This is an English transcript of yesterday’s message from Romans 8:1-17.
Chapter 8 of Romans begins with the promise that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. This is a welcome transition after hearing so much about the curse of sin and death and its power over us. No condemnation! What a blessing!
But let’s understand the subtle meaning of the transition. When Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, there were no verse or chapter divisions. Therefore, the thought of what we call chapter 7 flowed smoothly into this present thought in chapter 8. When he says “therefore,” what is he referring to?
We must remember that the condemnation Paul had in mind was that we are no longer under the Old Law given by God through Moses. Just as a widow is freed from her marriage vows, God’s people are freed from their obligation to fulfill the rites, ceremonies, and regulations of the Old Law. That freedom is found by being in Jesus, accepting Him as our new Lord and Savior and obeying His law, the law of the Spirit of love.
Let’s read Romans 8:1-11 to begin with.
Free from the Law! Free from condemnation! What a beautiful picture. Who is it who is free? Those who don’t live in the flesh, that is the sinful nature. Those who follow the Holy Spirit of God are made free from the law of sin and death.
Verse three and following reminds us that the Old Law could not free man from the power of sin. This is important to understand because it is the key difference between the Old Covenant under Moses and the New Covenant through Jesus.
If a man followed the Old Law, he could be made right with God. Such a man who obeyed God and offered the necessary sacrifices for atonement and so on could be saved in the sense of having God’s favor. The Old Testament saints will receive their reward in glory with God just as the New Testament saints. They were not without hope.
However, what the Law could not do was to change the heart and nature of man. The sacrifices under the Law could cover sin and make atonement for man, making him right with God, but it could never give him a new heart.
Now with the Old Law abolished, Jesus is truly the only way to God. He is the only remaining sacrifice for sin, as the Scripture says in Hebrews. But Jesus offers a new and living way. This is the promise the ancient ones looked for and longed for. Not only is Jesus the atoning sacrifice for sin, He is the deliverer from the curse, redeeming us from the bondage of the devil.
Through all of time, God has made a way for people to be right with Him. He has always offered a way of escape, a way of hope. But from the very beginning when the curse fell on Adam and Eve, all things have pointed to the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah, Jesus, God’s own Son.
If you would like to see that picture more clearly detailed and explained, you can read the Book of Hebrews, which speaks much about how all things in the Old Way were shadows of the things coming in the New. All things point to Jesus.
And those who find themselves in Jesus, find this new life, which is the ability to live above sin, free from its power. Verse six is a key verse, and the same idea is repeated in verse thirteen. If we have a carnal mind, the mind of the old man, we will find death. But if we have a spiritual mind, we will have life and peace.
As we’ve talked about now several times, the new birth is first of all a spiritual experience. We looked at how Jesus spoke of this in John 3 to Nicodemus. But the new life extends to every aspect of us. Body, soul, and spirit are brought under the control of Jesus. This takes a conscious, daily discipline.
Take note of this word discipline. We who follow the Lord He called His disciples. Disciples take on the disciplines of their Master. Consider verse six again. We must discipline our minds to follow the things of the Holy Spirit.
There are many passages that speak of how we should discipline our minds. Read Ephesians 4, Galatians 5, Colossians 3, 1 Peter 3, and various other places. You will find there, as well as in Jesus’ teachings recorded in the gospels, that we have to put in a great amount of effort to discipline ourselves.
Daily we must kill our old man and take up the cross of Christ. That is a cross of full surrender and obedience to the Father, always seeking what He desires. It is a cross of love and service. And while it takes great effort, the reward is far greater.
Let’s read Philippians 2:1-8 and Philippians 4:8.
These two passages give us an idea of the type of discipline we need in our minds. These are intentional choices we must make daily to follow the Lord. However, be warned. The carnal man cannot do this. It is only through new life in Jesus that we can have power over our sinful natures and can be free to live righteously.
Jesus warned of the need to fill our hearts and minds with the things of God. If we don’t, we will be made seven times the son of the devil as before. We will probably look some more at that next time. For now, it is enough that we know sin and righteousness cannot live in the same heart; you cannot have a carnal heart and a spiritual heart; you cannot be a good tree and give bad fruit.
Therefore, we must be full of the Spirit and full of the things of the Spirit. But if we rise in the morning and the first thing we do is go to Facebook and eat our fill of this world, are we filling ourselves with the Spirit? Then if we turn on the radio and listen to the music of this world with its lyrics that feed the flesh, how can we keep the flesh dead? What then if we next go to the television or put on a movie and watch the sensuality and pleasures of the ungodly? Or if we read a book of romance or intrigue or crime, what have we filled our minds with?
Jesus said in Mathew 12 and in Matthew 15 that what is in a man’s heart is what comes out. We cannot expect to live righteously if we are filling our minds with this world’s stuff. We need the mind of Jesus. What did He fill Himself with? He was full of God’s Word, He prayed often, He sang praises and hymns to God, He was full of the Spirit and thought constantly of what the Father wanted. His words were the words God wanted Him to speak, and His actions were always pleasing to God because His mind was always on the Father.
Verse 7 in Romans 8 says that the carnal mind is at war against God. It cannot be subject to His ways. Verse 8 then says that those who live in the flesh cannot please God. If we do not fill ourselves with the things of the Holy Spirit, we will find ourselves living in the flesh. And verse 9 repeats that if we are not living in the Spirit, we cannot claim Jesus.
Let’s read more in Romans 8 verse 12-17.
This section expands on what we’ve been considering so far. Those who are born anew in Jesus are not in bondage to live after the flesh in its affections and lusts. Verse 13 again reminds us that if we live after the things of this world, we will die; but praise be to God, we can mortify the flesh through the power of God’s Spirit within us and live.
And if we are led by the Spirit, we are then adopted as God’s own children. Isn’t that precious? We can call Him “Abba,” which simply means we can call Him Father, Dad, Daddy. This is a picture of the type of close, loving relationship God desires to have with us.
He not only offers us salvation through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, but He also offers us adoption into His family, including the blessing of inheritance with Jesus. But verse 17 points out a critical point: If we want to be part of the family, we must accept the responsibilities, as well as the blessings.
If we want to be co-heirs with Jesus in the glories of heaven, we must also be willing to share in His suffering and to follow in His footsteps. And what was that suffering? Jesus gave His life in love and service to others; this was a response of His love and service to the Father.
Being a loving servant is not easy. There is difficulty and discipline and suffering that accompanies that life. But it is at the same time a life of joy and peace and freedom. It is a life lived in the sunshine of God’s smile and blessings. And it is a life that looks forward to the inheritance we will share with our elder brother Jesus in heaven, forever in the presence of our Father.
What more can we ask for?