Summary: This message is the third in a series designed to be a journey of discovery. The goal of the series is to help each of us gain a better understanding of the Holy Spirit. This message examines the Spirit’s role in our ongoing battle with flesh.
How many of you have ever felt hopeless about your spiritual life improving? Paul’s words in Romans 8 should provide us with some hope. We often look at our spiritual lives and feel like we are failing to make any progress. Paul speaks of the reality of this struggle that is going on in each of our lives between the flesh and the Spirit. If we are really honest we often feel like the victory is constantly out of reach. Let’s think about the types of sporting event that we really enjoy watching. We love those final second come from behind victories. Those victories when the teams overcome certain defeat to win the victory. This is exactly what Paul is trying to show us in our text. Although the battle at times seems impossible to win, through the power of the Spirit we can claim victory. The last thing Satan wants to happen is for us to understand that the victory is within our grasp. His purposes will always be better served by Christians displaying a defeatist attitude. Paul is assuring his readers that the path to certain victory involves living our lives according to the Spirit rather than the flesh. Sounds great doesn’t it, but how can we succeed in making this a reality? Today, we are going to look at Paul’s words in Romans 8 and discover how to live a victorious life through Jesus Christ.
I. Gaining the proper perspective on Romans 8.
A. Man’s sin has given rise to a deadly conflict.
1. Paul devotes a tremendous amount of space in his letter to the Romans to showing the reality of the conflict in which we are involved.
2. As Christians we generally make two mistakes with regard to this conflict.
a. We feel hopeless and believe that there is no way we can win the battle.
b. Since we cannot hear or see the enemy we fail to grasp the reality of the conflict.
3. In the first three chapters Paul describes the seriousness of our condition resulting from sin.
4. In chapters 4-5 Paul shows that Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross has provided us with a way to break the grip of sin.
5. In chapter 6 Paul points out the fact that sin no longer has mastery over the life of a Christian.
6. In chapter 7 Paul returns to the reality that sin still causes a conflict in our lives.
B. God has provided a solution for our seemingly hopeless condition.
1. Paul skillfully shows in Romans 8 that the Holy Spirit radically changes everything.
2. Paul refers to the Spirit twenty-one times in this chapter.
3. The work of the Spirit enables the tensions of the conflict with sin to be relieved.
4. If you were going to point out a key idea of chapter 8 it would be the assurance of victory over the flesh through the Spirit.
II. The Battle Rages: Our flesh vs. His Spirit.
A. Every believer is involved in the ongoing struggle between the flesh and the Spirit.
1. Each time we fall to sin we are reminded of the constant struggle that exists in our lives of which Paul reminds the Galatians.
2. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:17—NIV)
3. Although the struggle is real Paul reminds us that there is no longer any condemnation for those who are in Christ.
4. The significance of this statement is that the penalty that resulted from human sin was paid by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
5. When we accept God’s gift of grace through Jesus Christ the penalty for our sins is removed.
6. Paul is reminding us that there is no reason to wallow in guilt over our past sins because what God has done through Christ is completely sufficient.
B. The struggle between the Spirit and the flesh will continue as long as we live in this world.
1. When Paul speaks of the mind he is speaking of our mind set. He believes that every one of us lives with one of two mind sets: sinful or spiritual.
2. What we choose to follow will determine what motivates us, our actions, attitudes, priorities and values.
3. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21—NIV)
4. In verse 6 Paul is basically saying that if we choose to live by the flesh we are doing nothing less than committing spiritual suicide.