- Sermon Notes
The Life of the Spirit
I’m excited that we get to start the New Year in one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. Romans chapter 8 contains some of the most practical and spiritually powerful truths every Christian needs to understand.
Paul has been building up to this chapter from the very beginning. Here he answers the dilemmas and troubles that come because of the weakness of the flesh. We were born with this flesh and we’ll die with it, but it doesn’t have to defeat us; it doesn’t have to ruin our lives, we can have victory.
The answer has everything to do with the nature of our relationship to God. In chapter 7 Paul described what happens when a person tries to control the flesh by keeping it under the Law. The flesh only wants to rebel from it and their flesh is like a teenager with an attitude constantly resisting their parents’ rules. That only brings the conflict Paul described in those famous verses, “I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I’m doing the very thing I hate… For the good that I wish, I do not do, but I practiced a very evil that I do not wish.”
In other words, that was a complete failure; so much so that Paul brought that conflict to a great crescendo when he shouted out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” He immediately gives the answer, “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Chapter 8 describes what happens when a believer lives by the Holy Spirit. That brings a completely different relationship to God and the victory He desires for us.
I. True Sons are Led by the Spirit
- Remember in the earlier verses of this chapter Paul talked about the significance of what happens in the mind. And in Romans 12…
Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
- A person cannot be victorious until they are victorious in their mind, but that’s where the Spirit helps us, because the Spirit dwells inside the heart and ignites the soul.
- The Jewish leaders concerned themselves only with the outward appearance of their lives and thought nothing about what happened in the inner man.
Luke 11:39, The Lord said, “You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup, but inside you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?”
- Paul wrote about what happens in the inner man, “Those who are according to the Spirit, set their minds on the things of the Spirit, for the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace… Though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”
- In our verses today, Paul gives us some of the things of the Spirit to set our minds on; it’s about taking hold of truths that transforms our lives.
- God sent His Son as the Word of God to us. When God’s word sets up like concrete in your soul, it becomes a foundation on which you can build your life.
Psalm 119:89, Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven.
Matthew 7:24, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
James 1:8, A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.
A. The Spirit leads the mind
- First of all, remember that the Law was no help. It just sat there being bossy without lifting a finger to help. The mind was defeated because the law only made the flesh want to react like a rebellious teenager
- But by the Spirit the deeds of the body can be put to death. How? Because the Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God and when the reality of that truth is set like concrete in the soul, there’s a completely different relationship at work.
- The Spirit is the key because of the power it has on the soul and on the mind. Let’s step back and see the relationship between the mind and the flesh.
Illus - When Paul was under the Law, his mind couldn’t reign in the flesh, it could only stand back and watch the fireworks and enmity between the flesh and the Law - the bossy Law and the flesh in full rebellion. The Law made something wrong and the flesh only found it more enticing because it was wrong.
Proverbs 9:17, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eat in secret is pleasant.”
- The difference is that the Spirit leads the mind and equips it with truth and empowers it because of the nearness to God it brings with it, and God’s glory.
B. By the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body
- If you are being led by the Spirit of God, your mind is taking hold of truth and being strengthened by the joy of the Lord and the soul that’s ignited.
- Now you have something very valuable; you have a great treasure. There’s something very wonderful when God’s glory begins to transform the soul and you have the joy of the Lord. You now have life and peace. (verse 6)
Psalm 16:11, You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
Colossians 2:2-3, [I pray you] attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in the true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Proverbs 3:13-18 The value of godly wisdom…
- When the mind understands how valuable the joy of the Lord is; how valuable are the treasures of wisdom, then it has an answer - a powerful answer - when the flesh says, “Me want stew!” or “Me want woman!” or “Me want party!”
- Remember that the flesh doesn’t think very well, it doesn’t calculate the cost – it just wants what it wants and it wants it now! We need a powerful answer.
Illus - When Esau came in from the field he was famished. He saw that Jacob had cooked stew and wanted some, “First sell me your birthright,” Jacob said.
- You are putting to death the deeds of the body when you say ‘no’ to the flesh because you’re choosing something far better, something far more valuable.
Illus - When the flesh says, “Me want stew!” You have an answer at the ready, “What I have is far more valuable and you’re not messing it up!” You’re taking authority now. The flesh is like a spoiled brat of a child and when you’re led by the Spirit you have the authority to stand on the truth.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Run so that you may win…
- Paul describes the process as “taking every thought captive.”
2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful… and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
- How do you take a thought captive? By countering it with a greater, more excellent thought.
- This is important because many people think that simply saying “no” is sufficient, but everyone knows that never works. Saying “no” only makes it more enticing to the flesh, what we need is a greater, more excellent choice, a greater, more excellent way.
Illus - It’s like parenting. Some think that good parenting is when you speak and the child obeys. No, good parenting is when you speak and the child agrees.
The best parenting gets into the mind of the child and helps the child’s mind to process and think better because true victory only comes when the mind is victorious.
II. You Received a Spirit of Adoption
- There are several verses here that say we are sons and daughters of God. (verses 14 and 16)
- But in verse 15 Paul explains how we became God’s sons or daughters, He adopted us. Some people are confused at this point because they say, “I thought we were born again and that’s how we became sons of God.”
- They actually refer to two different things. You’re born again because you died with Christ and you were raised from death also with Him; that’s how you were born again.
- But you became a son or daughter when you were adopted so that God becomes your father.
- So much so that we can now cry out, “Abba! Father!” Abba is an Aramaic word and literally means “daddy.” It’s one of the easiest words for a baby to say.
- The idea that God could be so close and with so much love that He could be called, “Abba,” was a shocking revelation.
- The Jews wanted to show respect for God by not speaking His name, but Jesus, when asked by the disciples to teach them how to pray, said, “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father…’”
A. Love casts out fear
- Paul said that we have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again…
- In other words, when the Spirit of God came into your heart, He did not make you a slave to fear.
2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
- The nature of our relationship to God has completely changed. When God is your Abba, Father, His love for you can be completely trusted; His love never fails.
1 John 4:16, 18-19, We have come to know and believe the love which God has for us… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.
- These are truths that must be resolved completely in our soul. If we could only understand how much God loves us and completely trust in that love, we would draw near to Him no matter what.
Illus – I remember shortly after we adopted our two boys that the youngest had a crisis of meltdown proportions. It became an opportunity to convince him that he could completely trust in our love.
- The same is true in our relationship to God. One of the best illustrations of this is the story of the prodigal son in Luke chapter 15.
Luke 15:19, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”
Luke 15:22, 24, “Quickly, bring the best robe and put it on my son, put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet… For this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”
- In the next verses Paul tells us the result of being adopted as God’s sons and daughters.
- First, we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.
- Set your mind on the things of the Spirit; understand that you are heirs of God. There is a glory that is awaiting us; there is a hope both sure and steadfast.
- Paul says that the glory we share with Christ is so great that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared.
- That hope is an anchor for our soul as we go through the storms and difficulties and suffering of this life.
- Christians are not immune from suffering; Jesus said that there would be many troubles in this world, but that we should take courage because He has overcome.
- If we could only understand what we have and who we are in Christ, it would change our perspective.
Ephesians 1:18, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know the hope of His calling, and the riches of the glory of His inheritance.
Romans 8:13-25 NASB
13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.