Romans 8: 5 - 17
Romans 8 - heartbeat of the Bible about life in the Spirit. There are so many different ideas floating around out there.
1. 3 Faulty Ways to Live the Christian Life
A. By Rules
"Do this, don't do that." "Do this, this and this, but don't do this or this or this." There are many people whose view of the Christian life is just a list of do's and don'ts. For some, it is simply the Old Testament law warmed over and brought into the Christian church. The problem is that it can lead to legalism. Legalism is any attempt to please God on the basis of what you do in the flesh.
B. By a Formula
We've all heard the formulas: 3 steps to answered prayer, 4 keys to Christian victory, 5 ways you can walk in the Spirit. The bookstores are filled with formulas for living the Christian life. The problem is that it can produce mechanical Christianity.
C. By an Experience
Seeking for a deeply moving, life-changing, earth-shattering, emotional experience with God. The problem is that experience doesn't last. You're going to be on an emotional roller coaster. You're going to be constantly going up and down.
Rules are good – 10 Commandments. Formulas can be very helpful - discover 5 ways to pray. That's great. Discover 3 ways to be filled with the Spirit. Good. Experience matters. There are times and places where God comes to visit his people in tremendous power. Most of us have had those moments when God has met us with great power. Don't say that experience is not important. Rules, formulas and experience have their place. But taken alone, they lead to a sub-standard Christian life - they tend to lead you away from the one thing that is most important. God has given us something better than rules, than a formula and experience. God has given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the secret of living the Christian life - we must learn how to live in, by and through the Holy Spirit of God.
How does the Holy Spirit work in my life? Too many people think that walking with the Holy Spirit is like riding in a car. You get filled with the Holy Spirit and you get run down and you get filled up again and you get run down. So they're constantly up and down, up and down, being filled and emptied, being filled and emptied. NT tells us that the Holy Spirit is always here. Our job is to stay in contact with the Spirit - he continuously provides the power we need for effective Christian living.
2. 3 Gifts of the Spirit
Things given to you at conversion. You are not told to seek them, you are to live on the basis that they've been given to you.
A. A New Mind v. 5 - 8
There are 2 ways of living in this world. You can live according to the flesh which leads to death or according to the Spirit which leads to life - no 3rd alternative. It's one or the other. Those 2 ways of living are diametrically opposed to each other. The flesh is on one side, the Spirit on the other and never the 2 shall meet. Those 2 ways of life are constantly moving in opposite directions.
3 practical applications of that truth.
i. A new way of thinking. "Worldview" -the way you look at life. It's how you make your judgments about what is right and wrong. It's the grid through which you look at everything that happens around you. There are basically only 2 worldviews - secular or humanistic worldview and truly Christian worldview. There's a Christian way of thinking, way of speaking, way of acting, way of approaching the problems of life.
God has given you a new mind so that you might develop a Christian way of thinking. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. When you meet Jesus Christ, he will change the way you think.
ii. Your mind continually transformed. Romans 12: 2 - "be transformed by the renewing of your mind" - metamorphosis—the change of shape that takes place within a cocoon when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. Let the shape of your thinking be changed by the renewing of your mind.
How does that happen? I know of only one way - your mind must be filled with the Word of God. As you study the Bible, it will change the way you think. As your thinking changes, so your life will slowly change.
iii. Serve God with your minds. “The Baby Boomers want the comfort of religion without the inconvenience of a changed life. They want emotion without the ethical demands.”
If you know Jesus Christ, it ought to make a difference in - the way you speak, the way you talk, the way you write, the way you relate and yes, the way you make decisions in the public arena. If you know Jesus Christ, that will radically affect the way you approach the great moral decisions of life. If it doesn't affect all of life, how can your faith be called truly Christian?
We don't need lawyers who happen to be Christian; we need truly Christian lawyers - teachers who happen to be Christian; we need truly Christian teachers who will bring their faith into the classroom - businessmen who happen to be Christian; we need truly Christian businessmen who will let their faith in Christ shape every decision they make - nurses who happen to be Christian; we need truly Christian nurses who treat patients differently because they know Christ - doctors who are born again on the weekends; we need doctors who express their Christian faith 7 days a week.
Too many of us think like pagans during the week but like Christians on Sunday morning. No wonder the world is little impressed with our Christianity. They've never seen the real thing in action. What a difference it would make if we began to "think Christianly" and "act Christianly" in the workplace this week. You were given a new mind so you could make a difference for God.
B. A New Nature v. 9 – 11
A true Christian is one who has the Spirit of Christ within him. One mark of genuine Christianity is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He actually takes up residence inside those who know Jesus Christ. When you say, "Lord Jesus, I want you as my Saviour," the Holy Spirit answers that prayer by coming into your life. To be "in the Spirit" means that the Holy Spirit himself moves into your life. He actually and literally lives within you.
2 direct implications of this truth –
i. We actually have a brand-new life. The Holy Spirit makes your spirit come to life. The seeds of death have been planted in your body. That's why it eventually wears out and dies. If you live long enough, you are going to die. Yet God has placed life—eternal life, resurrection life—on the inside through the Holy Spirit. Dying on the outside, yet new life on the inside. We die, yet we live. That's the wonder of the gospel.
ii. We have the promise of future resurrection. The Spirit who raised up Christ will one day raise up your body out of the grave. The Holy Spirit who lives in you is like a "down payment" on God's future deliverance. Do Christians die? Yes, we die like everyone else. But death for us is not the end. When your body is laid to rest, your spirit goes to be with Jesus. When Jesus returns, your body will be raised from the dead - never more to die, never more to decay, never more to waste away.
C. A New Identity v. 14 - 17
Paul uses 2 different phrases to describe believers. He calls us "sons of God" and "God's children." The term "child of God" speaks of the intimate relationship you have with God. God's children call him "Abba" - means "Daddy." Because we are God's children, we can speak to God the same way little children speak to their earthly fathers. The term "son of God" refers to your official status within God's family. It speaks of your privileged position. You have the official right to be a son of God.
5 Fantastic Privileges - as a son of God:
i. Personal Guidance of the Holy Spirit v. 14 - The Holy Spirit takes your hand and leads you through the difficulties of life. "Holy Spirit, please show me what to do. Holy Spirit, I am confused. I don't know which way to go. I'm trusting you to lead me." He will do it. Thank God for the leading of the Holy Spirit.
ii. Freedom From Fear v. 15a - No more slavery, no more bondage, no more living in terror. All of that is gone because we have received the "Spirit of sonship."
iii. The Right to Call God "Father” v. 15b - You don't have to scream at God to get his attention. You simply say, "Daddy," and he hears your voice. A father knows when his children are speaking to him. The same is true with our heavenly Father. He hears the faintest cry of his children.
iv. Inward Assurance v. 16 - "witness of the Spirit" - You as a believer have the right to expect that the Holy Spirit will give you inner assurance that you know Jesus Christ. This is the "peace that passes all understanding." Is that important? Yes, because Satan would like nothing better than to pull you down by causing you to doubt your own salvation. He accuses you and makes you think you aren't really born again. The Holy Spirit comes along and says, "You're not perfect, but you are a Son of God. Jesus paid for all your sins. You are a child of God." When the devil whispers in your ear, the Holy Spirit speaks up from deep within your heart to testify that you are indeed a child of God.
v. Right of Heirship in God's Family v. 17 - God wants the riches of heaven to go to the members of his family. When you trust Christ, you are included in God's family fortune because as a child of God you now share in the family wealth. So we have 3 gifts of the Spirit—a new mind, a new nature and a new identity.
3. One Great Obligation v. 12 - 13
2 things about our obligation:
A. We owe nothing to the flesh v. 12
We’ve been set free from the power of the flesh. We are no longer "in the flesh" but "in the Spirit." The flesh once controlled us, but now we are free. The flesh does us no good. The "ministry" of the flesh - tempts us to do evil, pulls us away from God, wars continually against the Holy Spirit. You don’t have to live in the flesh any more because you don’t owe your flesh anything.
B. We owe everything to the Holy Spirit v. 13
This verse balances a moment-by-moment dependence upon the Spirit with a tough-minded attitude toward the flesh. Is the spiritual life dependent upon God or upon me? The answer is Yes! I cannot do it without God. God will not do it without me.
Your spiritual life moves forward as you stay in constant contact with the Holy Spirit. The whole question of the Spirit-filled life: Are you keeping in contact with the Holy Spirit? Your job as a Christian is to stay in contact with the Spirit
Remember, there are only 2 ways to live—in the flesh or in the Spirit. Romans 8 makes one thing clear: Living by the Spirit is not automatic. A decision is required. You must choose to live by the Spirit’s power. It doesn’t happen by chance.
The flesh and the Spirit are at war. The flesh has desires for you. The Spirit has desires for you. They are moving in opposite directions. But they have this in common—Both want to control your life!
2 questions - "With God's help, will I today choose to rely by faith upon the Holy Spirit?" Yes or No. "With God's help, will I today choose to say 'no' to my flesh when I am tempted to do wrong?" Yes or No.
I want to stay in contact with the Holy Spirit and I want to say no to the flesh when I am tempted. Yes to the Holy Spirit - No to the flesh. It’s as simple—and as profound—as that.
Prayer - finish the sentence in your own way.
O Lord, by the power of your Spirit, this week I will say yes to . . Forgiveness, Loving my enemies, Going the second mile, Personal purity, A disciplined life, A gentle spirit, Sharing Christ with my friends, Praying for others, Taking a step of faith, Trusting God with my fears, Telling the truth, The joy of the Lord
Remember, you don’t have to live in the flesh this week. You can live in the Spirit. But the choice is up to you.