Summary: Most people really want to try and please God. But if they don’t have faith it is a frustrating experience, because most people think the way you please God is by ceasing to do bad and getting it all together. But we don’t have the power to do that.
I’m preaching through the book of Romans, verse after verse, and I personally believe if you could compare the whole Bible to a mountain range, then the book of Romans would definitely be the Himalayan mountains and Romans, Chapter 8, would be the Mount Everest towering over all the rest of scripture. In my personal opinion, chapter 8 in the book of Romans gives us the key to living the victorious Christian life. If you need something to jump-start your level of excitability about the Lord, I challenge you to just read Romans 8 every morning for about a month and you will be amazed at what will happen to your own Christian walk.
One of the concerns we all have is we want to always try to “do” the right thing. I’ve told you before one of my very favorite American presidents was Calvin Coolidge–old ‘Silent Cal.’ There was occasion one night at a White House dinner and Calvin Coolidge was at the head of the table. On either side of the table, there were about a dozen dignitaries and everything was going great until they served coffee at the end of the meal. Calvin Coolidge committed a terrible breach of social etiquette: he poured his coffee into a saucer and began to blow on it. He even added a little cream and sugar. Everyone at the table was aghast because that was something so uncouth– but because the President was doing it, every single one of them poured their coffee into their saucers and began to blow on it. You can imagine their consternation when suddenly he bent over and put it on the floor for his cat! We always want to try and do the right thing!
One way to do it is try and look at Jesus and ask the question “What would Jesus do?” Whatever you think Jesus would do you try and imitate him and that’s one way, but that can get pretty frustrating, because we don’t always know what Jesus would do, and we can’t always do what Jesus would do. There’s a better way. That is to surrender to the spirit of Jesus who lives inside of us by the Holy Spirit. This is what today’s passage is all about.
I want to talk to you today about how your mindset determines your lifestyle. Because the two key concepts in this passage are your mind and then the spirit of Christ. Begin reading in verse 5, Romans 8: “Those who live according to the sinful nature 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. The mind of sinful man is death. But the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace! Because the sinful mind is hostile to God it does not submit to God’s law nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” In verse 9, though, he’s talking directly to the Christians there in Rome, and so he’s talking directly to us when he says, “You, however are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ. But if (and this phrase could be translated ‘since’) …but since Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if (or since) the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. Through His Spirit, who lives in you.”
I. MINDSET ON SIN–DEADLY LIFESTYLE
Now, a different mindset can determine your entire lifestyle or your entire destiny. Paul is contrasting between a mind set on sin and a mind set on following the Holy Spirit. I want to take a little time to talk about a mind set on sin. It produces what we could call a deadly lifestyle. It’s not a lifestyle at all–it’s a death style. Paul is writing about that in verses 5 through 8. Let’s notice three things about these kinds of people he’s talking about. These are the people we would call “unbelievers,” or non-Christians. First of all...those people (notice he says ‘those people’– third person) can’t please God. That’s what Paul says in verse 8. He says, “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.” I call this frustration without faith. Surveys tell us most people in America believes in God. Most people in America really want to try and please God. But if they don’t have faith it is just a constant frustrating experience, because most people think the way you please God is by ceasing to do “wrong things,” stopping the sinful faults we all have, cleaning up our acts, or getting it all together. And the thing we learn in the book of Romans is we don’t have the power to do that!