- Sermon Notes
The Law of the Spirit – 2
Romans chapter 8 is one of the most powerful chapters in the entire bible. There are more finger grease stains on this page than any other page in my 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.
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 from
it and they’re 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.”
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!”
This is why Paul is not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for salvation for all those who believe and it is the answer of God 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
- The question Paul asked in 7:24 was, “Who will set me free from the body of this death? I want to do good and right, but I’m serving the law of sin and death with my flesh.”
- 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 desiring 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 of 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.
- This is one of the most powerful verses in the entire Bible. Not only is God’s Law unable to bring victory over sin, 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.
Illus – When our daughter Nicole was in first grade we were called down to the school because she had taken some scissors and cut the sleeve on a boy’s shirt. When we got home she came up to me and showed me that she then cut her own shirt. This is enough to break a father’s heart.
- Other people promise God that they’re going to do better next week, “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’d might as well jump in with both feet.”
- The reason there is no condemnation is because you are in Christ Jesus. 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. In other words,
the Law of God cannot defeat the law of sin and death in the flesh. But God Himself can.
- By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement
of the Law might be fulfilled in us.
- This is all given to those who are in Christ Jesus. If we could only understand the vastness of what we have because we are in Christ Jesus, we would
be absolutely amazed.
- 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. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because
He condemned sin in the flesh.
- In other words, God condemned sin when Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and took our sin into His own flesh and in that flesh took the condemnation
we deserved by dying on the cross.
- The law no longer has authority over us 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 counseled 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.
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.
- When Paul lived under the law, the law of his mind was made prisoner by the law of sin in his members, in his flesh.
- But 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.
A. Set your mind on the things of the Spirit
- 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.’”
Leviticus 19:17-18, “You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart… nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”
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.
- 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, or patient thoughts, or forgiving thoughts, or faithful thoughts.
- You can choose what you reap by what you sow in the thoughts of your mind.
- The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God. The mind set on the flesh will see death as the result.
- 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 – A good illustration might be raising children. I brought my grandson, Ethan, to Best Buy with me to get an ink cartridge and of course they put candy right next to the checkout lane. But giving in to his pleas may bring short-term peace, but will make long-term lack of peace.
- The fleshly minded doesn’t calculate very well.
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.
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’s 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.
Hebrews 5:12-14, You have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Illus – I remember watching Caesar, the dog whisperer, help a woman understand that she was training her dog to misbehave because she was rewarding the behavior.
- Many years ago there was a counseling movement that emphasized nurturing the inner child. Here’s a greater truth; the inner child is a spoiled brat.
We need the Spirit.
Romans 8:1-14 NASB
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.
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. 14 For all who
are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.