Summary: Through Christ, we have been set free from the sinful mindset and have been given the mindset and power of the Holy Spirit.
In 1865 after the Civil War, America officially banned slavery. In modern headlines every once in a while you will read of a child held hostage by his own parents. Usually, the child is abused and neglected. One or both of the parents beat and starve the child. Some children have been chained like a dog, made to sleep in the garage or in a kennel. One child who survived such a tragic childhood has written about the abuse in a book titled, A Child Called ¡§It¡¨. His mother would give him only the left-overs from meals if he was good. When he went to school, he would steal food, only to return to the house after school and be forced to throw up. He was never allowed into the house except when he had to do chores. He was forced to sleep in the garage, and was constantly abused both mentally and physically by his mother. He had no hope and no happiness. Can you imagine the joy in the child¡¦s life when he was finally set free?
I think you and I can. For we too have been freed from a horrible and hopeless situation. Today, we will consider how we have been... Set Free through Christ Jesus. We have been set free from the sinful mindset, and
set free to the Spirit¡¦s mindset.
I. set free from the sinful mindset
¡§Down and out.¡¨ That perhaps is a pretty good description of how we were before Christ. The Apostle Paul makes a few references in these verses to our dreadful position. He paints a pretty hopeless picture of what we were by nature. Paul shows us how and why we were condemned by God’s law.
First, he says we were powerless to obey the law (3). Because of our sinful nature, there was no way we were ever going to be able to keep God¡¦s law. We were as powerless as a car without gas and a battery. We couldn¡¦t move and no one else could jump start us because we had no fuel. We were without power.
Paul paints it in another way. He says we were spiritually dead and couldn’t lift a finger to keep God’s law. We were still alive, but not according to God¡¦s standards of living. No, we lived only according to the sinful nature. We had no hope of living according to God’s law. In fact we didn¡¦t even want to live according to God¡¦s law. Verse five says, ¡§Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires.¡¨ One who rejects God, as our sinful nature does, lives only according to the evil desires of the sinful nature. Paul wrote about this earlier in the letter. ¡§They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.¡¨ (1:29-31)
If that were not bad enough, Paul goes into even further detail of our hopeless situation. He states that we were hostile to God by nature (7). We didn¡¦t want to be reconciled to God because we hated him! We did everything in order to spite and anger him. Like Satan, we loved lies and hated the truth. Paul wrote earlier in the letter to the Romans that unbelievers as enemies of God ¡§suppress the truth by their wickedness¡¨ (1:18). We by nature, were just like that. We fought tenaciously against the mighty and powerful God who created us. If we were left to ourselves, we would never have come to love God and his ways. We were bent on sin and headed for eternal destruction.
Thankfully, Paul also tells us what we have gained through Christ. He wrote, ¡§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¡¨(3). God sent his Son Jesus Christ to pay the price for our sin and set us free. God sent him to bear human flesh and undergo all the things we undergo: hunger, weariness, temptation, loss, and even betrayal. God sent him to bear a human flesh so that he could be the sacrifice for our sins, just as the gospel lesson for today tells us: Jesus came to give his life as a ransom. By his innocent suffering and death, he freed us from the bondage to the sinful nature and its desires.
What are the results for you and me? There is no condemnation for us because of our sins, rebellion and hatred. Our slate is wiped clean. Christ has freed us from the law of sin and death which would have inevitably damned us. Why then do we still sin? We still have the sinful nature, and still have sinful desires. Picture the sinful nature as a chain and its desires as a pair of hand-cuffs. Christ unlocked us from the chain and handcuffs so that we are no longer bound to them nor bound to do what they want us to do.