Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Romans 8

October 2nd, 2011 by Vic

October 2, 2011

Romans 8

“Life in Christ”


The Jews believed in the solidarity of all men so Paul could argue that all men sinned in Adam and all men suffer the consequences of that sin.  But there is another side of the picture.  Jesus came as a man; He came with a human nature.  He did not sin; He defeated sin; He condemned sin.  He offered to God a life of perfect obedience and perfect fulfillment of the law of God.  Now, because Jesus was fully a man, just as we were one with Adam, we can now be one with Him.  Just as we were involved in Adam’s sin, we can now be involved in Jesus’ perfection.  Just as Adam offered God fatal disobedience, Jesus offered life-giving obedience.  Because of what Jesus did the Christian is no longer dominated by the fleshly nature, but is filled with a power not his own.

Paul’s basic belief is that the Christian is one with Christ and the Spirit of Christ dwells within.


In chapter 1 Paul describes why man is under the curse of sin.  Man rejected God and God turns us over to ourselves.  In chapter 3 Paul stated that all have sinned.  In 4 he told us that by faith in Jesus we could all be forgiven, and made righteous by faith, just like Abraham.  In 5 he said we could have peace with God.  In chapter 6 Paul says you can’t be half baptized, half dead, or half a slave.  You are either a Christian or you are not a Christian.  In chapter 7 Paul says while we live in this body we will be tempted.  The deceit of sin tempts us to satisfy our desires at the wrong time or in the wrong ways.


The message of chapter 8 is that the Holy Spirit can purify our hearts by faith and cleanse our motives from all desire to sin.  We call this cleansing by the Holy Spirit entire sanctification.


To be filled with the Spirit is not to have the Spirit so much as for the Spirit to have us.  “The degree of indwelling is dependent upon the degree of yieldedness to God.  The Spirit-filled life is not one in which we have a certain amount of the Spirit, but rather one in which He possesses all of us.  The condition is one of yieldedness on our part.  We are filled with the Spirit as we are emptied of self” (Dr. William Greathouse).


Entire sanctification is also called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, Christian perfection, a Second work of grace, heart purity, Christian holiness, fullness of the blessing, and perfect love.  The variety of words and phrases that describe the Christian life should indicate our inability to understand fully what God has prepared for those that love Him.


Entire sanctification is provided by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit fills our lives we have a new relationship that can say, “My Daddy is bigger than your daddy.”  To one person it may be a memorable crisis like the first Pentecost.  To another it may be like waking up from sleep to find a gift under your pillow.  To another it is like passing a frontier, but he knows not quite when he entered, but he had been heading the right direction for some time.  To another it is like becoming an adolescent or entering old age.  Entire sanctification comes to those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness.  It comes to those walking in the light.


Jesus said if you hunger and thirst for righteousness you will be filled.  You can have a river of life flowing out from you.


The Holy Spirit was not mentioned in chapter 7 but He is mentioned more in chapter 8 than any other chapter in the NT.  The life of victory over sin involves the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The life of victory is a contrast of the life portrayed in Chapter 7 of a Christian trying to live a holy life in his own strength.  Those who are in Christ walk according to the Spirit.  His Spirit is the Spirit of life.  The Spirit who joined us to Christ, now liberates us from condemnation and from sin’s dominion.


Some churches say the evidence of being filled with the Spirit is speaking in some ecstatic utterances.  While that has been true for some, we believe the primary external evidence of being filled with the Spirit is a more consistent Christlike life, the fruit of the Spirit.


As we briefly look at Romans 8, three words keep reoccurring: flesh, body and spirit.


The word flesh occurs 16 times in this chapter.  In my English dictionary there are 16 different meanings for flesh.  Paul uses it at least 3 different ways.  First he uses it quite literally.  In Romans 2:28, he speaks of the circumcision of the flesh.  That means bodily or physical circumcision.


Secondly in Romans 1:3 Paul said that Jesus is the Son of David according to the flesh.  In 9:3 he speaks of Jews being his kinsmen according to the flesh.  Abraham is our forefather according to the flesh.  This particular phrase “according to the flesh” means from the human point of view.


Paul’s third meaning is illustrated here in Romans 8:8 where Paul says that those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  He says the mind of the flesh is death and hostile to God.  We are not to live according to the flesh (8:12).  You are not in the flesh (8:9).  This obviously does not mean our body.


When Paul uses the word flesh this way, he means not humanness but sinful human nature in all its weakness and helplessness.  He means human nature in its vulnerability to sin and to temptation.  He means that part of man that gives sin its chance and its bridgehead.  He means sinful human nature, apart from Christ and apart from God.  He means everything that attaches a man to the world instead of to God.  To the extent that you are tied to this world you are living according to the flesh.


Flesh and Spirit are contrasted.  Spirit is used for Holy Spirit and the exact same word is used for wind.  It has the idea of power, the power as of a mighty rushing wind.  There is something more than human that can dwell in man and give him victory.  Flesh is a power in man that tempts him to sin.  The Holy Spirit is a power in man that dethrones the flesh and gives him love.


The first 6 chapters of Romans said that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  The wages of sin is death, but those who confess their sins and believe on Jesus are given eternal life.  Being therefore justified by faith we have peace with God.


Now to Christians Paul says you can live a holy life.  He contrasts life in the Spirit and life in the flesh.  Life lived with heaven in mind or life lived with earth in mind.


8:1  “There is therefore NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  I think being in Christ Jesus is a mysterious union that we have just begun to understand.  It must be something like being in the air versus being in the quicksand of sin.


Whatever the full meaning may be it says that those living in Christ Jesus are not condemned, they are not subject to the punishment they were sentenced to.  They do not have to do penance.  When you became a Christian you put your trust in Jesus.  In Him you die to sin.  You do not pay indulgences.  There is no condemnation for past or present sins.  By faith you were united in His burial and will be united in His resurrection.  Now you are living in Him not in Adam.


‘In Christ’ means you are living as part of the body with Christ as the head.  In Christ means you are abiding as a branch in the vine.  You are totally dependent on Him.  The fruit you produce is a reflection of the nature of the vine.  You live by faith, simple faith, nothing but faith.


You used to be in Adam, but now you are in Christ.  Sin has no power over you.  You have been grafted into the life in Christ.  His Spirit now possesses you.  His Spirit gives you the desire to love.


8:2  You are no longer timid about coming to God because there is no more condemnation, “for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”  You now have power to obey the law of God.  The requirement of the law is being fulfilled in you.  The Jewish Shema to love God and your neighbor is now fulfilled in Christ Jesus.  You have power to obey.


We are familiar with the laws of gravity.  How can birds fly?  How do planes fly?  The laws of aerodynamics can overcome the laws of gravity.


All metaphors break down but think about this a little.  The law of aerodynamics can set me free from the law of gravity on earth.  Does that mean I am free from the law of gravity outside the plane?  You must abide in Christ to enjoy the benefits of freedom from the law of sin and death.


8:3  What the OT Law could not do, God did in Jesus.  God’s answer to the weakness of the law is Jesus.  Not only can he forgive your sins; He condemns sin in the flesh.


Notice the description of Jesus in this verse.  He is the Son of God who was sent by God in the likeness of sinful flesh.  He did not come in the likeness of flesh, nor did He come in sinful flesh.  He came fully human, yet without sin.  He came in the flesh, but only in the likeness of sinful flesh.


8:4  Why did God send Jesus?  So the requirement of the law might be fulfilled IN US who walk according to the Spirit.  You have the ability to keep God’s command to love God and your neighbor.  By faith you can fulfill the royal law of love.


Christian holiness is not a matter of painstaking conformity to the do’s and don’ts of an external law‑code; it is rather a question of the Holy Spirit’s producing his fruit in one’s life.  The law prescribed a life of holiness, but the Law was powerless to produce holiness.  All that the law required by way of conformity to the will of God is now realized in the lives of those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit.


If you are living in Christ, you are producing fruit.  You do not produce fruit because of an act of external conformity or by a decision on your part to produce fruit.  You’ve had a change in nature.  You’ve been born again.  God has not commanded you to produce fruit, but He has commanded you to abide in the vine.  If you abide in Christ as a healthy branch you will produce fruit because of the nature of the life within you.


You cannot measure your Christianity by the beauty of the field you are planted in or the beauty of this building.  You cannot measure your Christianity by how many times you come to church or how long you have been a branch.  You cannot measure your Christianity by your feelings and moods.  These rhythms of life God uses to improve the fruit.


The measure of your Christianity is love.  Love is the summary of all the fruit of the Spirit.  Love is the fulfillment of all the law.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself.


8:5‑8  Are you habitually dominated by the flesh?  Is your mind set mostly on this world?  When you have a decision to make, whose side do you choose?  If your mind is set on this world, you will sin.  If you want to overcome sin, you must set your mind on the love of God.  Look to Jesus as a light in a dark place.


How do you set your mind on the love of God?  Like firing a rifle, to hit a target you must be where you can see your target (practice the presence) and point your life toward the target.  Some use journaling or write letters.  Some read.  Others reset their focus by walking in the woods.


“Those who are according to the flesh” [5] do not have the Spirit.  Christians filled with the Spirit are in the body, but not in the flesh.  The body is man himself, while the flesh is a power that lays claim to him.  The power of flesh is deposed by the Spirit.  When Christ dwells in you, He sits on the throne where flesh once sat.


8:9  Your motive center has changed.  A transfer of allegiance has taken place.  I desire to please God.  Moral effort is required.


The key element in Paul’s definition of Christian is not a verbal profession or ritual act, but a way of life.


8:14  The direction I’m going is more indicative of my heart than the description of my location  (saved/sanctified/forgiven/adopted).


Christians are no longer what they once were, but they are not yet what they will be [18-23].


8:25  The Christian’s perspective is determined not by the frustrations of the present, but his hope in the resurrection.  When we resist sin, our body groans.  Our flesh is like a 2 year old.  It cries when it does not get what it wants.  We think we have to have all these things to make us happy.


But what really makes us happy is our relationship with the One who gives us all good things.  Think of all the things that can be taken away from us.  What remains?  Faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.


8:28  Right now, is your life filled with brokenness?  Has sin messed you up?  Has disappointment or death crushed you?  God can take your brokenness and paint a beautiful picture with your life.


The chapter begins with no condemnation and climaxes with no separation [31-39].


God loves you right now.  You may not love yourself.  Your family may not love you.  But there is right now no condemnation in Christ Jesus and nothing can separate you from the love of God.


How do your neighbors measure your Christianity?  They don’t know how much God loves them, but they see your love.  How do your neighbors know you are a Christian filled with love?  John 13:34‑35.  1 John 4:12‑ 20‑21


Do you want God to paint a beautiful picture with your life?  Focus on how much God loves you right now.  His love for you is why Jesus came.  Jesus’ love for you is why the Holy Spirit came.  Now you can fly free in Christ.  The law of sin and death has been overcome by the law of love.


If God’s Spirit is talking to your heart, obey.  Do you need to repent?  Do it.  Do you need to ask forgiveness?  Do it.  Does the Spirit want you to do it now or do you need to go write a letter or make a phone call?  Do it.



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