- Sermon Notes
Walk In the Spirit
November 12, 2023
Romans chapter 8 is one of the most powerful chapters in the entire bible. This has to be the high point of all of Paul’s letters because it’s so practical and so spiritual at the same time. Every Christian should be grounded in the truths in this chapter.
Last week in chapter 7, Paul described what happens when the flesh is under the law. When a person lives under the law their flesh wants to rebel against it, like a teenager with an attitude constantly resisting their parents’ rules. That brings the terrible conflict that Paul described in the 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 practice the very evil that I do not wish.”
Remember where the conflict comes from. We have a new heart, a heart that longs after what is right.
Ezekiel 36:26, Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
Paul built the conflict into a great crescendo and then 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!”
The gospel is God’s answer to the second dilemma every sinner has; how do we have victory over this sinful flesh that we still live in?
We’re born with this flesh of ours and we’re going to die with it, but it doesn’t mean it has to ruin our lives or destroy us. Romans chapter 8 describes the victory that we have in Christ. It’s very practical, it’s very spiritual, and it’s very effective.
I. The Law of the Spirit of Life Sets You Free
- It’s the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that sets you free from the law of sin and death.
- What is the law of the Spirit? Paul applies the word “law” here and in chapter 7 as the principles that guide our lives.
- There is the Law of God; these are the principles God gave to Israel in the Old Testament to show them His way to live. But the Law of God is powerless to overcome sin. In fact, it only makes it worse. The law makes something wrong, and the very fact that it’s wrong only makes it more enticing to the flesh.
- There is the law of the mind; this is the desire to do good and right in the mind. It’s that part of a person which agrees with the law of God in the inner man.
- There is the law of sin and death; these are the guiding principles of the flesh; who cares about the consequences? Eat, drink, and party it up; indulge in pleasure; throw caution to the wind.
Galatians 5:19-21, These are the deeds of the flesh…
- Then there is the law of the Spirit; these are the principles of the Spirit of life. God gives His Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide our lives. This is God’s answer for our victory.
A. Therefore there is now no condemnation
- … for those who are in Christ Jesus. Full Stop. Not dependent on how much money you MUST give, or how many hours you MUST read the bible, or how many hours you MUST pray. Or how many services you MUST attend.
- All of these are very important for your growth, maturity, and experiencing victory, but they cannot save you from being condemned.
- So we need to settle this first. Are you in Christ Jesus? Have you received Him as Lord and Savior? If the answer is yes, then it unlocks all of the promises of God, including this chapter.
- Verse 1 is one of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible. Not only is God’s Law unable to bring victory over sin, but it brought condemnation.
Romans 5:18, As through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.
- This is extremely important to understand because the enemy often uses condemnation to defeat people and many people actually condemn themselves as they agree with the enemy.
- The problem is that the law of sin and death judges you by your ACTIONS in relation to the law to be acceptable to God.
- It would seem that the natural response to feeling condemned is to promise to never do it again. Try harder. “I’m sorry, Lord, I promise I’ll do better, I’ll try harder next time.” But they break that vow and feel guilty and defeated.
- Then, because they don’t feel worthy of God’s love, they’re convinced God condemns them, so they give up on themselves, “What’s the use? I’ve already made a mess of it, I might as well jump in with both feet.”
- The reason there is no condemnation is because you are in Christ Jesus. You died to the requirements of the law. This is one of the greatest spiritual truths there is. That’s the point of the next several verses…
B. God did what the Law could not do
- Verse 3– what was it the law could not do? It couldn’t make me righteous before God and it couldn’t defeat the power of sin in my life. But God Himself can.
- Because we’re in Christ, we’ve been crucified with Him and we’ve been raised from the dead with Him. And because we are in Him the requirement of the Law has been fulfilled; because He fulfilled it all and gave that to us as a gift.
Philippians 3:9, That I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
- In verse 3 I love the fact that God turns condemnation on its head, you might say.
- God condemned sin when Christ absorbed our sin, and took the condemnation we deserved by dying on the cross.
- There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because He (God) said: Sin, you are condemned! That means: Sin, you are sentenced to death! You have no more power over those who have died with Christ.
Illus – It is like a virus in the blood. When the host dies, the virus dies as well.
- You have died, so the virus of sin is condemned and dead as well. Sin cannot kill you because you are dead.
- Not only that, but the law, which sin used as an opportunity to become strong, no longer has authority over us either because the payment required by the Law has been paid in full.
Colossians 2:13-14, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Illus – Say there is a company that is drowning in debt. All is lost. Creditors at the door. Then its debt gets paid by a very strong global powerhouse company and it is bought over and absorbed into the new parent company. It is headline-news all over the world. Debt has been paid! Workers safe! Pensions safe! Stocks safe!
- In the same way, the letter of debt against you has been nailed to the cross as an eternal testimony in the spiritual realm that you have been forgiven. The debt is paid. There is no condemnation. No sin-creditors can come after you.
II. Think According to the Spirit
- In these next verses, Paul gets very practical. Victory has everything to do with what happens in the mind.
- Paul says that if you are in Christ, you are no longer walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
- The law of the Spirit of life sets us free so we’re no longer defeated and it all begins with what the Spirit does in our heart and mind.
Illus. – When I immigrate from one country to another, I no longer stand under the law of the old country. For example, we used to drive on the left-hand side of the road. That was the law. Now that I am in America, I am set free from that law. It no longer has a say over me. Now I drive on the right-hand side. I do not worry about feeling guilty for not driving on the left-hand side. Although I sometimes still drove wrong the first few weeks… Same with taxes. I don’t owe or stand under South African law now. I am under a different law.
A. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit
- It is not about the outward walk in the flesh. This is where the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders, had it all wrong. They thought that if they had the appearance of righteousness by conforming outwardly, they had good standing with God.
- They were wrong. God’s Word had a lot to say about what happens in the mind, Jesus also spoke about the heart and the mind.
Mark 12:29-30, Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’”
Matthew 15:18-20, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders. These are the things which defile the man;”
- Many people don’t understand the importance of controlling what happens in the mind because they think that as long as it’s just contained in the mind, no harm can come from it. They couldn’t be further from the truth.
- Thoughts are seeds that germinate into action.
James 1:14-15, Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
- Now it is important to know that just the temptation is not a sin. It is what you do with it. There is great victory in understanding this.
Illus – If someone whispers a bad suggestion into your ear, you only sin when you agree with it and act on it. What happens is that the enemy uses condemnation to tell you that you have already sinned and God is already angry with you, so you can just as well go act on the temptation.
- Jesus said, get behind me Satan, for it is written…
- Many people desire godly change in their lives, but don’t know how that happens. It comes from changing the mind.
Romans 12:2, Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Illus – If you want to be a man of grace, you must have gracious thoughts, patient thoughts, forgiving thoughts, or faithful thoughts.
- You can choose what you reap by what you sow in the thoughts of your mind. Sow aligned with the word.
B. The flesh doesn’t think very well
- The problem is that the flesh wants you to ignore sound reason and do something stupid. The reason it’s stupid, or foolish might be a better word, is because it gives no thought to the future; its only concern is the pleasure of the moment, the here and now. That’s foolishness.
Illus – It’s like a spoiled brat; it wants what it wants and it wants it now.
- Short-term pleasure that brings long-term pain is not reasonable.
Illus – Junk food is now engineered to not make you feel full and want more of what you are eating. It will eventually fill you, but it is not nutritious. It doesn’t have sustaining power. Sin and the lusts of the flesh is the same. The more you do it, the more you want to do it, until it makes you totally malnourished spiritually.
- The fleshly mind doesn’t calculate very well.
C. Take every thought captive
- In verse 13 Paul says that if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body, we will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.
- There are a couple of keywords there – “putting to death…” In other words, it’s an ongoing process. The second keyword – “being led by the Spirit.” In other words, the Spirit is leading the one who is victorious.
- How? By 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.
- When you are taking every thought captive, you are putting to death the deeds of the flesh by reigning in the desires that want to be the master.
- You start to think aligned with the Spirit regarding identity and, flowing from that, actions. Remember that:
- You are dead to self.
- Alive to Christ.
- His Spirit dwells in you.
- You are not fighting it alone, trying to get closer to God.
- His Spirit strengthens you;
- His Spirit aligned with the word directs you.
- He loves you.
- By the the knowing of the truth, and the strength that His Spirit gives, we are putting to death the deeds of the body.
Illus – A corpse is not immoral, not jealous, does not commit sorcery, is not angry, has no disputes, is not drunk, not envious, in short is not doing all the things of the flesh.
- Same with us. Someone once said that if you are experiencing the works of the flesh, you may still be too much alive in that area.
- God allows these things so we can see the flesh alive in us, and what the root is that brings it to the surface. Most of the time it is rooted in some insecurity or rejection. This is where His love sets us free through the Spirit.
D. Live Surrendered to the Holy Spirit
- It is easy to fall into the trap of now living reactively, always guarded, and reacting to the sinful flesh, always focusing on what NOT to do.
- This is not God’s plan. We are dead to that, so our focus should not be on reactive living, but changing our focus to what we should do. Not focusing on how blind I was, but on what I can see now.
- This you do by constantly reminding yourself and focusing on the fact that the Holy Spirit now lives in us.
Ezekiel 36: 27, I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.
- Verse 11 – But 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.
- This speaks of the fact that we will be raised with Christ, but I suggest to you it also speaks of something more: That this body that used to be an instrument of death, now, by the inworking power of the Holy Spirit, is raised to life and used as an instrument of life.
Illus – When I gave my life over to Christ, this body became an instrument of worship. I sing through these vocal chords. I play piano with these hands. I could have chosen to offer this body as an instrument of evil, using it to make music that does not glorify God, but the talent and gift is being redeemed by me offering this as an instrument to be used by the Holy Spirit.
- It is the same with the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit that the Holy Spirit works in us manifests by what we DO with these bodies. The abstract principles become practical when acted out by the body. Abstract love becomes actions of love.
- As we surrender to the Holy Spirit to lead us, we can actively surrender these bodies as a living sacrifice to Christ, focusing less on what not to do and hiding from sin, and focusing more on what we should do, focusing on the righteousness we have in Christ as we walk in the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-13 NASB
8 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But 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.
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 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.