Summary: There can be no connection to Christ apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Spirit causes us to persevere in our faith and commitment to God.
Sermon Series on Romans 8: Reasons to be encouraged!
Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
>Reason #3, The Spirit indwells & guides us, Romans 8:9-14
Introduction—-As we make our way through Paul’s top-ten list of reasons why Christians should be encouraged, we come to Reason #3: The Spirit indwells and guides us. Throughout Romans, Paul anticipates arguments and misconceptions. In these verses Paul clarifies our status by pointing to our spiritual resources. I’d like to focus on 4 popular misconceptions of the Christian life that are addressed in verses 9-14.
Misconception #1--The Spirit makes us feel elated, ecstatic. Some believers would describe the Christian experience as one of strong emotions, for all who are “Spirit-filled”. Verse 9 teaches that the Spirit indwells all believers, as promised. The word “dwell” comes from the Greek word for “home”. Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit takes up residence in believers; He makes His home in us; our bodies are His temple. But nowhere does the Bible say that we will necessarily feel the Spirit; nevertheless, we can know He is with us. Some people read about the Holy Spirit and yearn for an overpowering emotional experience. There’s nothing wrong with an emotional response, yet it’s faith, not feelings that bring us to Christ; it’s faith that maintains us. The Day of Pentecost was an amazing event, and emotions were stirred…but the main effect was that the disciples were empowered to communicate the Good News. When we trust Christ, our lives become transformed—our feelings may or may not. Perhaps when you came to Christ you felt a sense of security, but when at times you feel insecure you can at least know that, based on Scripture, you are still in God’s hands—whether you feel it, or not. If my salvation depended on my feelings, I only hope I don’t die before my first cup of coffee! How do we know the Spirit indwells us? It’s not by how we feel, but how we live! What about our lives can only be explained by the indwelling power of God’s Spirit?
Misconception #2--Christian living is hard work…if we’re trying to do it all on our own! The Spirit guides us over the rough roads of life. Verse 10 shows us that the Spirit gives us new life. When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure, He assured them that they wouldn’t be alone, without divine guidance and strength (Jn 14). He promised them the Comforter would come in power. The Spirit is our Source of holiness. Paul explains that we become alive “because of righteousness.” Whose righteousness? Not ours, but Christ’s. Last week I mentioned how people can be at war with God and not know it. In the same way, people who are spiritually dead don’t realize their condition. When we look to Jesus, the Spirit changes our status from death to life. Christianity is the life of God in the human soul.
The Spirit transforms us from the inside out. We’re different, because of the change produced by the Spirit Who equips us. Spiritual gifts are received, not achieved. And every believer is gifted. It’s our job to discover, develop, and use our gifts. Jesus said that we recognize fellow-believers by their “fruit”. The “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). This is all very encouraging, but one mistake people make is to ask for “more” of the Spirit, as though the 2nd Person of the Trinity were a commodity. Every child of God has all of Him, but the question is, does He have all of us?
Misconception #3--Death is the final defeat. Verse 11 decrees that sin has been defeated by Christ. The same Spirit and power which raised Christ, saved us, and will raise us physically one day. The Bible speaks of three kinds of death: spiritual death in this life, natural death at the end of our physical life, and eternal death--separation from God. Physical death will one day claim us, but we will be spiritually alive; we can count on an imperishable resurrection. Physical death in no way detracts from what Jesus accomplished for us. For believers, death is a day of glorious triumph. Some people not only see death as defeat, they’re defeated by life. We defeat death by relying on God’s Spirit, our Source of life eternal. Death itself has been defeated and has lost it’s sting.
A few years ago I conducted a funeral for a dedicated Christian man. His wife approached me and said, “He’s the lucky one—I wish I was going to heaven today. Why couldn’t it have been me?” We don’t usually envy people who’ve died, unless we know where they’re going, and where we’re going. On his deathbed, a minister told his son, “Don’t worry about me. I’m feeling somewhat better today. But should I slip away while you’re gone, you’ll know where to find me.” Christians never say good-bye for the last time.