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

Romans 8:8, NIV: Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:8, ESV: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:8, KJV: So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:8, NASB: and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 8:8, NLT: That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.

Romans 8:8, CSB: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

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

Paul has just written that non-Christians, those who live by the selfish, self-reliant, sinful flesh, are not capable of submitting to God. That makes sense. After all, living for myself, by definition, means not living for another, including God.

That's why Paul now writes what sounds like a harsh statement: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. It's important to remember two things here. First, Christians are no longer people who are "in the flesh." Our status has been changed through faith in Christ to "in the Spirit." Second, when Paul talks about the "flesh" in Romans, he is not just talking about sexual sin, or greed. That's often how we think of sins of the flesh. The flesh includes all self-serving sins.

Paul also introduces into the conversation the idea of how God feels about people. He is pleased with those who are in Christ because He is pleased with Christ (Matthew 17:5). Our identity with Christ makes all the difference. He is not pleased with those who are only in themselves with their sinful focus on themselves.

We want to be careful here. It is true that God loves the world (John 3:16), but He has expressed that love by sending His Son to make it possible for all who believe to be included in His family. God is pleased by human faith in Him. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). God's holiness does not allow for those who reject Him and His Son (John 3:18) to be part of this salvation (John 14:6)