Summary: What does living in the spirit look like?
For a couple of months we have been studying the Holy Spirit.
We observed what he did at Pentecost for the early church.
We tried to answer the questions: “Who is the Holy Spirit?” and “What Does the Holy Spirit Do?”
We spent three weeks discussing the fruit of the Spirit and last week we tackled the topic of “The Gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
This has been a intense study.
I considered ended this series, “May I Introduce You to the Holy Spirit” with last weeks sermon. I thought perhaps some of us were about Holy Spirited Out.
However I could not shake from my mind the question, “Well Okay. This is all very important information but what next? How does all this ‘stuff’ affect my life tomorrow, when we go to the office or to work? How does it relate to daily living?”
So I felt a need to spend a few weeks discussing, “Living in the Spirit.” What does living in the spirit look like?
When it comes to discussing “living in the Spirit” there is not a better passage in the Bible to study than Romans 8.
SCRIPTURE: Romans 8:1-17
In 1867, George Croly wrote a hymn titled “Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart.” It is found in our United Methodist Hymnal (pg 500). The second stanza speaks to the feeling of despair many of us have. He wrote:
I ask no dreams, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.
How nice it would be to be awaken from our sleep and discover an angel keeping watching over us. How grand it would be to look up into the starry midnight sky and actually catch a glimpse of God. However, for many of us a positive response to the request of this Irish priest would be the greatest blessing of all. To have the dimness of our soul to fade away; to have the cloud of despair evaporate from around us would truly be heaven.
The author of the Romans text was the Apostle Paul. During his life he had many things that bore down on his soul.
The guilt of murder
Responsible for families being torn apart
Held in suspicion
Yet he was able to overcome these obstacles or at least he learned to live with his despair and depression. How? Because “the grace of God the Father, and the Love of Jesus the son and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit abided with him.”
The fellowship of the Holy Spirit was important to Paul. This is why he spent so much time discussing the Holy Spirit here is chapter 8 of Romans.
In fact in the NRSV the word “spirit” is used over 20 times in the first twenty seven verses. Nineteen of those occasions have spirit with a capital S. This is more than any other chapter in the entire Bible. Even though Paul had many difficulties to work through, he was able to approach life with enthusiasm and excitement. How? Because of the Holy Spirit and the things the Holy Spirit was doing in his life on a daily basis.
Let us look at some of the things that Paul says the Holy Spirit does for the Christian when we “Live Life in the Spirit.”
I. When we Live Life in the Spirit we are set free.
1. Free? Free from what? (look at vv. 1-2)
--“sin” Did this mean that Paul stopped sinning?
--free from the guilt of sin (v.1) “There is now no condemnation”
--Message translation: Romans 8:2 “The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.”
--Can you imagine what life would have been like for Paul if this were not the case?
(churches; youth; parents in prison; dead)
2. Many of us have trouble accepting this.
--We prefer to live life like Jacob Marley in the Dickens’ Xmas Carol
--We see God holding a scale of judgment
--Our sin and the consequences of sin has been taken care of. The Holy Spirit reminds us that all of our sin was transferred to the cross.
--Message: God went for the jugular when he sent his own son.
3. The key to freedom, the key to freedom is forgiveness.
--this means accepting forgiveness
--more often than not it is not God or others who condemn us; it is ourselves.
II. Living in the Spirit can change the way we think. (read vv. 5-9)
1. Notice the emphasis Paul placed on the mind.
2. Paul recognized the danger of dwelling on the negative
--spend our time dwelling on the bad things