Creation and New Creation

Adam was created as the head of humanity. He was placed in the garden to work and keep it, that is, to serve and guard the sanctuary as a priest and to meet with God on the Sabbath day. He was blessed and given dominion and authority over all of creation. Adam’s transgression brought sin, condemnation, curse, and death to himself and all who were in him, all who were born in his likeness and under his headship.

But now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. There is no condemnation because the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ. There is no condemnation because God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. He sent His Son in the flesh to condemn sin in the flesh so that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk according to the Spirit.

Paul uses the term “flesh” to speak about a lot more than just the physical body. When he draws the distinction between those who walk according to the flesh and those who walk according to the Spirit, it is not so much a discussion of the body and soul of a man. Peter Leithart points out that “‘Flesh’ and ‘Spirit’ are two dominating principles for life, two ways of life, two ‘cultures’ we might say… ‘Flesh’ in Paul’s terminology is aligned and allied with Sin, Death, the Old Order, the Old Creation, Adam, the ‘elementary principles of the world.’  To live by the flesh is to continue living in that old world. On the other hand, to live in the Spirit is to live in righteousness, in the new creation, in the new Adam, in maturity. Each of these ‘regimes’ comes with a particular ‘mindset,’ a particular set of aims, beliefs, goals, plans, aspirations, desires. Those who are living in the flesh have their minds filled with certain ideas, but also aspire to certain kinds of accomplishments in life, have fleshly plans and goals and desires.  Dittos for those who have the mindset of the Spirit.”

These goals and desires are not just looking out to the end of all things, but have very much to do with how we carry on here and now. Christ is heir of all things and we are fellow heirs with Him.  All is ours because all is Christ’s and we are in Him. He taught in the sermon on the mount that we inherit the earth. The whole old creation under Adam was subjected to futility – to vanity or vaporousness, as Solomon says. But the new creation is in Christ and all things are being made new. As the sons of God, the true Israel, are revealed, the creation is freed from its bondage to corruption. We can see the heavenification of earth – just as He taught us to pray, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. This is the great commission being fulfilled, the discipling and baptizing of the nations, the growing of the kingdom of God to fill the earth.

And we have been given assurance that this will certainly take place. “We can be confident that our groanings, and the groanings of the Spirit with us, will be heard, and that the creation will be delivered from its bondage to futility, because God is causing all things – the sufferings of the present age in particular – to work together for good for those who are called. The righteous God will accomplish His righteous purpose of bringing righteousness to fruition on earth. Verses 29-30 make it clear that this whole program is not a whim on God’s part. The goal is to bestow glory on the sons of God, to raise them to the throne never reached because of Adam’s sin, and this glorification fulfills the purpose of God from the foundation of the world. He has a fixed predestined purpose to form a body of believers who are conformed to the image of His Son, who are sons of God, and who therefore participate with Jesus in the deliverance of creation. (Leithart)”

Peter Leithart has expounded much more on Romans 8 in this great set of commentaries, which are very much worth reading:
Romans 8:1-4
Romans 8:1-11
Romans 8:5-17
Romans 8:18-30
Romans 8:31-39