew about the secret plans a king was making in his war tent. It appeared as if Samson had super human strength when he ripped the doors off of the castle like walls of a city and hauled them up a hill. So what was going on in these cases? Did Elijah really have the power to call down fire from the sky? Could Elisha really read minds? Of course not. All of these miraculous feats were really done by Yahweh—the men themselves contributed nothing. Samson’s strength was not his own, it was Yahweh who suddenly seized hold of Samson’s earthsuit and enabled it to do things that it normally couldn’t do.
If you’re going to avoid going down the road of idolatry, you need to have a clear understanding of how miracles work. Imagine Jesus holding a red ball. That red ball represents Jesus’ Divine power. Jesus now hands you the ball and says, “Throw it.” You take the ball and throw it when you’re good and ready to do so. This is how the Church and many fools in the Bible say that miracles work. The idea is that God actually gives us ownership of some portion of His power, and we are then free to use it however we see fit. Here is where your pompous healer starts announcing ahead of time how and when God will perform a miracle, because the fool actually thinks the power of God now resides within his mortal frame, thus he can plan in advance how he will dispense it. Whenever you find humans trying to take some of the credit for a miracle that was performed—be it a physical healing, an exorcism, or anything else—they have bought into the ludicrous idea that God Almighty actually lets us get our greedy hands on His power. Of course our egos love this idea, which is why it is so popular in the Church.
But now let’s talk about how it really works. Jesus is holding the red ball. Jesus says to you, “Take hold of the ball.” You do, but Jesus doesn’t let go of it. Instead, He is still holding it, and then He suddenly hurls it off in some direction and you’re forced to let it go as He rips it out of your grasp. Now to someone who can’t see Jesus, it looks as if you just threw a red ball. But did you? No. Jesus through the ball, He just had you go through the motions of throwing it. But you didn’t know what He was going to do when He told you to come over and put your hands on the ball, and you were totally thrown off guard when He then suddenly hurled it into the air without warning. This is how it works in real life: God never gives us His power or abilities. He just sometimes invites us to play some bit part in a scene that He is starring in. A classic case here is when the Holy Spirit suddenly convicts you to get into a conversation about spiritual matters with someone. Let’s get real: what does a nimbus like you have to contribute to such a conversation? Nothing. We humans are all blind fools and we have no wisdom on our own. So when the Holy Spirit uses your tongue and vocal cords to speak wisdom to some other soul and that soul is positively impact by it, can you go around taking the bows? Of course not. You didn’t contribute anything. You were just the prop. Your reward is the great privilege of being used by God, but there’s no glory in it for you, because glory is for Gods, not humans.
Humans never perform miracles. Only Gods perform miracles. Wise Old Covenant believers understood this, so when they saw someone doing something miraculous, they said that it had to be the Spirit of Yahweh. Well, after reverent Jews spent centuries of crediting Yahweh and only Yahweh for miracles in their midst, this nobody named Jesus came along healing people from illness, casting out demons, and even resurrecting people from the dead. Did anyone credit Jesus as being the Source of that power? Certainly not. Jesus was obviously just another Guy like Elijah or Moses—He had Yahweh’s Spirit resting on Him, and it was obviously Yahweh who was doing the miracles, not Jesus.
It’s vital to realize how shocking and blasphemous the idea of multiple Gods was to sincere Old Covenant believers. Judaism was the religion of the Old Covenant, and Judaism is a monotheistic religion. When Jesus showed up in Israel, He didn’t just stand up and say, “Hey, everyone, I’m a second God.” Jesus is a second God, but the Jews needed to be slowly eased into that idea. Before Jesus began His public ministry, there was no discussion of multiple Gods. Instead, we find Yahweh intentionally talking as if He was still the only God in existence. Watch the language that the angel uses when he speaks to Mary:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Mary was an Old Covenant believer. To her, the Holy Spirit and the Most High were common titles for Yahweh. So what she heard the angel say was, “Yahweh will come upon you, and Yahweh’s power will overshadow you. The holy One to be born will be called the Son of Yahweh.” Mary certainly did not hear that her Son was a second God, nor did she think that some God other than Yahweh was going to “come upon her.” There was only one God Most High to the Jews: the magnificent Yahweh. It was utterly blasphemous to suggest that any other being was Yahweh’s equal. As Jewish John explains in his Gospel:
This is why the Jews began trying all the more to kill Jesus: Not only was He breaking the Sabbath, but He was even calling Yahweh His own Father, making Himself equal with Yahweh. (Jn. 5:18)
In the minds of Old Covenant believers, Jesus simply can’t be God. And if He’s not God, then obviously He doesn’t have the ability to perform miracles in His own power. This is why guys like Paul and Peter always give Yahweh the credit for raising Jesus back to life—they’re not about to say that Jesus had the ability to do that, because that would make Jesus a God (see Who raised Jesus from the dead?).
At first, Jesus encouraged this belief that He was doing all things through the power of Yahweh. In His hometown of Nazareth, when He got up and read a passage from Isaiah which He claimed to be fulfilling, that passage began with these words:
“The Spirit of Yahweh is upon Me, for He has anointed Me to bring Good News to the poor.” (Isa. 61:1)
After Yahweh spent centuries raging over the idolatry issue, He and Jesus weren’t going to just slam the Jews with the news that there really are multiple Gods. As we move through the Gospels, we see Jesus dropping more and more hints that He is something other than human. But the more Jesus hinted, the more closed His disciples became to the idea of His Divinity. They just weren’t going to go there with the outrageous concept that there could be any other Being in existence who was equal to the magnificent Yahweh. By the time Jesus leaves, His Divinity is still being rejected, thus we find Peter promoting Jesus as subordinate to Yahweh in his speeches in Acts. When the Holy Spirit comes on Pentecost, do the Jews recognize Him as a third God? Certainly not. Even though Jesus clearly identified the Holy Spirit as being separate from Himself and Yahweh by calling Him “another Counselor” in John 14:16, the Jews chose to view the Holy Spirit the same as they always had: as the Presence of Yahweh Himself. But Jesus didn’t say that Yahweh would send His own Spirit. Instead, Jesus said that Yahweh would send another Being who was not Yahweh or Jesus. Jesus then commanded His followers to be baptized in the Names of three distinct Beings: Himself, Yahweh, and the Holy Spirit.
LORD VS. GOD
All of the New Testament writers were Jews with a background in monotheistic Judaism. This means that whenever you come across the title God in the New Testament epistles, you should mentally substitute the Name Yahweh to have a correct understanding of what the Jewish author is saying. The same is true for many uses of the title Lord, for Jews alternated between referring to Yahweh as God (a Divine Being) and Lord (which was like saying Sir for English speakers today). Start paying closer attention to the text and you’ll discover that Jesus is hardly ever referred to as a God—instead He’s consistently given the Lord title, which does not suggest Divinity. Sarah called her husband Abraham “lord.” There’s a big difference between the terms God (Elohim) and Lord (Adonai), and once you understand that Paul rejects the Divinity of Christ, you understand how he is actually insulting Christ when he says:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:9)
What Paul means by this is:
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Sir,” and believe in your heart that Yahweh raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. (Rom. 10:9)
You won’t find Paul calling Jesus God anywhere in Romans because Paul rejects the Divinity of Christ. And if you agree with Paul that Jesus is not deserving of any title higher than “Sir” then you’re going to end up in Hell. You see, salvation can only be acquired through reverential submission to Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as the Supreme Gods that They are. There’s none of this rot about Them being on the same level as some human who you respectfully refer to as “Sir.” Now since many English speakers today are thinking of a God when they refer to Lord Jesus, the title doesn’t get in the way. Jesus doesn’t care what you call Him, He cares about your soul attitude. You can call Jesus an Apple if by that term you mean “God Almighty and the Supreme Authority in my life.” The words don’t save you, the attitude does. Calling Jesus Lord or God won’t get you into Heaven if those terms don’t mean anything more to you than “some nice Guy who lived 2,000 years ago.” As we said earlier, keep your focus on soul attitudes and you’ll do a much better job of discerning truth from lies. Now let’s finally get into Paul.
So then, brothers, we are not obligated to the flesh to live according to the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. All those led by Yahweh’s Spirit are Yahweh’s sons. (Rom. 8:12-14)
In Chapter 7, Paul laid out this sequence of events: Yahweh introduced His Old Covenant Laws through Moses. Those Laws caused us all to become hopelessly enslaved by some force called Sin. Even if we wanted to obey Yahweh’s Laws, we couldn’t, because we were slaves to evil Sin. But then Christ came and died on a cross to save us from the power of Sin. In Chapter 6, Paul said that in the physical act of getting baptized, our very nature is miraculously transformed so that we no longer desire to sin. In Chapter 7, he really hammered the point that a true Christian is totally free from the desire to sin. Sin cannot rule over us, because we are now its masters. So now if we sin, it’s an act of unforgivable rebellion which will result in our eternal damnation. True Christians must be behaviorally perfect in order to be accepted by Yahweh, because by sending Christ, Yahweh took away any excuse we might have had to sin. Yahweh isn’t going to tolerate any sinning on our part, which is why Paul says that “if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die.” Paul then goes on to credit Yahweh, not Christ, for empowering us to overcome sin. Remember, all Divine power must come from Yahweh in Paul’s mind, because Christ is just a human. This is why Paul says:
But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. All those led by Yahweh’s Spirit are Yahweh’s sons.
It’s the Spirit of Yahweh who has set us free from the power of sin. Sure, Christ did the dying, but Christ is not God, so ultimately the credit has to be given to Yahweh. Now Paul says that it is Yahweh who adopts us as His kids if we are being obedient little Christians and knocking off this sinning business.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15)
In his letters, Paul says we are the children of Yahweh, but the siblings of Christ, because Christ is just a human. Keep a close watch on Paul’s language and you’ll find him constantly demoting Christ as a non-Divine Being who is totally subordinate to Yahweh.
The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are Yahweh’s children… (Rom. 8:16)
In other words, it is Yahweh Himself who is confirming to us that we are His children.
…and if children, also heirs—heirs of Yahweh and coheirs with Christ—seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (Rom. 8:17)
Notice that difference in rank: Yahweh is the Father figure, but Christ is on the same level as us, therefore we inherit from Yahweh, but we share that inheritance with our brother Christ. Paul says that there is only one God with many metaphorical “children”—one of which is Christ. Christ only outranks us temporarily, since He got to Heaven before us and is enjoying a nice promotion that Yahweh gave Him. But Paul says that soon Christ’s reign will end, at which point we’ll be like His equals. Notice how Paul says that we should be looking forward to being glorified with Christ. So much for reverential submission.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. (Rom. 8:18)
Paul is getting excited as he imagines himself receiving epic glory in Heaven. Paul was obsessed with power, glory, and self-exaltation, and you’ll find these themes coming up over and over throughout his writings. The guy didn’t know the first thing about humility.
For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for Yahweh’s sons to be revealed. (Rom. 8:19)
Paul’s ego is so huge, that he imagines that the whole world is pining for the day when it will get to see the awesome, sinless Paul receiving mega glory, honor and power in Heaven. Oh, and other Christians, too—but Paul’s the one Paul cares most about. Well, no, this is utterly absurd. The world does not revolve around New Covenant believers, but you’ll see power crazed Paul elevating humans to ridiculous degrees in his letters—even going so far as to suggest that we’ll take over God’s judging duties for Him on the other side.
Don’t you know that we will judge angels—not to mention ordinary matters? (1 Cor. 6:3)
No, we won’t. Judging is for Gods, and the Old Testament contains several chilling accounts of Yahweh harshly disciplining humans who try to grab at the glory like Paul does. Jesus also slammed this kind of arrogance in His preaching, but of course Paul is far too busy elevating himself as Christ’s equal and Yahweh’s invaluable assistant to practice submission.
Against its will, all creation was subjected to Yahweh’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join Yahweh’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. We know that everything Yahweh made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth. Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of Yahweh’s promise. So we are waiting for Yahweh to finish making us His own children, which means our bodies will be made free. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience. (Rom. 8:20-25)
Paul is wrong to assume that this world will be given some kind of reboot and stay in existence forever. In real life, our Gods are going to totally destroy this planet. Heaven is not going to be located here—Heaven already exists in an entirely different dimension which we will go to immediately when we die. But Paul’s theology about death and the afterlife is all messed up, so we’ll find him putting out a lot of strange ideas.
This idea that the natural world revolves around us humans is just inflated ego talking. No, the trees, bugs, and birds aren’t all secretly thinking, “Gee, we just can’t wait to see Yahweh exalt the humans who please Him.” It is our Gods who Their own creations revolve around, not us humans, and you want to be guarded against Paul sucking you into his ego trip.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what Yahweh wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with Yahweh’s own will. (Rom. 8:26-27)
Here’s another famous passage that gets frequently cited in the Church, and yet it’s complete baloney. First, let’s start with the Church’s interpretation of this passage. She paints a picture of the actual Holy Spirit—who is His own Being, not just some extension of Yahweh—playing a kind of intercessory role. According to her, the Holy Spirit “fixes” our prayers to be what Yahweh wants to hear. Well, what kind of garbage is this? So if your soul really says to Yahweh, “I hate You,” then the Holy Spirit changes your prayers to say, “I love You”? This system would only work if Yahweh is too stupid to hear what your soul is really saying to Him. Well, as we learned in our study of Chapter 7, Paul has no problems with insulting Yahweh’s intelligence like this. The man is constantly taking potshots at the God who he claims to revere, and it’s really quite tiresome.
Yahweh is all-knowing. He certainly does not need some other Being to interpret your prayers for Him. All of our Gods hear our actual thoughts, and They judge us by our soul’s actual responses to Them—not by a bunch of lies that One of Them invents to make us look more committed than we are. If you’re really a Christian, then you are a polytheist who worships three Gods. As such, you need to realize that there is no way to assign one of your Gods the role of Intercessor without insulting Someone. Thanks to all of the Yahweh bashing that goes on in the New Testament epistles, we frequently make Yahweh out to be the Bad Guy in the Church today, while we say that sweet Jesus and the Holy Spirit act as the gracious buffers who shield us from Yahweh’s wrath. We invent stories of Heaven being like a courtroom in which angry Yahweh doesn’t even recognize who we are and is about to chuck us into Hell until Jesus leaps up and says, “No, wait! This person’s sins have been paid for by Me.” Really? And how is such irreverent imagery supposed to be honoring to any of our Gods? While we quote John 3:16, which clearly states that Yahweh was the One who “so loved the world,” we then act like Jesus is the first One to introduce us to the concept of grace.
As a Christian, you need to understand that your three Creators always operate as a united front. If you make an enemy out of one of Them, you will be rejected by all of Them, so there’s none of this rot about Jesus or the Holy Spirit interceding with mean old Yahweh for you (see Intercession: Exposing the Lies). Jesus never likened Himself to our High Priest. You get such imagery entirely from irreverent rebels like Paul and the author of Hebrews—men who were clearly oblivious as to who Yahweh really is even though they sit around quoting Scriptures which are filled with accounts of Him being a billion times more gracious and loving than we humans are on our best days.
So then, here’s a critical point to bear in mind: our three Gods are equal in Character and abilities. This means that any theory which makes One of Them out to be meaner, dumber, or less powerful than the Others is an irreverent lie. You’ll find such rot coming up over and over again in modern day Christian worship songs, so you need to be on your guard. Whenever a worship song mentions both Jesus and Yahweh, look for language that promotes Jesus as the nicer God and you’ll often find it. (For practice with this, see Songs that God Hates: Before the Throne of God Above).
Now here in Romans 8, monotheist Paul has Yahweh adjusting our prayers to suit Himself. Paul views the Holy Spirit as an extension of Yahweh Himself, thus everything the Spirit does is obviously in alignment with Yahweh’s will. When the Spirit of Yahweh spoke through the prophet Isaiah, obviously He said what Yahweh wanted because the Spirit of Yahweh is Yahweh. This language Paul uses here in Romans 8 sounds strange to us, but it was not at all strange to the Jews because for centuries they’d been hearing Yahweh say that He would send His Spirit out to do this and that and yet they never viewed His Spirit as being separate from Yahweh Himself. To help us understand what Paul means when he says that Yahweh’s Spirit prays for us in accordance with Yahweh’s will, picture a dramatic movie in which little Janie is lost at sea in some rickety boat. There’s a storm raging, and things are looking bad. Meanwhile, Janie’s father Rick is relaxing at home never dreaming that anything’s wrong. But then, suddenly, Janie’s ghost materializes in front of him and says, “Help me! I’m caught in a storm at sea and I’m going to die!” Would you view the ghost character as entirely separate from Janie? No, you’d view it as a kind of projection of her. Somehow Janie seems to be sending an extension of herself to her father so she can get him to help her. This metaphor helps us understand how Paul is picturing the Holy Spirit interceding for us. The Holy Spirit is not separate from Yahweh—instead, He’s just like a projection of Yahweh. So when Paul says that “the Father knows what the Spirit is saying,” Paul’s Jewish audience is going to say “Of course He does. It’s Yahweh’s Spirit.” Paul is stating the obvious on purpose here, because he’s trying to make the positive point that Yahweh is trying to help us succeed with Him. Right. The same Yahweh who Paul says demands sinless perfection from us—the same Yahweh who pitched us all into sin in the first place and then left us abandoned and hopeless until He finally invented Christ. No, Paul’s attempts to comfort us don’t work, because as is typical for a Pharisee, Paul waxes on about how great it is to be one of Yahweh’s favored ones only after making it quite clear that we don’t make the cut.
In New Testament Israel, the Pharisees promoted themselves as far superior to the Jewish commoners. They were the elite minority, and not just any bumpkin could qualify to join their select ranks. The Pharisees were a very exclusive club, and they used a lot of exclusive language, just as Paul is doing here. The Pharisees were very good at boasting of how they would be first in line to receive great glory and honors in Heaven, and here we have Paul boasting of how sweet it is to be one of Yahweh’s chosen ones. But after spending two chapters telling us that the only people Yahweh accepts are those who never sin, all of his pretty words are really intended to act like salt on a wound. Oh sure, if we were sinless and perfect, Yahweh would love us and groan for us and make our lives work out perfectly. But we’re not, therefore Yahweh hates us. For as Paul told us earlier in this chapter:
For the sinful nature is always hostile to Yahweh. It never did obey Yahweh’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please Yahweh. (Rom. 8:8)
If you want a modern day parallel to the Pharisees, look at prosperity preachers who tell you, “God is a great Rewarder of faith. If we just pray in faith, He’ll give us anything we want.” And after you do your utmost to pray in faith only to stay sick, poor, and depressed, you’re forced to conclude that God is rejecting you. Just as Paul is going on about all the fine perks you’ll receive if you’re accepted by Yahweh, prosperity preachers love to make God out to be all sunshine and love, and then they say that the proof of God’s acceptance of you will be Him making your earthly circumstances perfect. But your circumstances aren’t perfect, are they? Well, obviously this is because you’re not really saved and you’re just a carnal rebel–that’s what the prosperity boys will tell you. You see, talking about what a great Guy God is is just another way to beat souls down into despair once you say that God is judging us by our behavior (see Hellfire Legalism & Prosperity Theology: Two Different Applications of the Same Lie).
So to clarify: do our Gods change our prayers to be what They wish we would say? Not at all. They relate to us as we actually are—They don’t pretend we’re someone else. This is actually good news, for how far could we get with Gods who were pretending not to hear what we actually say to Them? Our Gods want us to be totally honest with Them. They hate fake. So of course Paul is going to flip this around and say that Yahweh is intentionally twisting our words and responding to us not on the basis of what we actually said to Him, but on what He pretended that we said. What a bunch of malarkey.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love Yahweh: those who are called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that Christ would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. (Rom. 8:28-30)
Note that reference to Yahweh predestining us to be saved. Paul is really going to run wild with this idea in Romans 9 until he comes to the conclusion that our choices are totally irrelevant because everything’s been predetermined (see Understanding Divine Election: Jacob I Loved, Esau I Hated (Malachi 1 & Romans 9)). This is another complete reversal of what our Gods teach. Throughout the Old Testament, Yahweh emphasizes the great importance of our soul choices. Then Jesus comes along and He also hammers the importance of our choices. Our Gods say over and over again that it is our soul choices that we will be judged by. It is our choices that make the difference between Heaven and Hell. Choice is huge. But here in Romans 8, Paul is getting ready to launch into a discussion about choice being meaningless. In Chapter 9, he’ll make Yahweh out to be a God who randomly decides who to bless and who to curse without any concern for how souls are responding to Him. We have Paul to thank for the fact that so many souls today are stressing over the possibility that they were created by a hateful God to be His objects of wrath. When we embrace truth, our souls find peace. But when we embrace lies, we end up overwhelmed with fear, and Paul dishes out boatloads of lies.
What then are we to say about these things? If Yahweh is for us, who is against us? Since Yahweh did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will Yahweh not also with Christ grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against Yahweh’s elect? Yahweh is the One who justifies.
Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised. Now He is at the right hand of Yahweh and He intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:31-34)
Who accuses Yahweh’s elect? Who condemns? Paul does! Who is the man kidding? The last three chapters have been filled with condemnation. And don’t miss how contradictory Paul is being by painting Yahweh in such a rosy light only to slip in that bit about Christ interceding for us. If Yahweh is so for us, why do we need an Intercessor? If Yahweh Himself is adjusting our prayers to be just right, why do we need Christ? Paul is doing a lot of doubletalk here in Romans.
Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Rom. 8:35)
It’s not a question of who can separate us—it’s what, and the answer is sin. Paul has been saying over and over again that if we sin after being baptized into Christ, then Yahweh will damn us and Christ will have nothing to do with us. Who has time to worry about affliction and persecution when we’re sinning every day? According to what Paul’s been teaching, we’re as good as in Hell, because as John says:
“No one who abides in Christ sins; no one who sins has seen Christ or knows Him.” (1 Jn. 3:6)
As we come to the end of Romans 8, Paul rips a line from Psalm 44, in which a Jewish man is moaning to Yahweh (not Christ) about all of the miserable times he’s having.
As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. [Ps. 44:22]
No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Yahweh who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! (Rom. 8:36-39)
Remember that for Paul, Yahweh is the God, whereas Christ is only a Lord. So in this famous line about nothing separating us from the love of God, Paul is specifically referring to the love of Yahweh, which he sees as flowing to us through human Jesus. This is the end of Chapter 8, and once again we realize that many of the lines we are used to viewing as comforting promises are nothing more than a pompous Pharisee saying, “Ha-ha, I’m in, you’re out! Boy, it’s sweet to be one of Yahweh’s favored ones. But of course I am—after all, I never sin, so why wouldn’t Yahweh be impressed with me? Ever since I was baptized into Christ, my depraved flesh was magically changed and I just don’t feel the need to wallow in carnality anymore. What’s that? You still sin? Oh, well, that’s unfortunate. Don’t you know that the punishment for sin is death? Why are you choosing to still be a slave to sin when Christ and Yahweh have set you free? What a fool you are.”
The apostle Paul is like a Judas: he kisses you on the cheek while he stabs you in the back. Here in Romans 8, we find him waxing on about a bunch of fabulous perks that we could have if we could only manage to pull perfection out of ourselves. But of course we can’t, so we end up playing the part of a starving man who watches another man enjoying fine dining in front of him and dramatically savoring every bite just to make the starving man feel worse. Up next is Romans 9, in which Paul will throw out the terrifying possibility that the reason we see ourselves so hopelessly failing is because Yahweh never wanted us in the first place—we’ve only ever been objects of wrath to Him. Then we’ll come to Romans 11—a chapter in which Paul really gets his claws out and says that Yahweh never really wanted anything to do with all of you inferior Gentiles (see More Lies from Paul: God Loves Jews More Than Gentiles). You’re just loathsome burdens who Yahweh is enduring only for the sake of trying to coax ethnic Jews to come back to Him. Because you see, it’s only ever been ethnic Jews who Yahweh loves—you Gentile yucks were just “grafted in” on a temporary basis, and don’t think Yahweh won’t be happy to revoke your salvation anytime it suits Him. This is what we have to look forward to if we keep reading Romans. Or we could just rip it out and burn it–by now that sounds like the more appealing choice.