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?

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