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Summary:

A. INTRODUCTION

1. Today we conclude our three-part study of Romans 8. We began two weeks ago with Paul's thundering proclamation:

There is, therefore, n __ c __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ to those who are I __ Christ Jesus... ( Romans 8:1 ).

This brief passage, we said, is the very essence of the gospel ("G __ __ __ N __ __ __") of Jesus Christ.

2. Can we identify those who are "in Christ Jesus?" The apostle Paul did that for us by dividing the world into two groups:

Not J __ __ or G __ __ __ __ __ __;

Not s __ __ __ __ or f __ __ __;

Not m __ __ __ or f __ __ __ __ __;

Not P __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ or C __ __ __ __ __ __ __;

Not b __ __ __ __ or w __ __ __ __;

Not g __ __ or s __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

No, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul divided the world into:

- those who "live according to the f __ __ __ __;"

- those who "live according to the S __ __ __ __ __." (v.5)

For both groups, Paul reminded us, the way one l __ __ __ __ begins with the m __ __ __. (v.5-6)

a. The mind of the "natural" person -- one of those standing outside of the kingdom of God -- is dominated by

l __ __ __ __;

e __ __ __ __ __ __ __; and, above all,

a __ __ __ __ __ __ __.

His thinking is without spiritual orientation and he has neither the desire nor the ability to please God (Romans 8:6-8). This is not to say that the natural person cannot exercise "r __ __ __ __ __ __ __." For such a person, a religious dynamic is simply added to the others in his thinking which define him. His life might then take on a certain religious slant, will include some religious activities, and may indeed include "random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." His essential nature, however, remains unchanged: he or she will remain enslaved to a natural appetite for self and for sin.

b. The life of the believer should stand in sharp contrast to the life of one who "minds the things of the flesh." Paul has shown emphatically in this epistle that Christians have been freed from slavery to sin and self. A believer's faith is not simply added to his or her list of admirable character traits.

(1) The Bible states that the believer is an entirely N __ __ C __ __ __ __ __ __, not just a slightly altered, more "religious" version of the old self.

(2) The believer has been spiritually "q __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __." He or she now sees sin for what it is; knows how God sees sin, and is properly horrified by it.

(3) Not only does the believer now "see" sin clearly, he or she now has the strong desire to r __ __ __ __ __ sin and to o __ __ __ God. This is because, as we have repeatedly said, the believer has been f __ __ __ __ from s __ __ __ __ __ __ to sin. But, even though our flesh is no longer "bound" to sin, it still has a relentless bent to sinning. Christians -- even the strongest ones -- will occasionally submit to the temptation to sin, and this sets up an inner struggle which sometimes erupt into frustration and anguish, as is the case with Paul himself in Romans 7:15-25. For this reason an authentic believer cannot continue in sin. The spiritual dimension -- the actual indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit Himself -- with which every true believer is equipped (8:9) and which causes us to want to please God is deeply g __ __ __ __ __ __ when we do not.


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