Summary: When you give your life to Christ, you never need to face the challenges of life alone.
If we were to go around the room this morning, I wonder how many could tell what your life insurance policy would pay if you suddenly died in a car wreck? How about your auto insurance policy? What is the maximum dollar amount it will pay if you are in an accident and someone sues you? How about the benefits of your health insurance policy? Most of us would probably have to say we are just not up on those details of our lives (though there are probably a couple of you who could rattle off that information in a second!) We aren’t stupid! We were aware of the details back when we purchased the policy, but then we put the paperwork in a safe place and let those details pass from our conscious minds.
But you know, there is a danger of the same thing happening to us in another area of our lives. If we have made Jesus our Lord, we have tremendous benefits that come to us, yet often we are ignorant of them. Like the person who buys an insurance policy, brings it home and tosses it into a drawer, we neglect and maybe even fail to realize the tremendous benefits we enjoy as Christians. And these are not just benefits reserved for the warm retreat of the sweet by and by. They are the treasures God intends for us to enjoy in the cold, hard here and now. As a matter of fact, they are gifts given to us by God so that we can be everything He designed us to be. We need to enjoy the privilege of being a child of God. As we talked about last week, we need to be fully aware that because of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, we are no longer condemned for our sin.
But there is more to salvation than lack of condemnation. Paul moves on to remind us that when we turn our lives over to Jesus, we are no longer on our own. We are given the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Now we are not alone any more, so we shouldn’t live like it. We need to be tuned into the reality of our ever-present companion. We need to live arm in arm with the Holy Spirit.
Prayer (Father, forgive us for neglecting your blessings, help us to be acutely aware of your presence and your leading, guide me as I preach Your Word this morning)
There is a great ridge of mountains in North America that extends from Alaska, southward into the Rocky Mountains. It continues to weave its way through the U.S. into Mexico, then into Central America along the Sierra Madre. That immense ridge of mountains is referred to as the Continental Divide.
When I was a young boy, about 8 years old, I had my picture taken next to a sign perched at the peak of this dividing line of North America, but I didn’t know the significance of this place. You see, the peaks of this mountain range divide the continent into two great watersheds. Theoretically, if you poured a cup of water down the western slope of those mountains and that water didn’t evaporate or have its flow stopped in some other way, it would make it’s way into the Pacific Ocean. In the same way, if that cup of water were poured onto the eastern side of those mountains, it would make its way to the Atlantic. The peaks of that range determine the course of the flow of water.
When Paul comes to Romans 8:5, he is ready to point out the dividing line that separates the life of a Christian from one who does not know Christ as their Lord and Savior. The dividing line that He identifies is the motivation that drives a person’s life. In other words, "What voice do we listen to when we determine what we are going to do in life?" To use the language Paul uses, you can tell where a person is headed by what they have set their mind on. And he says there are only two things that anybody can set their mind on. Only two voices people can listen to. One is "flesh" and the other is "Spirit."
Before I read verses 5-8 of Romans 8 I want to point out an error that the translation committee of the NIV made. ’When they came to the Greek word "sarx" in the text, they interpreted it instead of translating it. Literally, "sarx" means "flesh." It’s the stuff that covers your bones. But instead of translating the word "flesh" (like every other major translation did), they interpreted that Paul meant "sinful nature," and tried to help us out. But what they did was to muddle up the meaning. So when I read verses 5--8, I will read "flesh" instead of "sinful nature" and you will see what I mean. (Read verses 5-8)