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Sunday, February 15, 2015

[Matt's Messages] "If the Spirit Lives in You"

“If the Spirit Lives in You”
All Roads Lead to Romans
February 15, 2015 :: Romans 8:5-14 

Last week, we only made it four verses into the “Great Eight,” but we marinaded and celebrated in the truth of those verses that say that there is now, what?  “No condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

No condemnation.

No condemnation because of the work of the Son of God. V.3

“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering [for us!]. And so he condemned sin in...” the flesh of God’s own Son.

No condemnation because of the Son of God.

And no condemnation because of the work of the Spirit of God. V.2

“...because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

We said last week that a lot of chapter 8 is dedicated to the work of the Holy Spirit, and we’re really going to start seeing that this Sunday.

In fact, I’ve entitled this message, “If the Spirit Lives in You.”

That’s a phrase that appears a number of different times in these ten verses.

And I’m going to boil it down to just two points this morning. Two things that Paul is saying are true of all believers because the Spirit of God lives within them.

The Holy Spirit had only been mentioned 4 times in the book of Romans up till now.

In chapter 1, He is called the Spirit of holiness and was involved in declaring Jesus to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. We’ll see that theme again in verse 11.

In chapter 2, the Spirit is recognized as the one who circumcises hearts. That we are true Jews inwardly not because of the written code but because of the Spirit. That’s the same kind of theology we’re seeing here.

In chapter 5, Paul said that God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit whom he has given us as a gift of justification. We’re going to hear something much like that in verse 16 next week.

In chapter 7, Paul said that the Spirit has brought the new way of living now that we’re justified. He said in chapter 7, verse 6: “[W]e have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”  He was introducing what we’re going to learn about today.

And last week, Paul said in verse 4 that the condemnation of sin in Jesus’ crucified flesh had a purpose. It was (v.4) “in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature (the flesh) but according to the Spirit.”

And then today’s passage takes it from there. Paul starts to string out a set of comparison between life according to the flesh (the sinful nature, Greek word “sarx”) and life according to the Spirit. V.5

“Those who live according to the sinful nature [the flesh] have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”

There are only two ways to live. One is the old way, the selfish way. The self-justifying way, the way of the sinful nature, the flesh. And the other is the new way of the Spirit.

“Those who live according to [the flesh] have their minds set on what that [the flesh] desires...”

That phrase “minds set” is a really good one because the word being translated means more than just our thoughts, it really means our mindset, our attitude, our wills, our preferences and inclinations, and our heart.

Those who live the fleshly way have their hearts set on what the flesh desires.

Now, that’s more than just illicit sex. We sometimes use the phrase, “desires of the flesh” to just mean the filth in “50 Shades of Grey.” But it’s more than that.

What the flesh desires is what sinners desire. Sometimes that’s illicit pleasure. Sometimes it’s popularity or comfort or possessing the wrong thing or being justified in the eyes of others, being thought well of. Anything that the sinful heart can twistedly want is what Paul is talking about.

Wanting the wrong things.

That’s what the flesh does. But (v.5) “those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their mind set on what the Spirit desires.”

Now, Paul is not telling us how to live here. This is not a list of things to do here. He’s actually telling us how we actually do live if we are Christians, if the Spirit lives in you.

This is not a description of the battle between the flesh and the Spirit inside of the Christian. It’s not like Romans 7 or Galatians 5.

It’s a description of the contrast between nonChristians and Christians.

Those who are not yet Christians who live according to the flesh and those who are Christians who live according to the Spirit.

And here’s the bad news for those whose mindsets are in the flesh. V.6

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Here’s point number one this morning.

#1. IF THE SPIRIT LIVES IN YOU, YOU GET LIFE AND PEACE NOW AND FOREVER.

“The mind of [the flesh] is death, but the mind [of] the Spirit is life and peace.”

Well, when you put that way, it’s no contest, right?

Who wants death?

Who wants life and peace?

But until the Spirit, we were all choosing the way that leads to death.

Why? V.7

“the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.”

The fleshly mindset is an enemy of God, and in time, God will put all of His enemies to death.

The flesh does not submit to God or His commands. In fact, it cannot do so.

Before we received the Spirit, we were unable to do God’s will. Physically yes, but spiritually and morally, no. Not in such a way as to please God. V.8

“Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

Those who are in the flesh, those who are not yet Christ-followers cannot please God and are headed for death.

BUT! V.9

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Do you see why I say he’s contrasting Christians and nonChristians?

Christians, by definition, have the Spirit of God. And the Spirit of God is active in Christians to control and lead them and direct their lives.

The word “control” isn’t really there in the Greek either. It’s just the NIV trying to put the idea into English words.

It literally just says, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit since it’s true that the Spirit of God is in you.”

If the Spirit is in you, then you are in the Spirit.

And that’s very different from being in the flesh.

The Spirit of God has a sway over you. And it means life and peace both now and forever.

You can please God!

That’s the implication.  “Those in the flesh cannot please God...” but you aren’t in the flesh, you’re in the Spirit because the Spirit is in you. So you can...please God.

That’s the idea of verse 4 again the “righteous requirements of the law” can be fully met in us because of the Spirit. He can produce His fruit in us so that we are pleasing to our Lord.

Not perfectly yet but truly.

And that means life and peace for all believers.

All believers. Because all believers have the Spirit. V.9 again.

“And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

So if you belong to Christ, you have the Spirit of Christ.

Notice how He’s called the Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ in the same verse. Same person.

The name “Spirit of Christ” emphasizes that He’s ours because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus’ condemnation, we have no condemnation and the Spirit of Christ. V.10

“But if Christ is in you [and He is if you belong to Him!], your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

Now, that’s a hard verse to translate. Some of your versions might say, “The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

I’m not sure what that would mean.

I think the NIV has it best and the idea is that our bodies now are decaying and mortal and subject to death but because of the Holy Spirit, we now have new regenerated spirit within us, a new heart because of the gift of Jesus’ righteousness.

In other words, we have life and peace.

Peace with God and new spiritual life.

And then we get life forever. V.11

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

Do see how Paul emphasizes the idea of life here?

His logic begins and ends in the same place, too.

“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you [and He is, He’s the Spirit of resurrection], he who raised Christ from the dead [there is resurrection again] will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

In other words, life and peace both now and forever.

We will get new bodies that will be like Jesus’ new bodies.

Some people have the idea that you die and go to heaven and that’s it.

But that’s not it.

That’s just temporary.

Some day, we get new resurrection bodies like Jesus’ resurrected body.

And we will experience life like we’ve never known it.

Life and peace forever and ever.

If the Spirit lives in you.

Notice that condition. If you don’t have the Spirit, you are still in the flesh. And you don’t please God. You don’t love God. You don’t submit to God’s law. You do what you want. You are locked into that. And you are headed for death.

So the application of that first point is to come to Christ to get the Spirit.

You must belong to Jesus to have the Spirit of God.

Do you belong to Jesus? V.9

“If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”

Do belong to Christ? If you do, you have the Spirit, and it’s wonderful. It makes all of the difference. Having the Spirit makes all the difference!

That’s what I wrote down, almost titled this message that. “Having the Spirit makes all the difference.”

And you get the Spirit when you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for you on the Cross.

When you do, you are giving new life and peace with God that starts now and because of a new body, goes on forever.

I invite you to trust in Jesus Christ today and receive not just the forgiveness of sins but the Spirit of Christ Himself.

If the Spirit lives in you, you get life and peace now and forever.

#2. IF THE SPIRIT LIVES IN YOU, YOU HAVE THE OBLIGATION AND ABILITY TO KILL SIN.

That’s where Paul goes next. V.12

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Paul starts his sentence in verse 12 but then breaks it off and takes it in a new direction.

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature [the flesh], to live according to it.”

What do you think the obligation then is?

I think it’s to the Spirit.

We have an obligation to live according to the Spirit who lives in us and seals our union with Christ.

Obligation.

We are to do it. We are called to live a particular way.

We’ve seen in the last month that some people think that being a Christian means that you’re free to sin. You’re forgiven so why not just do whatever feels good?

“May genoita!” May it never be.

We are free now to walk in the Spirit.

We have an obligation, and living out that obligation is not earning our salvation. It’s working out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Living out our obligation doesn’t contribute one bit to our justification. That’s by faith alone in Christ alone!

But because of our justification, we are now obligated to the Spirit to live to please God.  V.12 again.

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the [flesh], you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”

That’s our obligation.

Our obligation is to kill sin.

The old English word was “mortify” sin. Now, that tends to mean be ashamed or afraid of something. “Oh, I’m mortified!”

But it used to mean put something to death.

Execution.

We are (by the Spirit!) supposed to execute the sins, the misdeeds, we are tempted to do with our bodies.

And we can!

That’s what’s so amazing about having the Spirit.

Because of the Spirit, we can say NO to sin.

We can live holy lives.

We can please God.

Not perfectly but truly.

Because the Spirit of God is at work in and through us. V.14

“...because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Now, that isn’t referring primarily to the Spirit’s guidance in our everyday life or in decision-making.

It’s that the Spirit directs our lives, the Spirit holds sway over our lives, the Spirit leads us through life to eternal life.

We’re going to see next week more of how this is tied to our being sons of God, children of God with all of the privileges and responsibilities that come with it.

But the point I want to make here is that because we are (by the Spirit!) the children of God, we can mortify sin.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Because the Spirit lives within us, we have both the obligation and the ability to kill sin.

So, we should get busy doing it.

What are the misdeeds of the body that you need to put to death?

What sins need to go to the guillotine in your life?

Notice, he says, the misdeeds of the body.

How might you use your body to sin, where the flesh gets the upper-hand with your flesh?

Your eyes. What do you look at? What do gaze upon?

Your tongue. What do you say? What comes out of your mouth?

Your ears. What do you to listen to?

Your sexual organs. What do you do with your sexuality? How do you express it?

Your feet. Where do they take you?

Your hands. What do hold or push or pull?

Your brain. What will you think about?

“[B]y the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body and you will live.”

The great puritan John Owen was fond of saying about this verse, “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

But the greater thing to get is that you can kill sin now because you are in the Spirit and the Spirit of God is in you.

***

Messages in this Series

01. All Roads Lead to Romans
02. I Am Not Ashamed of the Gospel
03. The Bad News
04. Hope for Holy Sexuality
05. The Even Worse News
06. The Worst News
07. Justified
08. Father Abraham
09. The Blessings of Justification
10. How Much More
11. New You
12. Slaves Of...?
13. A Life-Changing Relationship with Jesus Christ
14. No Condemnation

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