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The Work of the Spirit


As a matter of clarification and in preparation for what the Spirit is to believers, it would be helpful to note the following facts:

Negatively: The believer is never told to seek or commanded to be (a) baptized with or in the Spirit, (b) nor to be indwelt with the Spirit, (c) nor to be anointed with the Spirit, (d) nor to be sealed with the Spirit, (e) nor in our age to even pray for the Spirit (Luke 11:13 was pre-Pentecost). Rather, these are all presented by the New Testament as accomplished facts during the Church Age.

Positively: The only commands in the New Testament given to believers in relation to the Holy Spirit deal with the filling of the Holy Spirit or with walking by means of the Spirit who already indwells us. There are only four direct commands that relate to the Spirit and the believer’s life. Two are positive and two are negative.

(1) The Positive Commands: We are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” and to “walk by the Spirit.”

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

Galatians 5:16 and 25 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… . 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

(2) The Negative Commands: We are commanded to “grieve not the Spirit” and to “quench not the Spirit.”

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit;

In addition, the following are some passages one might view as commanding the filling of the Spirit indirectly or by implication because the need of His ministry in the issue involved.

John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,

Philippians 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

Romans 8:4-13 in order 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 And 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 indwells 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.

What the Spirit Is to Believers in His Indwelling

In anticipation of the coming of the Spirit, in John 14:17 Christ spoke of the unique change that would occur in the Spirit’s relationship with believers when He said, “… because He abides with you (Old Testament economy) and will be in you (New Testament economy).” Through this universal indwelling of all believers, the Spirit becomes a seal, an anointing, a pledge, and our enabler. All of this stems from the fact of His indwelling presence from the moment of salvation.

(1) A Seal

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

According to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, God the Father (the subject of the verb) does the sealing. The Holy Spirit is the seal, and believers are those who are sealed with God’s seal (the Spirit). The seal suggests the ideas of ownership and security.

A further consequence of the Spirit’s presence is the seal of ownership (cf. Eph. 1:13-14) which also is accomplished at the moment of faith. A seal on a document in New Testament times identified it and indicated its owner, who would “protect” it. So too, in salvation, the Holy Spirit, like a seal, confirms that Christians are identified with Christ and are God’s property, protected by Him (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20). It was probably this thought that caused Paul to describe himself as a slave of Christ. (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1).58

(2) An Anointing

1 John 2:20 and 27 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know… . 27 And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Again, God the Father, as the subject of the verb in 2 Corinthians 1:21, does the anointing; the Holy Spirit, as 1 John 2:20 and 27 make clear, is the anointing; and we as believers in Christ are the ones who are anointed.

Persons and things were anointed, in the OT, to signify holiness, or separation unto God: pillars (cf. Gen. 28:18); the tabernacle and its furniture (Ex. 30:22ff.); shields (2 Sa. 1:21; Is. 21:5: probably to consecrate them for the ‘holy war,’ see Deut. 23:9ff.); kings (Jdg. 9:8; 2 Sa. 2:4; 1 Kgs. 1:34); priests (Ex. 28:41); prophets (1 Kgs. 19:16)… . Fundamentally the anointing was an act of God (1 Sam. 10:1), and the word ‘anointed’ was used metaphorically to mean the bestowal of divine favour (Psa. 23:5; 92:10) or appointment to a special place or function in the purpose of God (Ps. 105:15; Is. 45:1). Further, the anointing symbolized equipment for service, and is associated with the outpouring of the Spirit of God (1 Sa. 10:1, 9; 16:13; Is. 61:1; Zech. 4:1-14). This usage is carried over into the NT (Acts 10:38; 1 Jn. 2:20, 27).59 (Emphasis mine.)

The identification of the Spirit as our anointing is a portrait of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as an act of God which separates us, appoints us, and equips us for ministry in the purpose of God. Strictly speaking, then, it is doctrinally incorrect to ask God to anoint a believer today with the Spirit in preparation for a particular task. A more accurate prayer would be that the one involved in the task at hand be truly under the power of the Spirit, or that he or she might experience the work of the Spirit in a marvelous way because the Spirit is already present as God’s anointing.

(3) A Pledge

The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in believers’ lives is also viewed by God as His personal pledge (i.e., earnest or down payment) that God will fulfill His promises to believers and that our salvation will be consummated (Eph. 1:14). Note how the NIV translates 2 Corinthians 1:21-22:

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (NIV)

Present redemption is only a foretaste of what eternity holds (cf. Rom. 8:23), and the presence of His Spirit in our hearts (cf. Rom. 5:5; 2 Cor. 5:5) is like a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. These last seven words are a translation of one Greek word arrabona, a down payment which obligates the payer to make further payments. The same Greek word is used again in 5:5 and Ephesians 1:14 (cf. “the first fruits of the Spirit,” Rom. 8:23).60

(4) An Enabler

John 14:16 and 26 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; … 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.

In these passages the Lord promised the disciples He would give them “another Helper.” “Another” is the Greek allos which means “another of the same kind.” This is a reference to the Holy Spirit who, as the third person of the trinity, is of the same essence and power as the Lord Jesus Christ. In His absence, there would be no lack. In fact, it would be for their advantage (John 16:7) that He leave so the Holy Spirit could come in His place and indwell their lives.

The Spirit is called “Helper.” This is the Greek parakletos and refers to one who is called alongside on behalf of another as an intercessor, mediator, helper. It is translated variously, “helper,” “advocate,” “counselor,” and “comforter.” In view of the purpose and ministry of the Spirit along with the meaning of this word, perhaps “Enabler” is a better translation. He comes not just to give help, as a servant might help his employer or as one person helps another. Rather He comes and indwells us to enable—to empower us for the Christian life in witnessing, in prayer, in obedience, etc. This title for the Spirit not only teaches us what He is to us, but what we are apart from His control and ministry—without ability or enablement.

What the Spirit Does

There is no part of the believer’s life for which the Spirit is not needed. The following illustrates just how complete is the work of the Spirit who is our Enabler.

(1) He convicts and reveals Jesus Christ to men.

John 16:8-11 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

(2) He restrains sin in the world.

Genesis 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

(3) He regenerates to new life.

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

(4) He baptizes into Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

(5) He empowers and reproduces the character of Jesus Christ in those who submit to Him by faith.

Galatians 4:19 My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—

Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.

Galatians 5:16-23 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

(6) He promotes spiritual maturity. (Cf. also Gal. 5:1-5; Heb. 5:11-6:6.)

Galatians 3:1-3 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?

(7) He teaches: gives understanding in the Word. (Cf. also 1 Cor. 2:9-16; John 16:11-15.)

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

Ephesians 3:16-18 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

(8) He applies truth to our experience. (Cf. also John 14:26; Eph. 6:18.)

Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

(9) He gives power to our prayer life.

Jude 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;

John 15:7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.

Psalm 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

(10) He promotes meaningful worship. (Cf. also John 4:23-24; Eph. 5:18-21; Isa. 59:1-2.)

Philippians 3:3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

(11) He gives capacity, burden, and direction for witnessing.

Acts 1:8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

(12) He gives capacity for ministry. This refers to gifts of the Spirit which are to be exercised in the power of the Spirit from the motive of love—which is also a work of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:12-14 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,

1 Peter 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

The fact that the Holy Spirit is our Helper, indeed, our Enabler for these varied ministries demonstrates just how tremendously important the Spirit is to our daily walk. It shows how necessary it is that we walk by means of the Spirit, i.e., by constant dependence upon Him (Gal. 5:5, 16; Eph. 3:16-17). The lessons that follow are devoted to more biblical principles and promises that teach us more about the ministry of the Spirit and how to walk in His power.

45 Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Regency, Grand Rapids, 1976, p. 513.

46 Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, Moody Press, Chicago, 1965, p. 11.

47 The outline and basic argument used in this section, with slight variation, is taken from The Holy Spirit, by Charles C. Ryrie.

48 Ryrie, p. 12.

49 Ryrie, p. 13.

50 Ryrie, p. 16.

51 Ryrie, The Holy Spirit, p. 16.

52 Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1990, p. 857.

53 Erickson, p. 857.

54 Erickson, p. 858.

55 Erickson, p. 858.

56 Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine, Moody Press, Chicago, 1972, p. 70.

57 Charles R. Swindoll, Growing Deep in the Christian Life, Multnomah Press, Portland, 1986, p. 188.

58 David K. Lowery, “2 Corinthians,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Victor Books, Wheaton, 1985, p. 557.

59 New Bible Dictionary, quoted from Logos CD.

60 Lowery, p. 557.

 

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2021 in Holy Spirit

 

More Than Conquerors! A Study of Romans 8 #6 The Holy Spirit Empowers Us for Victory over the Flesh — Romans 8:12-13


So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—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. (8:12-13)

8:12 So then, brothers and sisters.NRSV Paul has just presented an overview of God’s work in believers’ lives (8:1-11). The Trinity is much in evidence in these verses. God is the source of the law (8:7) and the one against whom the sinful mind is hostile (8:7). God the Father acts in “sending his Son” (8:3). God the Son was sent; having his Spirit determines whether or not we belong to him (8:9); and “Christ is in us” (8:10), the same Christ who was raised from the dead (8:11). God’s Spirit lives in us (8:9) and raised Jesus from the dead (8:11). God the Spirit is the Spirit of life (8:2) who controls us (8:9)—he is called both the “Spirit of God” and the “Spirit of Christ,” and he lives in us (8:11). God fully participated in our salvation and continues to participate in our sanctification.

We have an obligation.NIV Because God has done everything we needed to be done, we have an obligation to respond. Because of all that Christ has done and is going to do for us, we are obligated to live in the power and control of the Holy Spirit. Paul first puts this in the negative—our obligation is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.NIV We are to refuse the drives and desires of our still attractive but crucified sinful nature, to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live “self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12 niv). The old, sinful nature may present its demands, based upon the past but we have no obligation to cooperate.

HOW DO WE KEEP OUR OBLIGATION TO THE SPIRIT?
The Scriptures provide a picture of active response to God. This works out as we:
1.     Train ourselves in godliness. Our response to the gospel does not involve trying to live a certain way, but training to live in the way of the Spirit. Much of the training schedule is created by God, through suffering, perseverance, and development of self-control. But God’s Word gives training disciplines for us to do. Prayer, study, meditation, service, confession, and worship are all chosen actions that demonstrate spiritual growth and form the basis for further spiritual growth.
2.     Constantly rely on the Holy Spirit. Even our efforts in training are not independent acts. Along the way, we need the Spirit’s presence, guidance, comfort, and encouragement. One way or another, no matter how far we have traveled in life, the Holy Spirit will always bring us back to an awareness of the grace we have in Christ Jesus. There we find no condemnation.

8:13 If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.NIV Death is both physical and spiritual. All people die physically, but only those with the Spirit will be resurrected. And those who live according to the sinful nature cannot enjoy God’s presence in their lives, thus they are left to their own devices.

If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.NIV Our sinful nature shows itself through the vehicle of the body. Therefore, we must put the body and its misdeeds to death—count ourselves “dead to sin” (6:11). These misdeeds are the practices (praxeis), the habitual responses, of the sinful nature, which must be terminated. In other passages, Paul provides lists of examples: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5 niv; see Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:22-5:14). This is an action to be done, a moral decision to be made—every day we are to put to death the desires that draw us away from God.

Phillips translated this phrase, “Cut the nerve of your instinctive actions by obeying the Spirit.” This is the obligation mentioned by Paul in verse 12, and it is only possible by the Spirit. We cannot do this on our own. The Spirit works, the Son fulfills his ministry, and the Fattier approves; and man is thus brought to full salvation.

Irenaeus

It is not enough for us to have the Spirit; the Spirit must have us! Only then can He share with us the abundant, victorious life that can be ours in Christ. We have no obligation to the flesh, because the flesh has only brought trouble into our lives. We do have an obligation to the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit who convicted us, revealed Christ to us, and imparted eternal life to us when we trusted Christ. Because He is “the Spirit of Life,” He can empower us to obey Christ, and He can enable us to be more like Christ.

But He is also the Spirit of death. He can enable us to “put to death” (mortify) the sinful deeds of the body. As we yield the members of our body to the Spirit (Rom. 6:12-17), He applies to us and in us the death and resurrection of Christ. He puts to death the things of the flesh, and He reproduces the things of the Spirit.

The Spirit-controlled life, the Christ-centered life, the God-focused life is daily coming nearer heaven even when it is still on earth.  It is a life which is such a steady progress to God that the final transition of death is only a natural and inevitable stage on the way.  It is like Enoch who walked with God and God took him.  As the child said:  “Enoch was a man who went walks with God-and one day he didn’t come back.”

No sooner has Paul said this than an inevitable objection strikes him.  Someone may object:  “You say that the Spirit-controlled man is on the way to life; but in point of fact every man must die.  Just what do you mean?”

Paul’s answer is this.  All men die because they are involved in the human situation.  Sin came into this world and with sin came death, the consequence of sin.  Inevitably, therefore, all men die; but the man who is Spirit-controlled and whose heart is Christ-occupied, dies only to rise again.

Paul’s basic thought is that the Christian is indissolubly one with Christ.  Now Christ died and rose again; and the man who is one with Christ is one with death’s conqueror and shares in that victory.  The spirit-controlled, Christ-possessed man is on the way to life; death is but an inevitable interlude that has to be passed through on the way.

Paul has just made clear (vv. 5-11) that every genuine Christian is indwelt by God’s own Spirit and that his new spiritual life therefore will not be characterized by worldly, fleshly concerns and activities but by the things of God. The apostle’s emphasis then turns, in verses 12-13, to the believer’s responsibility to eliminate sin in his life through the indwelling Spirit.

“The Spirit has you!” (vv. 12-17) It is not enough for us to have the Spirit; the Spirit must have us! Only then can He share with us the abundant, victorious life that can be ours in Christ. We have no obligation to the flesh, because the flesh has only brought trouble into our lives. We do have an obligation to the Holy Spirit, for it is the Spirit who convicted us, revealed Christ to us, and imparted eternal life to us when we trusted Christ. Because He is “the Spirit of Life,” He can empower us to obey Christ, and He can enable us to be more like Christ.

But He is also the Spirit of death. He can enable us to “put to death” (mortify) the sinful deeds of the body. As we yield the members of our body to the Spirit (Rom. 6:12-17), He applies to us and in us the death and resurrection of Christ. He puts to death the things of the flesh, and He reproduces the things of the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is also “the Spirit of adoption” (Rom. 8:14-17). The word adoption in the New Testament means “being placed as an adult son.” We come into God’s family by birth. But the instant we are born into the family, God adopts us and gives us the position of an adult son. A baby cannot walk, speak, make decisions, or draw on the family wealth. But the believer can do all of these the instant he is born again.

He can walk and be “led of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:14). The verb here means “willingly led.” We yield to the Spirit, and He guides us by His Word day by day. We are not under bondage to Law and afraid to act. We have the liberty of the Spirit and are free to follow Christ. The believer can also speak: “We cry, Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15). Would it not be amazing if a newborn baby looked up and greeted his father! First, the Spirit says, “Abba, Father” to us (Gal. 4:6), and then we say it to God. (“Abba” means “papa”—a term of endearment.)

A baby cannot sign checks, but the child of God by faith can draw on his spiritual wealth because he is an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). The Spirit teaches us from the Word, and then we receive God’s wealth by faith. What a thrilling thing it is to have “the Spirit of adoption” at work in our lives!

There is no need for the believer to be defeated. He can yield his body to the Spirit and by faith overcome the old nature. The Spirit of life will empower him. The Spirit of death will enable him to overcome the flesh. And the Spirit of adoption will enrich him and lead him into the will of God.

Vs. 12 {So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: for if ye live after the flesh, we must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.}

The first clause here is a figure of speech called meiosis, a vast understatement for the sake of emphasis.  “Not debtors to the flesh”! Indeed no; they are debtors to the Spirit and are charged with the responsibility of even putting the flesh to death, in a figure.  These verses form an exhortation regarding the two ways to live, the consequences of which Paul had already fully outlined.  To live after the flesh is death; to live after the Spirit is eternal life.

{Ye must die …} has reference to more than physical death, for Paul had already noted in Rom. 8:10 that Christians are not exempt from that; therefore, it is of eternal consequences that he spoke here.  Lenski was impressed with the contrast between the words “live” and “die.”

Men ever think that they are really living when they give way to the flesh, whereas in reality they are heading straight for eternal death.

Significantly, there is no relaxation of moral requirements for those who are in Christ.  Believing and obeying the gospel, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, and thereby rejoicing in the grace of God, do not for a moment cause sin to be any less sin for the Christian.  Mortification of the. deeds of the body is the daily task of the soul in Christ.

Greathouse’s comment is this: It is important that we try to grasp just what Paul means here.  He is most certainly not advocating ascetic mortification, which is based upon the idea that the body is a weight upon the soul.  Paul is not positing any Hellenistic body-soul dualism.  As we have seen, the body [Greek: soma] is the soul expressed concretely.  What the believer is obligated to do, if we may borrow Oswald Chambers’ happy expression, is to sacrifice the natural for the sake of the spiritual.

By the Spirit, we are to reckon that the members of our body are dead to sin and that we are alive unto God (Rom. 6:11-13)

By the phrase so then, Paul reminds his readers of the magnificent privileges of victory over sin that Christians have through the resident Holy Spirit. In the previous eleven verses of chapter 8, he has pointed out, among other things, that believers are no longer under God’s condemnation, that they are set free from the law of sin and death, that they are no longer under the domination of sin, that they walk by the Spirit, that they have minds that are set on the Spirit, and that they have life and peace through the Spirit.

All biblical exhortations to believers are based on the blessings and promises they already have from the Lord. Without the provisions we have from Him, we would be unable to fulfill the commands we receive from Him.

  • The children of Israel, for instance, were not commanded to take possession of the Promised Land until it was promised to them by God and they were prepared by Him to conquer it.
  • In this letter to Rome, Paul’s primary exhortations begin with chapter 12, after he has given countless reminders to his readers of their great spiritual privileges.
  • In Ephesians he first gives three chapters that are largely a listing of spiritual benefits. Just before his beautiful doxology at the end of chapter 3, Paul prays that God “would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:16-19). Only then does he entreat fellow believers “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling which you have been called” (4:1).
  • Similar patterns are found in his letters to Galatia, Philippi, Colossae, often noted by the word

Before the apostle gives the admonition in the present text, he refers affectionately to his readers as brethren, identifying them as fellow Christians, those to whom God promises victory over the flesh. He chooses a term of esteem and equality, not of superiority or paternalism, to refer to his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul then proceeds to set forth God’s pattern for victory over the flesh. As God’s children indwelt by His Spirit, we have no obligation … to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. The flesh is the ugly complex of human desires that includes the ungodly motives, affections, principles, purposes, words, and actions that sin generates through our bodies.

To live according to the flesh is to be ruled and controlled by that evil complex. Because of Christ’s saving work on our behalf, the flesh no longer reigns over us, to debilitate us and drag us back into sin. For that reason, we are no longer ruled by the flesh to live by its sinful ways.

Paul next restates the reason genuine Christians are no longer obligated to and bound by sin and are no longer under its condemnation. Although there will always be some lingering influence of the flesh until we meet the Lord, we have no excuse for sin to continue to corrupt our lives. The Christian’s obligation is no longer to the flesh but to the Spirit. We have the resources of the Spirit of Christ within us to resist and put to death the deeds of the body, which result from living according to the flesh.

Putting to death the deeds of the body is a characteristic of God’s children. The Scottish theologian David Brown wrote, “If you don’t kill sin, sin will kill you.”

Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:29-30).

No action is too drastic in dealing with sin; no price is too great to pay in turning from sin to trust Jesus Christ and be baptized for remission of sins and thereby escaping the damnation of eternal death in hell.

Paul here gives one of the many self-examination passages in Scripture. As noted above, the person who gives no evidence of the presence, power, and fruit of God’s Spirit in his life has no legitimate claim to Christ as Savior and Lord.

The obvious other side of that truth is that the person whose life is characterized by the sinful ways of the flesh is still in the flesh and is not in Christ. When Paul declares that believers are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10), he is stating a fact, not a wish.

Like many of the members of the church in Corinth, an immature and disobedient Christian will inevitably lapse into some of the ways of the flesh (see 1 Cor. 3:1). After he had been an apostle for many years, Paul himself confessed that even he was not yet spiritually flawless. “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect,” he told the Philippians, “but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).

Paul had not yet achieved perfect righteousness in Christ, although that was the supreme objective of his life. Although his flesh sometimes held him back and temporarily interrupted the full joy of his fellowship with Christ, his basic heart’s desire was to obey and please his Lord.

If a professing Christian habitually lives in sin and shows no concern for repentance, forgiveness, worship, or fellowship with other believers, he proves that he claims the name of Christ in vain.

Many Christians in the church work hard at keeping their lives pure in appearance, because other people think more highly of them for it and because they feel prouder of themselves when they act morally and benevolently than when they do not. But feeling better about oneself, the popular psychological cure-all for many people in our times, is the very heart of the proud sinful flesh, man’s unredeemed selfishness and godless humanness.

Doing good for one’s own sake rather than for God’s is not doing good at all, but is merely a hypocritical projection of the sin of self-love.

It should not be surprising that, as the world more and more advocates self-love and self-fulfillment, the problems of sexual promiscuity, abuse, and perversion, of stealing, lying, murder, suicide, hopelessness, and all other forms of moral and social ills are multiplying exponentially.

The pattern of a true believer’s life, on the other hand, will show that he not only professes Christ but that he lives his life by Christ’s Spirit and is habitually putting to death the sinful and ungodly deeds of the body. Consequently, he will live, that is, possess and persevere to the fulness of eternal life given him in Christ.

When God ordered King Saul to destroy all of the Amalekites and their livestock, Saul did not completely obey, sparing king Agag and keeping the best of the animals. When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul, the king tried to defend his actions by claiming his people insisted on keeping some of the flocks and that those animals would be sacrificed to God. Samuel rebuked the king, saying, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).

Despite the king’s pleas for mercy, Samuel then proclaimed, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor [David] who is better than you” (v. 28). Saul’s failure to fully obey God cost him his throne.

God’s people invariably fall back into sin when their focus turns away from the Almighty to themselves and to the things of the world. For that reason Paul admonished the believers at Colossae, “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

He then gave a partial but representative list of sins that Christians should kill by considering themselves dead to: “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is on account of these things that the wrath of God will come, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (vv. 5-10).

Paul is not suggesting the “Let go and let God” philosophy that is promoted by groups and leaders who advocate a so-called deeper life, in which one progressively rises to higher and higher levels of spirituality until sin and even temptation are virtually absent. That is not the kind of spiritual life Paul promises or that he personally experienced, as he testifies so movingly in Romans 7.

As long as a believer is in his earthly body, he will be subject to the perils of the flesh and will need to keep putting its sins to death. Only in heaven will his need for practical sanctification end. Until then, all believers are admonished to put sin to death and to live in and for their new Sovereign, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 6:3-11).

Scripture offers believers many helps for avoiding and killing sin in their lives.  First, it is imperative to recognize the presence of sin in our flesh. We must be willing to confess honestly with Paul, “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good” (Rom. 7:21). If we do not admit to sin, we delude ourselves and become still more susceptible to its influence. Sin can become a powerful and destructive force in a believer’s life if it is not recognized and put to death. Our remaining humanness is constantly ready to drag us back into the sinful ways of our life before Christ. Knowing that truth well, Peter admonishes, “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). If Christians did not live in constant danger from sin, such advice would be pointless.

Because of the influence of our human weaknesses and limitations on our thinking, it is often difficult to recognize sin in our lives. It can easily become camouflaged, often under the guise of something that seems trivial or insignificant, even righteous and good. We must therefore pray with David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23-24). Haggai’s counsel to ancient Israel is helpful for believers in any age: “Consider your ways!” (Hag. 1:5, 7).

A second way for believers to kill sin in their lives is to have a heart fixed on God. David said to the Lord, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!” (Ps. 57:7).

Another psalmist testified, “O that my ways may be established to keep Thy statutes! Then I shall not be ashamed when I look upon all Thy commandments” (Ps. 119:5-6). In other words, when we know and obey God’s Word, we are building up both our defenses and offenses against sin.

A third way for believers to kill sin in their lives is to meditate on God’s Word. Many of the Lord’s truths become clear only when we patiently immerse ourselves in a passage of Scripture and give the Lord opportunity to give us deeper understanding. David gives us the example with these words: “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11).

A fourth way to destroy sin in our lives is to commune regularly with God in prayer. Peter calls us to “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (1 Pet. 4:7). When we are faithful in these disciplines we discover how interrelated they are. It is often difficult to tell where study of God’s word ends and meditation on it begins, and where meditation ends and prayer begins.

It should be emphasized that true prayer must always have an element of confession. Although we have the assurance that we belong to God and are free from condemnation, we also know that we can never come before him completely sinless.

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” John warns believers. But “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

The writer of Hebrews admonishes, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). We need to be cleansed every time we come to Him.

Sincere prayer has a way of unmasking sin’s deceit. When God’s children open their minds and hearts to their heavenly Father, He lovingly reveals sins that otherwise would go unnoticed.

A fifth way to put to death sin in our lives is to practice obedience to God. Doing His will and His will alone in all the small issues of life can be training in habits that will hold up in the severe times of temptations.

As Paul has already made plain by the testimony from his own life in chapter 7, putting sin to death is often difficult, slow and frustrating. Satan is the great adversary of God’s people and will make every effort to drag them down into sin. But as they conquer sin in their lives through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, they not only are brought nearer to their heavenly Father but attain every increasing assurance that they are indeed His children and are eternally secure in Him.

When the New Testament speaks of such things as growing in grace, perfecting holiness, and renewing the inner man, it is referring to putting sin to death. Sin produced by the remaining flesh in which believers remain temporarily bound is all that stands between them and perfect godliness.

But Paul assures Christians that they have power for victory over the sinful flesh that still clings to them in this life. Apart from the Spirit’s supernatural power, we could never succeed in putting to death the recurring sin in our lives. If we were left to our own resources, the struggle with sin would simply be flesh trying to overcome flesh, humanness trying to conquer humanness. Even as a Christian, Paul lamented, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not” (Rom. 7:18). Without the Holy Spirit, a Christian would have no more power to resist and defeat sin than does an unbeliever.

The Holy Spirit is virtually synonymous with divine power. Just before His ascension, Jesus promised the apostles, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Later in his account of the early church, Luke reports: “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38).

In his gospel, Luke relates the angel’s announcement to Mary concerning the divine conception and birth of Jesus: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

The prophet Micah wrote, “I am filled with power—with the Spirit of the Lord—and with justice and courage to make known to Jacob his rebellious act, even to Israel his sin” (Mic. 3:8). Concerning the rebuilding of the Temple, an angel encouraged Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). In other words, the Spirit’s divine power would undergird Zerubbabel and would far surpass the power of the wicked men who sought to thwart his work.

Paul reports later in this epistle that the salvation of many Gentiles through his ministry was accomplished only “in the power of the Spirit” (Rom. 15:19), and he prayed that believers in the Ephesian church would “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” Eph. 3:16).

Paul’s main point in Romans 8:13 is that, by the power of the Spirit who dwells in them, Christians are able successfully to resist and destroy sin in their lives. “The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh,” Paul reminds us, “but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (2 Cor. 10:4). It is such confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit that gives hope to the frustration Paul expressed in Romans 7:24-25, a frustration that every Christian faces from time to time.

Speaking of the believer’s conflict with sin, Paul told the Galatians that “the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17). A few verses later he declares that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (vv. 24-25). In other words, because our inner, spiritual lives are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, our behavior should be according to His will and in His power. Through the Holy Spirit who indwells him, every true Christian has the divine resource to have victory over Satan, over the world, and over sin.

In his letter to Ephesus, Paul refers to the believer’s continual need to rely on the Spirit’s power, and he admonishes: “Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” Eph. 5:18). A more literal translation is, “keep being filled with the Spirit.” The idea is, “Always rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, who resides within you and is always available to strengthen and protect you.” To be filled with the Spirit is to have one’s mind completely under His divine control. This requires the Word’s dwelling richly in the believer (cf. Col. 3:16). And when our minds are under God’s control, our behavior inevitably will be as well. It is not a matter of available power but of available will. By the Spirit’s power, all believers are able “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [they] have been called” (Eph. 4:1). Those who truly “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” will “make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Rom. 13:14).

Being controlled by God’s Spirit comes from being obedient to His Word. The Spirit-filled life does not come through mystical or ecstatic experiences but from studying and submitting oneself to Scripture. As a believer faithfully and submissively saturates his mind and heart with God’s truth, his Spirit-controlled behavior will follow as surely as night follows day. When we are filled with God’s truth and led by His Spirit, even our involuntary reactions—those that happen when we don’t have time to consciously decide what to do or say—will be godly.

(8:12-13) Holy Spirit: the Spirit gives the power to mortify or put to death evil deeds. Note two points.

  1. Believers are in debt to the Spirit, not to the flesh. The word “debtors” (opheiletes) means to be obligated, to owe, to be bound by some duty.
  2. Believers are not in “debt” to the flesh. The flesh has done nothing for man, nothing of real value. Note what the flesh has done for man.
  • It is sinful flesh, contaminated by sin (Romans 8:3).
  • It is carnal or fleshly minded (Romans 8:5).
  • It causes man to die (Romans 8:6, 13).
  • It is the opposite of life and peace (Romans 8:6).
  • It has a mind that is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7).
  • It cannot please God (Romans 8:8).

 

A man owes the flesh nothing. He is not in debt or obligated to the flesh, for the flesh brings nothing but misery and suffering to man.

Thought 1. A man is a fool to focus his life upon such a weak thing as the flesh; a fool to live as though he is in debt and obligated to something that caves in

  • to sickness and disease so often.
  • to sin and shame so often.
  • to death much too quickly.
  1. Believers are in debt to the Spirit. It is the Spirit who has done so much for man, the Spirit to whom we are so indebted. The Spirit of God…
  • is the “Spirit of life” (Romans 8:2).
  • has freed us from sin and death (Romans 8:2).
  • fulfills righteousness “in” us (Romans 8:4).
  • pulls our minds to spiritual things (Romans 8:5).
  • gives us life and peace (Romans 8:6).
  • dwells within us, removing us from the flesh and identifying us as being “in” Christ (Romans 8:9).
  • gives life to our spirits now and assures us that He will give life to our mortal bodies in the great day of redemption (Romans 8:10-11).

It is the Spirit who has done so much for us; it is the Spirit to whom we are “in debt” and obligated.

  1. Believers determine their own fate. The point is clearly seen: if a man lives after the flesh, he shall die because the flesh dies. The flesh is doomed; it dies, and there has never been an exception. Therefore, if a man chooses to live after the flesh, that is, to follow after the flesh, then in following the flesh he experiences what the flesh experiences. If the flesh stumbles and falls, the man stumbles and falls, for he is following after the flesh. If the flesh kills itself, then the man dies with the flesh, for he is following the flesh. Scripture clearly teaches this.

However, if a man mortifies or puts to death the deeds of his body, he shall live. Note four facts.

  1. “The deeds of the body” mean the evil deeds, the evil lusts and passions, the desires and urges that lead to sin and shame, destruction and death.
  2. To “mortify” (thanatoute) means to put to death. The idea is that of denying, subjecting, subduing, deadening, destroying the strength of.
  3. The power to mortify the evil deeds of the body comes “through the Spirit.” However, note this: we deny the evil deeds, and then the Spirit gives the strength to deaden and to subdue their strength. We are involved just as the Spirit is involved. He cannot destroy the strength of sin unless we exercise our will and work to destroy it ourselves, and we cannot will and work at it apart from Him. Both the Spirit and ourselves have to be involved, each doing his part if we wish the evil deeds of the body to be put to death.

To repeat the point above: we exercise our will to deny the evil deeds, and then the Spirit immediately steps in to deaden the pull and strength of the evil deed. If we do not want the evil deeds of our body destroyed, if we want to continue living in the sins of the flesh, if we want nothing to do with the Spirit—then the Spirit can do nothing for us. God loves us too much to force us; He will not override our choice. But if we honestly will to follow the Spirit and honestly desire to destroy the evil deeds of our body, the Spirit will step in and give the power to do so. He will break the power of sin: He will deaden and subdue the strength of it.

  • Our part is to will to follow the Spirit: to mortify the evil deeds and begin to deny them.
  • The Spirit’s part is to deaden and subdue and eventually to destroy the strength of evil deeds.

 

Now note: the conquest of evil deeds is not an immediate, once-for-all thing. It is a ontinuous struggle as long as we live in the flesh. This is actually brought out in the tense of the verb “live.” The tense is a continuous and habitual action. We must continue to follow the Spirit and continue to mortify the evil deeds of the body. It is a day by day experience just as living is a day by day experience. We are to live by developing the habit of living in the Spirit and conquering the evil deeds of the body. The believer cannot destroy his flesh while on earth, but he can break the strength of evil deeds in his flesh. He can destroy evil deeds in his body.

  1. The person who puts the evil deeds of his body to death shall live. A man dies because of evil, and he lives because of righteousness. If he destroys the evil deeds and follows the Spirit of righteousness, he will not die. He will live.
 
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Posted by on September 20, 2021 in Romans

 

More Than Conquerors! A Study of Romans 8 #5 The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit Rom. 8:9-11


Romans 8:9-11 (ESV)
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.
 

Romans 8:9-11 (NASB)
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.

That is as plain as you can make it. Nothing could be plainer than that. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. You see, you cannot tell if a person is a Christian by what he does at any given moment. He may do exactly the same thing as a non-Christian, and he may be very cruel, vindictive, natural, lustful, and sinful in every way when he does it. At that moment, you cannot tell any difference between the Christian and the non-Christian.

But there is a difference, Paul says. One has the Spirit of Christ in him, the Holy Spirit, and eventually that will make a fantastic difference in his behavior. The other does not, and he will continue in sin and even get worse and worse.

In fact, the apostle suggests by this that the actions of a non-Christian may actually be much better than those of a Christian. There are non-Christians who are kinder, more thoughtful, and more gracious than Christians. People say, “Look at them! If their lives are so nice and pleasant, surely they must be Christians.” But it is not necessarily so. He that does not have the Spirit of Christ is none of his.

The difference will show up in the ultimate tests of life. When the crunch comes, one will collapse and fall and the other will rise and, eventually, conquer. A Christian can live “according to the flesh” even though he is not “in the flesh.” Those distinctions have to be made very clearly.

The evidence of conversion is the presence of the Holy Spirit within, witnessing that you are a child of God: (Romans 8:16)  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.

Your body becomes the very temple of the Holy Spirit:  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)  Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; {20} you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Even though the body is destined to die because of sin (unless, of course, the Lord returns), the Spirit gives life to that body today so that we may serve God. If we should die, the body will one day be raised from the dead, because the Holy Spirit has sealed each believer:

(Ephesians 1:13-14)  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, {14} who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory.

What a difference it makes in your body when the Holy Spirit lives within. You experience new life, and even your physical faculties take on a new dimension of experience.

Christians, according to Paul, do not need to receive the Spirit, but to respond to the Spirit, in faith and obedience for assurance, guidance, empowerment, and a host of other ministries.

Paul, and every Christian, faces two problems as dealt with in our text: first, the problem of sin; second, the problem of righteousness. Our problem with sin is that we do it. Our problem with righteousness is that we do not, and cannot, do it.

God solved the first problem by condemning sin in the flesh through the death of our Lord at Calvary. Now, in verses 9-11, Paul tells us how God has provided the solution for the second problem.

God’s Law reveals the standard of righteousness. The Law tells us what righteousness is like. The Christian agrees with the Law of God, that it is “holy, righteous, and good.” The problem is the strength of sin and the weakness of our flesh. As Paul has shown in verses 5-8, the flesh cannot please God. God has provided the means for Christians to live in a way that enables them to fulfill the requirement of the Law and to please God. God’s provision—for Christians only—is the power of His Holy Spirit, who indwells every Christian.

The flesh is dead, because of sin. But the Spirit is alive, living within us, so that righteousness will result. The Spirit, who indwells every true believer, is the same Spirit who raised the dead body of our Lord from the dead (verse 11). Our problem, as Paul says in Romans 7:24, is “the body of this death.” Our bodies, which are dead due to sin, so far as doing that which is righteous, the Spirit will raise to life, as He raised the body of our Lord to life. And so the problem of righteousness has been solved. We cannot, by the flesh, please God and do that which is righteous. We can, by means of the Spirit, fulfill the requirement of the Law and please God.

And so the two problems (1) of sin and (2) of righteousness have been solved, by God, through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. There is no condemnation for sin for all who are in Christ, by faith. Sin, on the other hand, has been condemned in the flesh. The righteousness which we could not do, because of the deadness of our fleshly bodies, God accomplishes through His Spirit, who raises dead bodies to life.

8:9 Controlled . . . by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.NIV The Holy Spirit lives in us, taking over control from our sinful nature. This gives us great assurance. “We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit ” (1 John 4:13 niv). Paul is saying that the process of salvation has begun but is incomplete, for in order to have the Spirit within, a person already must have trusted Christ as Savior

Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.NRSV This phrase may create doubt in our life. In our experience, we may feel a void, a conflict a deficit an overbearing problem. We can have such experiences and still have the Holy Spirit. The titles Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ both mean the Holy Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can make us acceptable to God; therefore, anyone who does not have the Spirit cannot belong to Christ. Paul does not voice this as a threat or warning, but a statement of fact.

Having the Spirit of Christ is the same as belonging to Christ. This is not a criterion for judging others’ lives, it is a helpful encouragement in our struggles. When facing times of doubt, Paul’s statement supplies us with two questions that must be answered: (1) Do I have the Spirit of Christ? and (2) Do I belong to Christ? Paul’s point is that answering yes to either determines the truth of the other. The first tends to be a less settled answer experientially; the second is clearly answered by the assurance given in God’s Word.

In his writings, Paul often speaks of the Spirit and Christ synonymously. This is evident in Romans 8:9-10. The terms Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, and Christ are all used interchangeably. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of Christ is Christ. In Pauline terminology, being “in Christ” and being “in the Spirit” are the same thing because in Christian experience they are absolutely identical. There is no such thing as an experience of Christ apart from the Spirit.

This verse categorically defines the person who is “in the flesh.” He is the man, any man, who does not have the Spirit of Christ. The great human delusion is to the effect that there are really three kingdoms, Gods, Satan’s, and OURS! But OURS apart from God is not ours at all, but Satan’s. It’s really that simple! Man, by the very nature of his creation, is free only to the extent of being able to choose between good and evil, between God and Satan. There are not ten thousand ways, but only two. Jesus called them the narrow way and the broad way (Matt. 7:13,14). But that glorious right of decision makes all the difference. It is the most priceless endowment of life on earth. Man was created in God’s image; and, although sin has eroded and defaced the sacred likeness, enough divinity remains in every man, regardless of how wicked he is, to enable him to exercise the option of whom he wills to serve. Not even Satan can demur or countermand the soul’s high order to re-enthrone the Christ within!

To every man there openeth A high Way and a low; And every man decideth The way his soul shall go.

The ability to establish an acceptable pattern of behavior in the sight of God is therefore dependent, first of all, upon a person’s decision. Once the right decision has been made by hearing and obeying the gospel invitation of Christ, God sends his Holy Spirit into the lives of his children, thereby enabling them to live “in the Spirit.” Such a new manner of life frees them from “the mind of the flesh” and embarks them and sustains them upon the right pathway. The importance of God’s Spirit in the hearts of Christians is of the very first magnitude, and a more particular attention to what the word of the Lord reveals concerning this truth is appropriate.

The Indwelling Spirit

Not merely here (Rom. 8:9), but throughout the New Testament, the fact of the indwelling Spirit of God is emphasized. The first promise of the gospel is that believers in Christ who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins shall “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38f), and for this reason he is called “The Holy Spirit of Promise” (Eph. 1:13). To the Corinthians, Paul spoke of “the Holy Spirit which is in you” and declared that “the Spirit of God dwelleth in you” (1 Cor 6:19; 3:16), To the Galatians, likewise, he said, “God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (Gal. 4:6); and the Saviour himself said of the Holy Spirit to his disciples that “he dwelleth with you, and he shall be in you” (John 14:17).

The degree of impartation of this glorious gift is only a portion but marvelously sufficient. Paul called this partial infusion of the Holy Spirit “the earnest of our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13,14) The token quantity of this gift is ample to supply the child of God with all the help that he needs, but it is not enough to make him independent, either of the community of believers or of the word of God. The limited nature of this impartation should ever be remembered. The Holy Spirit within Christians is not a full measure of prophetic, healing, and discerning power, such as that enjoyed by the apostles of Christ. No true Christian, by virtue of his possessing the Spirit, should ever consider himself free to discard the sacred scriptures and “feel” his way to glory; and yet one gets the impression that some feel that way about it.

When does one receive the indwelling Spirit? The Scriptures are very plain with reference to this: (1) It occurs “after that ye heard the word of truth” (Eph. 1:13); (2) It comes after people have believed in Christ (Eph. 1:13); (3) the indwelling begins after believers have become sons of God and as a consequence of their being so (Gal. 4:6); and (4) the blessed Spirit is promised as a gift contingent upon and following the believer’s repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38f). In the light of these sacred teachings, how true are the words of Brunner with reference to how the life of the Spirit is achieved. He said, “It is nothing less than being in Christ.” It may be accepted as absolutely certain therefore, that the Holy Spirit never enters a believer for the purpose of making him a son of God, and he, in fact, never enters any person whomsoever except those who decide to serve God and obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The results of the indwelling of the Spirit in the hearts of God’s children are also spelled out in Gal. 5:22,23, where such results are defined as love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. Specifically it should be observed that certain things are not said to be the fruit of the Spirit. Such things as miracles, gifts of prophecy, and speaking in tongues are not included. The Holy Spirit is not a spirit of contradicting the scriptures, nor of noise and confusion, nor of dreams and illusions, nor of strife and sectarianism, nor of pride and envy, nor of unfaithfulness and division.

There are many misconceptions regarding the Holy Spirit in Christians’ lives, perhaps more than with regard to any other major doctrine of the Bible. Some of these are:

(1) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a commandment of God; on the other hand, it is not a commandment at all but a promise;

(2) that the Holy Spirit is promised to all believers; on the contrary, he is promised to all believers who repent and are baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38f);

(3) that the Holy Spirit baptism was promised to all Christians; but this promise was to the apostles alone (Luke 24:49 :);

(4) that the Holy Spirit is imparted to make people sinless; yet Peter sinned after he had received even the baptism of the Holy Spirit;

(5) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a subjective experience within men’s hearts; to the contrary, it was a visible and outward manifestation of God’s power, as exemplified by the two New Testament examples of it at Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius;

(6) that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is followed by speaking in tongues; and, while it is true that the apostles did speak in tongues on Pentecost, after the power of the Spirit came upon them, the kind of tongues manifested there was nothing like the incoherent, unintelligible jabberings of the so-called “tongues” affected today;

(7) that the Holy Spirit must work directly upon an unbeliever before he can obey God; but this is wrong if any other type of work is expected beyond the preaching of God’s word, there being absolutely no New Testament example of any conversion in which the convert did not first hear the word of God preached and then upon believing it, obey it.

(8:9) Indwelling Presence—Holy Spirit, Power of: the Spirit dwells within the believer, putting the Spirit of Christ within him. There is so much in these two verses that cannot be outlined beside the verses. There just is not enough space.

  1. The power of the Spirit is seen in the word “dwell” (oikeo). The word “dwell” is the picture of a home (oikos). The Holy Spirit dwells within the believer: He makes His home, takes up residence, and lives within the believer just as we live in our homes.
  2. The power of the Spirit creates the glorious truth of the indwelling presence of God within the believer and of the believer within God.
  • The believer is said to be “in the [Holy] Spirit” (Romans 8:9).
  • The Spirit of God is said to “dwell” in the believer (Romans 8:9).
  • The believer is said to have “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9).
  • Christ is said to be in the believer (Romans 8:10).

Note how the deity of Christ is being proclaimed. The “Spirit of Christ” is said to indwell the believer the same as the “Spirit of God.” Both are said to be equally within the believer.

(2 Corinthians 3:18)  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

(Galatians 4:6)  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

(Philippians 1:10)  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ,

(1 Peter 1:11)  trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.

  1. The power of the Spirit removes the believer from being “in” the flesh and places him within Himself, within the Spirit of God. Very simply…
  • the believer is no longer positioned “in” the flesh: not in God’s eyes and not in God’s accounting. The believer no longer dwells “in” the flesh: he no longer makes his home in the flesh nor lives in the flesh. He is no longer at home, that is, no longer comfortable with the things of the flesh.
  • the believer is positioned “in” the Spirit of God. God sees and counts the believer as being placed and positioned in His Spirit; therefore, the believer dwells “in” the Holy Spirit. He makes his home in the Spirit, and he takes up his residence and lives “in” the Spirit. He is at home and comfortable only with the things of the Spirit.
  1. The power of the Spirit identifies the believer as being “in” Christ. This is easily seen. Whatever spirit dwells within a man, it is that spirit to whom man belongs. If he has the spirit of selfishness within, he belongs to the spirit of selfishness and is known as being selfish. If he has the spirit of complaining, he belongs to the spirit of complaining and is known as being a complainer. If he has the spirit of evil, he belongs to evil and is known as an evil person. If he has the spirit of caring, he belongs to the spirit of caring, and he is known as a caring person. If he has the Spirit of Christ, he belongs to Christ and is known as a follower of Christ.

A person is spirited, driven to live according to the spirit that is within him. The Holy Spirit has the power to drive the believer to live as Christ lived. We can look at the spirit of a person and tell if he has the Spirit of Christ. If he does, then he bears the fruit of Christ’s Spirit. The Spirit and His fruit are seen in the life of the believer. The true believer proves that he is “in” Christ, that he is placed and positioned “in” Christ by the life which he lives.

Instances of miraculous activity through the Holy Spirit’s clothing or coming upon these Christians throughout the book of Acts are in contrast to the general promises made to all Christians. Penitent, baptized believers are promised the “gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

John referred to the Holy Spirit as being given to Christians (1 John 3:24; 4:13), as did Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

In Galatians 4:6 we read, “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts.”

It is important to notice the contrast of the Spirit’s being given or sent “into our hearts” and the Spirit’s “falling upon” Christians. When the Spirit “fell upon” or “came upon” someone, miraculous activity was always involved. However, the presence of the Holy Spirit in the first century did not always involve miraculous activity.

John the Baptist was “filled with the Holy Spirit” from his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15), yet he “performed no sign” (John 10:41). Every Christian is commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), but this does not mean that all Christians are to perform signs and wonders.

Today the Holy Spirit’s work is providential (behind the scenes) rather than in the same open, obvious, and miraculous way characteristic of His work in the first-century church. Our present lesson will focus upon His providential work.

8:10-11 If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.NIV Christ’s Spirit lives within our human spirits, but our fleshly bodies are still infected by sin and are dead—that is, they are mortal. Sin has been defeated by Christ, but sin and death still claim their hold on our mortal bodies. Yet in these bodies we are alive spiritually and can live by the Spirit’s guidance. In addition, we are promised the physical resurrection of our bodies into eternal life, for God will give life to [our] mortal bodies (niv) because of the Holy Spirit within us. So there is wonderful hope even for our prone-to-decay bodies. Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42 niv; see also 1 Corinthians 6:14; 2 Corinthians 4:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).

If Christ is in you … is exactly synonymous with several other Pauline expressions, such as: being “in Christ,” the Spirit “dwelling in” Christians, and “having the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5), etc. These expressions may not be precisely differentiated, for they all refer to the saved condition.

The body is dead because of sin … emphasizes the truth that the redemption in Christ does not remit the sentence of physical death upon all men. The body of the holiest Christian is dead (that is, under sentence of death), even as it is with all. Godet has this:

The primeval sentence still holds sway THERE; the body is deathful still; it is the body of the Fall; but the Spirit is life. He is in that body, your secret power and peace eternal. “Because of righteousness” (means) because of the merit of your Lord, in which you are accepted, and which has won for you this wonderful Spirit life.

Some commentators insist that “spirit” in the second clause of this verse means the spirit of man, this being required as the antithesis of “body” in the first clause. Others, like Godet, interpret it as meaning the Holy Spirit. Godet wrote:

We refer the word (Spirit) here, as throughout the passage, to the Holy Spirit. No other interpretation seems either consistent with the whole context, or adequate to its grandeur.

Another view is possible, and is broad enough to include both viewpoints. By understanding “spirit” to mean not merely the spirit of an unregenerated man, but the spirit of the Christian in the state of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit, the antithesis would be fulfilled and the appropriate emphasis upon the Holy Spirit would both be achieved by such an interpretation. This also harmonizes with the text. for it is not of any human spirit that Paul here wrote, but the spirit of Christians; and, furthermore, the life imparted is due absolutely to the Holy Spirit’s residence within the Christian’s spirit.

In the preceding verse (vs. 10) , Paul mentioned the body’s being sentenced to death, due to that portion of the primeval sentence being still operative, even upon Christians; but even the death of the body is at last to be nullified by the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. Such a nullification will take place when the “dead in Christ” rise to meet the Lord in the air. The resurrection itself, in this verse, is made to depend upon the indwelling of the Spirit, for it is promised, “If the Spirit … dwelleth in you.”

The resurrection of Christ appears here as a pledge of a similar resurrection of Christians, a resurrection of their “mortal bodies,” just as Christ’s mortal body was raised and recognized by his disciples. Thus salvation is more than merely saving the soul, although that is likewise glorious; but this teaches that body and soul alike will participate in the ultimate glory of eternal life. The great connective between the resurrection of Christ and the ultimate resurrection of his disciples is the blessed ministry of the Holy Spirit in Christian hearts, and thus appears the absolute necessity of the Spirit’s residence in Christian hearts. This place, along with Rom. 8:9 compels the conclusion that if one does not have the Spirit of God in his soul, he is not a Christian, not in Christ, not saved, and is not in any sense Christ’s.

8:9 In vv. 5-8 Paul gives an objective description of the two orders of flesh and Spirit. Now he begins a personal application to the Roman Christians and Christians everywhere. His point is this: despite the law of sin and death that continues to work in and through your as-yet-unredeemed bodies, and despite the reality of your continuing struggle against its enslaving power, you need not despair, for God has given you a gift of grace second only to the gift of justification through Christ’s blood. This second gift of grace is the indwelling Holy Spirit himself. His very presence within you gives you all the resources you need for victory over your flesh now, and for ultimate victory over death in every sense.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. Literally, “you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit.” The “you” is emphatic and draws the Christian reader personally into the sphere of the truth enunciated in the text. Paul flatly states that you (Christians) are not “in the flesh,” or “controlled by the flesh.” Your life is not oriented to this world; your mind is not set upon the things of this earth. Rather, you are “in the Spirit.” Some take this to mean the human spirit. I.e., you are not governed by the desires of your bodies but by the higher inclinations of your spirits. As in the preceding verses, however, it is best to take this as referring to the Holy Spirit. That is, your life now falls within the sphere of the Spirit’s influence and power.

This is true, of course, only if the Spirit of God indeed dwells in you. The word “if” is εἴπερ (eiper), which sometimes means “since” (3:30; 2 Thess 1:6). Some take it thus here, in order to eliminate all uncertainty as to the status of Paul’s readers. “If” or “if indeed” is probably the intended meaning, though, as in 8:17 (see 1 Cor 15:15). It simply states the condition for being in the Spirit. The point is not to create uncertainty as to one’s status, but rather to eliminate other conditions, especially those having to do with human achievement. The fact that we are “in the Spirit” depends not upon what we have accomplished in ourselves, but upon what God has accomplished in us through his Spirit.

The word for “lives” is οἰκέω (oikeō), and is related to the word for “house, dwelling place.” The word implies not a temporary, transient visit, but a permanent settling down. When the Holy Spirit is given to us in baptism (Acts 2:38), he takes up permanent residence and makes himself at home within us. He comes to dwell in our very bodies (1 Cor 6:19), which continue also to be indwelt by sin (7:17, 23). Thus he is in position to do battle for us in the very place where we need him most.

And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. This makes the same point in a negative way. Those who do not have the Spirit are outside the sphere of the redeemed. This is not applied personally to Paul’s readers, but is stated of the impersonal “anyone.” That the Spirit is called both the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ suggests that Christ as God the Son is on the same level as God the Father; it implies his deity.

How can we know whether or not the Holy Spirit is dwelling in us? First we must ask whether we have done that which God has specified as the condition for receiving the Spirit: Acts 2:38; 5:32; 19:1-7. Then we must look for the signs of his continuing presence. These signs do not necessarily include the possession of miraculous powers, since these can be present even where Christ and his Spirit are absent (see Matt 7:21-23). The best sign is the presence of the fruit of the Spirit in our character and conduct (Gal 5:22-26), though even this is not an infallible indicator. What we can say is this, that where such fruit is absent, the Spirit is also absent.

This verse clearly ties our relationship to the Spirit with our relationship to Christ. When the Spirit lives in us and we thus “live in the Spirit,” we belong to Christ. (This is the implication from the negative statement that one who does not have the Spirit does not belong to Christ.) This same connection is made in 1 Cor 6:19-20.

8:10 But if Christ is in you…. Here Paul returns to second person, indicating his confidence that this condition is indeed the condition that applies to his Roman readers. Verse 9 says the Holy Spirit dwells in us; now Paul describes our saved state by saying that Christ dwells in us. This does not equate Christ with the Spirit, but shows the intimate interrelation between them. It also indicates how difficult it is to give an exact or literal description of the Christian’s own intimate relation with both Christ and the Spirit. The Spirit is in us; we are in the Spirit. Christ is in us; we are in Christ. Some say the Holy Spirit dwells in us personally and directly, while Christ dwells in us only indirectly through the Spirit (Lard, 258). This is not necessarily the case, however. Both may certainly dwell in us, each for his own purpose.

If Christ is in you, here is where you now stand. First, your body is dead because of sin…. The body here no doubt is the physical body, as in v. 11. In what sense does Paul say that “the body is dead” (present tense)? The primary and most obvious reference is to physical death (see v. 11), the idea being that the body is subject to death, under the curse of death, “irrevocably smitten with death” (Godet, 305). It is doomed to die. “Because of sin” must then refer to the sin of Adam (5:12-17), since even sinless infants and young children sometimes die.

But it is also true that the Christian’s body is even now still permeated with the spiritual effects of his own sin and thus with a kind of spiritual death (see Romans 7:24). I.e., the physical body is spiritually dead because of the sin that indwells it (7:17-18, 23). Because the Christian’s body has not yet been delivered from the power of this spiritual death, it is thus the source of constant struggle.

That we still have “this body of death” is the bad news, but there is also some very good news: yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. The most difficult question here is whether pneuma (“spirit”) means the human spirit or the Holy Spirit. Many say the latter, the strongest argument being that the Greek does not say “the spirit is alive” but rather “is life.” In view of the close connection between the Holy Spirit and life (8:2), the affirmation that “the Spirit is life” makes very good sense. On the other hand, to say “the redeemed human spirit is life” is somewhat problematic. (See Cranfield, I:390; Hendriksen, I:252-253.)

Nevertheless many do believe pneuma refers here to the human spirit, the strongest argument being the apparent parallel between “body” and “spirit.” I believe the case for this view is stronger, and that the NIV translation is appropriate: “your spirit is alive.” Either way the phrasing is a bit awkward.

Whichever view was intended, the other is still true and is actually present by implication. If Paul is saying “the Spirit is life,” since this is in contrast with “the body is dead,” then we must understand that the Spirit’s first and best gift of life was the life he gave to our spirits in the act of regeneration. If Paul is saying “the spirit is alive,” then we must understand that the source of this life is the Holy Spirit. (See Titus 3:5.) Either way, the Holy Spirit is the source of our power over sin and our ability to stand against its attacks. This is the main point.

The spirit is alive “because of righteousness.” Many take this to mean the imputed righteousness that is the basis for justification. This would mean that in some sense our regeneration is grounded in our justification through the blood of Christ. This is not at all unlikely since “the law of the Spirit of life” is able to operate only “through Jesus Christ” (8:2). Others take it to mean a kind of imparted righteousness. This is not as likely, since it is difficult to separate imparted righteousness from our own righteous living, and since our spirit’s being alive seems in no way attributable to our righteous living. It is rather the opposite: we can live righteously because we have been made alive by the Spirit.

8:11 The Christian is a combination of “a dying body and a living spirit,” as Stott says (226). But this is not the whole story. Just as our spirits have already been raised from the dead, so also will our bodies one day be rescued from the grip of sin and death and restored once more to a state of pure life. This “body of sin” (6:6), “this body of death” (7:24), is appointed to undergo physical death (Heb 9:27); but after that we shall be raised in new bodies that are no longer susceptible to such death and are no longer infected with sin and spiritual death. While the resurrection of Christ has certainly paved the way for this bodily resurrection and has made it possible, its immediate agent is the Holy Spirit.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you…. Paul has already established that the Spirit of God dwells in all who exist according to the Spirit (v. 9). The word “if” (εἰ, ei) does not suggest uncertainty but is simply establishing the basis for our hope regarding the resurrection of our bodies. Some would translate it “since.”

We may note that this clause reflects the Trinitarian nature of God. “Him who raised Jesus” is God the Father; “the Spirit” of the Father is God the Holy Spirit; Jesus is God the Son.

… he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies…. If God raised Jesus from the dead, he can also raise up our bodies as well (see 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14). The resurrection of Jesus is thus a basis for our assurance that we too will be raised up in the day when Christ returns. “Mortal bodies” refers to the physical body; it is mortal in the sense that it is subject to death and pervaded by death both physically and spiritually (6:12; 8:10). But no matter how strong a grip death has on our bodies, its power will be completely broken through his Spirit, who lives in you. The present indwelling of the Spirit is a further assurance of our future resurrection. See 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13-14.

It is significant that our promised rescue from this body of sin and death (7:24) does not consist merely of physical death and freedom from bodily existence as such, as many pagan religions teach. According to the Bible physical death itself is something to be rescued from, and the human spirit was not designed to exist apart from a body. Thus our rescue comes only through “the redemption of our bodies” (8:23) in the form of resurrection.

(8:10-11) Holy Spirit—Resurrection, Believers: the Spirit gives life to the spirit of the believer. The idea of the Greek makes this verse clear: “If Christ be in you, although the body is to die because of sin, the spirit shall live because of righteousness.” Very simply stated, the body of man does die, but his spirit can live forever if Christ is “in” him. Note two points.

  1. The Spirit of Christ gives life to the spirit of man now, the very moment a person believes. Man’s body is to die because of sin: the body is corruptible, aging, deteriorating, decaying, and dying. It is in a process of dying—in such a rapid movement toward death—that it can actually be said to be dead. The body is dying; therefore, its death is inevitable. However, it is in the midst of death that the Spirit of Christ enters. He enters and converts the spirit of man from death to life. How?
  2. The spirit of man lives because of the righteousness and death of Jesus Christ.
  3. The spirit of man lives by living a righteous and godly life.
  4. The Spirit of Christ quickens the mortal body in the future, in the great day of redemption. Note two things.
  5. The word “quicken” (zoopoiesei) means to make alive, to give life, to cause to live, to renew and remake life.
  6. The “mortal body” shall be quickened and made alive.
  • The mortal body is the same body that died. The person is the very same person.
  • The mortal body is given a totally new life; its elements are recreated and remade into a perfect and eternal body. The new body is to be given the power and energy of eternal elements, eternal molecules and atoms or whatever the most minute elements are. All will be arranged so that the mortal body becomes an immortal body.
  1. There are two great assurances of the believer’s resurrection.
  • The assurance of Jesus’ resurrection.
  • The assurance of the Holy Spirit, of Him who indwells the believer. The very same Spirit who raised up Christ shall raise up the believer (2 Cor. 4:14). He is the power and energy of life, and He dwells within the believer. Therefore, He shall raise up the believer.

INDWELT BY THE SPIRIT (HIS PROVIDENTIAL WORK)

The relationship of the Holy Spirit to the Christian today is described by the Greek word oikeo. This word is translated in the New American Standard Bible as “dwell,” “indwell,” and “live.” It comes from the Greek word meaning “house” (oikos), and it is used four times to describe the Holy Spirit’s relationship with Christians (Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Timothy 1:14).

What a beautiful thought Paul conveyed in teaching how the Holy Spirit takes up His personal residency within the bodies of Christians and dwells in them, for they are God’s New Testament temple.

This leads us to the important question “If the Holy Spirit is present and is working in our lives today, what does He do for us?” Some sincere Christians are asking this question today. Several years ago I was visiting with an elder who confessed that he had believed for a long time that he had been given the gift of the

Holy Spirit at his baptism. “But,” he added, “I really do not know why I received this gift. If the Holy Spirit no longer imparts miraculous gifts, why is He present?” We need to give some serious thought to this question.

 The Spirit as a Seal

The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit seals us as the children of God. Paul wrote, “You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). As we repent and are baptized by water baptism into Christ, we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27).

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, Jesus comes into our lives, and God places His seal upon us, marking us as His children. In the first century, seals were used to assure protection and security. For example, the

tomb of Jesus was sealed by the Roman government (Matthew 27:66) to ensure that no one could steal the body of our Lord. The 144,000 in Revelation 7 were sealed as a means of identification and protection of God’s saved ones.

The seal of the Holy Spirit is God’s invisible sign to the spirit world that we are His property and that He will personally protect and provide for us until “the day of [our] redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit is God’s mark, His living assurance of our sonship and of the Father’s love.

 The Spirit as a Pledge

The Holy Spirit is also “given as a pledge of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). Some translations render the Greek word arrabon as “earnest” or “deposit.” The idea is that the Holy Spirit is God’s down payment toward our eternal inheritance in heaven. He is God’s personal pledge to us that He will faithfully keep His part of the new covenant we have entered into with Jesus. It is interesting that the modern Greek word arrabona is the word for engagement ring.

When a young man gives a young woman his personal pledge to marry her, he gives her an arrabona (engagement ring) to show his commitment to the future marriage. This figure is full of meaning as we remember Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians 11:2:3 “For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.” The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is God’s personal pledge that if we remain faithful to our marital vows to Jesus that one of these days we will be presented to Him as His perfect bride (see Ephesians 5:25–27; Revelation 21:2). In a sense, in this earthly life we are Jesus’ fiancée, while in the heavenly realm we will be His wife.

The Spirit as a Gift

The gift of the Holy Spirit also involves God’s gift of eternal life to His children. In contrast to being dead in sin and indwelt by the spirit of Satan (Ephesians 2:1, 2), God’s children are “alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:5). Separation from God is spiritual death. To be joined “together with Christ” through the indwelling Spirit is life. “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His

Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11, 12).

When our souls were washed by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Himself began to live in us, imparting eternal life to our spirits! To be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) is to have the very life of Jesus planted into our spirits through God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus illustrated the life of the Spirit in His parable of the vine and the branches in John 15.

Just as the branch draws its life from the vine, so we draw our life from Jesus, the spiritual Vine. We abide in Christ through faith; and as we draw life from Him, He produces His spiritual fruit of righteousness in us (John 15:4; Galatians 5:22, 23). “And if Christ is in you, . . . the spirit is alive because of righteousness” (Romans 8:10). The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit becomes in each of us “a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14) and flowing from our inner beings as “rivers of living water” (John 7:38, 39).

The Spirit as an Inner Strength

The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit strengthens God’s children in spiritual warfare against Satan. Paul declared that “by the Spirit” we put “to death the deeds of the body” (Romans 8:13). Many Christians trust their own strength and determination to overcome Satan. They need to be reminded of Jesus’ warning: “For apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). In contrast to having an attitude of self-sufficiency, Paul expressed a confident faith: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). The Christian life is a life of faith in which we fix “our eyes on Jesus, . . . so that [we] may not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2, 3). Our victory is in the Lord Jesus Christ and “in the strength of His might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Have you ever noticed how the Christian armor described in Ephesians 6 is related to the Lord Jesus Himself? We are to gird our loins with truth, and Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6). We are to “put on the breastplate of r i g h t e o u s n e s s ” (Ephesians 6:14), and Jesus is our righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30).

We are to “shod [our] feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), and Jesus is the gospel message (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:2; 15:3, 4). We are to take up “the shield” (Ephesians 6:16), and the Lord is our shield (cf. Psalm 33:20). We “take the helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17) as we trust Jesus for our eternal salvation (cf. Acts 4:12). Jesus, as the Word of God, (John 1:1) is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), through whom we can fight the attacks of Satan.

No wonder the Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, and not Himself (John 16:14). It is through the Holy Spirit that we are “strengthened with power . . . in the inner man” so that “Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16, 17). “Christ in you, [is] the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Spirit strengthens us as we focus the eyes of our faith upon Jesus and trust Him for His strength to fight the good fight of faith.

Alexander Campbell wrote, . . . without this gift [of the Holy Spirit] no one could be saved or ultimately triumph over all opposition. . . . He knows but little of the deceitfulness of sin, or of the combating of temptation, who thinks himself competent to wrestle against the allied forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil. . . . [But] by His Holy Spirit, in answer to our prayers, [God] works in us, and by us, and for us, all that is needful to our present, spiritual, and eternal salvation.1

 The Spirit as a Helper

The Holy Spirit also helps God’s children in prayer. Paul commanded Christians to “pray at all times in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). To “pray . . . in the Spirit” involves more than praying from the heart. Any worship offered “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) is worship that recognizes the role of the Holy Spirit as He helps us in our prayers to God. What a wonderful assurance that the Spirit who abides in heaven is also the Spirit who abides in the church! We read, “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints  according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26, 27). When we pray, the Spirit Himself prays with us, giving us the great assurance that prayers offered in faith and from our innermost beings arise to the Lord as sweet incense (Revelation 8:3, 4).

CONCLUSION

As we learn of the Spirit’s activity in helping us to live the Christian life to the glory of our God, we can see the need to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). A Spirit-filled life is a life focused upon Jesus rather than upon self. It is a life yielded to Jesus as Lord, and our Lord is not just some distant king we serve.  Through His Holy Spirit He is an ever-present Shepherd who promises to restore our souls and to provide for our every need. Each Christian can say with the psalmist, “Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). Amen!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in Romans

 

A Study of Divine Providence


A Study of Divine Providence : Christian Courier

How does God work in our lives today?

The religious world is an environment of extremism. Some allege, for example, that if God does exist, he has no contact at all with humanity. He’s a disinterested, distant deity. This philosophy is known as deism.

Others, by way of contrast, assert that virtually every activity of Deity is a miracle. Miracles, they allege, are occurring in abundance everyday. Such a view is equally at variance with the facts. The Scriptures plainly indicate that supernatural signs served a unique function in the divine scheme of things, and they are not being duplicated today.

A correct view recognizes that Jehovah operates in the affairs of men, but not miraculously; rather, God works through the process we accommodatively call “providence.”

Providence Defined

The English term “providence” derives from the Latin providentia, which signifies “foresight.” Providence has to do with:

  1. The Creator’s maintenance of the functional balance of the natural world;
  2. The fulfillment of the divine purpose in the regulation of international affairs;
  3. God’s special operation in the lives of those who seek to do his will.

Before we consider each of these areas, it is necessary that we discuss the nature of providence. Exactly what is this phenomenon?

Providence is the activity of God as accomplished through law. It stands in contrast to the miraculous, by which the Lord operates independent of law. In providence, Jehovah manipulates his own laws for the accomplishment of his ultimate purpose. God respects man’s free will, and he will never overpower our “freedom of choice” in the use of providential activity; nevertheless, the Bible clearly affirms divine activity in the providential mode. It is a process that we simply cannot explain from our limited vantage point. We accept it because of our confidence in the credibility of the biblical record.

Perhaps the following will help illustrate the difference between the miraculous and the providential.

When Mary, a virgin (Isa. 7:14), gave birth to Jesus, such was affected by means of miraculous power (Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:30-37). On the other hand, when Hannah of Old Testament fame prayed for a son, the Lord heard her prayer and answered it. He did so, however, providentially; she conceived only after her husband “knew her” [a biblical euphemism for sexual union); ultimately Samuel was born (1 Sam. 1:19, 20).

Here is another case in contrast. When the Assyrian army threatened the city of Jerusalem, God supernaturally destroyed 185,000 enemy soldiers in a single night (Isa. 37:36). Over against this, Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, was dealt with in a different fashion. Jehovah caused him to “hear tidings” that prompted his return to Assyria (Isa. 37:7); there, in accordance with divine prophecy, he was killed by the hands of his own sons (cf. 37:7, 38). Unquestionably, providence was implemented! In each instance, Heaven was guiding certain events. In the one case, divine activity was direct, independent of means. In the other case, it was indirectly employed by the use of means.

Providence and Nature

The holy Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) was responsible not only for the origin of the universe (Gen. 1:1ff; Jn. 1:1-3), these divine Persons continue to regulate and sustain nature. Christ is “upholding all things [i.e., the entire universe] by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3). Additionally, “in him all things consist” [sunesteke “stand together”] (Col. 1:17). The perfect tense form is used here in the sense of a present. Christ keeps on holding together the forces of the universe. Robertson noted that he “is the controlling and unifying force in nature” (Word Pictures in the New Testament, Nashville: Broadman, 1931, IV, p. 479).

God providentially maintains the seasons (Gen. 8:22), and blesses the earth with his bounty (Acts 14:17). All earth’s creatures are in the hand of the Creator (Mt. 10:29), and he cares for them (Mt. 6:26; cf. Psa. 104:21; 147:9). There are many Bible examples where Jehovah used the forces and/or the creatures of nature for the accomplishment of his will (see Gen. 22:13; Num. 11:31; 1 Kgs. 13:24ff; 17:6; 2 Kgs. 2:23, 24).

God and the Nations

Since the fall of humanity God has been working a plan designed to make redemption available to fallen mankind. The plan was implemented with the death of Christ, and the subsequent establishment of his kingdom. Long before the birth of Jesus, however, God was providentially working among the nations of the world to prepare the human race for the coming of the Savior. The Lord is “ruler over the nations” (Psa. 22:28). Jehovah rules in the kingdoms of men, setting over them whomever he wills (Dan. 2:21; 4:17).

The Hebrew nation was very important in the divine plan for human salvation. Through this people the Messiah would come (Gen. 22:18). Accordingly, the Lord protected Israel (or a least a remnant) so that the promises regarding the Messianic line would be kept in tact. For example, Jehovah providentially used Joseph to sustain the Hebrews as they sojourned in the land of Egypt. Joseph was sold by his jealous brethren into Egyptian slavery, but God used that situation for the preservation of the nation (see Gen. 39:2; 45:5-9). Every student should read J.W. McGarvey’s discussions of divine providence, dealing with the accounts of Joseph and Esther, as set forth in his book, Sermons (available from Gospel Light Publishing, Delight, AR).

Paul, in his epistle to the churches of Galatia, contended that God sent his Son “when the fulness of time came” (Gal. 4:4). Without a doubt the apostle here alludes to Heaven’s providential preparations among various nations, which would facilitate the arrival and success of Christ’s redemptive mission. The Hebrews, for example, prepared the antique world with its sacred Scriptures, replete with Messianic prophecies. The Roman Empire provided a peaceful environment, a highway system for the rapid spread of the gospel, etc. The Greeks contributed the most precise instrument for the conveyance of human thought ever devised, the Koine Greek language (in which the New Testament was composed). Galatians 4:4 fairly shouts of the providential activity of the Creator. An excellent discussion of this point is found in A.H. Newman’s, A Manual of Church History (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1933, Vol. I, pp. 20ff.

Special Providence

When we speak of “special providence,” we are thinking primarily of two things. First, there is the providential operation of God in the lives of those who earnestly are seeking the truth. Second, there is the divine activity that operates in the interest of Christian people. Let us consider each of these.

  1. God knows of those who long for the truth (see Acts 16:6-10), and promises that they who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” shall be filled (Mt. 5:6). Accordingly, the Father has the ability to work within the circumstances of human activity to bring about his desire. That being the case, it reasonably follows that God’s providence may be employed to facilitate the journey of those whose hearts are longing to find and serve their Maker.

A case in point may be found in the following narrative.

In the book of Philemon the story is told of a slave named Onesimus. He belonged to Philemon of Colossae. Onesimus ran away from his master and made his way to Rome, where he encountered the apostle Paul. Paul led Onesimus to the truth. Commenting upon this matter, the apostle sees the possibility of providence in this situation. He writes: “For perhaps he was therefore parted from you for a season, that you should have him forever; no longer as a servant, but more than a servant, a brother beloved …” (Philm. 15, 16).

The verb echoristhe (“was parted” ASV) is a passive voice form. The passive represents the subject as being acted upon. Some scholars have noted that the passive here “may contain a conviction of the divine overruling … to denote the hidden action of God as an agent responsible for what is done” (Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, II, p. 314). Also, by the terms “for a season” and “forever,” some suggest the apostle shows his “conviction that the hand of God was at work in the whole situation” (Arthur Rupprecht, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank Gaebelein, Ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978, p. 461).

  1. The New Testament is filled with promises which affirm that God will answer the prayers of his people and work in their lives. But since Jehovah is not functioning miraculously (see 1 Cor. 13:8-10), obviously he is operating providentially. Things that may appear perfectly natural, from the human point of view, may be being directed by Jehovah!

Here is a case in point. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome (from Corinth, during his third missionary journey, cf. Acts 20:2; Rom. 16:23), he told these brethren that in his prayers he continually made request (a present tense form) unto God that he might some day visit them (Rom. 1:9, 10). As he concluded the book, he urged the Roman saints to join him in prayer, to the end that this request be granted (Rom. 15:30-32). God will answer those prayers, but in his own providential way!

Consider the following facts:

After his third missionary campaign, Paul returned to Jerusalem where he was arrested for allegedly defiling the temple (Acts 21:28). In the night, the Lord told him to be cheerful. He would not die in Jerusalem; rather, the apostle would bear witness in Rome (Acts 23:11).

  1. To save his life from a Jewish mob that had vowed to murder him, Roman officials sent Paul to Caesarea by night (23:31ff).
  2. There, he was imprisoned for two years (24:27).
  3. Finally, when he concluded that he would get no justice from the authorities, exercising his right as a Roman citizen, the apostle appealed his case to Caesar (25:11).
  4. In early autumn (cir. A.D. 60), he was put on a ship bound for Rome (27:1).
  5. En route, the vessel was wrecked and all hope of being saved was abandoned (27:30).
  6. But an angel appeared to the apostle and promised: “You must stand before Caesar” (27:24).
  7. The following spring, safe and sound, Paul arrived in Rome (28:16). His prayers (and those of the Roman saints) had been answered, but through the mysterious workings of divine providence!

Later, writing from Rome to the brethren in Philippi, the apostle could say that the things which had happened to him “have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). There is no doubt but that Paul saw the helpful hand of Providence in this series of events in his life (see Acts 26:22).

Let God’s people thus rejoice, and live each day with calm confidence, knowing that the Lord is near, and that Heaven’s operations through providence are an abiding presence in our daily existence.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2021 in Providence

 

More Than Conquerors! A Study of Romans 8 #4 “The Spiritual Mind” Romans 8:5-8


(Romans 8:5-8 NIV)  “Those who live according to 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. {6} The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; {7} the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. {8} Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.”

Romans 8:5-8 (ESV) 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] 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.

The spiritual richness, both theological and practical, of this chapter is beyond calculation and surpasses adequate comment. When read by a believer with an open mind and an obedient heart, it is incredibly enriching.

It is one of the supreme life-changing chapters in Scripture. It moves along in an ever-ascending course, concluding in the marvelous paean of praise and assurance: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

The Holy Spirit is mentioned but once in the first seven chapters of Romans, but is referred to nearly twenty times in chapter 8. The Spirit is to a believer what God the Creator is to the physical world. Without God, the physical world would not exist. It has been created and is continually sustained by the omnipotent power of God.

So the Holy Spirit—who also, of course, participated in the creation of the world—is to the Christian. The Holy Spirit is the divine agent who creates, sustains, and preserves spiritual life in those who place their trust in Jesus Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who ultimately will bring every believer into the full consummation of his salvation by granting him eternal glory in the presence of God.

It should be made clear that the Holy Spirit is not merely an influence or an impersonal power emanating from God. He is a person, the third member of the Trinity, equal in every way to God the Father and God the Son. The doctrine of God’s being one essence, yet existing in three persons, is one of the most certain truths in Scripture. Yet the Holy Spirit is often not respected as every bit as much a divine person as the Father and the Son.

Among the many characteristics of personhood that the Holy Spirit possesses and manifests are: He functions with mind, emotion, and will; He loves the saints, He communicates with them, teaches, guides, comforts, and chastises them; He can be grieved, quenched, lied to, tested, resisted, and blasphemed.

The Bible speaks of His omniscience, His omnipotence, His omnipresence, and His divine glory and holiness. He is called God, Lord, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Yahweh (or Jehovah), the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of the Son, the Spirit of Jesus, and the Comforter and Advocate for believers.

Scripture reveals that the Holy Spirit was fully active with the Father and Son in the creation and that He has been with believers and enabled and empowered them since Pentecost (since suggest even before though not in the same indwelling way). He has always been convicting men of sin, giving salvation to those who truly believed, and teaching them to worship, obey and serve God rightly.

The Holy Spirit has been the divine agent who uniquely came upon God’s servants and inspired God’s sovereignly-chosen men to pen God’s Word. True believers have always served God not by human might or power but by the Holy Spirit (cf. Zech. 4:6). The Spirit was involved in Jesus’ conception as a human being and in Jesus’ baptism, anointing, temptation, teaching, miracles, death, and resurrection.

Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit has indwelt all believers, illuminating their understanding and application of God’s Word as well as empowering them for sanctification in a greater way than had every occurred before. He fills them, seals them, communes with them, fellowships with them, intercedes for them, comforts them, admonishes them, sanctifies them, and enables them to resist sin and to serve God.

In the present passage (Rom. 8:5-13), Paul continues to disclose the innumerable results of justification, specifically the marvelous, Spirit-wrought benefits of freedom from condemnation.

Paul is drawing a contrast between two kinds of life.

(i) There is the life which is dominated by sinful human nature; whose focus and centre is self; whose only law is its own desires; which takes what it likes where it likes. In different people that life will be differently described. It may be passion-controlled, or lust-controlled, or pride-controlled, or ambition-controlled. Its characteristic is its absorption in the things that human nature without Christ sets its heart upon.

(ii) There is the life that is dominated by the Spirit of God. As a man lives in the air, he lives in Christ, never separated from him. As he breathes in the air and the air fills him, so Christ fills him. He has no mind of his own; Christ is his mind. He has no desires of his own; the will of Christ is his only law. He is Spirit-controlled, Christ-controlled, God-focused.

These two lives are going in diametrically opposite directions. The life that is dominated by the desires and activities of sinful human nature is on the way to death. In the most literal sense, there is no future in it—because it is getting further and further away from God. To allow the things of the world completely to dominate life is self extinction; it is spiritual suicide. By living it, a man is making himself totally unfit ever to stand in the presence of God. He is hostile to him, resentful of his law and his control. God is not his friend but his enemy, and no man ever won the last battle against him.

The Spirit-controlled life, the Christ-centred life, the God-focused life is daily coming nearer heaven even when it is still on earth. It is a life which is such a steady progress to God that the final transition of death is only a natural and inevitable stage on the way. It is like Enoch who walked with God and God took him. As the child said: “Enoch was a man who went on walks with God—and one day he didn’t come back.”

No sooner has Paul said this than an inevitable objection strikes him. Someone may object: “You say that the Spirit-controlled man is on the way to life; but in point of fact every man must die. Just what do you mean?” Paul’s answer is this. All men die because they are involved in the human situation. Sin came into this world and with sin came death, the consequence of sin. Inevitably, therefore, all men die; but the man who is Spirit-controlled and whose heart is Christ-occupied, dies only to rise again. Paul’s basic thought is that the Christian is indissolubly one with Christ. Now Christ died and rose again; and the man who is one with Christ is one with death’s conqueror and shares in that victory. The Spirit controlled, Christ-possessed man is on the way to life; death is but an inevitable interlude that has to be passed through on the way.

In verses 2-3 he has discussed the Spirit’s freeing us from sin and death, and in verse 4 His enabling us to fulfill God’s law. In verses 5-13 Paul reveals that the Spirit also changes our nature and grants us strength for victory over the unredeemed flesh.

8:5 Live according to the sinful nature.NIV We will struggle constantly with sin and its temptations until the resurrection. People who decide to follow their sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires.NIV But believers do not need to live in sin because they can now live in accordance with the Spirit, setting their mind on what the Spirit desires.NIV We must follow Christ daily in every area of our life, in our choices and moral decisions. Will you follow your former sinful nature or the Spirit’s leading?

8:6 To set the mind on the flesh is death.NRSV The mind refers to our mind-set, our goals. Choosing to follow our flesh (which is translated “sinful nature’ in the niv) will result in death, both spiritual and physical.

To set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.NRSV Choosing to follow the Spirit’s leading brings us full life on earth, eternal life, and peace with God. Paul is not specific about how the Spirit controls because his emphasis here is in comparing the results of the two possible mind-sets. The phrases Paul uses are, literally, “the mind belonging to the flesh” and “the mind belonging to the Spirit.” Paul forces an uncompromising choice and echoes Christ’s words, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24 niv).

Elsewhere in Scripture we find the characteristics of a mind under the Spirit’s control. It will be a mind directed toward truth, aware of the Spirit’s presence (John 14:17). It will be a mind seeking to please the Holy Spirit (Galatians 6:8). It will be a mind active in memorizing and meditating on the words of Christ (John 14:26). It Will be a mind sensitive to sin (John 16:7-11). It will be a mind eager to follow the Spirit’s guidance (Galatians 5:16-22). The control of the Holy Spirit begins with voluntary commitment and submission to Christ.

 HOW DO WE COOPERATE WITH THE SPIRIT’S CONTROL?
l Ask for greater openness and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
l Consciously humble ourselves before God, so we are not too proud to change.
l Look to God’s Word for guidance.
l Obey where we have clear direction, so that our forward movement will enhance the Holy Spirit’s leading. (It makes little sense to steer a parked car!)
When was the last time you prayed as Jesus did, “Nevertheless, may your will, not mine, be done”?

8:7-8 The mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God.NRSV A sinful mind cannot submit to God because it is the seat of indwelling sin and is in permanent revolt against God. The “sinful mind” (niv) instinctively recognizes in God’s law the danger of judgment, and thus prefers willful ignorance. Living in sin, following one’s own desires, and disregarding God boils down to hostility to him.

Does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.NIV This statement supports the doctrine of total depravity Every person not united to Christ is thoroughly controlled by sin’s power. Thus, those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God (niv) because they are interested only in themselves and have cast aside the one and only power that can defeat sin. The mind directed by the flesh can only be devoted to its own self-gratification, which will lead to destruction.

Every human being has a sinful nature. But believers in Christ have access to the Holy Spirit. In fact Paul says, “The Spirit of God lives in you” (8:9). Believers are still in the flesh, but because they are born again, they also have God’s Spirit. The question is which will be in control.

 

TWO TYPES OF PEOPLE
Paul divides people into two categories—those who let themselves be controlled by their sinful nature and those who follow after the Holy Spirit. We would be in the first category if Jesus hadn’t offered us a way out. After we say yes to Jesus, we want to continue following him because his way brings life and peace. We must consciously choose to center our life on God. Use the Bible to discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them. In every perplexing situation ask, “What would Jesus want me to do?” When the Holy Spirit points out what is right, do it eagerly.

 Rom 8:5 For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

The Greek from which this verse comes, according to Wuest, may be translated literally thus:

For those who are habitually dominated by the flesh put their mind on the things of the flesh.

Wuest also noted that the word “mind” carries with it the thought of “deliberately setting the mind upon a certain thing.” From this, it is clear that “walking after the flesh” means deliberately shutting out from the mind all other considerations except those related to animal, bodily, social and temporal needs and desires. In such a definition appears the true reason why the flesh is called “sinful.” It is not because of inherent or natural contamination, but it is due to domination of the flesh by a mind at enmity with God. Again, from Tertullian,

Therefore the apostle says that “sin dwelleth in the flesh,” because the soul by which sin is provoked has its temporary lodging in the flesh, which is doomed indeed to death, not however, on its own account, but on account of sin.

Once the stubborn soul of man, the inner man himself, as distinguished from the flesh, has become reconciled to God through faith and obedience to the gospel of Christ, and has received the Holy Spirit of promise, such a person is then endowed with a whole new set of values. He is born again! Thus the man walks “in newness of life,” as Paul had already stated in Rom. 6:4. This transformation from the old state to the new one is here identified as “minding the things of the Spirit”; but Paul also identified the same condition as that of permitting the mind of Christ to be in the believer (Phil. 2:5f). A legitimate deduction from this is that to possess a measure of God’s Spirit and to possess the mind of Jesus Christ are one and the same thing.

Rom 8:6 For the mind of the flesh is death; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace.

Mind of the flesh … cannot be thought of as identifying the mind with the flesh, that is, the substance of the flesh. Tertullian cautioned that

The carnal mind must be referred to the soul (as distinguished from the flesh), although ascribed sometimes to the flesh (as here), on the ground that it is ministered to by the flesh and through the flesh.

The “mind” that Paul had in view here is the rebellious and perverse spirit of man’s inner self; and the meaning is not primarily that physical death is caused by such mind (though, of course, it can cause that also), but that a state of death derives from and automatically accompanies such a mind, a condition called death “in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). In a simplistic view, man’s entire trouble lies in his inmost mind. Who is in charge there? If the inner throne is occupied by Satan, sin and death reign. If Christ is on the throne, life and peace reign.

Rom 8:7 Because the mind of the flesh is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.

As Barrett noted,

(The mind of the flesh) means a mind from which God is excluded.

This verse should be understood in the light of certain basic facts. There is a seat of authority within every person; it is the essential “I” whose choices and decisions determine destiny. Not merely the body, but also the intelligence itself, are both subject to this essence of the person, which is the monitor of the complete life of the individual. This inner throne of personal authority was designed by the Creator for his own occupancy, and is so created that the “I” itself cannot occupy it; although it is possible for the “I” to dethrone God and turn the occupancy of the throne over to Satan. This is what Adam did in Eden. This means that every life is under the authority of God or that of Satan. Man was so created that it is impossible for man himself to be the captain of his soul, his very nature requiring that the ultimate authority of his life shall belong to either one of two masters, and only two, God or Satan. Thus, when Paul spoke of the “mind of the flesh” in this verse as being at enmity with God, he referred to the mind of one who has put the Lord off the inner throne of his life.

It is true that Satan deceives people into the vanity of believing that they might indeed get rid of God and “live their own lives”; but it is a delusion, for, in the very act of refusing God the adoration that is rightfully his, the person becomes automatically a de facto servant of the devil; and the inevitable result of such an exchange of masters is that the very highest human faculties (as well as all others), including the intelligence itself, are incapable of serving God as long as such a condition exists. This intelligence subordinated to Satan instead of God was called “the mind of the flesh” by Paul here, because such a mind no longer has any regard or concern for eternal things and is occupied completely with the earthly life of flesh.

How utterly wrong, therefore, and how totally incredible, is the delusion that any such thing as total hereditary depravity was taught by Paul in this verse. Murray has this:

In the whole passage we have the biblical basis for the doctrines of total depravity and total inability ….”Enmity against God” is nothing other than total depravity, and “cannot please God” nothing less than total inability.

But, of course, the expressions cited by Murray refer to man’s mind, not as it was by the endowment of birth, but as it became through his rebellion against God. Paul’s teaching here corresponds exactly with that of Jesus regarding two masters (Matt. 6:24). If one decides to serve one, he cannot serve the other; but in the teaching both of Paul and of Jesus, the question of the soul’s right to decide is never for an instant doubted. The impossibility of serving the other master cannot derive from any inborn condition, but it must always be viewed as the consequence of the soul’s decision to serve one or the other, that option being the only one that God has given people.

The right of decision is never removed from man, no matter what his sins are; and therefore the “mind of the flesh” is morally accountable to God. Every gospel invitation, and even the great invitation of Jesus (Matt. 11:29,30) are grounded in the principle that even the wickedest of people have the right of decision if they elect to exercise it. The doctrines of depravity and inability cited above are inimical to the word of God, being not founded in the teachings of Christ or his apostles, but derived from the speculations of people. The question of judicial hardening is another matter, and will be discussed under Rom. 11:25. Christ’s teaching with regard to little children and his word that “unto such belongeth the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14) is a denial of human theories of total depravity, etc.

Rom 8:8 And they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

The questions raised by this verse are discussed under Rom. 8:7, above. “In the flesh” is here a reference to the condition that exists when the soul rejects its Creator, sacrifices all hopes of immortality and of the eternal world, and decides to make the present life of flesh its one and only concern.

 Additional Notes

(8:5-8) Mind, The—Carnal—Flesh—Spiritual Mind: the Spirit pulls the mind to spiritual things. This is one of the most important passages in all of Scripture, for it discusses the human mind: “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).

Where a man keeps his mind and what he thinks about determine who he is and what he does. If a man keeps his mind and thoughts in the gutter, he becomes part of the filth in the gutter. If he keeps his mind upon the good, he becomes good. If he focuses upon achievement and success, he achieves and succeeds. If his mind is filled with religious thoughts, he becomes religious. If his thoughts are focused upon God and righteousness, he becomes godly and righteous. A man becomes and does what he thinks. It is the law of the mind. Scripture says three things about the power of the Spirit and of the human mind.

  1. There is the carnal mind vs. the spiritual mind. The carnal mind is the mind of man’s flesh or body. The phrase “to be carnally minded” (to phronema tes sarkos, Romans 8:6) means the mind of the flesh. It is the mind with which man is born, the fleshly mind which he inherits from his parents.

The carnal mind also means something else, something that must be heeded. It means the mind that is given over to the flesh; that focuses upon the flesh and its worldly urges and desires; that gives its attention and pursuits over to the flesh; that savors tasting and partaking of the flesh; that is controlled by one’s sinful nature.

The carnal mind focuses upon three areas of life, or to word it another way, there are three directions of thought the carnal mind takes:

  1. The carnal mind may focus upon the base, the immoral, the violent, the material, and the physical. This is usually the life-style most people think about when a carnal or fleshly person is mentioned. The minds of some are consumed with the lust for sex, power, money, houses, lands, furnishings, recognition, position—concerned and filled with the earthly and the worldly.
  2. The carnal mind may focus upon the moral, upright, and cultured life. Some minds are centered upon the welfare and comfort of themselves and of their society. They want themselves and their society to be as refined and educated, as moral and upright as possible, so they focus their minds upon such commendable ends. And they are commendable purposes, but a person can be refined and well educated and live as independently and as separate from God as the base and immoral person. Most cultured people depend upon their good works and service to make them acceptable to God. Most just think that God will accept them because their lives and efforts have been focused upon building a good life and better society for all. What they fail to see is that God is interested in building a God-centered society and not a world-centered society. God wants the needs of every man to be met, but He wants it to be done from a spiritual basis, not from a human basis. He wants men led to Christ—their minds and lives focused upon God—so that they may have life, life that is both abundant and eternal. Just taking care of the physical needs of man does not meet the spiritual needs of man. It leaves a gaping hole in man’s life; for the spirit of man determines how a man lives, either defeated or victorious, either with or apart from God (see note— Ephes. 1:3).
  3. The carnal mind may also focus upon religion: upon living a religious life of benevolence and good works, of ceremony and ritual. However, note again: a person can be a strict religionist and still live separate from God. He can have his mind set on religion and its welfare instead of God. He can be living for religion instead of for God, carrying out the function of institutional religion instead of the mission of God. He can be depending upon his commitment to religion to make him acceptable to God instead of believing and trusting God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. In all of this, note where the religionist’s mind is—note where his thoughts are. There is little if any stress upon a personal relationship with God; little stress upon knowing God—really knowing, believing, and understanding Him—little stress upon walking and living in Him. The stress of the carnal religionist is his religion and its rituals and ceremonies, its welfare and projects. Such a focus is fleshly and carnal. It is of the earth, attached to the physical and material institution which passes away and dies.

The point is this: a carnal mind does not necessarily mean that a man’s thoughts are upon the base, immoral, and vicious. A carnal mind means any mind that does not find its basis in God, any mind that is not focused upon God first. A carnal mind may focus upon a moral, upright, and cultured life and still ignore, neglect, and exempt God. A carnal mind may also focus upon religion and still exempt God. A carnal mind is a mind that finds its basis in this world, that focuses its thoughts upon the physical and material instead of God.

  1. There is the spiritual mind. It is the natural mind of man that has been renewed by the Spirit of God.

The words “spiritually minded” (to phronema tou pneumatos) mean to be possessed by the Spirit or to be controlled and dominated by the Spirit. It means that the man who walks after the Spirit minds “the things of the Spirit” day by day. And note: it is the Spirit of God who draws the believer’s mind to focus upon spiritual things. The Spirit of God lives within the believer. He is there to work within the believer, both to will and to do God’s pleasure; He is there to keep the mind and thoughts of the believer focused upon spiritual things.

  1. The believer keeps his mind upon developing spiritual character and fruit.
  2. The believer keeps his mind upon carrying out the ministry and mission of Christ.
  3. The believer keeps his mind upon knowing, believing, and understanding God.
  4. The believer keeps his mind upon casting down imaginations and making every thought obedient to Christ.
  5. There is the fate of both minds. The carnal mind is strongly warned, whereas the spiritual mind is assured and comforted.
  6. The fate of the carnal mind is death. By death is meant spiritual death, being separated and cut off from God eternally. It means the soul is dead now, while the man lives on this earth; and it means that the soul remains dead (separated and cut off from God) even when the man enters the next world. The carnal mind…
  • cannot ignore God now and expect to have thoughts of God in the next world.
  • cannot focus upon the flesh now and expect to focus upon God in the next world.
  • cannot think as it wills now and expect to think as God wills in the next world.
  • cannot have a worldly mind now and expect to have a spiritual mind in the next world.
  • cannot choose the flesh now and expect to be saved from the flesh in the next world.
  • cannot reject God now and expect to be accepted by God in the next world.

 

Very simply stated, whatever the mind chooses will continue on and on. If the mind chooses the flesh instead of God, then the choice is made. The mind will continue on without God from now on, forever and ever. The mind is allowed to do as it chooses. If it chooses to be separated and cut off from God so that it can dwell upon the flesh, then the soul shall have the flesh; it shall be separated and cut off from God. God loves man; God will not violate man’s mind and force man to choose Him. The choice is man’s: he may choose God, or he may choose flesh and death (to be separated and cut off from God).

  1. The fate of the spiritual mind is life and peace. It is the very opposite of death. The spiritual mind is a state of mind, a mind that is filled with life and peace, with thoughts of life and peace. The spiritual mind dwells in life; it lives all that life was intended to be and lives it eternally. The spiritual mind is full…
  • of meaning, purpose, and significance.
  • of assurance and confidence.
  • of joy and rejoicing.
  • of knowing, believing, and understanding God.
  • of spiritual fruit, the fruit of love, joy, and peace (Galatians 5:22-23).

The spiritual mind is also full of peace. The man who is spiritually minded is at peace with God: he has peace with God because he knows beyond question that his sins are forgiven and that he is now acceptable to God. He also dwells in the peace of God: he has the peace of God because he experiences the day by day care and guidance of God in his life. He actually walks through life in the peace of God, knowing that God is looking after him and working all things out for his good. He knows his eternity is taken care of, that he shall be given the glorious privilege of living eternally and serving God in some glorious responsibility. Note something else as well: the man who is spiritually minded is at peace with all other men. He loves and cares for all men, no matter who they are, just as Jesus loves and cares for them.

The spiritual mind, the mind that focuses upon the things of the spirit, knows and experiences life and peace. Life and peace are its destiny forever and ever. Such is the promise of God and the testimony of His saints who have gone on before. To be spiritually minded reaps its reward, and its reward is eternal life and peace.

  1. There is the reason the carnal mind dwells in death. The carnal mind dwells in death because it is at enmity with God. This is simply seen.
  • God is holy, righteous, and pure; whereas the carnal mind is impure, immoral, and polluted. The carnal or fleshly mind is opposed to God by its very nature.
  • God acts only in morality and justice and goodness; whereas the carnal mind behaves immorally, unjustly, and selfishly. The carnal or fleshly mind is opposed to God by its very behavior.
  • God is eternal, from everlasting to everlasting; whereas the carnal mind ages, deteriorates, dies, and decays. The carnal or fleshly mind is opposed to God by its very destiny, death.

The carnal mind is opposed to God, to all that He is. It is not pure or lasting; it is fleshly and full of corruption, and it dwells in death. The carnal or fleshly mind is bitterly opposed to all that God is. Therefore, the carnal mind dwells in death, and it shall dwell in death eternally.

Now note: all this is saying one simple thing: the carnal mind “is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” The carnal mind cannot be subject to God’s law because it is not “like” God: not by nature, not by behavior, not by destiny. A carnal mind has no interest in the law of God nor in trying to live as God wishes. The carnal mind wants to live as it wishes and do its own thing. The carnal man wants to indulge his flesh, whether by food, sex, pride, power, position, money, recognition, fame, or self-righteousness.

However, the glorious truth is this. The Spirit of God can transform the mind of man. The Spirit of God can pull the mind to spiritual things.

Most carnal minds are influenced heavily by their environment and those around them. If their friends are materialistic or immoral, they focus upon the same. If their environment offers films and literature, they fill their minds with such, whether X-rated or educational and philosophic. Few carnal minds ever break away from their environment and friends. Only the Spirit of God can penetrate the human mind and set it free from the flesh and its carnal passions.

“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” (Rom. 8:12). There is no obligation to the old nature. The believer can live in victory. In this section, Paul described life on three different levels; and he encouraged his readers to live on the highest level.

“You have not the Spirit” (vv. 5-8). Paul is not describing two kinds of Christians, one carnal and one spiritual. He is contrasting the saved and the unsaved. There are four contrasts.

In the fleshin the Spirit (v. 5). The unsaved person does not have the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9) and lives in the flesh and for the flesh. His mind is centered on the things that satisfy the flesh. But the Christian has the Spirit of God within and lives in an entirely new and different sphere. His mind is fixed on the things of the Spirit. This does not mean that the unsaved person never does anything good, or that the believer never does anything bad. It means that the bent of their lives is different. One lives for the flesh, the other lives for the Spirit.

Death—life (v. 6). The unsaved person is alive physically, but dead spiritually. The inner man is dead toward God and does not respond to the things of the Spirit. He may be moral, and even religious; but he lacks spiritual life. He needs “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:2).

War with God—peace with God (vv. 6-7). In our study of Romans 7, we have seen that the old nature rebels against God and will not submit to God’s Law. Those who have trusted Christ enjoy “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), while the unsaved are at war with God. “‘There is no peace,’ saith the Lord, ‘unto the wicked'” (Isa. 48:22).

Pleasing self—pleasing God (v. 8). To be “in the flesh” means to be lost, outside Christ. The unsaved person lives to please himself and rarely if ever thinks about pleasing God. The root of sin is selfishness—”I will” and not “Thy will.”

To be unsaved and not have the Spirit is the lowest level of life. But a person need not stay on that level. By faith in Christ he can move to the second level.

The Holy Spirit Changes Our Nature

In verse 4 Paul speaks of the believer’s behavior, contending that he does “not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” As in verses 2 and 3, the conjunction for in verse 5 carries the meaning of because. The point is that a believer does not behave according to the flesh because his new heart and mind are no longer centered on the things of the flesh and ruled by sin.

In God’s eyes, there are only two kinds of people in the world, those who do not belong to Him and those who do. Put another way there are only those who are according to the flesh and those who are according to the Spirit. As far as spiritual life is concerned, God takes no consideration of gender, age, education, talent, class, race, or any other human distinctions (Gal. 3:28). He differentiates people solely on the basis of their relationship to Him, and the difference is absolute.

Obviously there are degrees in both categories. Some unsaved people exhibit high moral behavior; and, on the other hand, many saints do not mind the things of God as obediently as they should. But every human being is completely in one spiritual state of being or the other; he either belongs to God or he does not. Just as a person cannot be partly dead and partly alive physically neither can he be partly dead and partly alive spiritually. There is no middle ground. A person is either forgiven and in the kingdom of God or unforgiven and in the kingdom of this world. He is either a child of God or a child of Satan.

In this context, the phrase according to refers to basic spiritual nature. The Greek could be translated literally as those being according to, indicating a person’s fundamental essence, bent, or disposition. Those who are according to the flesh are the unsaved, the unforgiven, the unredeemed, the unregenerate. Those who are according to the Spirit are the saved, the forgiven, the redeemed, the regenerated children of God.

As the apostle points out a few verses later, the unsaved not only are according to the flesh but are in the flesh and are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The saved, on the other hand, not only are according to the Spirit but are in the Spirit and indwelt by Him (v. 9). Here in verse 5 Paul is speaking of the determinant spiritual pattern of a person’s life, whereas in verses 8-9 he is speaking of the spiritual sphere of a person’s life.

The verb behind set their minds, refers to the basic orientation, bent, and thought patterns of the mind, rather than to the mind or intellect itself. It includes a person’s affections and will as well as his reasoning. Paul uses the same verb in Philippians, where he admonishes believers to “have this attitude [or, “mind”] in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (2:5; see also 2:2; 3:15, 19; Col. 3:2).

The basic disposition of the unredeemed is to “indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires” (2 Pet. 2:10). The lost are those “whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). The things of the flesh includes false philosophies and religions, which invariably appeal, whether overtly or subtly, to the flesh through self-interest and self-effort.

But those who are according to the Spirit, Paul says, set their minds on the things of the Spirit. In other words, those who belong to God are concerned about godly things. As Jonathan Edwards liked to say, they have “holy affections,” deep longings after God and sanctification. As Paul has made clear in Romans 7, even God’s children sometimes falter in their obedience to Him. But as the apostle said of himself, they nevertheless “joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man” (Rom. 7:22). Despite their many spiritual failures, their basic orientation and innermost concerns have to do with the things of the Spirit.

The mind is the noun form of the verb in verse 5, and, like the verb, refers to the content or thought patterns of the mind rather than to the mind itself. It is significant that Paul does not say that the mind set on the flesh leads to death, but that it is death. The unsaved person is already dead spiritually. The apostle is stating a spiritual equation, not a spiritual consequence. The consequence involved in this relationship is the reverse: that is, because unredeemed men are already spiritually dead, their minds are inevitably set on the flesh. Paul reminded the Ephesian believers that, before salvation, they were all once “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1).

There is, of course, a sense in which sin leads to death. “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,” Isaiah declared to Israel, “and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Earlier in the book of Romans Paul explained that “the wages of sin is death” (6:23) and that “while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death” (7:5; cf. Gal 6:8).

But Paul’s emphasis in the present passage is on the state of death in which every unbeliever already exists, even while his body and mind may be very much alive and active. “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,” Paul explained to the Corinthian believers, “for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).

But the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. Again Paul states an equation, not a consequence. The mind set on the Spirit, that is, on the things of God, equates life and peace, which equates being a Christian. The mind set on the Spirit is synonymous with Christian, a person who has been born again, given spiritual life by God’s grace working through his faith.

The mind set on the Spirit is also synonymous with spiritual peace, that is, peace with God. The unsaved person, no matter how much he may claim to honor, worship, and love God, is God’s enemy—a truth Paul has already pointed out in this epistle. Before we were saved, he states, we were all enemies of God (5:10). Only the person who has new life in God has peace with God.

The obvious corollary of that truth is that it is impossible to have a mind set on the Spirit, which includes having spiritual life and peace, and yet remain dead to the things of God. A professing Christian who has no sensitivity to the things of God, no “holy affections,” does not belong to God. Nor does a merely professing Christian have a battle with the flesh, because he is, in reality, still naturally inclined toward the things of the flesh. He longs for the things of the flesh, which are normal to him, because he is still in the flesh and has his mind wholly set on the things of the flesh.

An unbeliever may be deeply concerned about not living up to the religious standards and code he has set for himself, and he may struggle hard in trying to achieve those goals. But his struggle is purely on a human level. It is a struggle not generated by the love of God but by self-love and the subsequent desire to gain greater favor with God or men on the basis of superior personal achievement. Whatever religious and moral struggles he may have are problems of flesh with flesh, not of Spirit against flesh, because the Holy Spirit is not in a fleshly person and a fleshly person is not in the Spirit.

As Paul has illustrated from his own life in Romans 7, a true Christian battles with the flesh because his mortal body still hangs on and tries to lure him back into the old sinful ways. But he is no longer in the flesh but in the Spirit. Speaking of true believers, Paul said, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:17). But “if we live by the Spirit,” he goes on to say, “let us also walk by the Spirit” (v. 25; cf. v. 16). In other words, because a believer’s new nature is divine and is indwelt by God’s own Spirit, he desires to behave accordingly.

It is important to note that, when he speaks of sin in a Christian’s life, Paul is always careful to identify sin with the outer, corrupted body, not with the new inner nature. A believer’s flesh is not redeemed when he trusts in Christ. If that were so, all Christians would immediately become perfect when they are saved, which even apart from the testimony of Scripture is obviously not true. The sinful vestige of unredeemed humanness will not fall away until the Christian goes to be with the Lord. It is for that reason that the New Testament sometimes speaks of a Christian’s salvation in the future tense (see Rom. 13:11).

Referring to those who were already saved, Paul says later in this chapter, “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” (Rom. 8:23). As the apostle explains to the Corinthians, “It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an  imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body there is also a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

No matter how self-sacrificing, moral, and sincere the life of an unredeemed person may be, his religious efforts are selfish, because he cannot truly serve God, because his mind is set on the flesh. Paul again (cf. v 6) uses the term (the mind), which refers to the content, the thought patterns, the basic inclination and orientation of a person. This inclination, or bent, of the flesh is even more deep-seated and significant than actual disobedience, which is simply the outward manifestation of the inner, fleshly compulsions of an unregenerate person.

Every unredeemed person, whether religious or atheistic, whether outwardly moral or outwardly wicked, is hostile toward God. An unsaved person cannot live a godly and righteous life because he has no godly and righteous nature or resources. He therefore cannot have genuine love for God or for the things of God. His sinful, fleshly mind does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. Even an unbeliever whose life seems to be a model of good works is not capable of doing anything truly good, because he is not motivated or empowered by God and because his works are produced by the flesh for self-centered reasons and can never be to God’s glory. It clearly follows, then, that if the fleshly mind does not and cannot subject itself to the law of God, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Men were created for the very purpose of pleasing God. At the beginning of the practical section of this epistle Paul says, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2). In a similar way he admonished the Corinthians, “whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to [God]” (2 Cor. 5:9; cf. Eph. 5:10; Phil. 4:18). He exhorted the believers at Thessalonica “to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more” (1 Thess. 4:1).

After describing the spiritual characteristics and incapacities of those who are in the flesh, Paul again addresses those who are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Sinful human flesh can only reproduce more sinful human flesh. Only God’s Holy Spirit can produce spiritual life.

A test of saving faith is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. “You can be certain of your salvation,” Paul is saying, “if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Dwells has the idea of being in one’s own home. In a marvelous and incomprehensible way the very Spirit of God makes His home in the life of every person who trusts in Jesus Christ through  baptism.

The opposite of that reality is also true: But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. The person who gives no evidence of the presence, power, and fruit of God’s Spirit in his life has no legitimate claim to Christ as Savior and Lord. The person who demonstrates no desire for the things of God and has no inclination to avoid sin or passion to please God is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit and thus does not belong to Christ. In light of that sobering truth Paul admonishes those who claim to be Christians: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

And if Christ is in you, Paul continues to say to believers, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. In other words, if God’s Spirit indwells us, our own spirit is alive because of righteousness, that is, because of the divinely-imparted righteousness by which every believer is justified (Rom. 3:21-26). In light of that perfect righteousness, all human attempts at being righteous are but rubbish (Phil. 3:8).

Summing up what he has just declared in verses 5-10, Paul says, 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 indwells you. It was again the Holy Spirit who was the divine agent of Christ’s resurrection. And just as the Spirit lifted Jesus out of physical death and gave Him life in His mortal body so the Spirit, who dwells in the believer; gives to that believer new life now and forever (cf. John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6).

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2021 in Romans

 

The Spiritual Nature Of Man


The Threefold Nature of Man | Present Truth MinistriesIn this lesson we will examine the spiritual nature of man as we seek to understand the relationship man is capable of having with his Creator.

When we think of the creation, our thought usually focus upon the events in the first two chapters of Genesis. However, sometime prior to the creation of the physical heavens and the earth, God created an entirely different realm.

Paul declared in Colossians 1:16 that through Jesus “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible.” Two different creations are mentioned in this verse. One is the spiritual (invisible) creation in heaven. The other is the physical (visible) creation on earth.

The angels were a part of God’s spiritual creation in heaven. Nehemiah wrote, “Thou alone art the Lord. Thou hast made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host. . . .” (Nehemiah 9:6). In Psalm 33:6 the psalmist declared that the heavenly host of angels was created by the breath of God’s mouth.

Since “God is spirit” (John 4:24), we can conclude that the angels were created as spirit beings in God’s eternal, spiritual image. Following His spiritual creation of “the heaven of heavens,” God created “the earth and all that is on it” (Nehemiah 9:6). While the heavenly creation is spiritual in nature, the earthly creation is physical. The physical creation consists of the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, and all of the plants and animals which fill our planet.

In contrast to the spiritual creation, which consist of “things which are not seen” and are “eternal” in nature (2 Corinthians 4:18), the physical creation consists of “things which are seen” and are “temporal” in nature.

MAN IS A CREATED BEING

God crowned His physical creation with the creation of man, His unique and preeminent creation. In Genesis 1:26 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” To accomplish His task, “the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground” (Genesis 2:7). Into this marvelous, but lifeless physical body, God “breathed . . . the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

God created man with a temporal, physical body similar to the body of an animal. However, man also has a spiritual aspect to his nature that is common with the angels of God. When God breathed life into the physical body of man, that eternal spark of God’s nature formed the spirit within man. The spirit of man bears the mark of God’s eternal, spiritual image.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that “man became a living being” (or a living soul). Sometimes people speak of man as having a soul, but the Bible declares that man is a living soul. As living souls created in the image of God, humans are eternal spirits temporarily inhabiting physical bodies. While some bodies are male and others are female, we all share the spiritual and eternal nature of God!

Many times the Bible describes man as a two part being, or a dichotomy. For example, in describing physical death, Solomon wrote, “The dust [the physical body] will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

James wrote that “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26). It is obvious from these verses that man’s nature consists of an “outer man” (like the animals, temporal in nature), and an “inner man” (like the angels, eternal in nature). It is vitally important that we understand our human nature, because as Christians we must learn to focus our attention “not at the things which are seen” (i.e., the flesh and the things of the flesh), “but at the things which are not seen” (i.e., the spirit and the things of the spirit); “for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18).

Those who fail to distinguish between the physical and the spiritual devote their lives to the temporal matters of this world. God warns that all in this world will one day “pass away with a roar” (2 Peter 3:10).

MAN IS A THREEFOLD BEING

While it is true that the Bible usually describes man as a dual being (a two-part being, body and spirit), two New Testament passages describe him as a three-part being. The author of Hebrews declared that the Word of God is so sharp that it can pierce even to the division of the soul and the spirit (Hebrews 4:12). A distinction is also drawn between the soul and the spirit in Paul’s prayer that the Thessalonians’ “spirit and soul and body [might] be preserved complete” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

We have no problem distinguishing between the body and the spirit of man, but we have some difficulty in understanding the difference between the soul and the spirit. Since the soul and the spirit are eternally joined together as the “inward man,” the line between the two is very fine. However, as we have seen, the Word of God is capable of distinguishing between the two. As we see some of the differences between the soul and the spirit, we will more fully understand our own spiritual nature.

Let us notice several things from Genesis 2:7

(1) The physical body of man is the outer shell in which the soul and the spirit (the inner, eternal

man) dwell.

(2) The soul is the real you and me. The Greek word translated soul is psuche. This is the source of our English word “psyche.” The psyche is the thinking part of man, consisting of intellect, emotions, and will. Solomon declared that “as he thinks within himself, so he is” (Proverbs 23:7). From deep within our souls we choose to live for the outer man (the flesh and the things of the world) or for the inner man (the spirit and the eternal things of God). That basic choice will one day determine where we will spend eternity.

(3) The spirit is the eternal spark of God’s nature which imparts life to the outer body and to the inner soul. The spirit of man is like God’s Spirit in that it is “eternal, immortal, [and] invisible” (1 Timothy 1:17). The spirit of man will be just as much in existence one million years from now as it is today. It will either be with God in His eternal, glorious presence, or it will be separated from God in the eternal darkness of Satan’s kingdom. The focus of all Christianity is upon the spirit and the salvation of man from the eternal darkness of Satan’s kingdom.

MAN LIVES IN A DUAL ENVIRONMENT

As eternal spirits residing in physical bodies, we are in constant contact with two different realms, the physical and the spiritual. Our bodies are surrounded by the material world, making us “world conscious.” The soul is the fountain of all our thoughts, making us “self-conscious.”

The spirit, which sets mankind apart from the animals, gives us the ability to be “Godconscious.” Please note that animals were never given “the breath of God” (cf. Genesis 1:24), so they do not bear the spiritual and eternal image of their Creator as man does.

Paul compared the Christian’s threefold nature to God’s Old Testament temple in 1 Corinthians 3:16. Paul asked the question “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” God’s Holy Spirit at one time resided in the Old Testament temple, but Paul declared that Christians are now the dwelling place of God.

By studying the Old Testament temple, we can more fully appreciate what we have learned thus far in our lesson. The temple was divided into three parts. The outer court was visible to all and could be visited by Jew or Gentile. The Holy Place could be entered only by the priests. Beyond the veil was the Most Holy Place, which was the holy dwelling place of God and could be entered only by the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

The Christian (as the Lord’s New Testament temple) also has three parts to his nature. The body (like the outer court of the temple) is the external part of our nature and is visible to all. Paul exhorts Christians “to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Within the body resides the soul (our psychological makeup), which includes the intellect, emotions, and will. The Christian has yielded his soul to the Lord in obedience to the great commandment to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The Christian endeavors to love the Lord with all of his inner, conscious being!

Even deeper than the conscious nature of the soul resides the spirit, which can have contact with the invisible kingdoms of God and Satan. The spirits of Christians have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus and have been united as “one spirit with Him” (1 Corinthians 6:17). “Christ in you [is] the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

MAN IS A SINFUL BEING

To understand the privilege of being united with Jesus as one spirit, we need to review the history of sin. When Adam was first created, he, like God, was without sin. God placed Adam in a position of authority over the physical creation (Genesis 1:26). In turn, God assumed His position of authority over the man, commanding him not to eat “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and warning him that he would die “in the day” he ate (Genesis 2:15, 17).

As long as man respected this commandment of God, he enjoyed a perfect paradise on earth. His body was not subject to disease or death. His soul was filled with holy thoughts of God. His spirit remained united with his Creator. In the midst of such love and glory, Satan tempted Eve with the question “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). This question directed Eve’s attention to the forbidden tree. Satan applied the pressure of temptation by suggesting that God was depriving her of the wisdom to be like God, “knowing good and evil.”

The woman began to focus the attention of her soul upon the tree as she saw “that the tree was good for food” (an appeal to the lust of the flesh), “that it was a delight to the eyes” (the lust of the eyes), and that it was “desirable to make one wise” (the pride of life). (See Genesis 3:1–6; cf. 1 John 2:16.) Eve’s soul was under satanic attack. Her mind began to contemplate what she could have if she ate of the tree. Emotionally, she became attracted to the forbidden tree. Finally, she yielded her will and made the fatal choice to eat of the forbidden fruit.

Among the trees in the garden, two trees were of vital importance. The tree of life gave man access to life (Genesis 3:22). This tree was a symbol of man’s total dependence upon God. As long as man trusted and obeyed God, he could eat of this tree and live forever. The other tree (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) gave man freedom of will. By eating from this tree, man could choose to trust self and to declare his independence from God’s will. Adam and Eve made that fatal choice. The tragic result was that sin and death entered our world.

God had warned Adam that he would surely die in the day that he ate of the forbidden tree (Genesis 2:17). This is “the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). Even though Adam and Eve continued to live physically for hundreds of years after their sin, in the very day they ate of the forbidden tree they died spiritually. Spiritual death is the separation of man’s spirit from God’s Holy Spirit because of sin. Sin contaminates the spirit of man and makes it impossible for God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within man (Isaiah 59:2).

God’s eyes are so holy that He cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13), and His holy nature demands that He separate Himself from all sin. When man’s spirit becomes separated from God’s Spirit of life, he becomes a walking corpse, “dead in . . . trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). Such was the condition of Adam and Eve following their sin in the Garden of Eden. They remained physically alive in the world, but they were spiritually dead to God.

All mankind inherits the physical consequences of Adam’s sin (disease, pain, physical death, etc.). However, the spiritual consequences of sin (eternal separation from God) can be experienced only through one’s personal participation in the guilt of sin (cf. Ezekiel 18:20). God’s Word declares that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

MAN WITHOUT CHRIST:

  1. The intellect becomes focused upon “the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5–8) and “the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
  2. The emotions reflect “an evil, unbelieving heart” (Hebrews 3:12), dominated by the sordid “deeds of the flesh” (Galatians 5:19–21), “indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind” (Ephesians 2:3).
  3. The will is devoted to self and sin, “doing whatever is right in his own eyes” (Deuteronomy 12:8), and “like sheep . . . gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
  4.  The spirit is “dead in trespasses and sins,” indwelt by “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1, 2). It is “separate from Christ, . . . having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

CONCLUSION

The life lived outside of Christ is lived in rebellion to God and is devoted to enjoying “the passing pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). Satan does offer pleasures to those who will live for self and sin, but God warns that such pleasures will pass and the day of accounting will come (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

The important lesson to learn from a study of man’s spiritual nature is that we have been created in such a way that either God or Satan will find a welcome dwelling place within our spirits. Let us set aside lifestyles that serve self and Satan, and allow God to dwell in us.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2021 in Holy Spirit

 

Who Is The Holy Spirit?


the ALPHA course: Week #7: Who Is the Holy Spirit & What ...

Who is the Holy Spirit? Notice that our question is not “What is the Holy Spirit?” but rather “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Some religious people think of the Holy Spirit as a lifeless entity or an inanimate influence, but the Word of God describes Him as a person—a divine member of the Godhead.

HIS DESCRIPTIVE CHARACTERISTICS
In John 14:16 Jesus told His disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” This verse describes the Holy Spirit as a divine Helper, dispatched from heaven to earth for the express purpose of providing eternal companionship to the disciples of Jesus.

Not only did Jesus refer to the Holy Spirit as a “Helper,” but He further described Him as a “Teacher.” In John 14:26 Jesus promised His apostles, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Emphasis mine.)

A true disciple must depend upon the Spirit’s instruction, help, and strength to live a Christian life to the glory of God. Jesus identified the Holy Spirit as a Teacher and Helper, and He always used the personal pronouns “He” and “Him” in reference to the Spirit.

As our “Helper” and “Teacher,” the Holy Spirit has a mind (Romans 8:27), a will (1 Corinthians 12:11), and emotions (cf. Romans 15:30; Ephesians 4:30). We find that on many occasions He spoke directly to the early disciples. He told the prophets and teachers of Antioch, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2). Later, the Holy Spirit forbade Paul to speak the Word in Asia (Acts 16:6, 7).

As one with a personality, the Holy Spirit can be blasphemed (Matthew 12:31, 32), lied to (Acts 5:3), grieved (Ephesians 4:30), insulted (Hebrews 10:29), and resisted (Acts 7:51). Such activities only affect people, so we must conclude that the Holy Spirit is more a “person” than a “thing.”

HIS DIVINE NATURE

While the Holy Spirit is a person, He is more than “just a person,” because He shares the characteristics of deity with the Godhead. He is “the eternal Spirit” (Hebrews 9:14), who “searches all things, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). He is all-powerful (Luke 1:35; Romans 15:19) and ever-present (Psalm 139:7–10). These are all characteristics of God. When Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, Peter accused him of lying to God Himself (Acts 5:3, 4).

The Holy Spirit is a person of the Godhead, sharing the divine nature with the Father and the Son. The fact that three persons make up the divine nature has caused some to conclude falsely that three distinct Gods make up the Godhead.

While it is true that the Father is fully divine, we are not to conclude that the Son and the Holy Spirit are any less divine. The Son submitted to the Father’s authority in coming to this earth (cf. Philippians 2:5–8), and the Holy Spirit was sent to earth by the authority, or in the name, of Jesus (John 14:26).

Nevertheless, the facts that Jesus submitted to the Father’s will and that the Spirit submitted to Jesus (as suggested by the smaller circles) do not make the Son or the Spirit any less divine in their nature than God the Father. In other words, Jesus was still God as He lived in the flesh (Matthew 1:23), and the Holy Spirit remains God (fully divine in nature) as He does His work on earth (cf. Acts 5:3, 4).

The Father’s authority is greater than the Son’s, and the Son’s is greater than the Spirit’s; yet each person of the Godhead is equally divine in His nature. Each member of the Godhead is equally divine in His nature Their existence and works are so interrelated that they cannot be separated from each other. While three members make up the Godhead and each of these members has assumed unique roles in the past, distinctions must be made between the three (cf. Matthew 3:16, 17; Luke 1:35; John 15:26).

For example, it was Jesus who lived upon this earth as a man and who died upon the cross for our sins. This was His distinctive role. However, as Jesus lived in the flesh, He was in the Father, and the Father was in Him (cf. John 14:10, 11). Jesus referred to the interrelationship He had with His Father by declaring, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

HIS DISTINCTIVE ROLE
The role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament church is also a distinctive role in that He is the representative of the Godhead in the Christian Age. Such an interrelationship exists between the Spirit and the other two members of the Godhead that Jesus declared that through the indwelling Spirit we would “know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20).

All three members of the Godhead function in perfect harmony to make up the one eternal God. No divine member can separate Himself from the other two members and continue to function as the one true God. Where one member is, the other two members are.

The only exception to this truth is the death of Jesus upon the cross. As Jesus carried our sins to the cross, the Father looked upon His perfect Son as sin itself! At that moment, Jesus, “who knew no sin,” was made “to be sin on our behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The result of that terrible moment in history was that the Father and the Spirit were forced to withdraw their holy presence from Jesus. “Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, . . . ‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’” (Matthew 27:46). For this one and only time in eternity, a fractured relationship existed between the three members of the Godhead.

CONCLUSION
As we conclude, let us notice some practical lessons which should encourage us all. The fact that the Holy Spirit is a person rather than an impersonal influence should give us a greater appreciation of the interest that all heaven has in our eternal salvation.

The Holy Spirit abides in the Christian. This should be of great encouragement to us in our battle against the spiritual hosts of wickedness. The Holy Spirit’s love for us and His intercession for us in prayer should encourage us to pray with greater frequency and confidence.

The Holy Spirit is given only to those who obey God (Acts 5:32); thus all non-Christians should repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, so that they, too, can receive the Holy Spirit as God’s gift of salvation (Acts 2:38).

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2021 in Holy Spirit

 

More Than Conquerors! A Study of Romans 8 #3 “The Spirit of Life” Romans 8:3-4


Romans 8:3-4 (ESV)
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.

God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.

Romans 8 is a chapter that rings with Christian assurance. One can be confident of his salvation in Christ, provided he does not pursue the life of the “flesh;” rather, he walks after the leading of the Spirit (vv. 1-4), Whose guidance is effected through the Scriptures He inspired (Eph. 5:18; cf. Col. 3:16; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 6:17).

The leading of that holy revelation generates “life and peace” (vs. 6). Our confidence is grounded in the fact that the indwelling Spirit eventually will be instrumental in effecting life for our mortal bodies by means of the bodily resurrection from the dead (vv. 11, 23). By the leading of the Spirit we may be assured of our status as “sons of God” (vs. 14).

Moreover, the Spirit Himself bears witness with the Christian’s personal spirit, confirming our child-father relationship with God (vs. 16). Our knowledge of the indwelling Spirit, which relationship is a “first-fruits” of that yet promised, enables us to cope with “the sufferings of this present time,” and so to live in hope of the glory that is to come (vv. 18-25).

A cursory reading of the first twenty-five verses of this remarkable chapter clearly reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in this marvelous reliance the child of God may entertain relative to his future destiny. In this section alone, the third Person of the Godhead is alluded to no less than fourteen times.

Paul’s words about the Law being unable to produce righteousness because of the weakness of the flesh ( Rom. 8:3) should not be interpreted as if he thought little of the Law. On the contrary, he took seriously the high calling and expectations that God revealed through Moses. In fact, walking “according to the Spirit” ( 8:4 ) involves the fulfillment of these expectations. That’s why Paul urged believers to:

  • Turn from evil to good ( Rom. 12:2 , 9 ).
  • Seek love ( 1 Cor. 13 ).
  • Not misuse liberty ( Gal. 5:13–16 ).
  • Choose to do good toward all people ( Gal. 6:10 ).
  • Live with a new, godly lifestyle ( Eph. 2:1–3 ; 4:1–3 ).
  • Learn how to serve others in humility, with love ( Phil. 2:1–7 ).
  • Undo patterns of sin within ourselves ( Col. 3:5–11 ).
  • Develop godly contentment with what we have ( 1 Tim. 6:6–11 ).

This is life in the Spirit—a lifelong adventure of reclaiming what God intended for us from the beginning (Eph. 5:8–10).

8:3 The law could pronounce judgment on sin, but the law could not do anything about sin itself. It had no power to put sin to death in a person’s life. God accomplished what the law could not do by sending His own Son. Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh: Jesus, as God, took on our human nature, a nature that was susceptible to temptation. Although He was tempted, He never gave in. He never sinned.

The Law cannot condemn you (v. 3).

Why? Because Christ has already suffered that condemnation for you on the cross. The Law could not save; it can only condemn. But God sent His Son to save us and do what the Law could not do. Jesus did not come as an angel; He came as a man. He did not come “in sinful flesh,” for that would have made Him a sinner. He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, as a man. He bore our sins in His body on the cross.

The “law of double jeopardy” states that a man cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Since Jesus Christ paid the penalty for your sins, and since you are “in Christ,” God will not condemn you.

What the law was powerless to do.NIV Freedom over sin never can be obtained by obedience to the law. The law cannot help us because it was weakened by the sinful nature.NIV But what the law can’t do, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man.NIV Jesus Christ was a “likeness” of us. This likeness (homoious) was not merely an appearance; he was completely human (John 1:14), with the same desires that yield to sin, yet he never sinned (see 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16). Christ took on humanity in order to be our sin offering.NIV Because Christ was sinless, his death passed the “death sentence” on sin for all of us, setting us free from sin’s power over us: he condemned sin in the flesh.nrsv Jesus gave himself as a sacrifice (“sin offering”) for our sins.

Grace was given that the law might be fulfilled. Augustine.

In Old Testament times, animal sacrifices were continually offered at the temple. These animals brought to the altar had two important characteristics: they were alive, and they were “without law.” The sacrifices showed the Israelites the seriousness of sin: innocent blood had to be shed before sins could be pardoned (see Leviticus 17:11). But animal blood could not really remove sin (Hebrews 10:4); and the forgiveness provided by those sacrifices, in legal terms, was more like a stay of execution than a pardon. Those animal sacrifices could only point to Jesus’ sacrifice that paid the penalty for all sin. Jesus’ life was identical with ours, yet unstained by sin. So he could serve as the flawless sacrifice for our sins. In him, our pardon is complete. The tables are turned so that not only is there “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” but also the very sin that guaranteed our condemnation is itself condemned by Christ’s sacrifice.

8:4 The purpose of the coming of Christ was that the law might be fulfilled. The believer gains the righteous standard of the law—love ( 13:8–10 )—not by means of the law but by being in Christ and walking according to the Spirit. [1]

The Law cannot control you (v. 4).

The believer lives a righteous life, not in the power of the Law, but in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Law does not have the power to produce holiness; it can only reveal and condemn sin. But the indwelling Holy Spirit enables you to walk in obedience to God’s will. The righteousness that God demands in His Law is fulfilled in you through the Spirit’s power. In the Holy Spirit, you have life and liberty (Rom. 8:2) and “the pursuit of happiness” (Rom. 8:4).

The legalist tries to obey God in his own strength and fails to measure up to the righteousness that God demands. The Spirit-led Christian, as he yields to the Lord, experiences the sanctifying work of the Spirit in his life. “For it is God that worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). It is this fact that leads to the second freedom we enjoy as Christians.

8:4 The righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us.NIV The requirement of the law is holiness (see Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7); but the law is powerless to make us holy because of our innate sinfulness. Only through Christ’s death and the resulting freedom from sin can we no longer live according to the sinful nature but according to the SpiritNIV and thus fulfill the righteous requirements of the law. The Holy Spirit is the one who helps us become holy. The Holy Spirit provides the power internally to help us do what the law required of us externally. The word translated live (peripatousin) means “walking” and suggests the entire course of one’s life. Walking conveys the idea of action, daily behavior, and moral direction.

It is the Spirit who produces “fruit” in us; only in this way can we fulfill the requirements of the law. But Paul has already made it clear that the law is powerless to save. So why do its requirements still need to be met? The law is God’s law and was never meant to be cast aside. Paul makes a distinction between two kinds of obedience to the law. He speaks against the obedience to the law that stays merely at the level of the flesh (such as being circumcised because the law required it) and the obedience that depends on God’s Holy Spirit. Only the latter fulfills the law. When we live according to the Spirit, we actually do meet the requirements of the law. Or, as Paul puts it, the requirements of the law are met in us.NIV

The Route to Freedom—Substitution

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, (8:3)

This verse is perhaps the most definitive and succinct statement of the substitutionary atonement to be found in Scripture. It expresses the heart of the gospel message, the wondrous truth that Jesus Christ paid the penalty on behalf of every person who would turn from sin and trust in Him as Lord and Savior.

As in the previous verse, the conjunction for carries the meaning of because and gives an explanation for what has just been stated. Believers are set free from the law of sin and death and are made alive by the law of the Spirit of life because of what Jesus Christ has done for them.

The Law can provoke sin in men and condemn them for it, but it cannot save them from its penalty. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse,” Paul explained to the Galatians, “for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to perform them’” (Gal 3:10). Later in that same chapter he says: “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (3:21). God’s holy law can only set forth the standards of His righteousness and show men how utterly incapable they are in themselves of fulfilling those standards.

Paul has already explained that “this commandment [i.e., the law, v. 9], which was to result in life [if obeyed], proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me” (Rom. 7:10-11). When God created man, sin had no place in His creation. But when man fell, the alien power of sin corrupted his very being and condemned him to death, both physical and spiritual. The whole human race was placed under the curse of God. Sin consigned fallen mankind to a divine debtor’s prison, as it were, and the law became his jailer. The law given as the standard for living under divine blessing and joy, became a killer.

Although it is “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), the Law could not save men from sin because it was weak … through the flesh. The sinful corruption of the flesh made the Law powerless to save men. The law cannot make men righteous but can only expose their unrighteousness and condemn them for it. The law cannot make men perfect but can only reveal their great imperfection. As Paul explained in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia, through Jesus Christ “forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

During His incarnation, Jesus was the embodiment of the law of Moses. He alone of all men who have ever lived or will ever live perfectly fulfilled the law of God. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” He said; “I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). During one of His discourses in the Temple, Jesus exposed the sinfulness of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, who, by their failure to throw stones at the woman taken in adultery, admitted they were not without sin (John 8:7-9). Later on that same occasion Jesus challenged His enemies to convict Him of any sin, and no one could do so or even tried (v. 46).

Some people, including many professing Christians, believe that they can achieve moral and spiritual perfection by living up to God’s standards by their own power. But James reminds us that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). In other words, even a single sin, no matter how small and no matter when committed, is sufficient to disqualify a person for heaven.

On one occasion a young man came to Jesus and said to Him,

“Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property. (Matt. 19:16-22)

This man was extremely religious. But he demonstrated that, despite his diligence in obeying the commandments, he failed to keep the two greatest commandments—to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “‘love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40).

The young man who came to Jesus was self-centered, selfish, and materialistic. His love for himself surpassed his love for God and for his fellow man. Consequently, his meticulous religious living counted for absolutely nothing before God.

God’s law commands righteousness, but it cannot provide the means to achieve that righteousness. Therefore, what the law was unable to do for fallen man, God Himself did. The law can condemn the sinner, but only God can condemn and destroy sin, and that is what He has done on behalf of those who trust in His Son—by His coming to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51). In His incarnation Jesus was completely a man, fully incarnated. But He was only in the likeness of, in the outward appearance of, sinful flesh. Although Paul does not here specifically mention Jesus’ sinlessness, his phrasing carefully guards that profound truth.

Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). If He had not been both fully human and fully sinless, He could not have offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of the world. If Jesus had not Himself been without sin, He not only could not have made a sacrifice for fallen mankind but would have needed to have a sacrifice made on His own behalf. Jesus resisted every temptation of Satan and denied sin any part in His earthly life. Sin was compelled to yield its supremacy in the flesh to the Victor, whereby Jesus Christ became sovereign over sin and its consequence, death.

Those who trust in Christ not only are saved from the penalty of sin but also are able for the first time to fulfill God’s righteous standards. The flesh of a believer is still weak and subject to sin, but the inner person is remade in the image of Christ and has the power through His Spirit to resist and overcome sin. No Christian will be perfected during his earthly life, but he has no excuse for sinning, because he has God’s own power to resist sin. John assures believers that “greater is He [the Holy Spirit] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). As Paul has already declared, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life,” that is, be kept saved and protected from sin’s domination (Rom. 5:10).

Speaking of His impending crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out” (John 12:31). In other words, by His death on the cross Christ condemned and conquered both sin and Satan. He bore the fury of God’s wrath on all sin, and in doing so broke sin’s power over those whose trust is in His giving of Himself as an offering for sin on their behalf. By trusting in Jesus Christ, those who formerly were children of Satan become children of God, those who were targets of God’s wrath become recipients of His grace. On the cross Jesus broke sin’s power and assigned sin to its final destruction. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28).

Jesus’ teaching, miracles, and sinless life were of great importance in His earthly ministry. But His supreme purpose in coming to earth was to be an offering for sin. Without the sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the world, everything else Jesus did would have left men in their sins, still separated from God.

To teach that men can live a good life by following Jesus’ example is patronizing foolishness. To try to follow Jesus’ perfect example without having His own life and Spirit within us is even more impossible and frustrating than trying to fulfill the Mosaic law. Jesus’ example cannot save us but instead further demonstrates the impossibility of saving ourselves by our own efforts at righteousness.

The only hope men have for salvation from their sin is in their trust in the offering for sin that Christ Himself made at Calvary. And when He became that offering, He took upon Himself the penalty of death for the sins of all mankind. In his commentary on Romans, the nineteenth-century Scottish evangelist Robert Haldane wrote, “We see the Father assume the place of judge against His Son, in order to become the Father of those who were His enemies. The Father condemns the Son of His love, that He may absolve the children of wrath” (Exposition of Romans, p. 324).

Jesus Christ condemned sin in the flesh. Whereas sin once condemned the believer, now Christ his Savior condemns sin, delivering the believer from sin’s power and penalty. The law condemns sin in the sense of exposing it for what it really is and in the sense of declaring its penalty of death. But the law is unable to condemn sin in the sense of delivering a sinner from his sinfulness or in the sense of overpowering sin and consigning it to its ultimate destruction. Only the Lord Jesus Christ was able to do that, and it is that amazing truth that inspired Paul to exult, “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

The prophet Isaiah eloquently predicted the sacrifice of the incarnate Christ, saying,

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being tell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? (Isa. 53:4-8)

(8:2-4) Holy Spirit—Life—Believer: the Spirit gives life. The term “the law of the Spirit of life” means two things. It means…

  • the law of the Holy Spirit.
  • the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus.

Within the universe there is a law so important that it has become the law of the Holy Spirit. It is called “the law of the Spirit of life.” What is meant by this law? Very simply, life is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone. Whatever life is—energy, being, spirit, love, joy, peace—it is all in Jesus Christ and nowhere else. Within Christ, within His very being is the Spirit of life, the very energy and being of life. This fact is important, so important that God has written it into the laws of the universe. It is titled “the law of the Spirit of life,” which is in Christ Jesus and in Him alone. The Spirit of life for which we long and ache is available in Christ Jesus.

Now for the critical question. How does the Spirit give life? How does a person go about securing “the Spirit of life” so that he may not die but live forever?

  1. The Spirit gives life by freeing the believer from sin and death, that is, from the “law of sin and death.” The “law of sin and death” simply means the rule and reign of death. Every man dies: death rules and reigns over every man. But the Spirit of God frees a man from the rule and reign of death. This is natural and understandable; it is common sense, for it is a rule of the universe. If a person has the Spirit of life, then he naturally does not have the spirit of sin and death. He is not sinning and dying; he is living righteously and eternally.

This is exactly what the Spirit of life does for the believer:

  • He frees the believer from sin and death: from the law or the energy and the power of sin and death.
  • He frees the believer to live righteously and eternally: to live in the Spirit of life or in the energy and power of life.

Stated another way, the Spirit of life frees the believer from both sin and death. The Holy Spirit frees the believer to live as Christ lived, to actually live out the life which Christ lived. The active energy of life, the dynamic force and being of life—all that is in Christ Jesus—is given to the believer. The believer actually lives in Christ Jesus. And the Spirit of life which is in Christ frees the believer from the fate (law) of sin and death. This simply means that the believer lives in a consciousness of being free. He breathes and senses a depth of life, a richness, a fulness of life that is indescribable.

He lives with power—power over the pressure and strain, impediments and bondages of life—even the bondages of sin and death. He lives now and shall live forever. He senses this and knows this. Life to him is a spirit, a breath, a consciousness of being set free through Christ. Even when he sins and guilt sets in, there is a tug, a power (Holy Spirit) that draws him back to God. He asks forgiveness and removal of the guilt (1 John 1:9), and immediately upon asking, the same power (the Holy Spirit) instills an instantaneous assurance of cleansing.

The spirit of life, the consciousness of living instantaneously takes up its abode within him once again. He feels free again, and he feels full of life in all its liberating power and freedom. He bubbles over with all the depth of the richness and fulness of life itself. He is full of the “Spirit of life.” Life itself becomes once again a spirit, a consciousness of living. He lives now and forever.

  1. The Spirit gives life by doing what the law could not do. The law could not make man righteous because man’s flesh is too weak to keep the law. No man has ever been able to keep the law of God, not to perfection or even close to perfection. All flesh has miserably failed—come far short of God’s glory and law. Consequently, all flesh dies physically and spiritually. Therefore, righteousness and life just cannot come by the law. But what the law could not do, the Spirit is able to do. He can provide righteousness and life.
  2. The Spirit gives life by Christ condemning sin in the flesh.
  3. The Spirit gives life by Christ providing righteousness for us. He provides righteousness for those who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. This is a most marvelous statement, a glorious truth.
  4. The Spirit “fulfills righteousness in us.” He credits righteousness as being in us. When?
  • When we believe that Jesus Christ is our righteousness, the sinless and perfect Son of God.
  • When we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, the One who died for

When we believe in Jesus Christ, the Spirit of God fulfills righteousness in us; that is, He takes the righteousness of Jesus Christ (which is the righteousness of the law) and credits it to us. He actually places within us the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. He places the Divine nature (righteousness) of God in us (2 Peter 1:4).

It is critical to see this fact, for the Spirit fulfills righteousness in us, not by us. We do not and cannot even come close to keeping the law perfectly, but Christ did. If His righteousness cannot be credited and fulfilled in us, then we are hopeless and doomed.

 

The point is this: the Spirit gives life to men, but He gives life only to those who forsake the flesh and walk after the Spirit. The spiritual man, the man who walks after the Spirit, loves Christ and wants to honor Christ in all that he does. Therefore, he strives to follow Christ and His example. Such love and honor of Christ pleases God to no end, for God loves His Son with a perfect love. He loves His Son so much that He will take whatever honor a man gives His Son and match it for the man. Whatever recognition and honor a man heaps upon Christ, God matches it for the man.

  • If a man trusts Christ for righteousness, then God gives that man righteousnesss.
  • If a man trusts Christ for meaning, purpose, and significance, then God gives the man meaning, purpose, and significance.
  • If a man trusts Christ to lead him through some trial or need, then God leads him through the trial or need.
  • If a man trusts Christ for healing, then God gives the man healing.

Whatever the man sows in Christ, he reaps: God matches it. Whatever a man measures out to Christ, the same is measured back to the man: God matches it. In fact, Scripture says that God will even go beyond and do much more than we ask or think (cp. Ephes. 3:20).

Therefore, the man who walks after the “Spirit of life” which is in Christ Jesus is given the Spirit of life. The Holy Spirit fulfills and credits him with the righteousness of the law, with the right to live eternally.

God’s law commands righteousness, but it cannot provide the means to achieve that righteousness. Therefore, what the law was unable to do for fallen man, God Himself did. The law can condemn the sinner, but only God can condemn and destroy sin, and that is what He has done on behalf of those who trust in His Son—by His coming to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51). In His incarnation Jesus was completely a man, fully incarnated. But He was only in the likeness of, in the outward appearance of, sinful flesh. Although Paul does not here specifically mention Jesus’ sinlessness, his phrasing carefully guards that profound truth.

Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). If He had not been both fully human and fully sinless, He could not have offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of the world. If Jesus had not Himself been without sin, He not only could not have made a sacrifice for fallen mankind but would have needed to have a sacrifice made on His own behalf. Jesus resisted every temptation of Satan and denied sin any part in His earthly life. Sin was compelled to yield its supremacy in the flesh to the Victor, whereby Jesus Christ became sovereign over sin and its consequence, death.

Those who trust in Christ not only are saved from the penalty of sin but also are able for the first time to fulfill God’s righteous standards. The flesh of a believer is still weak and subject to sin, but the inner person is remade in the image of Christ and has the power through His Spirit to resist and overcome sin. No Christian will be perfected during his earthly life, but he has no excuse for sinning, because he has God’s own power to resist sin. John assures believers that “greater is He [the Holy Spirit] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). As Paul has already declared, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life,” that is, be kept saved and protected from sin’s domination (Rom. 5:10).

Speaking of His impending crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out” (John 12:31). In other words, by His death on the cross Christ condemned and conquered both sin and Satan. He bore the fury of God’s wrath on all sin, and in doing so broke sin’s power over those whose trust is in His giving of Himself as an offering for sin on their behalf. By trusting in Jesus Christ, those who formerly were children of Satan become children of God, those who were targets of God’s wrath become recipients of His grace. On the cross Jesus broke sin’s power and assigned sin to its final destruction. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28).

Jesus’ teaching, miracles, and sinless life were of great importance in His earthly ministry. But His supreme purpose in coming to earth was to be an offering for sin. Without the sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the world, everything else Jesus did would have left men in their sins, still separated from God.

To teach that men can live a good life by following Jesus’ example is patronizing foolishness. To try to follow Jesus’ perfect example without having His own life and Spirit within us is even more impossible and frustrating than trying to fulfill the Mosaic law. Jesus’ example cannot save us but instead further demonstrates the impossibility of saving ourselves by our own efforts at righteousness.

The only hope men have for salvation from their sin is in their trust in the offering for sin that Christ Himself made at Calvary. And when He became that offering, He took upon Himself the penalty of death for the sins of all mankind. In his commentary on Romans, the nineteenth-century Scottish evangelist Robert Haldane wrote, “We see the Father assume the place of judge against His Son, in order to become the Father of those who were His enemies. The Father condemns the Son of His love, that He may absolve the children of wrath” (Exposition of Romans, p. 324).

Jesus Christ condemned sin in the flesh. Whereas sin once condemned the believer, now Christ his Savior condemns sin, delivering the believer from sin’s power and penalty. The law condemns sin in the sense of exposing it for what it really is and in the sense of declaring its penalty of death. But the law is unable to condemn sin in the sense of delivering a sinner from his sinfulness or in the sense of overpowering sin and consigning it to its ultimate destruction. Only the Lord Jesus Christ was able to do that, and it is that amazing truth that inspired Paul to exult, “‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

The prophet Isaiah eloquently predicted the sacrifice of the incarnate Christ, saying,

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being tell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? (Isa. 53:4-8)

The Result of Freedom—Sanctification

in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (8:4)

The believer’s freedom from sin results in his present as well as in his ultimate sanctification. The true Christian has both the desire and the divinely-imparted ability to live righteously while he is still on earth. Because God sent His own Son to redeem mankind by providing the only sacrifice that can condemn and remove their sin (v. 3), the requirement of the Law is able to be fulfilled in us, that is, in believers.

Paul obviously is not speaking here of the justifying work of salvation but of its sanctifying work, its being lived out in the believer’s earthly life. Apart from the working of the Holy Spirit through the life of a redeemed person, human efforts at righteousness are as contaminated and useless as filthy garments (Isa. 64:6). But because the Christian has been cleansed of sin and been given God’s own divine nature within him, he now longs for and is able to live a life of holiness.

God does not free men from their sin in order for them to do as they please but to do as He pleases. God does not redeem men in order that they may continue sinning but in order that they may begin to live righteously by having the requirement of the Law … fulfilled in them. Because they are no longer under law but are now under grace, some  Christians claim that it makes little difference what they do, because just as nothing they could have done could have saved them, so nothing they now do can cause them to lose their salvation. But the Holy Spirit could never prompt a Christian to make such a foolish and ungodly statement. The spiritual Christian knows that God’s law is holy, righteous, and good (Rom. 7:12) and that he has been saved in order to have that divine holiness, righteousness, and goodness fulfilled in him. And that is his desire. He has holy longings.

The phrase who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit is not an admonition but a statement of fact that applies to all believers. As Paul explains several verses later, no person who belongs to Christ is without the indwelling Holy Spirit (v. 9).

Being indwelt by the Spirit is not a mark of special maturity or spirituality but the mark of every true Christian, without exception. In its figurative sense, to walk refers to an habitual way or bent of life, to a life-style. Luke describes Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, as being “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). Paul counseled the Ephesian believers to walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind” (Eph. 4:17). John declares that, “if we walk in the light as [God] Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Paul asserts that a true believer—whether young or old, immature or mature, well taught or poorly taught—does not walk according to the flesh. Just as categorically he declares that a true believer does walk according to the Spirit. There are no exceptions. Because every true believer is indwelt by the Spirit, every true believer will produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Jesus made clear “that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). At the end of that first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus commanded, “You are to be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48).

Nothing is dearer to God’s heart than the moral and spiritual excellence of those He has created in His own image—and nothing is dearer to them. He does not want them to have only imputed righteousness but practical righteousness as well. And that also is what they want. It is practical righteousness about which Paul speaks here, just as he does in the opening words of his letter to the church at Ephesus: “[God] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4).

It is God’s great desire that believers live out the perfect righteousness that He reckons to them when they are saved—that they live like His children and no longer like the children of the world and of Satan. Positional righteousness is to be reflected in practical righteousness. Christ does not want a bride who is only positionally righteous but one who is actually righteous, just as He Himself is righteous. And through His indwelling Spirit, He gives believers that desire.

The purpose of the gospel is not to make men happy but to make them holy. As the Beatitudes make clear, genuine happiness comes to those who belong to Christ and are obedient to His will. But true happiness comes only from holiness. God promises happiness, but He demands holiness, without which “no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).

In his book entitled God’s Righteous Kingdom, Walter J. Chantry writes, When preachers speak as if God’s chief desire is for men to be happy, then multitudes with problems flock to Jesus. Those who have ill-health, marital troubles, financial frustration, and loneliness look to our Lord for the desires of their hearts. Each
conceives of joy as being found in health, peace, prosperity or companionship. But in search of illusive happiness they are not savingly joined to Jesus Christ. Unless men will be holy, God is determined that they shall be forever miserable and damned.  (Carlisle, Pa.: Banner of Truth, 1980, p. 67)

Righteousness is the very heart of salvation. It is for righteousness that God saves those who trust in His Son. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel,” Paul declared at the beginning of the Roman epistle, “for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17). Peter admonishes believers, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet. 1:15). Practical righteousness leads believers “to deny ungodliness and worldly desires
and to live sensibly righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12; cf. Gal. 5:24-25). As Augustine observed many centuries ago, grace was given for one reason, that the law might be fulfilled.

When a sinner leaves the courts of God and has received a pardon for sin by virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, the work of God in his life has just begun. As the believer leaves the courtroom, as it were, God hands him the code of life and says, “Now you have in you My Spirit, whose power will enable you to fulfill My law’s otherwise impossible demands.”

Scripture is clear that, in some mystical way known only to God, a person begins to walk by the Spirit the moment he believes. But, on the other hand, he is also admonished to walk by the Spirit as he lives out his earthly life under the lordship of Christ and in the power of the Spirit. As with salvation itself, walking
by the Spirit comes first of all by God’s sovereign work in the believer’s heart, but it also involves the exercise of the believer’s will. Romans 8:4 is speaking of the first, whereas Galatians 5:25 (“let us … walk by the Spirit”) is speaking of the second.

As far as a Christian’s life is concerned, everything that is a spiritual reality is also a spiritual responsibility. A genuine Christian will commune with his heavenly Father in prayer, but he also has the responsibility to pray. A Christian is taught by the Holy Spirit, but he is also obligated to seek the Spirit’s guidance and help. The Holy Spirit will produce spiritual fruit in a believer’s life, but the believer is also admonished to bear fruit. Those truths are part of the amazing and seemingly paradoxical tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will.

Although man’s mind is incapable of understanding such mysteries, the believer accepts them because they are clearly taught in God’s Word.

We know little of the relationship between God and Adam before the Fall, except that it was direct and intimate. The Lord had given but one command, a command that was given for Adam and Eve’s own good and that was easily obeyed. Until that one command was transgressed, they lived naturally in the perfect will of God. Doing His will was part of their very being.

The believer’s relationship to God is much like that. Although Christians are drawn back to the old ways by the fleshly remnants of their life before salvation, their new being makes obedience to God the “natural” thing to do.

The Christian’s obligations to God are not another form of legalism. The person who is genuinely saved has a new and divine nature that is, by definition, attuned to God’s will. When he lives by his new nature in the power of the Spirit, his desire is God’s desire, and no compulsion is involved. But because the believer is still clothed in the old self, he sometimes resists God’s will. It is only when he goes against God’s will and against his own new nature that the divine commands and standards seem burdensome. On the other hand, the faithful child
of God who is obedient from the heart can always say with the psalmist, “O how I love Thy law!” (Ps. 119:97).

Christ condemned sin in the flesh by three acts.

  1. Christ pointed to sin and condemned it as being evil. The very fact that He never sinned points out that sin is contrary to God and to God’s nature. Christ rejected sin, and by rejecting it He showed that it was evil, that it was not to be touched. He condemned it as evil and unworthy of God and man.
  2. Christ secured righteousness for all men. When He came into the world, He came with the same flesh that all men are born with—the same flesh with all its desires, passions, and potential for evil. However, He never sinned, not once. Therefore, He secured a perfect righteousness; and because His righteousness is perfect and ideal, it becomes the model and pattern for all men. It stands for and covers the unrighteousness of all men. His perfect righteousness overcomes sin and its penalty—it condemns sin. It is to be noted that He condemned sin “through the flesh”; therefore, all flesh finds its perfection and ideal in His righteousness and perfection. All flesh finds its power to condemn sin “in Christ,” in His ideal righteousness.
  3. Christ allowed the law of sin and death to be enacted upon Him instead of upon the sinner. Man has sinned, so the natural consequence is corruption and death. However, Christ approached God and made two requests. First, He asked God to accept His Ideal righteousness for the unrighteousness of man. Second, He asked God to lay man’s sin and death upon Himself. He asked God to let Him bear the law of sin and death for man and to experience hell for man. He asked God to let Him condemn sin and death “in His own body upon the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). He was the perfect, ideal Man. Therefore, He could bear all the violations of the law and all the experiences of death for all men. God so purposed, and God bore the awful price of having to condemn sin and death in the death of His very own Son. Sin and its power have been made powerless. Death has been conquered (1 Cor. 15:1-58, esp. 1 Cor. 15:54-57), and he who had the power of death has been destroyed, that is, Satan.

[1]Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. 1999. Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary . T. Nelson Publishers: Nashville

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2021 in Romans

 

The Creation Of the New Man


Among God’s creatures, man is unique. Like the animals of the field, he possesses a physical body; and like the angels of heaven, he has an eternal spirit. Man’s spirit was created for love and fellowship with his Creator, but unforgiven sin erects a spiritual barrier between man’s spirit and God’s Holy Spirit.

Paul described this condition as being “dead in . . .trespasses and sins.” To be dead in sin is to be a slave to “the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1, 2; Romans 6:17).

The invisible barrier of sin separating man’s spirit from God’s Holy Spirit may be removed only through the blood of Jesus. Sin is such a serious offense to our holy God that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Man’s only hope for salvation must come through “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

THE PREPARATION OF THE HEART

The soul is prepared for cleansing by the blood of Jesus when the Holy Spirit begins to work upon the sinner’s heart through the Word of God. As God’s Word is received “in humility” (James 1:21), the results are powerful: The sinner undergoes a great change of disposition, heart, and spirit! Through His message of truth, the Holy Spirit awakens the sinner to a new faith that Jesus is the Son of God (Romans 10:17).

His heart is convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8) as he is moved to godly sorrow and sincere repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). This powerful working of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God leads to the decision to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

The Holy Spirit will not come crashing into the sinner’s heart in a miraculous, “better-felt-than-told,” direct operation. He will not create “an irresistible force” to save the sinner against the sinner’s own will. God does not work upon sinful hearts in such forceful and mysterious ways; the devil will have his way with those souls who are waiting for such experiences.

The only contact the unforgiven sinner has with his Creator is through the teachings of God’s Word of Truth. Christianity is a taught religion, and souls must be willing to learn from Jesus (Matthew 11:29). Those who eagerly receive His Word of Truth will allow the Holy Spirit to begin God’s work in their lives, and the morning star of faith will arise in their hearts (2 Peter 1:19).

THE EDUCATION OF THE MIND

The Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). Just as one cannot separate the work of a sword fighter from the effects of his sword, so one cannot separate the Holy Spirit from His Word of Truth. We are warned that, through his lies, he can blind “the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). God knows the influence that Satan and his hosts of evil can have upon our hearts.

He warns, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). For us to rely solely on the feelings and inner impressions of our hearts is to commit spiritual suicide!  The only way we can know if the thoughts of our hearts are true is to test them with God’s Word. God’s Word is the only standard we can trust “to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Let us use it to test the teachings of men and the inner feelings and impressions of our hearts as well (1 John 4:1). How vital it is to our spiritual health that we be sincere and dedicated students of God’s Word!

Differing Views

Before we go deeper into the subject of the Holy Spirit, we need to look at the question of how the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Three popular views are given in answer to that question:

View #1 is that the Holy Spirit works directly, that His work is separate from the Word of God. The danger of this view is obvious. Those who hold it depend heavily upon personal feelings, impulses, impressions, and experiences as the primary basis of guidance and direction from the Holy Spirit. We have already addressed the danger of this misdirected trust.

View #2 is that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian only through the Word of God. This view is based upon the assumption that the Word of INTELLECT,  EMOTIONS, WILL, SOUL, SPIRIT

GOD’S WORD: “the Sword of the Spirit”

(Ephesians 6:17; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; Acts 20:20; James 1:21)

Whatever the Holy Spirit accomplishes, He does so through His revealed Word of Truth. The Scriptures listed on the chart at the bottom of this page powerfully illustrate this.

It should be obvious to the sincere Bible student that the Holy Spirit always works in harmony and in conjunction with His Word of Truth.

Just as a sword and the sword fighter function as one during the battle, so the Holy Spirit and the Word of Truth function as one in spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:17). This does not mean that the Holy Spirit and the Word of God are the same, but it does mean that the Spirit will not accomplish any work in our lives until we are willing to yield our hearts in faith and obedience to God’s message of truth. It also means that faith in Jesus as the Son of God is impossible where the truth of God’s Word has never been proclaimed.

Many people today are trusting God to lead them by their own impulses and feelings. They claim that they are saved because they “can feel it deep within.” Great danger exists in this practice, because Satan—as an evil spirit—also has worked in the minds of those.

ACTIVITY ACCOMPLISHED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT BY THE WORD OF GOD

  1. Convicts of sin John 16:7, 8 Acts 2:37
  2. The new birth John 3:8 1 Peter 1:23–25
  3. Imparts life 2 Corinthians 3:6 James 1:18
  4. Washes 1 Corinthians 6:11 Ephesians 5:26
  5. Sanctifies 2 Thessalonians 2:13 John 17:17
  6. Indwells Christians Romans 8:11 Colossians 3:16
  7. Imparts truth 1 John 5:7 John 17:17
  8. Source of power Romans 15:13 Hebrews 1:3
  9. Salvation Titus 3:5 James 1:21

God dwells in us as a representative of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Those who hold this view believe that the Word of God, not the personal Holy Spirit, dwells in them. At one time I agreed with this idea. Supporters of this view often quote the words of Jesus in John 6:63: “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.”

Did Jesus mean that His words are literally the Holy Spirit, or was He declaring that His words are the spiritual words of life? Could it be that Jesus was simply teaching that separate from His Word of Truth there is no spiritual life?

View #3 is that the Holy Spirit personally abides in the Christian in conjunction with and alongside the Word of God. The words of Jesus from John 14:23 illustrate this view: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.” Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would take up His personal dwelling only within those who love and obey His words. If the Spirit is active in Christians’ lives, we can be assured that the Word of God has been taught and obeyed and that it is respected as the only authority. A careful examination of the Scriptures will lead us to this conclusion.

In the first half of John 6:63 Jesus declared this truth: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; . . .” In other words, where the Spirit of God is personally present, spiritual, eternal life exists. Where He is not present, there is spiritual death. One can memorize the Word of God; but if faith and obedience do not exist in his heart, the Holy Spirit will not be present, and there will be no life.

Divine Promises

The Old Testament prophet Ezekiel prophesied regarding the New Covenant of our Lord: “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. And I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:26, 27). This prophecy involved a twofold promise: (1) God first would give His New Covenant people a new spirit. (2) God would put His own Spirit into His children.

Before a sinner can receive the Spirit of God, he must first undergo a change of heart and spirit. This change is brought about through God’s Word as it convicts the sinner of sin and leads him to repentance. During His ministry Jesus told His disciples, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). The Holy Spirit through the living Word of God had changed and renewed the hearts and the spirits of Jesus’ disciples. Their sinful spirits had been melted into penitent attitudes so that they were His willing and submissive disciples. Ezekiel promised a second blessing, the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself. This promise could be given only after Jesus had been glorified (John 7:39).

No divine promise is greater than the promise of Ezekiel 36:26, 27. The living and powerful Word of God creates a penitent and submissive attitude toward Him, thus preparing the disciple’s heart and spirit for the reception of the Holy Spirit Himself. Repentance and baptism into Christ (Galatians 3:27) result in forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

The new creature experiences the new birth of water and the Spirit of which Jesus spoke in John 3:5: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

On the Day of Pentecost “those who had received his [Peter’s] word were baptized” (Acts 2:41). These converts first received the Word, which produced faith in Jesus and a penitent attitude toward sin. Then they were baptized. If the Holy Spirit dwells only through the Word of God, then we are forced to the conclusion that He began to dwell in the people on Pentecost when they received the Word, before they were ever baptized. This is impossible, because “the gift of the Holy Spirit” is promised only to those who repent and are baptized for the forgiveness of sins. Peter affirmed that God gives the Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32). We must conclude that while “receiving the Word” is vital, it is not the same thing as “receiving the Spirit.” The Spirit is the second blessing God promised through Ezekiel.

Divisive Extremes

If we claim to have the Spirit while ignoring the Word, we take an extreme position which rejects the authority of the Word and results in a subjective religion focused upon one’s own feel (Ephesians 1:3). Water baptism is the only means through which the sinner may come “into Christ” (Galatians 3:27) and enjoy the spiritual blessings in Him.

New Testament baptism must be by immersion. Paul declared that we “have been buried with Him [Jesus] through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). To be “buried . . . through baptism” and “raised . . . [to] walk in newness of life,” one must be immersed.

Any other definition of baptism, such as sprinkling or pouring, does not fit the symbol Paul taught, but is a tradition of men. In Romans 6:17, 18, Paul expressed his thanks to God that these brethren had been “obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which [they] were committed, and having been freed from sin, [they] became slaves of righteousness.”

The “teaching” Paul was referring to in verse 17 was his gospel message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. The Romans obeyed a “form” (or pattern) of this teaching by being buried by baptism into His death to be raised to walk in newness of life. At that point they were “freed from sin” and became “slaves of righteousness.”

Deliverance from sin involves two major problems: Our sins need to be forgiven, and the old nature of sin must be conquered. Through baptism into the death of Jesus (Romans 6:3), the sinner shows his trust in the power of Jesus to take care of both problems. He trusts Jesus’ blood to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16), and he trusts God’s power to break Satan’s stronghold over his life and free him from sin (Romans 6:7).

Paul wrote that through Jesus’ death, “our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with” (Romans 6:6). The message of the gospel is that when Jesus died, He nailed our old sinful selves to the cross so that Satan’s rule in our lives could be broken: “For sin shall not be master over you” (Romans 6:14).

God has dealt with the twofold dilemma of our sin through Jesus’ death. His blood frees us from our sins, and His death frees us from our bondage to self and sin. In baptism we enter the death of Jesus to be raised to a new life of faith, “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

On the other hand, if we claim to have the Word only and not the personal Spirit Himself, we contradict many passages which teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the child of God. Unity in the brotherhood is possible even though we may not understand how the Spirit dwells in us. We must all agree that the Holy Spirit does work powerfully in the lives of those who have been saved! With that basic faith, let us “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3), as we continue to study God’s Word, trusting it to lead us to sound doctrinal conclusions on this important subject.

THE SALVATION OF THE SOUL

The teachings of God’s Word, received into a humble heart, create a spiritual awakening within the sinner. As the sinner opens his heart to God’s Word, he comes to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He is convicted of the sin in his life, and he makes a decision to repent and to be baptized, trusting only the blood of Jesus to wash away his sins. At this point, though the sinner has faith in Jesus and is penitent of his sins, the barrier of sin which separates him from God has yet to be dissolved. That spiritual barrier may be removed only as he is baptized in water for the forgiveness of his sins. The Holy Spirit clearly ties the initial forgiveness of our sins to water baptism. Jesus shed His blood “for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Baptism is also “for the forgiveness of . . . sins” (Acts 2:38). How can this be true? Paul answered that question for us.

In Romans 1:16 he wrote, “The gospel, . . . is the power of God for salvation.” In 1 Corinthians 15:1–4, he defined the gospel as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He further taught that God’s wrath will one day be poured out upon “those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). This raises a puzzling question. If the gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, how does one obey such a message? Paul answered that question in Romans 6 as he discussed water baptism. In verse 3 he asked, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” Paul declared that water baptism is “into Christ Jesus.”

All spiritual blessings, including salvation from sin (2 Timothy 3:15), are found in Christ Jesus

CONCLUSION

If you have never been buried with your Lord by baptism into His death, it is vitally important that you do so immediately! Through repentance and baptism, God will forgive your sins and give you the gift of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 5:32). Many false teachers advocate that baptism is not necessary for forgiveness of sins, but the New Testament teaches the opposite.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2021 in Holy Spirit

 

Many (!) lessons dealing with subject of Holy Spirit


Lesson Title Journal Name
Chapter 5 – Who Is the Holy Spirit? “Becoming a Faithful Christian”
If We Must Be Led By the Spirit To Be Saved, How Can We Be Guided By the Holy Spirit Today? “Contemporary Religious Questions”
Great Teachings of the Bible – How the Holy Spirit Converts “Great Teachings of the Bible”
What Does the Bible Teach About the Holy Spirit? “What Does the Bible Teach?”
What Christians Believe About the Holy Spirit Basic Beliefs
What the Holy Spirit Does for a Christian – Ephesians 1:11-14 Ephesians
Don’t Grieve the Holy Spirit – Ephesians 4:29-32 Ephesians
The Work of the Holy Spirit – John 16:5-15 John
The Promise of the Holy Spirit – John 7:37-40 John
The Holy Spirit, 1 – John 16 John
The Holy Spirit, 2 – John 16:7-14 John
The Holy Spirit’s Comfort John
The Conviction The Holy Spirit Brings John
The Holy Spirit’s Guidance John
Who, on Earth, Is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
The Emblems of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
Being Filled with the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
Baptism with the Holy Spirit and with Fire The Holy Spirit
Why Study the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit
Who Is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Christian Today The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit and Tongues The Holy Spirit
Who Is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit
Jesus’ Teaching About the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit and Revelation The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit in Conversion The Holy Spirit
Baptism in the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
Gifts of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
Miracles and the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
Tongue-Speaking and the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit and Christians The Holy Spirit
How Does the New Testament Refer to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit
 
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Posted by on August 23, 2021 in Holy Spirit

 
 
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