Summary: Every day, you and I are making choices that affect our future in this life and affect our future in the life to come. This message examines statements in Gal. 5:13-15 to illuminate Rom. 8:5
We have been in a study of salvation for the past few weeks that has led us to our text this morning in Romans 8:5. I want to focus on what is said in that one verse because it provides practical insight for how we can live our lives in victory. But to get some context, let’s read Rom 8:1-8. I’m reading from the New International Version.
“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.” .
In Romans 8:5 we find two related concepts.
The first we introduced last week. Christians are faced with a choice as to how they will live: two differing paths are set forth in the text; then, secondly, the key to taking the right path is identified; we will deal with this next week.
Keep in mind that Paul has written this letter to Christians. The first thing Paul does in this letter (Rom 1:8) is to thank God “…for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” These were people of faith. Yet Paul talks with them about the choices they will be making in their daily lives.
In our text he contrasts two ways of living. One is to “live according to the sinful nature”; the other is to “live in accordance with the Spirit.”
One path for the Christian is to follow his own selfish desires-to simply do what he wants to do. Paul says that leads to death. The other path is to follow the desires of the Holy Spirit who has taken up residence in us. That leads to life and peace. Let me read verse 6 in the Amplified version, “Now the mind of the flesh [which is the sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].” Two paths/ two very different end results for the Christian.
Every day, you and I are making choices that affect our future in this life and affect our future in the life to come. “Do not be deceived,” Paul says in Galatians 6, “God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” We usually hear those words as a warning not to live according to the desires of our sinful nature. And there is a caution to that effect in the passage. But more than that, it is a word of encouragement to those who are serving the Lord. Your labor for the Lord is not in vain. Sowing good seed, living in obedience to the Lord, will bring blessing to your life. That’s why Paul goes on to say, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Anyone a little weary in well doing? Anyone tempted to give up? Paul says, don’t give up—for payday is coming for you! God Himself is committed to that.
The real test of faith is the delay between sowing and reaping. A farmer does not sow his seed in the ground and the next day, reap the harvest. It happens “at the proper time”, or as the KJV puts it “in due season.” There are some people here today who have a season of joy ahead of you. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”i “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Joseph spent some time in a pit. He was persecuted by his own brothers. He was lied about by Potiphar’s wife. He spent time in prison. And the butler did him wrong. But his day came. His turn around was quick and amazing. God can change it all with one word, one event. Do not be weary in well doing, for in due season you will reap a harvest—just don’t give up!