Summary: #4 in Romans 8 series. This explores how positionally Christians have already died, and how we are to live practically - putting to death the deeds of our sinful nature. Blatantly Wesleyan-Arminian.
Romans 8:12-14 – Murder One
Several years ago, I watched a documentary on TV about sharks. I love sharks. I find them fascinating. They taste good as steak, too. Now, I learned an interesting characteristic about sharks that day that I’ve never forgotten. Most varieties of sharks never stop swimming. They have to keep moving to breathe. If they stop, they die. As well, they can’t swim backwards. So, in order for certain sharks to continue to live, they have to keep going forwards.
There’s something to be said about that same characteristic in Christians too. To keep moving forward and pressing on. It’s certainly easier to get saved and stay that way. Now that I’m saved and on my way to heaven, I can just pitch my tent here and be comfortable about life. I love the line from the song called “Ride” by the Canadian group 54-40 that says, “And I’ve looked inside my heart and I have been afraid that I might settle for what it is I have become. No one ever told me that I would have to follow…”
But as tempting as getting comfortable in our faith sounds, God has something better for you than that. God’s plans for you include making you better than you already are. No matter what baggage you brought when you found the Lord, no matter what baggage you have picked up since, God’s plans for you include some improvements in your heart, in your mind, maybe even on your face. God wants you to know who you are, to understand it, and to apply it. Let’s read Romans 8:12-14.
One of the reasons I preach in series is that it allows for progression. What we saw last week carries over into this week, and the lesson this week helps explain last week, and so on. So, when this week’s passage begins with the word “therefore”, it means that we will be looking further into last week’s thoughts. Last week, Paul showed us that we have been given eternal life. Life abundantly. Life with the power of the resurrection contained in it.
Now, because we have been given such a wonderful life, we must not take it for granted – v12. We have an obligation. The Greek word there means that we are debtors. We in debt to God for what He has done for us. Because of His love for us, because of His amazing grace, we owe our very lives to God. Everything you have, and everything you are is because of Him. Therefore, it is not too big an expectation to live to please Him, and not yourself. You owe yourself nothing. You served yourself for many years with no lasting reward. It is time to get rid of the things in your life that displease God, things that are there just because you like them. No, it is time to live only for God.
Because, in the end, if you don’t get them, they’ll get you – v13a. Now, what could that mean? Well, I think of it this way. Some people grow old gracefully. Some grow old bitterly. I understand, there may be mental things going on. But, I can’t help but think that at least in part, it’s because they stop fighting the battle. They like where they are at, and they don’t fight any longer. They’re old after all, and they should get their own way. They don’t like how things are being run in the church, and how they would never have done it that way, and they begin to resist God. Perhaps their eternal future is not in jeopardy, but they are not the people God wants them to be either. That is dying.
But there is an alternative – v13b. Paul is telling us how we can really live. He’s giving us the insight to discover life. He says we have to become murderers in a sense. We must put to death, mortify, make dead, the misdeeds of the body. It is through this death that a believer becomes more alive than ever.
Some of you may want to shout out at me, “But Pastor, you hate legalism. Isn’t this just a form of being right with God by keeping the law?” First of all, they are Paul’s words. I’m not making up new rules for you to obey. I’m simply saying what Paul said. If you have a problem with that, your problem is with God telling you what to do. But secondly, this death isn’t a slipping back into legalism; rather, it is the outflow, the consequences and result, of communion with God, being led by the Spirit – v14. It is the payoff of wanting to walk with God, desiring to get rid of the things that clog us up. It’s God loving you enough to help you get rid of the stuff in your life that you are better without.