Harbor Lights Sermon  Mar 2012

Romans - Christian Life - Part 2: The Spirit

Today we'll be looking into Romans chapter 8 where the apostle Paul continues to speak about the Christian life. And as Paul says all the way back in chapter 1 that he is eager to preach the gospel to them, so also both among you whose names are written in the book of life and if there are any here who yet need to be saved I am eager to share what Paul wrote in chapter 8, which is the most encouraging chapter in Romans starting all the way from the first  verse where he says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" all the way to the end of the chapter where says, "I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." As was stated previously, those who have been saved are eternally secure. For as is stated throughout the New Testament, eternal life is a gift received freely, simply by putting your faith in Christ, independent of whether you had been a good or bad person. For those of us who have put our faith in Christ Paul writes in Eph 2:5 "God made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved." and goes on to say, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works." And consequently, having been saved, you're not responsible to maintain your salvation status. God does that.

He goes on in the second verse of Romans chapter 8 to give the reason why those who are in Christ are eternally secure. He says, "because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." Rom 8:2 The law of sin and death is that if you sin, you're condemned. It says in Ezekiel, "The soul who sins shall die." That's the law of sin and death. That's the Old Covenant.

If you're a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you've died to that law though the New Covenant engendered in the blood of Christ which he shed for the forgiveness of sins. Consequently sin no longer affects your salvation status. If, as a believer, you were to sin, that doesn't affect your final destiny.  And Jesus himself had stated, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24 Or as Paul says in Col 3:3,4 "You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

He says in Romans 8 verses 3,4 "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us." No one would be saved if salvation were contingent upon our performance because of the natural tendency we all have to comply with our sinful nature.  In Eph 2:3 Paul speaks of non-Christians and says, "All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."

But also as we will see in this chapter, God gives His Holy Spirit to those who have come to faith, which affects our behavior. The law of the Spirit of life is, having been saved, and now eternally secure, the Holy Spirit, whom is given to believers, will now influence your behavior to behave as children of God should behave, giving you a new attitude and a new perspective, which is why he characterizes Christians in Col 3:7 saying, "You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." In 1Cor 6:9-11 he says, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." Why does he used the past tense, saying, "that is what some of you were"? It's because "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2Cor 5:17 This is the effect the Holy Spirit has on the life of the believer. And this is the New Covenant promise - the guarantee of Justification by faith and Sanctification by the Holy Spirit.

And in this sense he goes on in Romans 8 to characterize those who have been saved and consequently have received the Holy Spirit where he continues in verses 4-9 saying that those who are in Christ, "do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.  Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:4b-9

The natural state of those who have not been born of God is to have their mind set on the desires of  their sinful nature. But this is not the natural state for those who have been born of God. The natural state of those who have been born of God is to have our minds set on what the Holy Spirit desires. It doesn't always perfectly work out this way, but it is characteristic of those born of God, such that the apostle John, also characterizing those born of God says, "No one who has been born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9

And everyone who comes to faith, does indeed receive the Holy Spirit, as Paul also writes in Eph 1:13,14 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance"

Then in Romans 8:10 he continues, "If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness." Whether we're saved or not, our bodies will likely end up in the grave. But for those who are in Christ, your spirit will live on. And no only so, but he writes, speaking of the resurrection from the dead, "if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you." Christ died and rose from the dead. So also for Christians. In fact I was thinking of using the epitaph on my tombstone, "I'll be back". (Which may also alarm anyone happened to walk through that graveyard at night)

But even now that Spirit is working in us putting to death the misdeeds of the body. And this even an identifying mark of those born of God. Thus is says in Gal 5:24, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." And we do so because that's what comes naturally to us as those born of God. Or as Paul puts it in Romans 8:14 we do so "because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God." Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 They do so because that's simply characteristic of sheep. "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, <"Abba,> Father." Rom 8:15

"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs— heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Rom 8:16,17

Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus