Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Holy Spirit-ual Life (Romans 8:12-17)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Please remain standing. Let's give our attention to God's word in Romans Eight, Romans eight verses twelve through seventeen. Romans eight, verses twelve through seventeen. Let's hear God's word. So, then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh, 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. For All who are led by the spirit of God are sons of God, for you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry Abba Father, the spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him, he may be seated. In Romans Chapter Eight, Paul has been showing us the implications of the Gospel. What does it mean that, as Christians, we believe that we are saved by faith alone, through the righteousness of Christ imputed to US credited to us and his forgiveness of...

...our sins, God's forgiveness of our sins through Christ's work on the Cross. What does that mean? What kind of people are we? What kind of lives do we live? Well, here in this particular passage, Paul continues to draw out implications of that for us. He makes a conclusion right there at the beginning. He says we are debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. Therefore, the opposite is true. We are debtors of God, to live according to God, or we are debtors of the spirit, in particular, to live according to the spirit. And he goes on to say that and to make this kind of conclusion. And when he says this he teaches us this very important thing about our lives. Our spiritual lives are inward lives, and that's that. As Christians, our lives are lived from beginning to end in and by the spirit of God. If we are a Christian, if you are a Christian, if you believe in Jesus for your salvation, for the forgiveness of your sins, then something has happened in you, Paul says, you have been reborn. You are now a son, you belong to a different order and as a result of that, because of your sonship, because of your new birth, it's not just the beginning of your life that's different, but throughout your life it's different. You don't live according to the flesh anymore. You live according to the spirit, and the same is true not only at the beginning and the middle, but also the end. As he says, we are not only children of God by the spirit of adoption, but also airs of God, Fellow Airs with Christ, which means that the things that he has been given are things that we have been given as well. So this is what Paul is saying.

He's saying that the spiritual life is lived from beginning to end in and by the spirit. Well, Paul's focus here is particularly on the middle portion of that life. That's his focus in the first verse and First First Verse or two. Again, notice what he says. We are debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh, because if you live according to the flesh, you die. You Die, but if you live according to the spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh, then you live. That's what it means to be a Christian. It means to live in the spirit, putting to death the deeds of the flesh. But what does that mean? What does it mean to live according to the spirit, to put to death the deeds of the flesh? Or let me put it this way, let me ask it in this way. How much holiness does God want in your life? When God washes you by the blood of Christ, when he justifies you, when he declares you as holy in this objective way, what does he want inwardly from each of us? How much holiness does he want, or how holy should we be? Five percent, ten percent, maybe ninety five percent? That's pretty high. Well, God wants a hundred percent holiness. He wants us to be holy in every way. His spirit has come into us to cause us to be reborn so that we can be the children of God, made in his image. And when we consider the image of God, How holy is God? Five percent, ten percent, Ninety five percent? God wants us to be his children. He...

...wants us to be perfect, but that call to be perfect and no way teaches a doctrine of perfectionism. Sometimes we sort of jump the gun and we get frustrated with God. We say, I'm supposed to be living this life according to the spirit, but I know I'm not. Paul even assumes that right. He's speaking to Christians and calls them to put to death the deeds of the body. These are Christians who have put to death the deeds of the body and are called to continue to put to death the deeds of the body. It's a lifelong process, but it does have an end. SANCTIFICATION has an end. It leads to perfection, it leads to glorification, but it must go through a process. This is what Paul has in mind when he put talks at the end of this section or when he writes at the end of this section, airs of God and Fellow Airs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we also may be glorified with him. Jesus went through a process of suffering before his glorification, and we follow in the steps of our Lord. We don't jump to glorification without going through the same process of suffering, the same battles, the same fighting. But Paul's concern is how do we do that? How do we live this life? How do we struggle through our flesh? How do we put to death the deeds of the body. The answer is by the spirit. By the spirit. That means that ultimately, it's God who is working in us and that's the life he calls us to live. I want to make one brief comment about that and then talk to you about the assurance that God offers. The brief comments is that this doctrine of the spirit working in US and leading us...

...in a process of sanctification to the end of glorification, undermines any kind of idea that you can be a Christian and not care about the things of God. You can't be a Christian and not be putting to death the deeds of the body. You can't be a Christian and not have the spirit testifying to you of your adoption as a son. You can't be a Christian and not care about holiness. We are not called to be debtors to the flesh, but debtors to God. John Murray writes it this way. He says the believers, what are the believers? Once for all, Death to the law and sin does not free him from mortifying sin or putting to death the deeds of the flesh, but it makes it necessary and possible for him. We come to life. We're able to do this because what God has given us to do. There's a sort of doesn't this make sense kind of argument that Paul is using and has used throughout this chapter. If you've been freed from slavery, does it make to any sense to go back into slavery? If you've been freed from sin, you're not going to go back under the slavery and bondage to sin. Let me use a silly example, if you would indulge me. It seems to me that people with small dogs often get the dogs off and get bathed a lot more often than the big dogs. least this was my experience growing up. We had a big dogs, and the reason we didn't bathe these dogs very often, at least the reason I didn't bathe them very often, it's because it's really hard and often it feels kind of fruitless. The dog doesn't seem to get it. You go out there,...

...you get your swimsuit on, you wash the dog down, which isn't easy because their coats repel water often, and then you get the suds in there and you're a big mass in the dog's a big mess and you finally get it done. The dog shakes himself off and then rolls around in the grass and runs through the bushes, and that grass isn't always very clean because the dog does other things in that yard. There's this kind of vanity to the whole thing. Right, you go out and you wash the dog and then the dog gets all messed up again. It doesn't make sense, right. We're called to be better than that as Christians. God doesn't just wash us. He washes us with the blood of Christ and then for us to go around and roll in our garbage and to run through the dirty bushes and to get all messed up again. We haven't really understood what just happened, right, we haven't understood what God has just done. Well, this is, of course, the sinfulness of sin and the flesh working in us. This is the kind of thing as Christians that we're fighting against, that we say no, I don't want to believe that and I don't want to act that way. And that's what a Christian does. A Christian fights against that and fights against those thoughts and strives to live according to the washing of the blood that they have received. But there is this reality that that Paul speaking to here. We have to. It makes sense for us not to live according to the flesh, because we're not debtors to the flesh anymore. We're debtors to the spirit. But this is hard, this is hard to live, this life that we are called to live, and we often grow weak. Our faith grows weak, and this is sort of a double problem because, as act eighteen says, sanctification, growing in holiness is by faith.

So wherever your faith is weak, your sanctification is typically weak. It's a double edged sword. But here's the good news. Here's what God does in his word. He strengthens our faith. He calls us to greater sanctification, but he doesn't just say well, get at it, start working for it. No, he speaks to us. The spirit of God himself speaks to us through his word and brings a lot of comfort and courage and confidence to continue in on, to continue on in that battle and to persevere. And that's how I want to spend the rest of our time, to assure you, to give you confidence that as a Christian, if you are a Christian indeed, of what God is doing in you, of who you are as a Christian and why you can continue that fight and continues striving and continue working because of the spirit. Consider what Paul says about you as an adopted person. Consider what Paul says, what God says in this passage about you as one who has been adopted. This is the language he uses in a verse fifteen. He says you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption. This language of adoption means something in particular. It means that we who did not belong to God according to this holiness that he requires, according to the justification that he wants. We didn't belong to him, we didn't deserve this, we weren't...

...a part of the family. He goes out and he takes us in. He gives us something that was not our right to have. And this adoption has several things attached to it. All Talk About for briefly. There's the freedom of adoption, the privilege of adoption, the testimony of adoption and the inheritance of adoption, and each of these things, with each of these things, God builds our confidence more and more in who he is and what he has done so that we may live by and in the spirit. So first the freedom of a option. When God says we are not debtors to sin anymore and implicitly we are debtors to God, that is a good, good thing. When God brings us into his family, he doesn't beat us as slaves, he adopts us as sons. To be brought into a family as not to all is to owe a different kind of debt. It's to say to this one who has given you something that you didn't deserve, thank you. Now I'm free from all the things of my bad old family. You know what the Bible calls people who don't belong to God through Jesus, children of Wrath, those who belong to Satan or the evil one, those who are under condemnation and slavery and bondage. That's a bad family to belong to. But what is it when God gives us adoption in him, a new family? He gives us freedom. As again John Murray wrote, he makes it necessary and possible to put to death the things that were killing us.

To have freedom and life and and blessedness, to be protected by the arms of your father is a good thing. To not have him is death itself. So there is this great freedom of adoption. Well, connected with that and related to it, lots of overlap. There is also the privilege of adoption. Well, we are debtors to God, we belong to his family, and with that comes many privileges, some which are mentioned here. Robert held dame says that whenever we pray, whenever we pray our father and speak to him as our God and father, all of our prayers are summed up in that. If we speak to God as our father, are we not speaking to him in seeking protection from danger? If we speak to God as our father, are we not calling on him to provide for us in our weaknesses? If we speak to him as our father, are we not seeking comfort from him when we're tired and lonely and afraid? To Go to God as our father, who is capable of taking care of us, of wrapping us in his arms, is to find everything that we could possibly need in him. It is a great honor and privilege that you are children of God and can go to him as a father. Included in this, of course, is is prayer. The Bible calls us in various places to go to God, our father, in confidence, enjoy ingratitude in prayer, and this prayer is not one of irreverence or anything like that. It is deep reverence,...

...but it is very personal, it is very relational. If you had a bad father, then in some ways it's helpful because it teaches you that God is everything that you were missing, everything that you wanted, everything that you should have had in your father. God takes care of you and that and to a great and infinite degree. And if you had a good earthly father, then that teaches you as well. It shows you the kinds of ways in which God is toward you, the ways he protects and cares. With this kind of reverence, but also closeness, is how we go to God. Just as a brief aside, since many say at this word Aba doesn't mean I'm Daddy, I'm Greek does have a word for that, Papas, that you can use to describe a daddy, use that kind of more informal language, but it doesn't use that here. It uses potter. Also do this. So you see this, for example, in Mark and, I believe, Luke in the Lord's prayer. In one place that uses this word Auba and another place that uses father. I'm God of course, deserves to be treated with a very deep reverence, but not at a distance. We are close to him, and that language is summed up in those words father. You might translate this phrase as dear father or dearest father or exalted father. Father, father, you are my father. That kind of doubling and closeness is what's going on here and that, to go back to a adoption, is our privilege. We go to God not as a stone or...

...a piece of wood or as a superstition, but as our father, our dear father, our heavenly father. So that's the freedom of adoption that you have in a spirit. That's the privilege of adoption that you have. And then there's the testimony of adoption that God gives to you as well, and it's a twofold testimony. The first comes by the spirit, through our spirit. Notice what he says. He says for you are all led, but for you, for all who are led by the spirit of God's are sons of God. And then he says that you've received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry Abba Father. The Spirit himself bears with our spirit that we are children of God. So first, if you are a Christian, then in your conscience, in your soul, in your inner being, your spirit speaks to you a truth. It does that by the spirit of God, so that you may know that you belong to God. If you have ever felt the conviction of sin, if you've ever felt the want of holiness or clinging to his promises, and you've felt that in your soul and you know the in yourself. I believe this. I know this. You know other things right. You know whether or not you love your husband. You know whether or not you like your job. You know whether or not you prefer this thing or that thing. The same is true of your relationship to God. The Bible says, you know whether or not you call on God as father. You know whether or not you believe. Now others may be able...

...to judge that in part by the works and fruits that are produced, but altimately it's only something that you know and God knows, but you know and it's a question you must ask yourself, do I know? And it's a question that, when you ask yourself and you say yes, I do, that you can have comfort from that. There is a testimony of your spirit that is coming by the spirit of God, that testifies to you that you are a son of God. But there's another testimony that comes in addition to this. God speaks to us about our adoptions, so that we might not have doubts about that. Not only in our spirits, but by the spirit. Immediately notice what he says. He says the spirit himself. It's not just that we notice this cry in ourselves ab a father, but the spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, with our spirit, double testimony that we are children of God. How's that for assurance? God himself speaking to you, saying you're my child. How is it that we can persevere in this life? To get back to the original question, how is it that we can have strength and weakness and keep on, keeping on, because inside our souls God is speaking to us and saying you are mine, I love you, I'm taking care of you now. This may be strong sometimes and may be weak at sometimes. David Experience this right in the psalms. We hear him saying why have you left for me? Why have you firstaken me? Where's that testimony? But you notice how he cries. It's not talking to...

...a brick wall, he's talking to the god and whom he believes, the God who is testifying to him these things, and David clings to that. He clings to the God who is to the God who has promised. And that's the final point about adoption. Not only does God give us the freedom of adoption and these privileges of adoption and then these testimonies of adoption to us, but he makes these promises, he gives us an inheritance. What does he say? He says the spirit himself bears witness with our spirit, that we are children of God and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. This is an amazing thing. Imagine receiving the title to a great inheritance, vast sums of wealth and power and honor. I say, here you go, this belongs to you. It legally is yours. That's what God does for us. When we find ourselves falling and stumbling and weak, think about your inheritance. Remember what's in that safety deposit box. You have a title given to you by God himself, guaranteed by the blood of Christ, that you are heirs with him, and not only airs with Christ, but heirs of God. You don't just receive the new heavens and the new earth and all the wealth and glory of God. You receive God. He gives us himself. How do you know you have God...

...himself? Well, go back to the spirit, the spirit of God living and dwelling with you. How's that for a down payment? How's that for a guarantee? God himself giving himself to you in Christ, by the spirit we sang earlier, the Psalm, we would dwell and live in God's house forever. That's possible because God is living and dwelling in us. He's making us his dwelling place and US in him. Jesus, Jesus, Our Lord himself, praise that. The unity that he and the father would have, we would have with him. This is the inheritance of adoption. God doesn't give to us a little bit or a partial amount. He doesn't. He's not like earthly fathers who have to divide it up equally among their children. You get twenty five percent, you give twenty five percent. He gives us all of himself and he gives it all to you, and you and you and you and you. All of us together is the people of God, the body of Christ. God promises to sanctify us and glorify us and give us everything, as a father does. If you have faith in Christ, then you have been adopted. You have everything that you could ever want, everything you could ever need. You have the spirit testifying to you that these things are true. You have the great freedom to live your life in the spirit, privileges to pray and to call out to God. So this road that we travel is hard, it is narrow, it is difficult, but what do we have to fear? Nothing. We have suffering to endure.

Yes, Paul's going to talk about that more in the next passage, which will consider next time, but let me give you a highlight of the kind of things he will say. Verse Eighteen Paul says, for I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed to us. The sufferings that you feel, the weights that you and Doure, he says, don't even bother. Don't even bother comparing. It's not even worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed. That is something that we must believe in by faith if we are to room be in God, and we will. That is his promise to us when we have been given adoption. You don't fall in and out of adoption. You know one week you're doing well and next week you're not. One Week your child of God, next week you're not. No, you belong to the family. God has given you his spirit and you will continue you to the very end. So, Christians, don't jump the Gun, don't feel disappointed, don't be frustrated, but trust in the spirit of God working in you. And when you trust, when you put your faith in him, when you have confidence in the adoption that has been given you, you will find that the process of sanctification is happening, that the deeds of the body are being put to death and the things of the spirit are being brought to life in you, and that, in turn, will lead the greatest, greater assurance, which will lead to greater faith. And on and on you go until the flower broom blooms and God says you're ready. This life will be a struggle even up to the very very end, but the promise of God...

...is sure. It's been secured in Jesus Christ and has been guaranteed by his spirit. Let us trust in him. And if you don't trust in him. If you are still bound in slavery and fear, if you don't know Jesus in this way, if the spirit of God is not dwelling in you, then there is still time. God gives to you this promise that all these things that are you have to have been given to the sons of God, will be given to you when you believe. Jesus says that on those who believe in him will have eternal life. So go, go as a son, go in Jesus and receive all that he promises to give to you. Let's pray and ask that God would do these things in us.

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