Summary: Do you feel discouraged, down, like you don’t "measure up" to God’s love? Then take heart and be encouraged. This most wonderful chapter in God’s Word tell us that no person, no event, nothing at all - can separate you from God’s love.
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At the core of every human being is the desire to be approved – to be liked. We often set our self esteem on the opinions others have of us. Why is it that so many of us feel so badly about ourselves? Is it because deep down we have a sense that we have failed in some way – failed either to please those around us, ourselves – or our God?
The Apostle Paul, in fact, seems almost to fortify our own notions of failure through the first seven chapters of Romans – we realize that whatever shred of self reliance, self sufficiency, or self justification we have mustered up is utterly useless in the quest for acceptance.
In my flesh, that is in my old nature, Paul tells us, dwells no good thing. In fact, when we try to do good we do bad, and when good needs to be done, we do not do it. Paul sums it up at the end of chapter 7 by saying: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
Then, he answers his own question in the same breath: “Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
It is not then through our own efforts, through our family line, through our associations or deeds that we receive acceptance – but it is through the efforts of Jesus Christ on our behalf that we are rescued, cleansed, and loved – then empowered and changed.
That is the message of Romans chapter 8. There are really only three points I want to make from this chapter – and I’ll give them to you ahead of time – and then we’ll see them and their associated sub points as we work through the chapter. But I want you to see how much God is not a judge in the lives of those who belong to Him, but a helpful, loving Father.
The three points are:
1. Receiving Christ means freedom from condemnation but war against sin
2. Closeness to God means losing control but gaining a new nature
3. Belonging to God’s family means facing death, but receiving a rich inheritance
Living in Christ means freedom from condemnation and war against sin
8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
This one verse should be tattooed on everyone’s hand – printed on paper and posted on your refrigerator, and memorized by every believer. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how you’ve acted, who you are – how much you think you have failed – if you are in Christ, your are NOT condemned anymore. Think about that, let it settle in.
God isn’t sitting up there with a giant hammer just waiting for you to mess up so He can whap you on the head. This is hard for us to accept – we are so quick to judge ourselves – so Paul goes on to tell us why this is a reality.
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
We’re under a new jurisdiction now – its like when you leave the United States, you are no longer under U.S. law, but the law of whatever country you go to. By believing in Jesus Christ you have left the country called “the world” and have joined God’s kingdom – and are now under a new law – a law called “the law of the Spirit of life.”
So, point 1: in Christ we are not condemned because we have been set free (vs 1-4) – set free from what?
5 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. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
So set your mind on the Spirit (vs 5-11) I know that’s easier said than done – but its important for us to see the distinction. I think one of Paul’s points is that we have been empowered and set free so we can now choose which mind will control us.