Summary: The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a remarkable experience for every believer in Christ.
Dr. John MacArthur, Jr. begins his sermon on the 8th chapter of the epistle to the Romans with the following words,
"The richness of this passage is really far beyond calculation. Its truths are so great that no matter how long or how diligently we study the chapter, we would never have anything other than a sense of abounding joy and the feeling that we had only scratched the surface of what was here."
I believe he was right. The richness of this passage is far beyond what we could ever imagine.
In John 3:8, the Lord Jesus Christ uses the analogy of the wind to drive home his point concerning the invisible yet undeniable work of the Holy Spirit.
In that analogy we are confronted with the fact that despite the reality that we cannot know the where-abouts of the wind its effect is plain to everyone. The Holy Spirit works in the same way! We may not exactly understand how the Holy Spirit works, but we can see the effect of His work.
The 8th chapter of Romans is the undisputed proof of the Holy Spirit invisible yet undeniable outworking in a person’s life. For the record the Holy Spirit is mentioned here about 20 times!
Like the wind, the Holy Spirit is invisible to our naked eyes. Like the wind, the Holy Spirit works in ways we do not know and see. Nevertheless, like the wind though unseen but we hear its sound; the Holy Spirit though His work is hidden the outcome of it is visble.
In this passage the Apostle Paul expounds the respective outcomes of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life.
I. Entrance to New Life (vv 1-2, 10)
How can a bad man become good? How can a sinner become a saint? How can a wretch man become a blessed one?
Reform? Rehabilitation? Religiosity? Will power? The first two options has been repeatedly applied but found ineffective. Religiosity also falls short. For even the most religious are found wanting (cf. John 3:7; Rom. 3:9). And even the last hope of man fails -- will power. Because man, left to himself, cannot be other than defeated and frustrated. We encounter this truth in Romans 7:14-25, where a person, apart from Christ, attempts to do the will of God yet ends up harassed and defeated by sin.
Here the cure: The life-giving Spirit that gives us freedom from the grip and pangs of sin.
Note the description Paul attaches to the Holy Spirit - "life-giving". This suggests two important truths: (1) The very source of new life is the Holy Spirit and (2) He infuses it to those who are "in Christ".
This new life He gives is the eternal life which brings change in one’s disposition. Eternal is the kind of life that God lives and possesses - it is the life of God given by the Holy Spirit to those who are in Christ. It is through our relationship with Christ that we are born again as the Holy Spirit indwells us. When we experience rebirth, we possess no longer an ordinary life every human possesses bu the new life of the Holy Spirit invading our dead souls.
F.F. Bruce, in his commentary to the epistle of Paul to the Romans (TNTC), writes,
"There can be no true life apart form [the Holy Spirit]."
II. Exemption from Condemnation (vv 1-2)
A necessary prerequisite to a new life is the elimination of any obligation of the past. That’s why the Apostle Paul declares that we are free from condemnation. This condemnation is the punishment incurred to us because of our disobedience to God’s law.
But when the Holy Spirit indwells us all the possibilities of condemnation are totally eliminated. This is because the Holy Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death. The Holy Spirit transfers us from the state of condemnation into the state of blessedness - "in Christ"!
Christ died in our stead and bore the condemnation which was for us on the cross. We are no longer condemned because the death of Christ becomes our death. Therefore, instead of condemnation we enjoy so-great salvation. I believe no state is more secure than the state of being in Christ.
III. Enablement for Righteous Living (vv 3-8)
In chapter 7 of this epistle the Apostle Paul tells us that the Old Testament law is holy, righteous, and good. Yet it has no power or capacity to enable a person to obey its stipulations. That’s why the law is actually "powerless" (v. 3). Let it be clear to us that the problem is not the law but the sinful human nature.
Nonetheless, what is impossible for man is possible to God. God defeated the power of sin through the death of His beloved Son on the cross (cf. John 1:29; Rom. 5:8; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10).