Sunday, February 26, 2012

Romans 9 – God is Sovereign

[There is an old hymn from 1890 called "Throw out the lifeline", it was common to hear it during a missions conference just a few decades ago. The song uses the metaphor of rescuing someone from the ocean waves, using a life-boat, and a life-preserver ring with a rope or line attached. The beauty of the ring is you can throw it to someone in danger without leaving the boat, and then draw them to the boat using the line.

Imagine you are the one holding the ring and your boat just pulled up to a disaster scene. Hundreds are in the water, some crying out, others thrashing around trying to stay afloat, while others are motionless either unconscious or worse. What do you do with the ring? Do you survey the scene looking for people you know so you can cast it to them first? Do you throw it to those screaming the loudest? Do you target someone who seems close to going under, or just throw it to someone nearby? You could make an argument for any of these techniques, but no argument will matter unless you throw the ring.

Last week discussing predestination, Michelle mentioned that some people think that it means some won't hear the gospel. I also suggested that some might claim to be Calvinist just to avoid the responsibility of evangelism. This week we will have the difficult discussion of man's free will vs. God's sovereignty, using Romans 9 as our guide.]

Israel's Rejection of Christ

1 I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

[Paul says that if by force of will or personal sacrifice he could redeem his kinsmen he would. They were the recipients of God's promises, the law, and even ancestors of faith. In every city where Paul traveled he went fist to the synagogue to preach and found converts there, but once opposition hardened against the gospel, he would leave the synagogue and turn to the gentiles. No matter how much he cared for his own people he could not believe for them, so he followed the Holy Spirit wherever he would lead.]

Israel's Rejection and God's Purpose

6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called."[Genesis 21:12] 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. 9 For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son."[Genesis 18:10, 14]

[Here we have the first of many examples in Bible history of God exercising His will to choose who would receive His grace, promise, or blessing. Abraham had two wives and two sons but God had chosen Sarah and Isaac as the channel of this inheritance. The inference we are to draw here is that it is more than the flesh and blood of common DNA that establish a godly lineage, our God is looking deeper.]

10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, "The older shall serve the younger."[Genesis 25:23] 13 As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated."[Malachi 1:2-3]

[The reference to verse 12 is from Genesis 25 where God foretells of Jacobs higher standing even when they were in the womb. The reference in verse 13 is from Malachi (long after the lives of Jacob and Esau). Remember God's foreknowledge in this case relates to Esau who lightly esteemed or even despised the birth right of the first born to trade it to Jacob for a meal. So the sovereign God withheld His inheritance from a man with no higher principle than his next meal. And even though God knew it when they were still in the womb, He is still grieved by the attitude.]

Israel's Rejection and God's Justice

14 What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! 15 For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion."[Exodus 33:19] 16 So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."[Exodus 9:16] 18 Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.

[Two more examples here in Moses and Pharaoh; verse 15 refers to Exodus 33 where God shows grace to Moses in allowing him to see the glory of God as He passed by. Verse 17 refers to Exodus 9 where after the 6th plague God says "you know I could have just killed you and all your people, but I have a purpose in keeping you alive"

The scripture says both that Pharaoh hardened his heart and that God hardened Pharaoh's heart to make a full demonstration of His power. You see the faith that Israel gained from remembering the Exodus was intended to sustain them for generations. So God kept Pharaoh alive until he broke his heart, to make a full demonstration to Israel of just what He can do. Whether God extends mercy to one, or hardens another it is still according to His own will and purpose. Why we should like this is as we concluded last week; God fulfilling His purpose means that I cannot fail in inheriting His glory, because it is God that is in control.]

19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" 20 But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" 21 Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor? 22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

[Mercy isn't earned but sovereignty (the authority to govern) is earned. God has earned this authority by virtue of being the only self-existent one. He is the first-cause of creation, the one who spoke all things into existence according to His own will. Through the rejection of many Jews He chose to extend His grace to many Gentiles with no blood relation to Abraham as a sign of His mercy.]

25 As He says also in Hosea:

"I will call them My people, who were not My people,

And her beloved, who was not beloved."[Hosea 2:23]

26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,

'You are not My people,'

There they shall be called sons of the living God."[Hosea 1:10]

27 Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel:[Isaiah 10:22-23]

"Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea,

The remnant will be saved.

28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness,

Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth."

29 And as Isaiah said before:

"Unless the Lord of Sabaoth[Hosts] had left us a seed,

We would have become like Sodom,

And we would have been made like Gomorrah."[Isaiah 1:9]

[The natural course of man is to follow his own will all the way to judgment. But God reaches out in supernatural ways to turn us out of the path that leads to destruction.]

Present Condition of Israel

30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:

"Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,

And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."[Isaiah 8:14, 28:16]


[Who can be like God? Satan's first deception in the garden was "you will be like gods". Even today people claim the rights for themselves that they would deny to God. To decide good and evil, or to extend mercy to whomever we will. But those who find mercy will find it by faith rather than the works or will of any man.

The gospel is offensive to those who reject God. It is the litmus test or dividing line; some will try to blur the line even saying there are many paths to God. But the gospel says that faith is the only exit ramp from the path of destruction. All of God's promises boil down to faith in Jesus; the bottom line is who do your trust with your eternal life?

Therein is the secret to understanding God's sovereignty; who do we really trust to save sinners, to keep them saved, and present them blameless to the heavenly Father?

If we really trust God he has a wonderful way for us to share in the working out of His plan. To demonstrate God's love to others and live a life of faith. Some may fear that God's sovereignty means that some will not be saved, when in reality it is the only way that any are saved. Because of His love, His grace, and His mercy, some will hear the call of God and respond.

That life preserver ring we talked about at the beginning is the gospel, and regardless what you think is the right strategy to deploy it, the most important thing is to trust it enough to throw it out and see who grabs on.

"Soon will the season of rescue be o'er,

Soon will they drift to eternity's shore;

Haste, then, my brother, no time for delay,

But throw out the lifeline and save them today.


This is the lifeline, oh, tempest-tossed men,

Baffled by waves of temptation and sin;

Wild winds of passion, your strength cannot brave,

But Jesus is mighty, and Jesus can save."

Read 2 Peter 3:8-10

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.



If God is not willing that any should perish then why do they still perish?


Relate the timeless nature of God to His longsuffering in giving people time to repent.


How does foreknowledge help resolve the conflict between the ideas of man's free will and God's sovereignty.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Romans 8:28-39 – All things, His Purpose, Inseparable

[In Romans 6 we were introduced to the idea of the spiritual life that is possible and necessary for God's redeemed. Romans 7 talked about the natural man and the futility of serving temporary things. Then Romans 8 gave us that metaphysical truth; we are uncondemned as we stand in the righteousness provided by Jesus. We should also walk in the spirit, being spiritually minded and avoid the fatal flaw of carnal thinking. Last week we heard Paul argue that present suffering is nothing compared to future glory. That idea is extended this week as week look closer at God's purpose.]

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

[Very well-known passage here, everyone likes the idea that God has a purpose in everything, but there are some qualifiers here we need to understand. Circle these two word pairs "all things" and "His purpose", and underline the word love. Now its understandable that God as the sovereign maker of the universe could orchestrate events to work together such that they would accomplish his purpose. We have cars to carry us around, kitchen utensils for cooking, books for learning, etc. Likewise all things and events in God's creation have a utility for Him, and He uses them to accomplish his purpose.

But only those who love the Lord will necessarily see the hand of God at work, and agree with Him in His good purpose. What I don't like here is when people assume that only favorable circumstances, that work to our benefit necessarily accomplish God's purpose. We have to understand that all means all; and even things that I don't like can work together for good in God's purpose.]

29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

[There are multiple words here that make some people uncomfortable. What is foreknowledge, predestination, and in what sense is Jesus the firstborn of many? Foreknowledge is knowing something that is true before it happens. You mean God knows who will be saved, before they are saved? Yes. How long before? I don't know.

One of the things we know about creation is that according to special relativity, the Cosmic Creation Event made not only matter and energy, but space and time itself. Therefore God as the first cause of creation existed outside of space and time. So we have a very hard time comprehending the mind of God, in that we have temporal minds designed for linear thinking. We use time and sequence as the markers to form our understanding. But God has an infinite mind not constrained by the limits of our understanding. So we will probably never know just how and when God has foreknowledge, we just need to understand that He does. << the vesica piscis>>

One circle represents eternity past, another eternity future and the intersection is where Jesus appears in the flesh. You see this symbol all over gothic art and architecture. If you bisect the football with a horizontal line it makes a perfect gothic arch. There is all kinds of medieval Christian symbolism in the vesica. The downward arch represented mankind and the upward arch represented God. But we see clearly most of eternity past and eternity future is outside of the temporal world, so foreknowledge is really not remarkable when you think about this symbol.

The next uncomfortable word is "predestination", those he foreknew He also predestined that we would be conformed to the image of His son. We are made in the image of God, but sin has corrupted that image. Jesus is the perfect image, even in the flesh He reflected the eternal attributes of the creator. So being conformed to His image, restores man to our original godly purpose. This is not something that might happen, Jesus will accomplish this work in all the redeemed.

Now some see "firstborn" and begin to think heresies about Jesus not being fully eternal and divine, but that is not asserted here. Refer to Romans 8:23 and remember that we are waiting for our adoption to be complete with the redemption of the body. Romans 7:24 called this present body the "body of death". Between the resurrection and the ascension into heaven Jesus was translated from the temporal body to His glorified form. He was the first one to receive this eternal translated body, making him the first-born, to be glorified; but not alone since we will be likewise translated when God completes the redemption of our bodies.]

30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

[So here is how God accomplishes our translation:

Foreknew è predestined è called è justified è glorified

All of these together compose God's purpose, our redemption for His glory. Jesus died in my sin so that I might live in His righteousness.]

God's Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

[Who can oppose the purpose of God, preventing us from inheriting this future glory? God already paid the highest price in the sacrificial death of His son, would he then withhold anything else necessary? There is nothing that can interrupt this process which is why it is predestined.]

33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

[Satan's very name means the accuser. But what accusation could he make to challenge our inheritance? Now if it's my righteousness, he has a case, because I stumble in many things and could easily be called unworthy. But the problem for Satan is; IT'S NOT MY RIGHTEOUSNESS! It is Jesus who died, was resurrected, and is ascended to make intercession for us; and nothing he can say can change the completed work of Jesus. But this passage is not here to remind Satan, it is here to remind us of our permanent standing with God.]

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

"For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."

[Here he quotes from Psalm 44:22 discussing God's love. We just had valentine's day which is all about demonstrated love. Demonstrations of love are important because sometimes difficult times, hard times, even tragic times come when we may not feel as loved as we do in the good times. In those difficulties we remember these demonstrations of love to reassure us of our permanent standing.

Romans 5:8 said that God's demonstration of love, is that Christ died for us when we were still in our sin. So we were not only foreknown to God, but we were fore-loved by God.]

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

["All these things" refers back to "all things" in Romans 8:28, and if all things work according to His purpose, how could all these things serve to separate us from God's love? No created thing can separate you from the demonstrated love of your creator because HE'S THE CREATOR! One of the perks of being the creator is having all of creation work for your purpose; God is sovereign.

All things, for His purpose, means we have the inseparable love of God our Father.]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Romans 8:18-27 – Suffering for a purpose

[Romans 7 talks about the futility of a life serving the desires of the flesh. He ends that chapter by asserting that because Jesus is delivering him from this "body of death" that he has become spiritually minded. Then Romans 8 starts explaining why that is necessary and good.

Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

We finished that discussion last week, and we kind of skimmed over the last two verses. I want to revisit those here because that is the setup for this weeks topic.]

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

[In the context of explaining our adoption and our joint inheritance with Jesus, Paul reminds us that Jesus passed on to glory through the way of suffering. Most people get pretty excited to learn they share an inheritance with the Prince of Peace, right up until they learn that the family business was service and suffering. But God counted the prize of our redemption as worthy of His suffering, because all of us together following Jesus accrues to the Glory of God. All the hero movies we watch have a setup to where the protagonist has to go though doubt, fear, and pain, before he can be revealed as the hero.

When we studied the book of Acts it was clear that Present "suffering" was very real for Paul and the early church. Persecutions from religious and government authorities, at different times, were active against the church. Paul himself, before his conversion, was the cause for some of the earliest Christians to suffer.

A standard atheist argument is that suffering means that god (little "g") is either uncaring or impotent. Either he doesn't care about our suffering, or he is powerless to do anything about it. So instead of ignoring this argument (because it is a powerful argument for those who doubt), lets dig into suffering and understand God's purpose, and what that means for us.]

From Suffering to Glory

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

[One of the mysteries of the gospel is our future transformation from a corruptible mortal body to an incorruptible eternal form. Paul reasons that the sufferings that we endure now, are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in us.

Jesus endured the temporary to win the eternal and so should we. Our service and patience in enduring all the trials of this life represent a sound investment in future glory.

For Paul this is a powerful statement because this man knew suffering. He spent years in jail, he was beaten multiple times and literally left-for-dead, he was shipwrecked, snake bit, always opposed by other religions and philosophies, even under death threats and multiple murder conspiracies. On top of all this, at the time he was writing this he was old and sick. Yet for all that, he never implies that God is negligent or mean or week for allowing him to suffer in this way. Rather he reasons that the present suffering is nothing compared to future glory.]

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

[50 years ago most physicists thought that we lived in a steady state universe that always had existed and always would exist. But there were some math problems in physics and cosmology that had to be fixed using a fudge factor called the cosmological constant. To some this fudge factor suggested an ever expanding universe that had a beginning and was never in a steady state. Fred Hoyle was a leading physicist who mocked this idea of a cosmic creation event by calling it the Big Bang, the point in time and space when everything that exists began to expand out from something called the singularity.

Unfortunately for Dr. Hoyle, scientist found evidence of this cosmic creation event, and science turned upside down with the realization that our universe is temporary. This expanding universe suffers from entropy, or heat loss that will eventually cause everything to decay into cold dead evenly spaces protons, known has the heat death of the universe.

1900 years before Fred Hoyle Paul by special revelation of God knew that all of creation toiled in futility of decay, and would require a re-creation to be delivered from the bondage of the temporary, to the glory of the eternal. Moreover he says that creation groans and complains like a woman in labor longing to see that transformation.]

23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

[Our adoption is not yet complete as long as we have a corruptible body, but we have the down-payment of that change called the Holy Spirit. He will guarantee the completion of that adoption for which we eagerly await.

Ephesians 1:13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Everyone who thinks that a genuine born again Christian could ever lose their salvation needs to account for this verse. The fact that all who trust in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit is not optional. Moreover that same Holy Spirit is the guarantee that our redemption will be completed by God for His own glory. Nothing about my salvation brings praise to me, including my ability to keep it; it all belongs to God. Jesus paid the price, God calls, we respond, and the Spirit seals the transaction, guaranteed!]

24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.

[The New York Giants don't have to hope that they win the Super-bowl, because they have already seen that reality. But we hope for what we have not seen that is our eternal transformation. I did not wake up today in my Father's house; I did not eat today at my Father's table; I am not standing here in my glorified Christ-like body; but I believe and hope in all of these things. So we wait and hope with perseverance for that reality to appear.]

26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

[Even in our temporary suffering, we sometimes lose patience. God helps us in our weakness by the Holy Spirit who makes intercession for us. A groan is a sign of discomfort, at things that are not as they should be. Imagine the Holy Spirit in us seeing all the things that are not as they should be; and his response is to groan. Not a groan of complaint but of intercession urging God to help our weakness and infirmity, to complete His purpose in us.

(Present Suffering + hope + perseverance)
^ Holy Spirit = Future Glory

Thursday night for life group Suzie made this wonderful desert, called pumpkin cobbler; it was amazing. But if you were standing there impatiently as she made it and took a bite of the raw flower you would not think it was wonderful. If you ate some of the baking powder you would not say she is a great cook. Even the raw egg would not bring the response of the completed desert. But as those things are combined and cooked, the baking powder releases CO2 gas to make little air pockets so the crust is light and fluffy. And the heat of the oven chemically changes some of the carbs into sugars so it tastes crispy and sweet. That crust with the filling all warm and smelling good, topped with real whipped cream was glorious; but only because it endured the heat of the oven for the time required.


  1. Why would God subject the present world to the futility of being temporary?
  2. What is it about future glory that makes present suffering worthwhile?
  3. What can pearls teach us about perseverance and suffering?
  4. Why would it be good for us to approach life with the end in mind?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Romans 8:1-17 – The Christian Walk

[We continue our study of the righteousness that God has provided to His redeemed. This righteousness means were are dead to sin and alive to Christ, and freed to sin so that we can be bondservants of Christ. But last week we saw this transformation was in the spirit not in the flesh. So to avoid the error of thinking that our bodies are released to sin freely, we will continue to examine this new relationship; how that in Christ, and by the Holy Spirit, we can overcome the sin that used to control our bodies.]

Free from Indwelling Sin

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

[Is your relationship to God via the letter of the law according to the flesh, or by the spirit of the Law according to the resurrection? Remember last week we were freed from the Law of the flesh, so we could be married to the resurrected Christ giving us a new relationship to the Law and to God. In the Law of the flesh, there is condemnation because all are guilty. But in our marriage to Christ we have a new legal standing where we are no longer condemned by the law, because we walk according to the spirit.

When you think of condemnation, think of someone being sentenced by the judge for their crimes, with eyes looking down and tears on their cheeks. Think of Adam hiding in the garden, condemned by his own guilt and shame. For us it's time to come out of hiding, uncondemned and unashamed.]

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

[The Law was holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12), but I am carnal according to the weakness of the flesh. The purpose of the Law of the flesh was to expose, arouse and condemn sin; and the letter of the Law fulfilled this purpose brilliantly. This affect was so complete verse 2 calls it the law-of-sin-and-death, because that is what it did, it killed all my illusions of personal righteousness. Because of our sin nature we cannot escape the condemnation of the Law. So this is both the perfection and the weakness of the law, that in-the-flesh I am guilty under the Law, and condemned by the Law.

God solved this weakness by not depending on me to keep the Law. God sent His own Son Jesus, the second person of the trinity, eternal and divine in every way, but He sent Him in the "likeness of sinful flesh", in our own bodily form that he might solve our sin dilemma. He kept the Law, condemning sin in the flesh, fulfilling the righteous requirement of the Law. And here's the big change, the conditional shift in our relationship to the Law in verse 4 he says "who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit". But how do we walk according to the Spirit?]

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

[Our walk, whether it be carnal or spiritual is determined first by our relationship to the Law, and second by the meditation of our minds. Your walk is not the once a day or once a week stuff like a morning jog or a Saturday 5K, it is the all day mind set, your daily meditation. And sadly for some of us verse 6 says your mind could be killing you.

You see for most people, the last refuge of our rebellion is in the mind. Those focused on the thou-shalt-not's can convince themselves that their mind is their own as long as the sin does not reach the other members of the body. This is a delusion based on the premise that nobody knows what you are thinking, and moreover that God's is not aware of and offended by your thoughts. But verse 7 says the carnal mind is a rebellious enemy of God. Concluding then, those who are in-the-flesh, with a carnal me-centered mind cannot please God.]

9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

[As an aside to discussing the Christian walk, and our spiritual meditation, Paul stops to say "all of this is meaningless if you are not saved". Verses 9-11 each have a giant spiritual IF. Essentially he is saying "if you have been faking it you need to stop right now", because the ONLY escape from indwelling sin is the indwelling Holy Spirit of almighty God. IF you are "in Christ" then the Holy Spirit dwells in you and if you are not then He does not, and your only relationship to the Law is still through the flesh, which means sin and death. But If we are saved, then the Spirit gives new life to the body.]

Sonship Through the Spirit

12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 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. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

[The Holy Spirit leads through the illumination of scripture, and by the sanctification of the will enabling us to obey as Jesus did. I hear some incorrect beliefs regarding sanctification and how it works:

  1. In a moment of radical change we are immediately made perfect.
  2. We reach a meditative state where God takes over while we are bystanders
  3. A turning point decision that propels us to a higher level of holiness

What Paul describes is our day to day walk, the seemingly mundane choices, where the Holy Spirit gives us the power to surrender our sinful will, and kill the sins of the flesh, or "deeds of the body".

You see those other views of sanctification don't make sense when examined against Romans 6-8. But this progressive walk of sanctification does fit with the scriptures.

"How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it"? (Romans 6:2)

"We also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4)

"Having died to sins, might live for righteousness" (1 Peter 2:24)

"Reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin" (Romans 6:11)

"Having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:18)

"Having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness" (Romans 6:22)

"You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another" (Romans 7:4)

"O wretched man that I am! Who will free me from this body of death"? (Romans 7:24)

In all of these verses Paul is prodding and persuading us to follow the walk of sanctification, to reconsider the life of sin and to be led by the Holy Spirit. Using words like 'how', 'should', 'might', 'reckon', and 'may' suggests we have choices to make. Further he says this willingness to abide in Christ, being led by the Spirit daily is the sign or evidence that we are children of God, alive in Him.]

15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

[Last week examining the Law that could not save, we saw how the Law was perfect in its purpose to identify and condemn sin, but powerless to change us. I told you then that we didn't need a new Law we needed as new relationship. The analogy of that relationship in Romans 7 was marriage, how we needed to be dead to the law of the flesh, so we could be married to our resurrected Lord, in the Spirit of the Law. In Romans 8 we have a different relationship analogy, that of adopted children in a new family with a spiritual father.

I understand verse 15 because before I was saved, I was always afraid to die, but I was never fearful when I was with my Dad.

Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

One of the biggest changes for me being saved was that I lost the fear of death. I lost the fear of death because in Christ, I can never be separated from God the Father. We all used to live separated from God in our sins; but now we are brought near in intimate relationship thanks to our Savior and the Spirit who lives within us! When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray He told them to address God as "Our Father" (Matt. 6:9). In another instruction on prayer Jesus told the disciples, "Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, HOW MUCH MORE will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him" (Matthew 7:9-11 ESV). "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God" (1 John 3:1 NKJV)!

Under Roman law all children inherited equally, so an adoption required 7 reputable witnesses to the fact that a father had fully received an adopted child as his own. Verse 16 says that the Holy Spirit is the evidence of our adoption by God the Father, and the fruit of the Spirit in us bears witness of our standing in God's family.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Questions to consider:

  1. Christians carry a variety of different titles in Scripture: saints, slaves (bondservants), the elect, chosen ones, sheep, and sons. Which of these titles means the most to you personally and why?
  2. In Romans chapter eight, the apostle Paul makes it very clear that to be a Christian is to have the Holy Spirit because "anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him" (v.9). He also encourages us in verse 4 to "walk in the Spirit". Elsewhere in Scripture, he admonishes us to "be filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). How can one "walk in" or be "filled with" with the Holy Spirit?

    [Purge the old relationship, make Jesus our meditation, and commit our daily choices to be led by the Holy Spirit.]

  3. If we as believers are no longer condemned under the law, why should we be concerned with living lives that please God? Does it really matter what we do as long as we're saved?