THE HOLY SPIRIT IS ALIVE AND WELL, IN YOU
Romans 8:11-19 -- March 28, 2004 – LENT 5
11And if 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.
12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Christian Friends:
The Psalmist tells us: "This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it." It is a joy to be alive. Yet, we probably don’t feel that way everyday that we wake up, even it still is ought to be a joy to be alive. We realize that as each day goes by and the years go by, we find a few more aches and pains in our lives. We might not feel so well everyday of our life. We might worry and fret about the world situation, and the list goes on. But the Lord reminds us that, yes, we may not always feel the best every day; and yet, we still are believers who have the Spirit of God alive in us. Because of that, our spiritual life, our faith, is alive and well.
Listen to what Jesus tells us in John: "(Jesus promises)...the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you" (JOHN 14:17). The Father tells us that the Spirit of God is alive and well in each one of us, in every believer. Ever all around us, the world does fret and people are so concerned about themselves, and they can not think about anything else except worry. They lose the joy of living. It is because they don’t know the Holy Spirit. They don’t see Him. They don’t understand faith. Today by God’s grace, you and I gather together to remind ourselves that, yes, there is joy in living in this world; because the Spirit of God is alive and well in you.
That is what we consider as we look at Paul’s words to the believers at Rome and to us as well. THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS ALIVE AND WELL, IN YOU.
I. We are God’s own dear children
II. We are heirs of God’s eternal glory
I. We are God’s own dear children
Our text begins by reminding these early believers how they became children of God: 11And if 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. First of all, the Apostle Paul reminded these believers that their Savior Jesus Christ had come back to life with the power of the Holy Spirit. If they would think about that, they would realize this is a great power. Paul goes on to say that same great power that was able to raise Jesus to life, even though He was dead, even though He had been crucified, is the power that lives in them. It is a power that is able to change their lives, which is able to make them find joy in living. Even though we know they could have complained because they faced tremendous persecution.
Now that they considered what God had done for them, Paul continues: 12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. Paul says we look at how we have come to faith, that it is a gift of God. Remember that power God used to raise Jesus back to life? It is the same power that is in the gift of faith. Paul says that believers now owe God something, but not living in any sinful way, that leads to nothing. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Paul says that power of God had changed their lives. They no longer had to walk mindlessly down the path of destruction, but instead they could put to death the misdeeds of the body. They could resist sin. They could resist the devil, and they would discover life.
How does this all happen that they would discover life? Very simply, he says: 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. There was a great importance put on families during Old and New Testament times. Paul reminds these believers that they are not orphans. They are not forgotten, but they are God’s own sons, His dear children. Now these people are believers by God’s grace and God’s children.
Paul goes on: 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. They did not have to fear God, but they were able to look to God as their father, just as Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven." Paul was reminding them that this was the same Heavenly Father who loves them. This verse concludes: And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’. This verse uses that same term that Jesus used in His sufferings and death. He says to these believers, just like the very Son of God was God’s own Son, you too can cry out "Abba Father," because they are the sons of God. He was trying to remind them no matter what they might face in the world--the persecutions, the trials and temptations--they were still God’s sons. The Spirit of God was alive and well in them.
Our loving Lord through the apostle Paul says the same to us this morning, the Spirit of God is alive and well in each one of us. The Spirit of God is alive and well in believers throughout the world. This is a miracle. This is a powerful influence. How does it happen? Very simply, the Lord reminds us: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 PETER 1:23). We gather around the Word of God each Sunday. We also gather around the Word of God hopefully in your daily lives, because it gives life to us. The rest of the world is gathering around all sorts of things to find enjoyment and life in this life. They are forgetting they are God’s own children. They are missing the point that this life has very little to offer compared to eternity. There are many in this world that feel forgotten, forsaken and neglected and alone and troubled and worried. It appears that the world lives each year more and more in fear rather than joy.
Today, the Lord reminds us that the Spirit of God is alive and well in us, so that we might find joy in this life, because it shows us God’s love. In the Epistle of John: "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him" (1 JOHN 3:1). This verse goes back to the fact that world is blind, not knowing God. So in the world’s eyes we might look different. In the world’s eyes Christians stand out, because the Spirit of God is alive and well in us. We don’t have to wring our hands day after day in fear or worry or concern and wonder what the future is going to hold, because we know God loves us.
Then as Paul says, we have an obligation as lights in this world to live as children of light. Oh, it is easy sometimes according to our sinful nature to join in the rest of the world and walk down the path of destruction, to shrug our shoulders as if we don’t care, and to seem as if sin does not bother us. But deep down we know that sin does bother us, and we are different. We are joyful in a world that is darkened by sin. In Ephesians, Paul reminds us: "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light" (EPHESIANS 5:8). Yes, we were born into this world as darkness, but the Lord has changed all of that. He has put the Spirit of God in our hearts so that the Spirit is alive and well in us.
The Spirit of God is alive and well—in you! What a joy to know that we are God’s own children. Now our text goes beyond that and says, II. You are God’s own heir of eternal glory.
II. You are God’s own heir of eternal glory.
Remember, Paul writes, 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. We heard that in our Scripture lessons for today. This fact is woven throughout Scripture--the importance of being children and the importance of being God’s children. In the Gospel (LUKE 20:9-19) the tenant farmer wanted his due rent of the land from the tenants, and they did not give it to him. He sent his son thinking they would respect his son. They did not, did they? They looked and said that he was an heir. They thought if they killed him, they would get the inheritance. How absurd to think they would get an inheritance by means of murder. That was the importance they placed on someone’s son and someone’s heir.
This fact is so important that Paul says: 17Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. Paul gets back to that point again--not only does God call Jesus His Son, but also calls us his sons and daughters. Then our text says that if we are His sons and daughters, we are also heirs of God. Believers are put on the same level with Jesus. Paul says that believers are co-heirs with Christ. Now there is something there with being the co-heirs of Christ. Paul writes: if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Now the believers in Rome might have thought, "We don’t want to share in his sufferings. We don’t want to have to suffer in this world." Really, no one wants to but the Lord says that is part of being a co-heir with Christ. Of course, these believers were not going to have to face the rigorous torture, the death by crucifixion like Jesus did; but they would suffer for their faith.
Paul does not stop at this point of suffering with Christ. They would also share in His glory. In verse 18: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. These early believers would suffer much, since their government would persecute them. Yet, Paul says to look ahead. Look ahead to that glory that is yet to come. The glory that is to come far outweighs any sufferings or shortcomings in this world. Eternal glory isn’t worth comparing with any and all earthly suffering. He wanted them to remember that the future was theirs, and eternal glory was theirs. He says: 19The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. As believers they look forward to that last day when they would be united with all believers. On that Last Day they will see the Son of God Himself return and the angels welcoming them into the inheritance of heaven itself.
You and I are also God’s children. Even more than that, we are heirs, co-heirs with Christ. Yes, we are going to share in His sufferings from time to time; but we are also going to share eternity. Galatians 4 says: "So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir" (GALATIANS 4:7). In this life we sometimes get all excited if we think we are going to inherit something, whether it is a big amount of money or just some little trinket that has lots of meaning to us. In the same way our Lord wants us to get even more excited about the inheritance that is yet to come. God says we are no longer slaves to sin. We are no longer slaves to death. We are no longer slaves to the Law, because we are God’s sons, and we are heirs to eternal life.
When the Lord promises us an inheritance, it is not small, is it? It is great, because it is heaven. Titus tells us: "The Holy Spirit (is) poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life" (TITUS 3:6,7). Paul says the Spirit of God is alive and well in you. God has poured His grace into you. The Holy Spirit has given you faith so you understand that eternity is yours. God has given it to us once again generously. Our loving Lord has given it to us for eternity.
In our second lesson (PHILIPPIANS 3:8-14), the Apostle Paul in this section in Philippians says that there is nothing more important at all in this life except that we know the Savior. If we know the Savior, we know that our inheritance is guaranteed. If we know the Savior, we know that the Spirit of God is alive and well in each one of us that we might live with joy in this life. Sometimes people say about our earthly inheritances, "I have written you in my will, but I can write you out." Those kinds of threats go on and on until they are gone. This is not so with our Savior, is it? He has prepared an inheritance for us even before we knew Him. He has prepared an inheritance for us as soon as Adam and Eve sinned soon after creation of a perfect world. God doesn’t hold our inheritance over our head as a threat, but He gives it to us as a guaranteed inheritance, as a promise that is a certainty. What does Scripture remind us about the Last Day? Jesus says: "Then the King will say to those on his right, ’Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’" (MATTHEW 25:34). Since the time Adam and Eve sinned, God prepared our inheritance. The Savior Jesus Christ has guaranteed our inheritance. He has guaranteed it as we have learned during the season of Lent by the sufferings, by the passion, by the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Oh, it is true that sometimes in our life we don’t feel like getting out of bed some mornings because of our aches and pains, our age, or what is out in this world. Yet, the Lord tells us we can be joyful. We ought to be joyful, because the Spirit of God is alive and well in each one of us. The Spirit of God is alive and well, because He calls us His own children. The Lord makes us heirs of eternal glory. In Corinthians it is given to us in another way. He says: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 CORINTHIANS 4:16). That is a problem in this world today--the world around us loses heart. They hear so much bad and threatening news that they are scared and they lose heart. They think that they don’t feel good. Everything seems to be going wrong. They lose heart. We are different because the Spirit of God is alive and well in us. We are renewed day by day inwardly in our spirit. That is what it means that the Spirit of God is living and well. The Spirit of God is in you as God’s children, as heirs of eternal glory. God’s Spirit is in you alive and well by faith through grace. Amen.
Pastor Timm O. Meyer