Romans 8:8-11 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Chapter 8 is the central passage in Paul’s letter to the Romans. It begins with “no condemnation” and ends with “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Without question, this material has had a great impact on my life. In it, we learn that the law of the Spirit of life not only gives life but empowers the believers to do what is right. Even the rules given by God on Mount Sinai and those that followed the 10 Commandments could not enable man to save himself. We see two ways of living, according to the flesh and according to the Spirit.
We need to live out how we are. Let’s look at…
The evidence of the flesh. Found in Galatians 5:19-21. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This is a very depressing list. As we look over it we see that not much is changed in the last 2000 years. TV, social media, even the day to day news reflects these attitudes and actions.
There was a pastor who had made the choice not to have a television in his home. He had one child, a son, who had never seen television. One day his son came home from school and asked if he could spend the night with one of his classmates. After checking it out the pastor and his wife agreed that their son should go to his friend’s house for an overnight stay. So for the first time, this eight or nine-year-old boy saw television! He didn’t even get to the evening programming! When the news came on he watched in horror. He called home and asked his father to come to get him. He was in tears as he asked his dad why? Why did people do those horrible things? His eyes had been opened and his heart had been broken.
I suppose it was necessary for this young man to be exposed to the evil in the world because it is impossible to avoid it.
The works of the flesh. What do we mean when we use the term “flesh”? We are certainly not talking about our physical body. Instead, we are talking about a spiritual lifestyle.
A good definition is: “Flesh refers to the old ways or patterns by which you have attempted to get all your needs supplied instead of seeking Christ first and trusting Him to meet your needs.” Gillham, Bill. Lifetime Guarantee.
Let’s look again at the list. Sexual immorality is so built into our society that it hardly seems immoral anymore. Impurity is found in the mind as well as the body. Sensuality refers to feelings and often is the precursor to drug addiction. Then we look at the socially acceptable idolatry that is so common in our society. Sorcery is just laughed at as a parlor game. Enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, all are reflected in our current society. The works of the flesh result in envy drunkenness and orgies. People who are following these things are under a curse and need to be cautioned that what we plant is what we reap.
Paul presents this list and then it is…
Compared to the Spirit. Let’s read on Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Just a few verses before this passage Paul tells us that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). So if love fulfills the law the fruit of the Spirit becomes our path to freedom.
I believe we can look at this list and let it instruct us in how to love. The fruit of the Spirit is love! “God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others.
This definition understands love as self-giving for the benefit of others. This attribute of God shows that it is part of his nature to give of himself in order to bring about blessing or good for others.
John tells us that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). We see evidence that this attribute of God was active even before creation among the members of the Trinity. Jesus speaks to his Father of “my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24), thus indicating that there was love and a giving of honor from the Father to the Son from all eternity. It continues at the present time, for we read, “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand” (John 3:35). Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology (pp. 198–199)
Growing out of love is joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Love contains the whole of all that God desires for us and requires from us. The leading of the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit and that is the fulfillment of the law turning aside or propitiating its curse.
The flesh points to death. Let’s go back to Romans 7:18-20. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
At first glance, we might say that Paul represents all the good in the world. However, his own judgment is “nothing good dwells in me… In my flesh” he tries to do good but finds he does not have the ability. It seems that the evil habits built into his life — flesh — dominates his activities. Indwelling sin that has not been rooted out by the indwelling Spirit is constantly controlling his life. This passage is Paul’s spiritual autobiography. And if we are candidly honest it is ours as well. It’s necessary for the truths taught in Romans chapter seven be presented before the victory in Romans eight. But the reality is Romans seven and eight are side-by-side in our lives. There are days when the flesh seems to dominate our experiences. There are other days when the Spirit dominates and we can almost feel that we have the victory. Day by day we experience frustration.
Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471) wrote of the same frustration: “I desire to enjoy Thee inwardly, but I cannot take Thee. I desire to cleave to heavenly things, but fleshly things and unmortified passions depress me. I will in my mind to be above all things, but in spite of myself I am constrained to be beneath, so I, unhappy man, fight with myself and am made grievous to myself while the spirit seeketh what is beneath. O what I suffer within while as I think on heavenly things in my mind; the company of fleshly things cometh against me when I pray.” (Taken from The Imitation of Christ).
The flesh leads to death but…
The Spirit is life and peace. Let’s read the words of Jesus found in John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. The Spirit gives us the kind of life that counts. It is the kind of life that transforms us into new creatures in Christ Jesus. Not only does the Spirit transform us the Spirit transforms the world we live in.
When evangelist D. L. Moody described his conversion experience, he said: “I was in a new world. The next morning the sun shone brighter and the birds sang sweeter … the old elms waved their branches for joy, and all nature was at peace.”
The flesh with its constant attempts to give us a contented life without Christ is really no help at all. The flesh becomes our attempt to have our needs met without our Lord in charge of our life. Please, read and reread the Gospels as found in the New Testament. Jesus spoke words that are spirit and life and the Gospel writers — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — recorded them for us. What a glorious privilege we have to open the word of God and have the Spirit of God — who is the author of the Bible — interpret it for us. The Spirit gives us life eternal because…
The Spirit brings the believer into Christ. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-13. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
We are not born again in a new way of living alone. Instead, we are part of the body of Christ. He is the head of the body and the body represents all men and women everywhere who have come to faith in him. We are joined together to share our joys and our suffering.
John Fawcett wrote the words that we often sing after we partake in communion. Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.
The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.
In the third verse, we find these words: We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows The sympathizing tear.
In one Spirit we all are baptized into one body. Not into lonely isolation but into a fellowship of loving Christian family.
The Spirit points us to life, gives us peace, brings us to Jesus who is our Lord and Savior. Not only are we brought to Jesus we are incorporated into his spiritual body that has existed through the ages and we will be eternally united with each other. Each believer fits into a special place in the life of Christ. And we are brought there by the Holy Spirit. Not only are we given life by the Spirit but also…
The Spirit guards us. Let’s look at 2 Timothy 1:13-14. Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Paul is talking to his son in the faith. Timothy was a believer when Paul met him but Paul took him under his wing and helped him to mature in Christ. So Paul is encouraging Timothy to remember the sound words that he taught him.
Paul goes on in the letter to Timothy encouraging him to take the good deposit — which is teaching and training — and give other men the same words who would then be able to teach others one Christian generation after the other. How do we know that what we teach, indeed what we have been taught, is right? We rely on the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave to the church as an interpreter and guide. The Spirit guards us day after day after day! And as a part of the guarding that we receive…
The Spirit guides us. Let’s look at the words of Jesus found in John 16:13-15. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Spirit has always been present. In the beginning of the creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. The selfsame Spirit throughout history has guided and guarded his people into the truth. Throughout the Old Testament, the Spirit moved upon godly men giving them God’s word for themselves and for the future. In our age, the Spirit who was present with Christ in his baptism came on the day of Pentecost in power and gives guidance to God’s people. Guidance is given by taking the truth and interpreting it for each generation. We do not have to depend on men unless we are guided to them by the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit has guided the church through the minefields of false teaching and false practice. Jesus told us that the purpose of the Spirit is to glorify Jesus. He takes Jesus’ gifts and gives them to us. He takes the gifts of the Father and makes them ours. So that everything we need is given to us.
The Spirit is life and peace! The Spirit brings the believer into Christ! The Spirit guards us! The Spirit guides us! When we say that we are in Christ we are asserting that in him we live and move and have our being. Think about these things! They are the gift of the eternal God!
The indwelling Spirit was promised by the Lord Jesus while he was on earth. Jesus identified him as “another Helper” who will be with us forever (John 14:16). And in the same passage he goes on to say “I will not leave you” (John 14:18). Indicating that when one is in Christ Jesus he or she is clearly in the Holy Spirit. When people become Christians the Holy Spirit begins a process of cleansing us and equipping us. Jesus promised that when the Spirit comes he will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). This convicting work enables us to make a decisive break with the pattern of sin that dominated our lives. The Spirit gives growth in grace and knowledge. If you will place your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ the Spirit of God will do his work freeing you of the past habits and giving you a new way of living.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.