Summary: The Holy Spirit: Learn, Unlearn, Relearn Set Free By the Spirit Romans 8:1-11
The Holy Spirit: Learn, Unlearn, Relearn
Set Free By the Spirit
February 12, 2017
We are in a series called, The Holy Spirit: Learn, Unlearn, and Relearn. My desire is that we gain a better understanding of life in the Spirit and our need for the person and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. So far we have seen that the Spirit is the source of all spiritual life in John 7; the Spirit gives us new birth in John 3; the Spirit applies the work of the Son in adopting us as children of God; and this week we look at the work the Spirit in making the decisive break with sin for us.
The first seven chapters of Romans tell us why all humanity stands condemned before God chapter eight tells us followers of Christ are no longer condemned because of the Spirit in our lives. The first four verses what salvation brings us by the work of the Spirit. First we see that we are free of the penalty of sin, “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (1).” The Bible describes all humanity as born under God’s judgment because of our sinfulness and rebellion against him. Condemnation means we stand guilty and under God’s judgement for violating God’s law; the opposite of justification. If to be justified is to stand boldly before God because we are righteous in his sight, to be condemned is to cower in fear because we are unrighteous and worthy of death. The gospel promises that the penalty of sin, condemnation before God, is broken over those who are in Christ by faith. If you have put your faith in Christ, there is never any reason to experience fear or apprehension about your relationship with God or your eternal destiny (39). That does not mean you won’t experience fear but that there is no reason why you should fear. No means never here. But this status is not universal but only for those who are in Christ by faith.
You may think that God is love will not judge or condemn anyone but that is not consistent with how we view the world. A child disobeys a parent so they are disciplined. A student cheats on a test so gets a failing grade. Someone breaks the law and they pay a fine or are incarcerated depending upon their crime. Intuitively, we think people should face consequences for their wrongs. If they do not, we feel a sense of injustice because we are made in God’s image and our sense of justice reflects God’s justice.
We are free of the penalty of sin because we have been set free from the power of sin over us. “for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (2).” The law of sin and death is that if you sin you die but the law of the Spirit is that though Christ is without sin, he died for you. The Spirit applies to us who are in Christ, the work of Christ on our behalf. Some think that if we do the right things, are really religious and faithful that we are ok with God. But Paul tells us here that God is the only one who can save us (3). God has done what the law could not do; the law could not and never will have the power to save anyone. Its purpose is to expose sin, to convict of sin, but it cannot free us from the sinfulness of our hearts which desires to rebel against rules. So God did what the law could not do, by sending his own son, showing us the cost of no condemnation. Christians are not condemned because God condemned his own Son on our behalf. The Son of God took on human flesh to take the condemnation that was rightfully yours.
God condemned sin for a purpose, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (3).” This tells us that our obedience now is the result of inner work of the Spirit. As a follower of Christ, you live by a new inner means of the Spirit dwelling within, empowering and transforming us. We no longer live trying to overcome our condemnation nor do we live trying to keep our status of no condemnation. We are living in a whole new realm of Spirit given and Spirit driven existence. We are freed of both the penalty of sin and the power of sin because we have the life of the triune God pulsing within you. This Spirit of Life has set you free in Christ Jesus. Then Paul describes these two realms of existence to clarify your life outside of Christ and your life in Christ. Those outside of Christ, are those whose existence is in the flesh or according to the flesh or animated by the flesh. Flesh does not mean our physical bodies but an existence characterized by fallen sinful humanity whose orientation is the values and orientation of this world who will die. Those who are in Christ are those whose existence is in the Spirit or according to the Spirit or animated by the Spirit and will live. I want to read verses five through eleven and make some observations. He is not describing the struggle of someone who trusts Christs but those who are not Christians (flesh) and those who are Christians (Spirit). So those who live or exist according to the flesh, purely fallen human nature (non Christians), have mindsets that are according to fallen human nature while those who live according to the Spirit (Christians) have mindsets that are according to the Spirit. The result of those who live according to the flesh is death and the result of those who live according to the Spirit is life and peace. This describes those who are condemned and those who are no longer condemned. Then he explains that those who exist in the fleshly, fallen human nature, are hostile to God and does not submit to God’s law because they cannot. Then he makes a contrast to those who are followers of Christ, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. He is talking about existence. As a Christian your life is animated by Spirit. The Spirit is the gas in the engine, the motor in the chain saw.