There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
One mistake often encountered when Romans eight is under consideration is it being referenced and applied to the state of an individual Christian's walk; whether a Brother or Sister is walking after the flesh or the Spirit, serving or not serving God. However, the subject of the chapter has absolutely no bearing as to whether an individual Christian is living right or not. The chapter is a summary of the seven chapters that came before it, “There is therefore.” The chapter is a summary of what salvation is and isn’t as explained in the previous chapters. It compares men as a group; in their natural state; lost, walking after the flesh, with saved men as a group, walking after the Spirit.
Romans 8:9 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.
The mistake of applying it to a saints personal life already clouds ones understanding of the context of the chapter by putting individuals in where there are none. A Christian's behavior and manner of living do not come into play until chapter twelve, when because of all that has come before, chapters 1-11, Paul states he “therefore” beseeches us to serve God. Until chapter 12:1 Romans has been a description and definition of what salvation is and what it is not and treats all men as members of one of two groups; saved, lost.
From chapter one through chapter eleven, Romans deals with describing and defining salvation, and that does not change in verses 8:29-30.
Romans 8:5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
There is nothing that points to God speaking of or each and every individual that ever was, whether predestinated or just known. As stated, chapter eight is a summary of the first seven chapters.
Paul goes on to talk about the glory of salvation and the waiting for its glorious completion.
Romans 8:18-28 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God… 21Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.… 23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body… 28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Why do all the above come into play? Because God predestinate us? No, the passage might not be referring to men conforming to anything. All these things come into play because God predestinated himself, the Word, to be conformed to the image of his Son and paid for our sins. Romans chapter 8:29 is a description of salvation, of the Word becoming flesh and our part in that predestination as a group. It might just be the Word that had to be conformed to the right image.
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
Hebrews 10:5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
The biblical definition of a son of God is one who was directly created or begotten by God, which leaves out everything but Adam, angels, and Jesus Christ.
Luke 3:38 Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.
Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Adam and the angels were directly created by God individually with the ability to reproduce, pro-creation. The angels were not given the liberty to do so nor were they given what Adam was given so he could—Eve. This did, as you remember, cause some problems a little later.
Matthew 22:30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.
Genesis 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
What is the image of the sons of God, the angels? They are indistinguishable from men.
Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Man was created in the image of God, Adam was a son of God. We never lost the image, we did lose the relationship.
Genesis 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
God created Adam in his own image and Adam reproduced children in his own image, which bore his image of God.
James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
"…men, which are made after the similitude of God," but either, not being directly created by God were not sons of God, or God chose not to extend the spiritual birth due to the fall. This does not change the assertions that sin had a corrupting effect on the physical form such as some teach in the matter of blood etc. Adam had a Spiritual birth, but not a water birth. His children had a water birth, but not a Spiritual one. Our salvation is the receiving of the Spiritual birth and to be adopted and become sons of God. We do not have to be conformed to become the sons of God, we just need to be adopted.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
This does not require a conformity to another image. We do not have to be conformed to become the sons of God, we just need to be adopted. We do not need to be conformed to an image, we need to “present our bodies a living sacrifice.” Any conforming we need will take place in the resurrection when “we shall be changed.” Our spiritual bodies will bear the image of man and God as the angels.
Luke 24:39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.
“Whom did God foreknow,” we know that he foreknew the Word, we know that the Word had to conform to an image “a little lower than an angels,” “made in the likeness of men” to suffer death for us all. This is indisputable. Our predestination is part of the Word’s predestination. The Word as the Son of God was predestinated to have many brethren. Romans verse 8:29 is a complete sentence which is a trinity; subject, verb, and complete thought. Verse 30 is a sentence with its own complete thought, it picks up at the end of verse 29. The Word was predestinated to be conformed to the image of a man and to be the firstborn from the dead and to have many brethren. Verse 30 picks up with the many brethren of verse 29 and completes their predestination to certain things. The two verses make a complete reference and description of salvation in accordance with the context of the entire book of Romans up to this point.
Conform means to change. When will we change?
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
When did God change?
John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh,…
Hebrews 10:5 …a body hast thou prepared me:
Philippians 2:7 …took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Hebrews 2:9 ...who was made a little lower than the angels…