Summary: There are two ways to be controlled: Our minds are either under the influence of our sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.

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Title: Being Under the Influence

Text: Romans 8:1-11

The Big Idea: There are two ways to be controlled: Our minds are either under the influence of our own sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.


The conflict between good and evil is as old as time… the earliest was a cosmic battle between the powers of good and evil when Satan presumed to become like the Most High. Some point to Isaiah 14 as descriptive of his ouster from the presence of God.

We are familiar with the conflict between good and evil as the temptation story unfolded in the Garden of Eden…

The story of the Cross of Jesus Christ is a classic clash of the powers of good and evil… the evil intent of Satan was to destroy the Son of God but God’s good prevailed and the powers of sin and death were broken in the resurrection of Christ.

In popular culture we have super heroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Super Woman, The Fantastic Four, and the X-Men who are forces for good, gone to battle against the forces of evil.

In literature, The Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, and Lord of the Rings series are wrapped around the ongoing battle between good and evil and the ultimate triumph of good.

The Shack, by William Young, currently the number one paperback fiction on the New York Times Best Seller List is largely about God’s work of transforming and bringing good out of evil.

TV dramas like The Unit, the CSI series, Law and Order, and others are all about the good guys trying to catch the bad guys in the classic battle between good and evil.

Even in politics and war… we frame ourselves as forces for good and our enemies as forces for evil. Perhaps you remember the “axis of evil” terminology used to describe rogue nation states with growing interest in developing nuclear weapons.

We understand the clash of good and evil in our own lives… the tension between wanting the do the right thing and then not doing it or not wanting to do a bad thing but doing it anyway.

Our text describes this tension as the power of our sinful human nature in resistance to the power of God’s Holy Spirit. The human nature pulls to toward sinful thoughts, talk, and behaviors and the Spirit of God pulls us toward good and God like thinking, talking, and behaving. Last week we acknowledged that Christians sometimes succumb to the power of sin, but when we do, God in his mercy and grace extends the gift of forgiveness.

We are grateful to God that Christ took upon himself all the sin of all men of all time that he might bring us safely home to God. I Peter 3:18

1. Christians are no longer condemned for their sins.

Now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Jesus Christ from the power of sin that leads to death. Romans 8:1-2

I was reading Edmunds INSIDELINE about their test drive of the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe this week. The story begins like this, “Wafting down a poplar-lined French motorway at 100 mph, the 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe’s unique Power Reserve meter informs you that fully 90 percent of the 6.7-liter V-12’s 453 horsepower is still available, should you need to whisk past a dawdler.” The writer went on to describe the crisp rack-and-pinion steering, the seat as comfortably deep and plush, and virtually no engine noise. Following a heading: “If You Have To Ask,” the article states, “Although the price of the Phantom Coupe has not yet been announced, it’s thought to be in the vicinity of $400,000. (Ken Gross, Edmunds INSIDELINE, July 1, 2008)

There is a story that I suspect falls into the Urban Legend category but it’s a good story. A wealthy Englishman, who planned to spend an extended time in the states, shipped his Rolls-Royce to the U.S. While traveling across the country his Rolls developed a mechanical problem. He made an international call to the Rolls-Royce people and was told that a mechanic, with the parts necessary to repair the car, would arrive within 48 hours. The mechanic arrived at the resort on schedule, repaired the car, and returned to England.

Later, after completing his tour of the states, he shipped his car and returned to England. Upon arriving home, he contacted the Rolls-Royce people regarding the repair bill. He wrote, “While touring the United States in my Rolls-Royce, the car developed a mechanical problem. You flew a mechanic over to help me. He fixed the car but I have never received a bill for your services.” He received a letter back from the Rolls-Royce people stating, “We have no record of there ever being anything wrong with a Rolls-Royce anywhere.”

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