Thus the Christian life is essentially life in the Spirit, that is to say, a life which is animated, sustained, directed and enriched by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit true Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, indeed impossible.
For over against indwelling sin, which is the reason the law is unable to help us in our moral struggle (7:17, 20), Paul now sets the indwelling Spirit, who is both our liberator now from ‘the law of sin and death’
The great theme is the security of the Christian.’ At the same time, the two topics are intimately related. For possession of the Spirit is the hallmark of those who truly belong to Christ (9); his inner witness assures us that we are God’s children and therefore his heirs (15–17); and his presence in us is the firstfruits of our inheritance, pledging the final harvest
Verse 9 is of great importance in relation to our doctrine of the Holy Spirit for at least two reasons. First, it teaches that the hallmark of the authentic believer is the possession or indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Indwelling sin (7:17, 20) is the lot of all the children of Adam; the privilege of the children of God is to have the indwelling Spirit to fight and subdue indwelling sin. As Jesus had promised, ‘he lives with you and will be in you’. Now in fulfilment of this promise every true Christian has received the Spirit, so that our body has become ‘a temple of the Holy Spirit’ in which he dwells.30 Conversely, if we do not have Christ’s Spirit in us, we do not belong to Christ at all. This makes it plain that the gift of the Spirit is an initial and universal blessing, received when we first repent and believe in Jesus. Of course there may be many further and richer experiences of the Spirit, and many fresh anointings of the Spirit for special tasks, but the personal indwelling of the Spirit is every believer’s privilege from the beginning.
Both verse 10 and verse 11 begin with an ‘if’ clause relating to this indwelling: But if Christ is in you … (10), And if the Spirit … is living in you (11). These two ‘ifs’ do not express any doubt about the fact of the indwelling (they could be paraphrased, ‘if, as indeed is the case’), but they point to its results.
It is, therefore, much better to understand ‘dead’ as indicating ‘mortal’, that is, subject to death and destined for it. This would fit in with Paul’s references in Romans to our ‘mortal bodies’ (e.g. 6:12; 8:11b) and elsewhere to our physical decaying and dying.
At the same time, in the midst of our physical mortality, our spirit is alive, for we have been ‘quickened’ or made alive in Christ (cf. 6:11, 13, 23). What, however, is the cause of this double condition, namely a dying body and a living spirit? The answer lies in the repeated ‘because’, which attributes death to sin and life to righteousness. Since Paul has already made this attribution in his Adam-Christ parallelism in chapter 5, he must surely be saying that our bodies became mortal because of Adam’s sin (‘to dust you will return’), whereas our spirits are alive because of Christ’s righteousness (5:15–18, 21), that is, because of the righteous standing he has secured for us.
Because of the nature of the indwelling Spirit. He is not only ‘the Spirit of life’ (2), but the Spirit of resurrection. For he is the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead. Therefore the God whose Spirit he is, namely he who raised Christ from the dead, will also give life to your mortal bodies, and will do it through his Spirit, who lives in you (11). We note this further unselfconscious allusion to the three persons of the Trinity—the resurrecting Father, the resurrected Son and the Spirit of resurrection. Further, Christ’s resurrection is the pledge and the pattern of ours. The same Spirit who raised him will also raise us. The same Spirit who gives life to our spirits (10) will also give life to our bodies (11).