Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

The Spirit of Life (Romans 8:1-11)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, let's hear God's word now from Romans Chapter Eight, and this will be this will be the text for the sermon this morning. Romans Eight, versus one through eleven. Let us fix our minds and hearts on hearing the word of God Romans Eight. There is therefout. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the spirit, of life, has set you free in Christ Jesus, from the Law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirits set their minds on the things of the spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God. For it does not submit to God's law. Indeed it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness. 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 model mortal bodies. Through his spirit, who dwells in you, a God, bless his word, may be seated. There are various ways in which people think about what it means to be a Christian and oftentimes their definitions of what it means to be a Christian are taken from not so great places, unfortunately, sometimes even Christians. But these definitions are often based on their experiences in some might be accurate, some not so accurate. They might be all over the place. I'm some people think of Christians just as religious people or church goers. Maybe people think of Christians as Nice people, or maybe selfrighteous people or maybe Republicans, or maybe white people, or maybe givers or moralists, or the list can go on and on and on. What is a Christian? It's a really important question, because to be a Christian means to belong to Christ, and to belong to Christ means several very important things that Paul talks about here in Romans, a things that are a matter of life or death. And so when we think about what it means to be a Christian, we're not just defining defining a certain social...

...group, a part of our culture. We're defining what life is itself and what it means to not have Christ and to die. So where do we get a true definition of a Christian? Well, we find it here in Romans, eight many other places in scripture as well. But here there are some wonderful things that God teaches us about who you are in Christ or who you may be if you trust and belief in him. So Paul, under the inspiration of the spirit of Christ, teaches us here what it means to be a Christian. He gives us three things. He says that when we are Christians, when God saves a sinner, they receive a new verdict, a new way of living and a new body to live in. Well, think about each of these three things. A new verdict, a new way or walk of life and a new body. Now, before we jump into those, let me just point out the logic of the chapter and what is beginning here, so we can ground ourselves a little bit. And it's really an easy thing to do, because we just sang it in verse four of and can it be, we saying long my imprisoned spirit lay fast, bound in sin and nature's night thine. I diffused a quickening ray. I woke the dungeon flamed with light, my chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth and followed thee. This is, you might say, Romans six and seven. God Paul has been describing here what it means to be released from the law, what it means to be free, to be under grace. He's been showing us that we are not released so that we might walk back into the Dungeon, or release so that we might walk out in blindness and wander around the earth, but we're released so that we might walk forth in freedom and follow the Lord. So that's verse for in and can it be? Then verse five continues and says, no condemnation. Now I dread Jesus and all in him is mine, and that's how Romans eight starts. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the spirit of life, with the hymn calls that quickening ray. The law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus. No longer are you a fast bound in sin and nature's night. Or is verse two says here? No longer are you bound according to the law of sin and death, because verse three, God has done what the law, we can buy the flesh, could not do. You were in Chage, you were in a dungeon, you could not do anything, but God has saved you, and now no more condemnation. You're not sitting in a jail cell waiting for the punishment to come, waiting for the day when the king will put you under his wrath. No, you're set free and declared justified. Well, that takes us to the first point here. As a Christian, what it means to be a Christian? It means that we have received a new verdict. To be condemned is to have a judgment placed on you, and Paul says here, is a Christian. There is therefore now no condemnation, not a little bit, not tiny slice, not halfway, part we part way. No condemnation now. This implicitly tells us what he's told us back in chapter five, that under Adam we...

...are all born under condemnation. Were each of us born into a family that is condemned? Take it at back to a level that you expective experienced in a more earthly way. Each of you have been born into a family. Maybe you were born into a wealthy family or poor family. Maybe you were born into a family with good genes and a lot of beauty, maybe not. Maybe you were born into a loving family, or maybe you don't know who your parents are. Well, in Adam we were born into a family and we belong to that. We received certain things by virtue of our birth and belonging to him, and that was not a good family. There was a sense, in which there is, a sense in which we are made in God's image and which we have bivid gain even all these good things from God. But to belong to the family of Adam, to belong to the human race, means that we've taken all those gifts. God's good law is covenant with us, and we've spat on them and we've despised them. A bad family and a family that is condemned righteously by God. God says you are sinful, you are hostile to me, you have fallen away from me. Each and every person that has been born, apart from Jesus, because of his miraculous and divine birth, we are all born under the law and in this fallen state we have a father, but we hate him, we have major attachment problems with him. We fight him, we struggle against him, we sin against him in every way, and it's always going to be that way as long as we remain in this state, as long as we remain under the law, in our sin and fast bound, we find ourselves under condemnation. And so in this way, he's not just the one who made us, but each and every person in the world is also under God as judge, who will condemn us for our sins. This is what it means to be under the law. But then we have verse three. But God did what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. What did he do? He took away our condemnation. He's going to go on in the next passage, in verses twelve through seventeen, to talk about that adoption, to talk about the ways in which he brings us close and blesses us with all kinds of wonderful things in which he overcomes that hostility. But here he focuses first in chapter eight, the beginning there, on this change of verdict. What does it mean to be a Christian? It means to have a new verdict, to not be condemned any longer. Once we received a verdict you are bad, you will be punished, and now the verdict is you are good and you will be rewarded. That's what it means to be a Christian. Well, how does that happen? How does a sinful, hostile enemy of God change and become a lover of God, someone at peace with God? Paul explains, he says, by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. He condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us. You know what he's talking about here, don't you? He's talking about the father sending the son into the world, to take on human flesh...

...and to take a part in our family, the human family, the condemned family, to stand, under condemnation, that he didn't deserve to take our sins and punishment on himself, and then, in turn for that, in turn for taking our sins, he gives to us his righteousness. When it says he condemned sin in the flesh, he's not talking about his sin, he's talking about arson your sin. As a Christian, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled. He paid the penalty that was coming. We were waiting in the dungeon, waiting for God's wrath to be poured out honest the execution, the eternal execution, to take place, and Jesus said here, give me those chains, give me that execution, I'll take it for you and you, you go free. Now. This would be the saddest thing in the world if it weren't for the past fact of the power of Jesus's life, the divinity of his nature, and that he too went forth and he too rows up out of the grave, as Paul goes on to say here, it was the spirit who raised him, up raised him from the dead, that same spirit who dwells in US and raises us as well. This is what God has done for us. So when we stand okay, when we stand under this new verdict, no condemnation or, to put it positively, justification, when your file that has your name on it is stamped justified and your transferred to a new pile, that's a wonderful thing, an amazing thing. It means that you no longer will face the eternal wrath of God but, unto said, you walk in the life that Jesus walks even now. That's one. That's the first thing it means to be a new Christian. It means to have a new verdict. It well, second thing Paul mentions here, for being under grace, for being in Christ, is not just a new verdict but also a new way of living a spiritual life. And that word spiritual there is not to mean etherial or non physical or mystical, but think of that word with a capital s, as in Holy Spirit, jual life. You remember what he says here. He says that the spirit dwells in us. God Not only justifies us on the cross, but he unites us with his spirit. God himself dwells in US and brings about a new way of living. Just like v the letter V comes before the letter w, the verdict comes before the walk, justification comes before sanctification. God declares US justified, but he doesn't just leave us there. He begins to work in our hearts. He begins to root out all that Yuckiness, all that sinfulness, all those things that did wrong. He causes us to really be born again. is how Jesus describes it in John Three, and he describes the work of the spirit in our lives. He says that those who are no longer condemned because they are in Christ are those, this is that the end of verse four, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. This is what describes a Christian. In other words, this is the...

...definition he gives. A Christian is one who has a new verdict, no more condemnation, but they also have a new walk. A Christian is one who walks not according to the flesh but according to the spirit. And then he explains this. He describes how this works in the spiritual life, how this works inside of us. In verses five and following and there's a contrast here to pay attention to, for those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. Now this word mind here in Greek doesn't just mean that the intellect, but it has something more fully in in mind. It has the heart and the affections and the will combined here. This the self, really what you are setting oneself into, the same way that we use that phrase in English. I put my mind to it. It's not merely an intellectual exercise right, it's a I'm putting myself to it everything in me. I'm attaching myself to this thing. Well, back to the contrast. Those who live according to the flesh set their mind on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. And then he says what the result of this is, or the equivalent, for to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. So you see what he's saying here, that those chains that we describe in the hymn, the dungeon, the power of the law, the person who is bound up. We describe it in that way because of what the Bible says. A person who lives in the flesh, whose spirit, who's the spirit of God, is not in them. They walk according to the flesh, they set their minds on the things of the flesh, and it's ultimately death because they are disobedient to God, hostile to him, and indeed there is no other way for them to be. That's what it means to be fallen. That what's what it means to be in an estate of sin and misery, to be in a position where you cannot please God, and you cannot because you don't want to. You hate it, you are hostile against the things of God, you don't want to do the things of God. It doesn't please you to do the things of God. That is what it means to not be a Christian. To be a Christian is to de be the opposite of these things. It means that we set our minds on the things of the spirit. What are the things of the spirit? They are the things that he's spoken in his word. They're the works that God has done. They're the things that he calls us to do, the fruit that he produces in us. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self control. These are spiritual things, capital as holy, spiritual things that he produces in us, and we, as Christians, set our minds on those things and that's how we walk. You can imagine a person who is walking with a map and a guide. They trust the map, they trust the guide and they move forward on a particular course. They they might get off every now and then. They might mean it misread the...

...map may be the course that they're walking isn't always as consistent with the map and the guide, the the instructions they're receiving, but that's the way things work and it's like that inwardly. It's like that in our relationship to God. Those who are in the flesh walk a particular course, a fleshly course, a worldly course, a sinful course, being hostile to God. It's a course away from heaven, it's a course away from God, it's a course to hell, into destruction. And what is their guide? What is their map? It's their own sinful hearts. It's the temptations of Satan, it's worldly desire. But when the spirit comes in us, that changes. To be a Christian is not just to have a new verdict, but it had us to have a new way of life, a new walk, a new course. And it's a new course because it's a new map and a new guide, the Holy Spirit dwelling in US saying no, not that way any more. That's the way of the sinful passions, that's the way of the world. You are no longer of this world. You're a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven. You belong to Christ. Jesus remember, no more condemnation for you. You're not in judgment anymore, you're not under judgment anymore, you're no longer fearing wrath. You're on your way to heaven. The spirit guides us, lives in us, dwells in us, and that's why we walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit who lives and dwells in us, the spirit of Christ, given to us that we might please him and know him and be in him. By the way, come to Sunday school, because we're going to be talking a lot about a lot more about what it means to have the spirit of the Lord, what it means that the spirit is from Christ. So there you have one and two, a new verdict and a new way of living. The third thing Paul Mentions is having a new body. Being a Christian, in other words, is not just about being reborn in our souls. There is a renewal that will happen in our very physical bodies, these bodies. It's easy to think that when our bodies are sick and ti hired and breaking, whether we are skinning our knee or getting a knee replacement, from beginning to end we feel the weakness of our bodies. But God promises something new, not just inwardly, but outwardly, to he wants all of you. When he says you are now no longer under therefore, there is now no condemnation. When he says that, he is not just talking about your inward self, he's talking about your outward self, to your physical self, he's talking about all of you. All of you is a Christian, and he promises this in verses nine and eleven. Nine through eleven or, I'm sorry, ten and eleven, he says. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness. 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. The promise of the Resurrection, the promise of a new body for you is a Christian, is already guaranteed by the spirit's indwelling. Do you see what Paul is saying? He's saying that the very same spirit who resurrected Jesus from the dead is the same spirit who will cause you to be resurrected from the dead. And that's not a spirit that is going to come at some future point in time. It's a spirit who dwells in you now. So this is what it means to be a Christian. It means to have no longer a verdict of justification or, I'm sorry, of condemnation, but one of justification. It means to no longer walk according to the flesh, but now according to the spirit of Christ, and it means no longer just being means no longer being confined and knowing that the eternal destruction of your body is close at hand, but instead the eternal living and blessedness of your body is close at hand when the Lord returns. This is what it means to be a Christian. Of course, all the opposite of this is true for those who are not in Christ. Sin, death, hostility, destructtion, not life for your immortal bodies, but death for your mortal bodies, condemnation, imprisonment. That's what it means to be outside of Christ and that's why it's true, as I said at the beginning, knowing what it means to be a Christian is everything, because you must be a Christian if you are to live, if you are to know God. But it's something that happens and only works in one way. You don't go out and start walking so that God can then say, all right, now, justify to you walking, verdict before walk, the before w this is what God gives to us and it's what he has done. I'll finish by reading verse three. For God has done what the law we can by the flesh, could not do by sending his son. May God continue this work in our lives, and may we often go to him in prayer and ask that people, when they ask what is a Christian, would learn it from us by seeing that we are no longer under condemnation, that we walk in the newness of life and we hope in the resurrection of the dead. Let us pray.

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