Summary: Rom. 7 describes a struggle; but Rom. 8 sets forth the path of victory for the believer. This message identifies three keys for living in that victory.
We take our text this morning from Romans 8:1-17.
I am reading from the New International Version.i
8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 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. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation-but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.ii
During the last few weeks we have been laying foundation for what God is saying to us in Romans 8. We talked about the great exchange that occurred at the cross.iii There God placed our sin on Jesus so that He could justly give to us Christ’s righteousness. That right standing before God is given to all who will receive it by faith as a gift of grace. Eph 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
The Judge of All the Earth has ruled on the matter and we read from His decree in Romans 6:14 “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” That is the Good News of the gospel: Not only that you have a home in heaven, but you are made a new creature in Christ, you are righteous in the eyes of God because of the great exchange that occurred at Calvary, and in the here and now you can live in victory.
But appropriating all of that into our daily lives proves more challenging than we thought.
As a new creature in Christ we passionately want to please our Heavenly Father. He has shed His love abroad in our hearts and we set out to do the will of God in our lives. Then we find ourselves in Romans 7. We encounter a struggle that takes us by surprise. Romans 7:15 “For what am I doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate I do.” Can anybody here relate to that experience? The more sincere you are, the more intense the struggle seems to be. People who have no desire to please God do not have this struggle. It’s people who want to do right who experience the frustrations we read about in Romans 7. All this culminates in a cry for help at the end of the chapter. Rom 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” I am so glad for the answer that comes in the next verse, “Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I said this last week, but it is so important I want to say it again. It is not God’s intention that any of us stay in the Romans 7 experience. Unfortunately, that is where most Christians live.