Do continue to do what you hate? You’ve received Christ, but you have feelings of guilt and shame because you want to do what pleases God, but you continue to give in to your old sin nature? Or maybe you’ve never received Christ, but you’re sick and tired of living life on your own. You’re ready to admit you need help.
What the apostle described in Romans 7 is the futility of trying to live the Christian life without the Spirit of God. Just as it’s impossible to earn God’s favor apart from faith, so it’s impossible to please God without depending on His indwelling Spirit. In Romans 8:1-8, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome that overcoming the flesh is only possible by a total reliance on the work of God’s Holy Spirit for their sanctification. We can understand why overcoming the flesh is only possible by relying on the work of God’s Spirit for our sanctification.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageAll right, good morning, church. Good to see all of you here this morning. We’re continuing our series through the book of Romans and this is the greatly anticipated resolution to the emotional cliffhanger of chapter seven. We’re now going to get to chapter eight.
I told many of you last week I actually felt bad leaving you where I left you. I told you, “please come back this week so that we could resolve this cliffhanger.” Paul says, at the end of chapter seven after experiencing this terrible wrestling match, “Wretched man, that I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death.” He’s describing, as a believer, this wrestling match that takes place between the old nature, the sin nature, what the Bible often calls the flesh, and the new nature, the new life that we have in Christ. There’s a wrestling match that takes place because the old nature is a bully and keeps trying to grab the steering wheel of our life. But the new nature has new desires.
We’ve entitled this particular sermon, “Overcoming the Flesh by God’s Spirit.” Here’s what’s going on in the believer. The believer has a new nature, a new desire to please God, but yet the old nature, the flesh still desires the things of the flesh. And so this wrestling match creates a sense of disgust. And so the new nature’s disgusted by the old habits of the old nature, to the point where Paul actually says in Romans 7:15, “I do not do the thing I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Paul is miserable and he cries out. I’m glad he gets to chapter eight, but in chapter seven we learned at least two things. As we’re getting into chapter eight, Tim Keller comments that, first of all, we learn that legalism is not the answer because real christians who don’t struggle with sin anymore is certainly a lie. A christian still struggles against the old sin nature; legalism isn’t the answer and neither is permissiveness or licentiousness. Well, I guess we should just sin all we want to. That’s not true, because real Christians don’t want to send anymore, so this is the wrestling match. We no longer want to sin, but yet sin still often invades our lives so that we give into it. And so there’s a wrestling match that’s taking place.
Do you continue to do what you hate? Is there something in your life right now that you’d say, “I hate this about myself, I hate this addiction, this anger problem. I have this tendency to go the wrong way.” I know what’s not God’s will, but over and over in my life, I hate that about myself. Would you confess that today and say I’m kind of like Paul? Sometimes I do the very thing I hate. But you don’t have to be that way anymore. This message is for you because chapter 8 is waiting for us. We don’t have to keep on living chapter seven lives. We can live according to chapter eight. We can live by the spirit.
Maybe you’re here this morning and you’re not a Christ follower. You’re here; someone invited you or you’re checking out the God thing because you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired. You’ve been going through life on your own and it’s not working; you’re checking us out. This message is for you because we’re getting to the best chapter, perhaps certainly the best chapter in Romans, perhaps in the whole Bible. This is a climactic chapter. In fact, this chapter is so amazing that that author and pastor, John Stott, said that Romans eight is without a doubt one of the best known, best love chapters of the Bible. J. Vernon McGee called it the high water mark in Romans, in probably the whole Bible. Dr Robert H. Mounts declared it the inspirational highlight of the book of Romans. He goes on to write in his commentary here in Romans, “Here [in Rom. 8] the apostle is swept along in a wave of spiritual exaltation that begins with God’s provision of the Spirit for victory over the old nature, breaks through the sufferings that mark our present existence, and crests with a doxology of praise to the unfathomable love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Nowhere in the annals of sacred literature do we find anything to match the power and beauty of this remarkable paean of praise.” Dr Mounts is struck by chapter eight; aren’t you excited about us getting to chapter eight? The great 20th-century Welsh preacher D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote of Romans: “In the whole of the Scriptures the brightest and the most lustrous and flashing stone, or collection of stones, is this Epistle to the Romans, and of that book this chapter 8 is the brightest gem in the cluster.”
I’m glad you’re here today. We’re getting ready to start talking about chapter eight of Romans because in this chapter, the apostle Paul wrote to the believers at Rome that overcoming the flesh is only possible by a total reliance on the holy spirit of God for your sanctification. I believe that we can understand that he is the only one that can do this in our lives. We must rely totally on the Holy Spirit and as we look at the text, I think we’ll see three reasons why overcoming the flesh is only possible by living by the Holy Spirit. So let’s look at it. Are you ready?
We’re gonna take on the first eleven verses. Our desire is, over the next four Sundays, counting today, to unpack this wonderful climactic chapter. Let’s look at the first eleven verses, Romans 8:1-11 (ESV) “1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 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, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 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. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 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. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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 is God’s word.
We’re looking for three reasons on why overcoming the flesh is only possible by living according to the spirit. Here is the first reason.
(1) Because He sets us free to a righteous position in Christ. We get to this first verse, this verse in chapter eight, and we find that already, Paul is like someone calling your house to tell you something about your son. First of all, let me tell you that your son’s okay, because you really can’t hear the rest of it as a parent. If somebody’s calling you about your child, the first thing out of the gate to tell you they are okay. Then you can hear the rest. That’s what he does with verse one, he says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. Jesus.” Now, we can hear the rest.
Boy, I’m glad we are in chapter seven, aren’t you? We’ve gotten to chapter eight now, and here’s the first thing we want to find out from the apostle Paul. He says that you have a new position. It’s a righteous position. There’s no condemnation for those of you that are in Christ Jesus. Are you in Christ Jesus today? Are you in Christ Jesus? If you are, there is no condemnation. None in the past. None in the present. None foreboding in the future. There’s no condemnation for you that are in Christ Jesus. How do you get in Christ Jesus? There’s no condemnation.
What does condemnation mean? It means that judgment has already been passed and the sentence is already upon you. It hasn’t been carried out yet. Condemnation means you’ve been sentenced, but it hasn’t been carried out yet. What can we do? How do we get inside of Christ?
Here’s what Jesus told Nicodemus. When he was talking to Nicodemus in John 3, he said, “You must be born again.” He says in John 3:18 (ESV) “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”
How do you get in Jesus? Jesus tells us, as he told Nicodemus, you must believe. It’s by faith alone. You must believe that Jesus is the son of God, that he died for our sins, that he was raised on the third day and lives today. Do you believe it? There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Now here’s the other side that Jesus is teaching here. He was teaching Nicodemus ou’re condemned already. If you don’t believe condemnation and , judgment has already been passed. What is the judgment? Whoever is a sinner, and all of us are, will die? What’s the judgement? Death is the wages of sin, and so if you don’t believe in Christ, you’re already condemned. But if you do, there’s no condemnation. Oh, joy; that should set us free, this new position. We should constantly remind ourselves of this new position, this new position, if we can get our minds around it, motivates us not by law, nor legalism, but by love. We are able to say that we want to follow Jesus because all he has done for me and because in him I am set free from sin.
This is what he goes on to explain. He tells us there’s no condemnation, and then he tells us how that came about. He says this in chapter eight, verse two, “For the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus. “ Now, as we’ve talked before, sometimes Paul uses the word, law, to describe a principal or a power, and sometimes he uses it to describe the capital “L” law. He’s not talking about the law like the old testament, like the mosaic law. He’s talking about a power or principle that he’s observed, for the power of the spirit of life has set you free. The principle of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the principal or power of sin and death.
If you’re looking at your notes, circle the words, “spirit of life.” This is one of the titles of the Holy Spirit. The word, spirit, is in this chapter eleven times. One of the reasons I tell you details like that is because you can study scripture for yourself. You can grow in this. One of the ways you can do that is to look for repetitive words and ask, “What’s the big idea? Holy Spirit, reveal it to me.” He only used the word, spirit, one time in chapter seven, and that was in verse six.
But in chapter 8, boy, he’s talked about the spirit all of the time, and he’s also talking about the flesh. In fact, he puts them in contrast throughout this chapter, especially the first few verses so the word, flesh, is here ten times the word spirit eleven times. And he’s talking about how the only way to overcome the flesh is by walking and living by the spirit. Why is this possible?
First of all, it is possible because the power of the spirit is greater and he will set you free from the power of sin and death. You’re no longer under sin’s authority. You’re no longer sentenced to death. That sentence was taken by Jesus. He died in our place. He took our death so we might receive his life. And then he describes how this is possible. Verse three begins with the explanation that God has done what the law weakened by the flesh, could not do. What the law couldn’t do, God did.
Why couldn’t the law do it? The law’s good; we learned this last week in Chapter seven. The law is good. The law is holy. Why couldn’t it save us? Because of the flesh. The flesh is contrary to God’s law. Most of the time, in Chapter 8, the flesh is referring to the old sin nature. It is talking about the old nature when it says, “weakened by the flesh, the old sin nature, which is the Adam nature that we’re all born with that doesn’t want to keep the law. So the law is good, but we don’t want to keep it. The old nature doesn’t want to keep it. And so God had to do something else. What the law couldn’t do because of our sin nature, God did what he did, what he does, by sending his own son. That’s what he did. He sent Jesus.
How did God send Jesus in the likeness of sinful flesh? What does that mean? I looked up the Greek word there for likeness. I was studying on that a little bit. It has the idea of a genuine resemblance, but not a complete identity. In other words, he looks human because he took a human body, but he was not conceived in the normal way. He was not conceived in the normal way, because he was born of a virgin. The Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary; the scripture says in Luke, chapter two, and she became with child from the holy one. And so the one inside of her then was the Christ, the son of God. When he was born, he was born just like us. He looked just like us. If you would have seen Jesus , he would have looked like a Jewish guy. He would not have had blond hair with blue eyes as some have depicted him. I think he would have had black hair. Probably curly, like a lot of the Jews in the first century public, you know, maybe a prominent nose with brown eyes. I don’t know exactly. Nobody really knows. I guess I’m kind of happy that no one was able to take his photo. There was no photography in those days, and no one painted a photo of him there. But he probably looked like a Jewish guy. He was made in the likeness of human flesh. but the word likeness is important because he was without sin. He was just like us, but he didn’t have a sin nature. This is an important distinction. And he was, as Paul says, in the likeness of sinful flesh. He looked like us, but he was not exactly like us .
He was made for us; he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. What does that mean? He’s the lamb of God. He came to die for our sin. That was his purpose. He condemned sin in the flesh. There’s no condemnation for us in Christ Jesus. Why? Because Christ Jesus took our condemnation in his flesh so that he that had no sin became sin for us. This is what Paul is teaching here.
Hebrews 4:15 (ESV) “… one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus came to do that which the law could not do and what was his purpose? Verse four gives the purpose; in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. What was the righteous requirement of the law? Death; that sin equals death. Sin brings death. That’s the requirement. But he came and fulfilled it for us so that, by faith, when we are in him, we have died with him to the sin nature and were raised to new life in righteousness.
Here’s the thing to get your mind around that Paul is lifting up for you to know; those of us who are in Christ, Jesus are in a new position. A new righteous position that when the father looks at you, he sees Christ in you and you in Christ and he sees a saint. You are righteous. You are accepted. There’s nothing you can do about that now. You, by faith, have received Jesus. If you’re in him, you are righteous in position. This gives us a better motivation than fear. The law causes us to fear because we constantly feel guilty because we constantly fail. But if we know that we’re in an unshakable, immovable position so that there’s no possibility of condemnation because it would be double jeopardy for God to charge us now because he’s already charged us through Jesus and he is a just God. He will not charge us again. The charge has already been paid on the cross, and so now we respond out of love, not fear. We want to be like Jesus because we love him and because of what he has done for us. So Paul says that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walked, not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.
The wrestling match that was taking place in chapter seven was because the new nature, which has a new desire, was not able to defeat the bully called the sin nature or the flesh. But there’s a new kid in town. There’s a new power; it’s the holy spirit. He can defeat that bully and he lives within us and we live within him. We can walk according to him.
The word, walk, could also be translated “to live according to. In verse six, he uses the same phrase, but he changes from walk to live, to let usknow that that’s what the Bible means. I think it uses the word, walk, because it’s a way of living life. Life is not a sprint, it’s more of a marathon. And the older you get, the more you understand how you need to walk and you won’t be able to run. For everything who walked, not according to flesh, but according to the spirit.
Paul talks about our new position in chapter two. God has brought us back to a life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him. You know where you are right now? “Well, Gary, that’s kind of a silly question. I know where I’m at. I’m sitting right here listening to you.” Do you know where I am? “Yeah, you’re up there on the stage.” Well, that’s our experience and that’s true, but Paul is saying that this is a mystery. It’s that tension of the “already, not yet” fact that he’s teaching us about ourselves. You know where you are right now. The scripture says you’re already in Christ in God at the right hand of the father in heaven. That’s your positional truth. Your experiential truth is, yeah, you’re right. here, but you’re positional. Truth is, you’re already there. You’re already there. So start living like it. Live according to love, not fear, because you’re already there and there is no condemnation and no possibility of condemnation upon you. Here’s God’s purpose. It’s not just to count us righteous. He’s already done that. It’s the doctrine of justification, as Paul taught us in the earlier chapters of Romans, and he summarizes it really quickly in Romans 8:1 right here that there is no condemnation. That means you’re counted righteous in Jesus. You have his righteousness. He took our sins and offers his righteousness. We are changed by faith.
Now, when God looks at me, he sees Christ. He sees me in Christ and Christ in me. That’s justification. Now he wants to make you literally like Jesus in righteousness, so he’s not just counting you righteous, but he’s making you righteous. Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This speaks of not just being justified, but sanctified. Sanctified means to be made like Jesus. He’s making us the righteousness of God, fit for heaven and fit for eternity because he loves us.
There’s a story in the book of Genesis about a man named Noah. He had three sons and a wife, and then his three sons were married and they had their wives. And God told Noah to build an ark, to build a large boat, in order to rescue the creation. Two by two of all the animal kingdom that was living on land and including his family were to go into the boat. God said that the sin of the world has arisen to his attention , and he was going to destroy it by a flood. Now listen, I believe in the Bible. I I know there might be others here today that you’re still checking this thing out and go. “You know, I was with you, Gary, until you started talking about Noah.” I want you to hear me out; I believe that it really happened. I believe God was showing what happens to those of us that are far from him that were already under condemnation. And so he rained down his judgment upon planet Earth. I believe that’s where things like the Grand Canyon came from; when all the water ran back out into the ocean, it made all those canyons. It didn’t take billions and billions of years. It just took a worldwide deluge in order for that to happen. There were some people that got in that boat that Noah built. It was him, his wife, his three sons and their three wives. They got in there, and the Bible says that God closed the door . Then his condemnation, his judgment rained down. Only those safe within the arc survived. Now the wrath fell on the Ark, but it did not fall on those who were inside. Jesus is our ark. Jesus is the door.
In John Chapter 10, Jesus says, “I am the door. No one comes in except by me.” He’s the door that was closed by God. If you’re in the ark, if you’re in Jesus, there’s no condemnation. Everyone outside the arc is condemned. But in Christ Jesus, you’re in the ark of God. Praise God! There is no condemnation if you’re in Christ. Are you in Christ? This is the question that should be penetrating your heart right now. Am I in Christ? If you’re in Christ, there is no condemnation.
Number two: Here’s the second reason why overcoming the flesh is only possible by God’s spirit. (2) Because He sets our minds on His eternal perspective in Christ. We are in verses five through eight now, and you’ll see that he’s contrast ing the flesh and the spirit. He’s using this word, mind, over and over again to point at what you think about. Do you think the thoughts of the old nature, or do you think the thoughts of the spirit of God living within you? Where do you focus your mind?
Here’s the thing about us: Our attitudes always proceed our actions, our character proceeds our conduct and our thought life proceeds what we do. And so where are you thinking today? Where does your mind go? And so listen as he talks about this, he says, “For those who live, those who walk 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.” That makes sense, doesn’t it? Paul’s just described me. If you’re thinking about your old sin nature , if that’s where your mind’s going, then you’re thinking about what the old sin nature wants. But if you’re thinking about what the spirit of God wants, then you begin to think from that eternal perspective of how the spirit sees things. That makes sense, doesn’t it?
Now, as I’ve said before, I feel like Paul was a good Southern boy. I think he would have fit in really well here in Wilson, North Carolina, because this sounds like Southern talk. But I had so many, after the first service, come to me and say, “I’m from California” or “I’m from New York” and my mama talked just like your mama. Here’s what it really says in the Greek. I wish you could get your “minds,” because in the Greek, it says, for to set the mind on the flesh is death. No, I’m sorry. Verse five, “For those who live according to the flesh, set their minds on the things…” That’s not what it says in the Greek. In the Greek, it’s more like for those who live according to the flesh. Mind the things of the flesh; it didn’t say set their minds to just mind the things of the flesh. So, Paul the word, mind, and it made it a verb in the Greek.
Now my mama was just like Paul. My mom would say, “Gary Wayne, you better mind me!” Did your mom say that to you? I don’t know if that was just Southern moms. I said, in verse service, that maybe it’s just southern moms and somebody called out, “I’m from New York and my mama said, ‘You better mind me.’” And then when I was in the lobby later, I had people coming up from the West Coast saying, ‘Yeah, my mama said, ‘You better mind me.’” So, apparently, this got all over the world. Somehow, Paul took the noun, mind, and made it a verb. What do you mind ? My mom said that I had better mind her. I had better obey her. I had better hear her. My mom could mean a whole lot of things with that word; just the look on her face meant she threw the word, mind, at me. There was a lot at stake, so that’s what Paul is saying. What do you mind? What do you think on? Where does your mind go when you’re sitting alone? What’s the last thought on your mind as you close your eyes on your pillow at night? And what’s the first thought in the morning? Is it the busyness of life? Is it stuff you wish you could obtain? Is it your plans for controlling how you would like your life to turn out? What is it now? If I’m talking to believers, if you hate sin, it’s probably not a terrible thing. It’s more like a thing you would say. Well, that’s not a bad thing, but may I say to you anything of the flesh that results in pride or self? You’re trying to control some future situation that leads to your own anxiety. It’s sin and comes from the sin nature.
This is the startling reality of becoming a Christian. You just didn’t know how simple you were until you became a Christian. And so we lean more and more on the spirit. We have a new position and we have a new perspective. Because of the spirit, we can mind, we can think on the things. “6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death…” In other words, death comes up everywhere if you think from the flesh, if you think on the sin nature, everything you sow comes up death and it ultimately leads to death. But if you think on the things of the spirit it leads to a life in peace.I don’t know if anybody here has the name, Irene or Zoe, but those are Greek names that mean peace and life. Verse 6, “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace..” And so when you think on the things of the spirit, you are sowing life and you are sowing peace. That’s beautiful. In verses seven and eight, he shakes us up a little bit. This is nested in the middle of all this good news because he wants us not to go back to chapter seven. “ 7 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. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” In other words, an enemy in rebellion. Hostility exists between the old nature. Indeed, it can’t not keep God’s law. Verse eight says it cannot please God. In other words, it cannot find approval from God. It only seeks self approval and the approval of others. The sin nature does not seek the approval of God. Nor can it be friends. The wrestling match must end. We need to live by the spirit. He lives in us and we live in him.
Stop trying to live the Christian life by your own self effort. You are not saved by your own effort. Neither are you made righteous by your own effort. Let the spirit do his work in us now. In Colossians, chapter three, Paul gives some practical help here on how we might do this, how we might set our minds on an eternal perspective, he says, Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV) “3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” When you become a believer by faith, your old nature has died and your new nature has risen in Christ to live according to that. What week are we falling back on time? Is it next Sunday or the Sunday after? It’s next Sunday. So next Sunday , if you come at the time you did today, you’ll be an hour early. So, next week, we will live under the illusion that we got an extra hour of sleep. But really, all we will do is just monkey with our watches. We all just agree, together, to set our clocks back. Let’s all fall back, and so we set our clocks and everybody just falls into a new rhythm of life. We all just agree on it. It might take a few days to get used to it. But it’s better than springing forward, right? I mean, that one’s harder.
Here’s what Paul is saying, set your hearts and set your minds on heavenly time. Eternal time. Stop living in the temporary with temporary goals and temporary thinking as you are parenting your kids, as you’re living together as husband and wife, as you’re working in the workplace, as you’re thinking of your time and how you spend it, your talent and how you serve with it and as you spend the material things that God has entrusted to you. Invest with eternity in mind. Set your minds on things eternal. That’s what Paul says in Colossians. That’s what it looks like to mind the spirit,
He further says later in Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) “1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”. What are you minding? If you get your mind on the spirit, he transforms your mind. He causes you to start thinking, so that you know God’s will for your life and so that you’re able to live in a manner that pleases God.
I know that some might be here this morning, and you think a Christian is some kind of “goody two shoes;” some kind of “do gooder.” Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Do you know what a Christian is? A Christian is a sinner saved by grace, who has Christ living in them. They are positionally found in Christ by faith. The only difference between them and you is Christ, Jesus, so Christian, stop acting like you’re better because you’re not. Act like Christ is better. That’s what we need to do. Let’s point to Jesus. Let’s not come under the illusion that somehow we can defeat the flesh. Only the spirit can do it. What are you minding? Are you allowing your thinking to be transformed now?
Number three. Here’s the third reason. We’re in verses nine through 11. Now we’re closing out this first segment of Chapter eight. 3. Because He fills us with His indwelling power in Christ. Overcoming the flesh is only possible by the spirit, because the spirit fills us with his indwelling power in Christ. Paul concludes this section with the assurance that those who belong to Christ Jesus have the indwelling spirit, which can defeat the remaining indwelling sin from the old nature . He’s our hero. He can defeat the sin nature that’s within you if he lives within you. Let’s look at verses 9 to 11. There is a hard verse in verse 8, “those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Then he gives us this, “9 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. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 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.” If you are a believer, you’re in the spirit. You have the spirit because if, in fact, the spirit of God dwells in, you know, here’s a second title. You might just learn some things about the spirit today. Back there in verse two, he was the spirit of life. Did you see that? That’s a title for the Holy Spirit, and then we have here in verse 9, the spirit of God. Before we get to verse nine we have the spirit of Christ.The Holy Spirit has different titles. He’s the spirit of life. He’s the spirit of God. He’s the spirit of Christ. He’s the holy spirit. He’s got a lot of different titles, but the same spirit.
I think Paul has in view here that the desire to let you know that this is the way that God lives in you. He lives in you spiritually and so the spirit of God lives in you and the spirit of Christ, which is the same spirit. So when we say, I’m in Christ and Christ is in me, we’re talking about the Holy Spirit that makes this possible because it’s a spiritual thing. It’s not a physical thing. He spiritually lives within us. Let’s just get real specific here. Anyone who does not (I’m still in Verse nine) have the spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Being a Christian is not about going to church. Now, should Christians go to church? Absolutely. The Bible tells us to fellowship with one another. Absolutely. Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together. The author of Hebrews tells us we should do it all the more until the day of Christ’s return. We should fellowship together. Yeah, absolutely. But if you go stand in the garage, it won’t make you a car. Right? And if you sit in the church, that won’t make you Christian either. It’s about keeping the 10 Commandments, right? No. Paul just spent two chapters telling us the law can’t save you, so it’s not about being better than other people. That’s not what it means to be a Christian, either. Do you have a new desire to keep God’s word? Absolutely. But that’s not what makes you a Christian. What makes you a Christian is you believe in Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. Is he in you? Is the spirit of Christ in you? Because if he’s not, you don’t belong to him.
How could Paul get any clearer? This is the clear gospel set apart . This is why Chapter eight is so important to all of Scripture. If you don’t have Christ in you and you’re not in Christ, you are not a believer. You are not a Christian and you still remain under condemnation. But if you’re in Christ, you belong to him. What makes you a Christian? It’s Christ in you, the hope of glory. That’s what makes you a Christian. “Do you mean it’s free and all I have to do is believe? Yes! That’s what’s so outrageous about it. That’s what’s so hard to see; the sin nature wants to earn, the sin nature wants towork at something and say, “I did this,” because the sin nature is hostile to God and is prideful and it wants to claim its own. But when we come to the end of that, we say, “I can’t do it. I need Jesus.” We finally accept the free grace of Christ. If you want to belong to Jesus, you have to invite him to come and save you and be alive within you.
Verse 10 says, “But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” Now what’s that mean? My body is dead? I feel like I’m walking around up here. Don’t you all feel like you are doing all right? I mean, I’m standing on my own too. I don’t look dead. It means if Christ is in you, although the body is dead, I think a better understanding might be although the body is mortal, this body won’t make it. It’s not fit for heaven. If I don’t get a new body, I won’t be able to live forever. Because, you know, the scripture says in several places, 70 years are given and 10 more you know, for some. 70 or 80 years is the average life span of man according to scripture. We don’t hear of people living longer than 110 or something like that. We have a friend down in Guatemala who celebrated his 100th birthday this year. And that’s a pretty big deal, isn’t it? I mean, we don’t hear a lot of that. That’s what this means. The body you have right now, young person, you’re sitting there thinking, “I’m good, I’m good.” Yeah, it’s mortal; s that body will run down on you eventually. Trust me, it will. It will run down.
Here’s what he’s saying that if Christ is in you, although your body is already dying, it’s already under that curse of sin, the spirit of his life and he’s living within you and he’s making you righteous. The spirit of life is righteousness. He’s at work in you and that’s the source of your life now.
We’ve covered justification, which is you’re not condemned. Sanctification; he’s making you like Jesus. And now , in verse 11 he’s going to hint at glorification; this future reality that you get a new body.
Look at Verse 11, “If the spirit of him,” who is him? He is father, the spirit of God, “If the spirit of God, the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead,” that really should have been capital “H” him. But the some versions don’t capitalize pronouns like the new King James and others do. But if I were writing this, I would capitalize him. If the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead because the father raised the son and the spirit was instrumental, we have in view in that one short phrase, the Trinity. If the spirit of God raised Jesus from the dead, that’s what we believe. If he dwells in you, that same spirit, that spirit of God that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, than that same resurrection power spirit is available to you. He can raise your dead marriage. He can raise your dead situation. He can raise whatever is dead in your life to life. That’s that’s what it means in the now. In the now, the spirit of life can raise whatever is dead. But in the future, even better will also give life to your mortal bodies. That’s why I think earlier it was mortal through the spirit who dwells in use of.
Someday you will get an immortal body, a glorified body body, fit for heaven. Why? Because the spirit is a down payment; a deposit on that future reality. Positional truth will become experiential truth. There’s a day coming when there will be the same experience, real truth and purpose. Positional truth will be one truth. We won’t be in the “already not yet.” It’ll be in the “already all the time.” This is good stuff for the believer. We’re now motivated by love and we want to follow Jesus because we love him. We’re not motivated by fear because he’s not going to kick us out. We’re in the ark and He’s taken all. All we have to do is thrive in him and depend on him and claim nothing of ourselves. We can depend on him.
Galatians 5:16 (ESV) “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” We can walk by the spirit and defeat the flesh. The flesh is a bully. The flesh is a bully. When I first was in the third grade, I had to move to Wayne, Michigan, from Bristol, Virginia. All of a sudden. I was getting beat up on the way to school. Kids would say, “say something, hillbilly” and I would say something. Then they would beat me up for saying something. I couldn’t win. I was getting beat up every day at school until I made some friends. I made a friend across the street. His name was Terry, and he taught me that if they’re bigger than you and there’s a gang of them, you need to run. If it’s only one, holler real loud for me and I’ll help you. And so sure enough, I had a bully beat me up one day, Terry came and knocked that turkey off of me, and we put the beat down together on him. Here’s the point: The flesh is a bully. He waits for that point where you’re weak and he jumps you and holds you down. And you’ve got a new nature that wants to get up and you can’t. But you can call for the Holy Spirit and he will kick that bully off of you.
Ephesians 5:18 New Living Translation (NLT) 18 “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit is not a battery. It’s not stored power that runs out. It’s more like ongoing, plug it in the wall, power on demand that you should continually lean on.
Christian, I don’t know how long you been a believer, but you no longer have to do it in your own self effort. You can continually depend on the Holy Spirit. Are you doing that today? Are you learning to lean? Are you learning to do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition making requests known to God so that the peace that passes all understanding is yours in Christ Jesus? Are you learning to turn your worries into prayers? Are you learning to lean? Are you learning to lean? Are you learning to call for the spirit? Three words I want you to remember today: (1) Position. You have a new one in Christ. (2) Perspective. You can have a new mind. You can think with a heavenly perspective. (3) Power. You have the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit living in you. Whatever you’re counting dead in your life right now. ”I’ll never get that back. I’ll never get over that out.” Stop lying That’s the sin nature. Say, “I can do all things through Christ whho gives me strength. I have the new power of the Holy Spirit. I have resurrection power.
Let’s pray, Lord, I pray first of all for that person that’s in this room that came in far from God. He came in today on a thread. But he heard you speaking. He heard your spirit, the spirit of Christ, in the midst of this room, walking among the people in these chairs. This is the spirit that’s shaking you up right now and touching you. Would you say “Yes” to him? This is Christ. Jesus. Who’s knocking on the door of your heart? Would you say “Yes?” Come on in. I need to get in you and you need to get in me because I need a savior. Would you confess I’m a sinner and I need a savior? I believe that Christ died on the cross that he lives today. Come and live in me. Would you live in me. I want you, Lord Jesus, to save me. Make me the person you want me to be. If you’re ready to pray that prayer right now. And you’re saying these words by faith, he will save you and make you a child of God. What about Christians that are here today? Lord, speak to their heart. How many of us are here and are still getting beat up by that bully flesh? Still getting beat up by old sin problems. Still living according to Romans seven instead of thriving in Romans eight. Oh, come on, Lord, help us. Help us to learn to lean on your power and to stop struggling with the old things. Oh, Lord, break through in this city, break through in this church. Let it start here, Lord, set us free to live by the spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.