Romans 8:13 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Romans 8:13, NIV: For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13, ESV: For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13, KJV: For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

Romans 8:13, NASB: for if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13, NLT: For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.

Romans 8:13, CSB: because 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.

What does Romans 8:13 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse can be read in different ways with wildly different implications. Not all Bible teachers or Christian traditions agree about its meaning, making it another example of the importance of context when studying Scripture.

Paul has described living according to the flesh as a life outside of Christ. This is a worldly life of serving self, first and always. Those who live according to the flesh are not Christians. They cannot submit to God's law and cannot please God (Romans 8:7–8).

Now, Paul writes that if you live according to the flesh, you will die. This is the first point of the verse where context is critical. Paul has made it explicitly clear in the prior passage that those who are in Christ cannot, by definition, live according to the flesh. That was not a suggestion that saved believers cannot sin, but a comment about the difference in the spiritual nature of those who are born again. Those who live according to the flesh are the same group as those who are not saved. Paul seems to mean that anyone who does not put their faith in Christ and change course by the power of the Spirit will die. This can imply some of the earthly consequences of sin, but Paul's main meaning here is a spiritual and eternal death.

Paul's next statement is that if, by the Spirit, you kill off the sinful deeds of the body, you will live. Here, again, context of this letter to the Romans is important. Some presume this to mean that a person who does not succeed in giving up all sin will not achieve eternal life. However, that explanation does not fit with everything else Paul has taught about our justification and having peace with God because of what Christ has done on our behalf (Romans 5:1–11). The following verse will continue to clarify this point.

Rather, this statement means first that those who are in Christ will, by the power of God's Spirit with us, find victory over our sinful desires. We will have greater and greater success in putting them to death. Perhaps second, it means we will really live, spiritually speaking, on this side of eternity, that we will experience the abundant life that God intends for us by putting to death the sins of our bodies.

Crucially, we should understand that this killing off of our sins is possible only through the power of God's Spirit. It's not something we can achieve on our own.