But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Note 20 at Ro 8:9: Paul made a clear distinction between being "in" the flesh and "after" the flesh, and "in" the Spirit and "after" the Spirit. Born-again people (see note 2 at Joh 3:3) cannot be "in" the flesh, but they can walk (see note 10 at Ro 8:4) "after" the flesh. Lost people cannot be "in" the Spirit although they seek to walk "after" the ways of the Spirit.
The word that was translated "in" here is the Greek word "EN," and it denotes a "(fixed) position (in place, time or state)" (Strong's Concordance). In contrast, the word that was translated "after" in Ro 8:1, 4-5, and 12-13 denotes "according to anything as a standard, agreeably to" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon). Therefore, when Paul spoke of being "in" the flesh or Spirit, he was referring to a fixed position or state. When he spoke of being "after" the flesh or Spirit, he was referring to whatever we are using as a standard of conduct or whatever we are agreeing to at any given time.
Christians can agree to or conduct their actions according to some standard other than God's and still keep their position in Christ (see note 1 at Ro 6:20). So Christians can walk "after" the flesh, but they are never considered "in" the flesh.
Note 21 at Ro 8:9: According to Jesus' statement in Joh 14:17, people cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless they have first received Jesus as their Savior (see note 27 at Joh 14:17). Therefore, those who have the Spirit of God dwelling in them are born again (see note 2 at Joh 3:3) and are not in the flesh (see note 20 at this verse).
Note 22 at Ro 8:9: This passage makes an emphatic statement that every believer receives the Spirit of Christ at salvation. The supposition that the "Spirit of Christ" and the "Spirit of God" are synonymous terms has led many to believe that every Christian receives the Holy Spirit at salvation. However, this seems to contradict the examples given in the book of Acts (see note 6 at Ac 2:4, note 3 at Ac 8:16, and note 1 at Ac 19:1).
It is very likely that the phrase "Spirit of Christ" refers to the born-again spirit that every believer receives at salvation. The phrase "Spirit of God" possibly refers to the Holy Spirit that only indwells the believers if they receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see note 6 at Ac 2:4).
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