Summary: When we choose to live in the Spirit, we can conquer all thee stuff that life in the flesh throws at us.
Charles Spurgeon once preached what in his judgment was one of his poorest sermons. He stammered and floundered, and when he got through felt that it had been a complete failure. He was greatly humiliated, and when he got home he fell on his knees and said, "Lord, God, thou canst do something with nothing. Bless that poor sermon."
And all through the week he would utter that prayer. He would wake up in the night and pray about it. He determined that the next Sunday he would redeem himself by preaching a great sermon. Sure enough, the next Sunday the sermon went off beautifully. At the close, the people crowded about him and covered him with praise. Spurgeon went home pleased with himself, and that night he slept like a baby.
But he said to himself, "I’ll watch the results of those two sermons." What were they? From the one that had seemed a failure he was able to trace forty-one conversions. And from that magnificent sermon he was unable to discover that a single soul was saved. Spurgeon’s explanation was that the Spirit of God used the one and did not use the other. We can do nothing without the Spirit who Paul says in Romans 8:26 “helps us in our weakness.”
We are in week 8 of this 15 week series called The Roman Road to Savior. In week one I said that Romans is perhaps the greatest letter ever written. That is because it so clearly communicates the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and can and should serve as a road map for all Christ followers to follow as they try to live the life that Christ teaches us to live. That is why I have entitled this series The Roman Road to a Savior. I believe Paul’s teachings in this beautiful letter will lead us to a deeper more meaningful walk with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ In week five, I told you that Romans 5:5, which reads “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, was perhaps the greatest sentence ever written. Well now we our half way down our Roman road to a Savior, and this week we make a stop in what is generally regarded as the greatest chapter in the Bible. This is the chapter in which Paul just lays it all out. It is in this chapter that we get the heart of the Gospel. God has not only sent his one and only son to die on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins, but has also put his Holy Spirit within us who enables us to live the life that Jesus teaches us to live. And as if that was not amazing enough, God has also adopted us as his children, and promises to always protect us, and to never leave us,
I honestly do not know if I can do this greatest chapter ever written justice with only one sermon, but because this series butts up against the season of Advent, and I am going to be gone one week I am going to give it a try. I may come back to this chapter in January to try to make sure we get everything out of this amazing chapter that God intends for us to get. Paul begins this chapter by talking about life in the Spirit verses life in the flesh. He is not continuing to talk about the battle within that we explored last week. The flesh he talks about is our body and our earthly desires. The Spirit is the Spirit of God. So, that battle that he is talking about in Romans 8 is the battle between living a life that is led by our flesh, our bodies, our earthly desires, and sinful desires, and living a life that is led by the Spirit of God. I want to make something clear here. Even though all of humanity has inherited the Original Sin that I have talked about throughout this series, all of our desires are not sinful. For example, our desire to be loved is not sinful. God, who is love, created us to be loved. That is why Jesus teaches us that above all things we are to love God with all of our heart, all of our strength, all of our mind, and all of our soul. And, we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is nothing wrong with desiring to be loved. Yet, if we allow our flesh to lead us, our desire to be love will turn into lust. Lust is not love. And if we give into lust we are opening ourselves up to a lot of pain and heartache. Giving into lust is just one way that we tend to let our flesh lead us. There are many other ways, but no matter how we let our flesh lead us the result will always be the same. In verse 6 Paul wrote, “The mind that is governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” In other words, if we insist on being our own guide down this road called life, our life will surely be filled with trouble, heartache, and the stench of death. However, if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives we will be able to experience new life in Christ and the peace of God. In order to explain this further, Paul reminds us that we have been adopted my God. In verses 14 through 17 Paul explains that if we live a life led by the Spirit of God, then we are indeed children of God. Before our adoption, we were slaves to sin, but now because of our faith in Christ we are sons and daughters of God. I have told you before that even though I love Paul, but he can sometimes frustrate me. This is one of those times, because in chapters 6 and 7 he said that we had become slaves of righteousness and of God, and now says we are not slaves at all, but rather free children of God who can call God daddy or papa. After years of studying Paul, I have come to my own conclusion, this is Randy’s understanding of Paul and not something I read. I believe that Paul, like any good preacher, uses words and illustrations that best help him make the point he was trying to make. Any apparent contradiction from letter to letter, or in this case chapter to chapter are not theological contradictions, but are to be read only in the context of the subject he is writing about. So, while I do believe that Paul believed that we should be slaves of God and righteousness, he does not want us to view ourselves as slaves. Instead we are to view ourselves as children of God, who strive to live life in the Spirit. Before I move one from this point I do not want us to miss the significance of what Paul is saying when he says we can cry out Abba Father. Abba was a respectful, but intimate way to address one’s father in the Aramaic language. Jesus called God the Father Abba Father in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Paul is saying the we have to right to address God in the same way Jesus did. Through our adoption we have become sons and daughters of God which makes Jesus not only our Lord and Savior but also our brother. As sons and daughters of God we are also co-heirs with Jesus of the kingdom of God. I told this chapter was amazing.