Romans 8:12-13

Romans 8:12-13


Ask God to guide your discussions and to experience his presence as you read his word together.

In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks plays a character named Chuck Nolan.  Nolan, in the film, is the only survivor of a plane crash that leaves him stranded on an island for four years.  While on this island, he sleeps on the hard ground in a cave and fights for survival.  

After escaping from the island, Nolan is rescued by a passing ship and returned to civilization.  On his first night back in society, Nolan finds himself in a nice hotel room with a soft bed.  He tries, unsuccessfully, to fall asleep in the bed but needs to climb back onto the floor without any blankets to fall asleep.

This is an interesting example of what can happen to us as humans when our standing or circumstances change, but we can’t entirely embrace our new reality.  Sometimes, we get so used to our past experiences that living, operating, or flourishing in our new state or existence becomes hard.

Have you ever had a significant change in your life that you found hard to adjust to, and parts of your past still dictated how you lived in the present?  Culture shock, new city, new job, newfound faith in Jesus?

What made it challenging to adjust to the new present reality?

The eighth chapter of the Book of Romans is one of the preeminent passages in scripture of what the Christian life looks like “in the spirit.”

Verses 12-continue what Paul has been explaining in verses 1-11. Paul has compared and contrasted the two great powers of our existence, the flesh and the spirit. He has demonstrated that Christians fall on the side of the Spirit, and with that comes the power to transcend death itself.

Paul explains in our text today that with this truth comes a significant change in how we go about our day-to-day lives. Specifically, we have no more debt to the flesh, nor do we live according to the works of the flesh. There is no more requirement of our nature to obey its will or follow its order. 

The flesh in this text refers to everything under the umbrella of what we would call “The World - which includes all aspects of a life lived in rebellion against God. This doesn’t mean we have been removed from “The World's” influence or contact, but that “The World” no longer has the same power over us that it did previously. 

In verse 13, Paul warns his readers that there is something at stake with this new reality.  There is a responsibility to conquer the domination of sin in our lives. As John Murray explained, “The believer's once-for-all death to the law of sin does not free him or her from the necessity of mortifying sin in their members; it makes it necessary and possible for him to do so.”

Putting this all together, it means that our growth as Christians is something that is done with the Spirit. It is neither based on our power alone nor solely on the work of the Spirit. Instead, it happens when we live out a new life placed in us by the Spirit, who has taken up residence within us.


Read Romans 8:12-13 aloud.


Begin by examining the text together. What do you notice? What stands out? Who are the main characters? How are they characterized in the passage? What is surprising or hard to understand?


  • With our newfound state of existence (in Christ), we are called to live differently and for Christ. 
    • If you have been a Christian for many years, what were the most challenging parts of your life to change? 
    • If you are a new Christian or exploring Christianity, what parts of your life need to change? 
  • Theologians have used the term “Mortification of Sin” when discussing Paul’s words “put to death” (v13), which means to put to death the sins in our lives.  Many times, this is difficult work. 
    • Can you think of ways you have experienced, or are experiencing, the “death” of sins in your life? Talk with your group about that process. 
    • What are the things that draw you back into sin? Are there circumstances or specific temptations weighing you down more heavily than others?
    • Are there things in your life you feel you haven’t quite put to death and sometimes tend to play games with instead of fighting against wholeheartedly?
  • What are your common responses when you recognize sin for what it is in your life?  
    • How do you identify these? 
    • Do you share with people? 
    • Fight against it? How do you fight? 
    • What steps do you take to mortify the sins of the flesh?
  • Are there any ways you want to encourage others in the group?  How can this community support each other in these times?


Close your time by thanking God for Jesus’ sacrifice that equipped us with power over and against sin. Also, pray for each other, explicitly naming the sins that you or you all are trying to “mortify.”

Pray for your continued growth in the Gospel that sets you free from the power of sin and for the Spirit to constantly remind you that there is no condemnation for those in Jesus Christ.