Romans 8:1-17 (KJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath 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 sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after 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, neither indeed can be. 8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Michael Breissen was a new father, and he was not about to let his wife’s first Mother’s Day pass uncelebrated. But she was a nurse, and on that particular Sunday was working at the local hospital, and they weren’t able to celebrate together at home. So Michael plunked his new son, Jason, in the baby carrier, drove to the hospital, and in front of all the patients and co-workers he surprised Miriam with candy and flowers and balloons that said, “World’s Greatest Mom.”
It was a great Mother’s Day. But after celebrating, it was time for Miriam to go back to work, and Jason and Michael to go back home. Michael gathered all the things that had been part of the celebration: the candy, flowers, and balloons. It wasn’t as much fun taking those things out to the car as it was taking them in to the hospital for the surprise. He begrudgingly tossed the candy on the front seat and got the flowers arranged on the floor where they wouldn’t tip over. He pulled the balloons in out of the wind and got everything arranged, and headed home.
On the way home, people began to honk their horns and flash their lights at him. He didn’t realize what was going on until he hit 55 miles per hour on the highway. He heard a long scraping noise go down the roof, followed by a loud thump. He watched in horror in the rearview mirror as the baby carrier bounced off the trunk onto the highway and began to slide along behind the car.
Michael screeched to a halt. He ran back down the highway to the baby carrier. Jason was okay. As the waves of guilt and fear and relief began to wash over him, Michael fell on the highway and began to sob, which did not stop a passing policeman from writing him up, nor the local newspaper from writing a story about it. A reporter interviewed Miriam, who showed amazing understanding. She said, “It’s so unlike him. He really is a good father.”
While there’s a part of us that says, “How could he?” there’s another part of us that relates to Michael Breissen. We recognize all the mistakes we have made, the dumb things we have done born out of hurry or frustration or distraction. We know that there is enough Michael Breissen in us that we could be guilty of such things too. It’s all part of being human.
You remember the story of the prodigal son. The boy disregarded his father, and then disgraced himself in every way possible. Dr. Vernon McGee says “Do you know the difference between the son in that pigpen and the pig? The difference is that no pig has ever said to himself, ’I will arise and go to my father.’” He’s right, but a child can do that! And when that dirty, stinking boy came within eyesight of home, His dad was there to clean Him up and throw Him a party. Paul wants to make sure that you understand that God is just as anxious to throw His arms around you. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
No Condemned Though Guilty! WOW! Think About what that means.
The Holy Spirit leads His people today in ways that will bring Christ glory and expand the Father’s kingdom.
Aren’t you glad that the Holy Spirit still moves in and among His people today? He’s going to do that right now as we look to His Holy and inerrant Word because He will illuminate that which He also inspired. Let me read 1 Corinthians 2:12 and then let’s pray: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”
Last week we learned that there is no condemnation for the true believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Last week we rejoiced in the fact that we have been given the companionship of the Holy Spirit. As we continue in our sweet study of Romans 8, we come again to the little word “therefore,” this time in verse 12. This is a clue that Paul is now moving from instruction to exhortation; from what God has done for us to what is expected from us. As a result of having no condemnation and having the companionship of the Holy Spirit, Paul is going to describe our debt, our delight and our destiny. Let’s look first at our debt.
I. Our Debt
You and I have been given so much, haven’t we? With all that we’ve received comes some responsibility. Check out verses 12-13: “Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
Paul uses the word “brothers,” which literally means “from the same womb” to remind us of the closeness that Christians have with each other because we are in the same family. The word “obligation” refers to one who owes another and is under duty to live a certain way. We have a moral compulsion as Christians and we’re obligated to the Almighty in at least two ways.
1. Don’t live like you used to. If you’re a born again believer, you are now someone you never were before as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. Too many of us fall back into flesh-living instead of faith-living. Friends, you and I owe the flesh nothing because it has never done us anything good. In fact, we feed the flesh way too much already! Producing either self-indulgence or self-righteousness, living for the flesh leads only to death. I came across this acrostic for the word F.L.E.S.H. that is helpful to remember:
Following Long Established Sinful Habits.
we’re obligated to the Almighty in at least two ways.
1. Don’t live like you used to.
2. Put disobedience to death. Dr. Charles Ryrie has called Romans 8:13 the most important single verse on the spiritual life. Some translations use the word “mortify” which means “to kill.” We must avoid being passive about sin in our lives. “Putting to death the misdeeds of the body” refers to “slaughtering sin” in your life. This same word is used in Romans 8:36: “…We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” John Owen challenges the believer to “be killing sin or it will be killing you.” This is similar to what we emphasized last week: “Think about what you think about” in order to capture our thoughts to make them obedient to Christ. Too many of us cater to the flesh when God tells us to crucify it. There are two aspects of putting the misdeeds of the body to death that appear at first glance to be contradictory.
* Positionally it has already been done. Galatians 5:24: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
* Experientially we must do it. Colossians 3:5: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”
Let me see if I can explain this. We must apply by faith what God has already done in fact. This goes back to what we learn in Romans 6:11: “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” By faith we count our position as true in our actual condition. This is in the present tense which means we must do so continually, habitually and actively.
Here’s another caution. While we are told to slaughter sin, notice carefully that we’re to do this “by the Spirit.” It’s not a matter of me alone doing this nor can I just sit back and wait for the Holy Spirit to do it. It’s not an either/or but rather a both/and. It’s a beautiful balance: I must do it by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit chooses to do it through me as I submit to the Holy Spirit in my life. These are complimentary, not contradictory truths. We see this in Philippians 2:12-13 (KJV) 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
I must do it…but it’s God who works in me to do it. He has His role and I have my responsibility. We could say it this way: I cannot do it without the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit will not do it without me.
What does this mean practically? Let me suggest some ways to slaughter sin in your life.
1. Recognize how sin works. (James 1:14-15 (KJV) 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.)
2. Identify your spiritual ‘soft spots.” (Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?)
3. Confess and repent when you sin. (Psalm 32)
4. Turn from sin within the first five seconds of the temptation. (Proverbs 4:15 (KJV) 15 Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.)
5. Don’t deal with sin on a superficial level; get to the heart. (Jeremiah 6:14 (KJV) 14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.)
6. Starve sin by making no provision for it. (Romans 13:14 (KJV) 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.)
7. Place hedges between yourself and sin. (Proverbs 5:8 (KJV) 8 Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house:)
8. Look for the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.)
9. Fill your mind with good things (Philippians 4:8 (KJV) 8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.)
10. Submit to the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6 (KJV) 6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.) and be filled daily (Ephesians 5:18 (KJV) 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;)
Jesus paid a debt He did not owe and we owe a debt we can never repay…but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
I. Our Debt
II. Our Delight
We have a definite obligation to God for all that He has done for us. Next, in verses 14-17a, Paul describes some privileges that are ours. We move now from duty to delight. Proverbs 8:30: “I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence.” This is the heart of the good news in the Book of Romans. I should say that I resisted the urge to develop each of these in greater depth for the sake of time.
1. The Holy Spirit leads us. Delight #1 is found in verse 14: “Because those who are led by the Spirit of God…” Aren’t you glad that we don’t have to stumble around and wonder what we should do or the direction we should take? God has given us the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. The Greek word translated “led” means “to show the way, or to guide.” While the Holy Spirit certainly leads us in very specific and personalized ways, first and foremost He has changed the trajectory of our entire lives and leads us in such a way that we follow the path of the Lord. Listen to these words from Psalm 143:10: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” The Holy Spirit is always at work controlling, comforting, or convicting us. And we are either grieving Him or pleasing Him.
2. We are loved as God’s children. Our second delight is spelled out in the last part of verse 14: “…are sons of God.” I read this week that some parents in New Zealand named their son “4real” because they were impressed with the reality of his birth. This distinctive name was eventually blocked by the courts because New Zealand law forbids the use of numbers when naming babies. This name is certainly better than the bizarre one chosen by two sets of American parents who have named their sons “ESPN.”
Friend, if you have received Jesus Christ, John 1:12 says that you are a child of God. He calls you “son” or “daughter” and no court can ever take that away from you. I love Isaiah 43:1: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” As one of God’s children, you are His. And Isaiah 49:16 says that God has engraved you on the palm of his hand. 2 Corinthians 6:18: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” If you wonder how God feels about you and what kind of name he calls you, check out 1 John 3:1 (KJV) 1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, after falling on hard times, the wayward boy had been practicing his speech in the hopes that he could be hired on as a field hand in his father’s business. The father would have nothing to do with this because his boy was not a servant…he was his son. Listen to these wonderful words from Luke 15:21-24: “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.” If you are a son or daughter of God, He celebrates you.
3. We have freedom, not fear. We can delight that the Holy Spirit leads us and that we are children of God. The third delight is that we no longer have to live in fear as seen in verse 15: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear…” Servants need to fear but sons and daughters of the King have freedom. Friend, what are you afraid of right now? If you are a child of God there is nothing to fear because the Holy Spirit is with you and in you. Hebrews 2:15 says that you and I no longer have to fear death: “And free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” In the place of fear God has given us freedom as 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (KJV).
4. We enjoy an intimate relationship with the Father. The second half of verse 15 contains some pretty amazing truth – Delight #4 is that we are adopted into God’s family and we can call God our daddy: “…But you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’”
* We’re adopted into God’s family.
* We can call the Almighty “Abba.” Because born again believers are adopted into God’s Family, one of our delights is to cry out “Abba, Father.” The word “cry” means to “call aloud, to shriek.” We have the amazing privilege of calling the awesome, majestic, all-powerful God of the universe “Abba,” which is an untranslated Aramaic word that means “daddy.” This term of endearment speaks of an intimate relationship and was used by Jesus when He cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark 14:36: “‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” This is a good model for us in that we approach our “Daddy God” with confidence and commit to do His will, whatever that might be. I love it when my girl calls me “daddy” and God loves it when His children do as well.
* We have communion with God because of our adoption and we can communicate with Him because He invites us to call him ‘Abba.’
Near, so very near to God, nearer I could not be.
For in the person of God’s Son, I am as near as He.
Dear, so very dear to God, dearer I could not be.
For in the person of God’s Son, I am as dear as He.
But if you’re like me, there are times when you may wonder if God really does care for you. It’s at those times that the Holy Spirit goes to work in yet another way.
5. The Holy Spirit assures us of this relationship. Fifthly, we can take delight in the decree of verse 16: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Notice that phrase, “The Spirit himself.” This is very emphatic and it shows us that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not an inanimate object or power or some “Star Wars” kind of force. We are given the objective truth of Scripture that born again believers are in the family of God. One example is 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Go back a few verses to 1 John 5:10 where we see that this is not just something for our heads, but also our hearts: “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart…” According to 1 John 4:13, one of the roles of the Spirit is to give us certainty about our salvation: “We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit gives inner testimony with our spirit that we are adopted into God’s family and at the end of time He will stand with us and testify before God the Father as to our adoption. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22: “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
The commentator Barclay points out that this reference to the Spirit testifying builds on a picture from how adoptions worked in Roman culture. When an adoption was finalized, the ceremony was carried out in the presence of seven witnesses who would testify as to the legitimacy of the adoption, thus guaranteeing that the one adopted had full rights as a child.
The Holy Spirit confirms our adoption and therefore we can have confidence that we are a “King’s Kid.” He gives independent testimony and then he corroborates the testimony of our own spirit. According to Deuteronomy 19:15, a matter can only be decided based on the testimony of at least two witnesses. As one pastor put it: our human spirit says, “I am a child of God, ABBA FATHER!” The Holy Spirit says, “Yes, she is a child of God, ABBA FATHER!” And out of the mouths of two witnesses, it is settled.
The nineteenth-century British pastor Billy Bray (that’s good name for a preacher) got saved out of a life of drunkenness and was so overjoyed by God’s grace and goodness that he said, “I can’t stop praising the Lord. As I go along the street, I lift up one foot, and it seems to say, ‘Glory.’ And I lift up the other, and it seems to say, ‘Amen.’ And so they keep on like that all the time I am walking.” Maybe we should try that.
6. We are named in God’s will. Did you hear that Oprah Winfrey made $260 million last year? That’s nothing compared to Bill Gates, the richest man in the world. Wouldn’t you like to be named in their wills? Friends, believers in Jesus Christ have something even better. Our sixth cause for delight is that we are heirs of God according to verse 17: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ…” My dad has told me that when he was growing up his dad would often correct him when he would say that someone who had a lot of money was rich. He would gently remind him that only those who know Christ are truly rich.
* We are heirs of God. As an heir of God you are in God’s will and you share in God’s family fortune. Ephesians 1:8: “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” And 1 Peter 1:4 says that this inheritance is guaranteed: “And into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you.”
* We are co-heirs with Christ.
Don’t forget that our duty comes out of our delight. God has given us so much, hasn’t He? It would be easy to think that life is just going to be easy now. That leads to our final point – our destiny.
I. Our Debt; II. Our Delight;
III. Our Destiny
Check out the last part of verse 17: “…If indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” This theme will be developed in greater detail in the verses that follow but suffice it to say that we must go through grief before we enter glory. We are heirs of God but the full benefits of this will not be poured out on us until eternity. Our present grief prepares us for future glory. In the meantime, we will share in the sufferings of the Savior. Since Jesus suffered, we should be prepared to suffer ourselves. Suffering doesn’t necessarily mean that something is the matter; rather it is a mark of our sonship.
Philippians 1:29 is a good corrective for us when we wonder why we’re going through stress or sickness or mockery or outright persecution: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.” In another passage we learn what to hold on to when you have problems – a passage you won’t hear a prosperity preacher expound: Acts 14:22 (KJV) 22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
When the Holy Spirit moves…He really moves!
Let me tell you why this is so important to understand. Because if the truth be known, there is sometimes condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But it never comes from God. It comes from Satan. Do you know what the word “satan” means in hebrew? Accuser! He loves to fool us into believing that we are condemned. He wants to trap us into believing that we are so wretched that God doesn’t want anything to do with us. He wants us to be like Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned. All they wanted to do was hide from God!
And the truth is, we’ve all been there. We have failed, and kicked ourselves, and felt condemned. And we have hidden ourselves from God, and turned away, not because we don’t love Him, but because we are ashamed. We have felt like a wretch, and we have listened to Satan tell us that God condemned us for our sin. But if we were in Christ at the time, then we were wrong.
Here’s a question. Have you experienced the moving of the Holy Spirit?
Have you through God’s mercy and grace found forgiveness so that there is now no condemnation as you allow God’s Spirit to lead you?
* Recommit to living out your debt to God.
* Remember what to delight in.
* Refocus you mind on your final destiny.
I want to close by reading the words to the song called,
The Family of God.
From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I’m not worthy to be here, but PRAISE GOD! I belong!
I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I’m part of the family,
The Family of God
Is the Spirit desiring to lead you today? Are you part of the God’s family?