The Blessings of the Spirit Filled Life
Romans Chapter 8
Please put yourself in a courtroom setting. You have just heard the final arguments of prosecution. In this case God has laid out His case against the ungodly people of the time of the apostle Paul. He has finished His condemnation of the heathen Gentiles for their lack of acknowledging His existence and giving Him the honour He deserves. They have also turned their backs on Him, and gone back to their immoral ways.
On the same docket, God has laid out His credentials and proof for judging the Jews who were complacent of the very same sins of which they were judging the heathen Gentiles.
The verdict of their sins is death. And suddenly, someone comes forward pleading on the behalf of both parties, and offers Himself as a scapegoat to take the punishment for their sins.
The guilty parties are offered a way of escape from the punishment which they so richly deserve, if they would only acknowledge and honour Him for the free gift of salvation. And they are to live in faith according to His masterful plan and respect the laws of the court. That is, they are to obey the laws without making it their religion, and to live by faith in hope that one day if they follow along with His plan, they will see the fulfillment of salvation as ordered by the judge.
And now in summary of the previous proceedings there is laid out for them the Blessings that will befall them now and future as they are Justified, that is, declared righteous before God judicially, as if they had never sinned, because He, Jesus Christ, has borne and paid the penalty of death for their sins.
Romans Chapter 8 lists several blessings of leading a Spirit filled life. The first blessing is given immediately in first part of verse 1. It reads, There is now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. NKJV This, may perhaps may be understood in two ways. Firstly, there is no divine condemnation as far as our sins are concerned because when you become a Christian, you are now in Christ. That means, that just as when you were born into a family, you take on the family name and traits that are within the family. Likewise, when you become a Christian, you are born in a sense anew, into His family, taking on within yourself His righteous traits.
Before Christ paid the penalty of our sins, we were under condemnation of death because of our first federal head, (first father), Adam.
But now we are in Christ, and are therefore now free from condemnation as He is now our Heavenly Father. And, there is now no longer self-condemnation which we felt being under the law before Christ came. Under the law, we were unable to fulfill the requirements of the law by our own power.
A brief summary is necessitated to understand the above statement; being under the law.
The law originally signifies the revealed will of God with respect to human conduct, including all the divine commandants like we have in the Ten Commandments, and precepts which regulate mans moral life without and within. An analogy is seen in our day to day lives where we must obey laws enacted by the government and enforced by the police. Or if you will, as a child of a family, you are required to abide by rules as laid out by your parents. And likewise we must obey by the rules in work, school etc. God originated laws for people to live by when He created man. The penalty for disobeying as we know is death.
However more importantly in relation to the law of which we were under before Christ came, we must go back to the days of Moses when God gave Moses laws, instituted rules of life mediated through Moses to govern Gods covenanted people, Israel, in Canaan. This law regulated their everyday conduct and was a covenant of works. (Ex. 19:5-6) This covenant was not meant to be a permanent covenant. It is now superseded by what we refer to as the New Testament, if you like, the New Covenant. (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:8-13) The Ten Commandments as part, in a sense of the Old Covenant was done away with by the death of Christ. (John 1:17; Rom. 10:4) The Mosaic Law (age) was pre-existed (Ex. 19:4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. NKJV) and followed by grace (John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. NKJV) Grace came as a result of the atonement made by Christ by the payment of sins, by the shedding of His blood on the cross. The Mosaic Law was a temporary divine administration in effect only until Christ should come and complete His work of atonement on the cross.
The Law of Grace was indoctrinated after the death of Christ on the cross. A renewed child of God is now no longer under the Old Testament Law, but under grace. However, that does not mean that a redeemed child is free to go ahead and live like the world, and live in sin. We are now living under grace. (John 1:16; Rom. 5:1-2; 8:1-2; Col. 2:9-10) Though we no longer live under the old law we are still under the law of Christ. (1 Cor. 9:20-21) And we also still have Gods natural laws written on our hearts to help us to live according to His will. ( For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another." Rom. 2:14-15 KJV)
In other words, we all have an innate knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. We know without being told it is wrong to lie, steal, cheat etc. Gods moral laws are written within our hearts. Our conscience serves like a monitor instinctively telling us what is right and what is wrong.
Rom. 8:2 continues to explain why there is no condemnation. It says, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. NKJV
In this verse there are two opposing laws or principles. The characteristic principle of the Holy Spirit empowers the believer into holy living. And the characteristic principle of indwelling sin drags one down to death.
Likewise is the law of gravity. If you throw a rock into the air, it comes back down with a thud because it is heavier than the air which it displaces. A bird is heavier than air, but when you throw it up into the air, it flies away. The law of life within the bird overcomes the law of gravity. And so likewise the Holy Spirit supplies the believer with the risen life of Christ making the believer free from the law of sin and death.
Verse three of Romans Chapter 8 goes on to say that the law could never get people to fulfill its sacred requirements. The law was weak, unable to produce holy living. It was weak though the flesh. The weakness was not the law itself, but with the fallen human nature. The law spoke to men who were already sinners, but had not the strength to obey the law. Therefore by grace, God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh.
Notice however, that Christ did not come in sinful flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. We are told in 1 Peter 2:22 that He, (Christ) did no sin. He knew no sin. 2 Cor. 5:21 and there was no sin in Him. 1 John 3:5 He resembled sinful humanity, and by His sacrifice for our sins, Christ condemned sin in the flesh.
He died not only for the sins which we have committed 1 Pet. 3:18, but also for our sin nature. Nowhere does it say that our sin nature is forgiven, for it is condemned. However, it is the sins which we have and will commit which are forgiven.
Romans 8:4 tell us that the righteous requirements of the law are fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Therefore when we turn our lives over to the Holy Spirit, He empowers us to love God and to love our neighbour which is after all the basis of what the law is and requires.
Paul has pieced together in these first four verses his arguments from chapters 5-7 where he discussed the federal headships of Adam and Christ. Now here in chapter 8 he shows us that our condemnation inherited to us by Adam is removed because of our identification with Christ. Chapters 6 & 7 list the horrible problems of our sin nature. Now he triumphantly announces that the Spirits law of life in Christ Jesus has made us free from the law of sin and death. So we now understand that the requirements of the law are met by a Spirit led (controlled) life.
Notice what verse 5 says about those who live according to the flesh. That is, non-believers, who are concerned only with the things of the flesh. They live only to gratify the desires of the flesh. But, those living according to the Spirit, true believers rise above the flesh and live for eternal things. They are occupied with the Word of the Lord, prayers, worship and service for God.
Catch this in verse 6. To be carnally minded, that is to be mentally inclined to follow after the things of the flesh (the fallen nature), is death. The wages of sin, for those whose intent is to follow the ways of the world and not the ways of God is death. For the wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:23 KJV
It is death for the present and also and ultimately eternally, alive, but eternally separated from God, with no chance of ever again being in His presence in heaven.
But Paul reminds us on the opposite side of the coin to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Rom. 8:6 KJV) The second half of Rom. 6:23 affirms this saying but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV) This is a guarantee. Eternal life and peace is a promise from God for those who follow after Him, obeying the prompting of the Holy Spirit, doing the will of God. What a blessing that will be to live with God eternally in peace.
What does Paul say about whose side you are on if you live in the flesh? Verse 7 gives the answer. It is "enmity against God. (KJV) Enmity against God is a deep rooted hatred of Him. It is an irreconcilable hostility towards God. Friendship with the world is said by James 4:4 to be "enmity with God. (KJV) It is a conflict, being at odds with the plans of God for the promotion of righteousness. Do not love the world or the things in the world; if anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world." 1 John 2:15, 16 NKJV The carnal mind is said to be hostile toward God. Rom. 8:7-8. Those who love the world and the things in it are opposed to His nature and will. The sinner living in the flesh is an outlaw. He is a rebel in active hostility against God. We see this clearly when Jesus was crucified. The law to the rebel is one of its own will, not the will of God. The sinner wants to be his own master, not willing to bow to the will and rule of God. He cannot therefore be subject to Gods law.
Is it therefore no wonder that those living in the flesh are unable to please God, verse 8? Just think of it for a moment. There is not a thing in the entire world that the carnally minded spirit can do to please God. He can do no good works to please Him. He can perform no religious observance, nor offer any sacrifice to please the Lord. He can do nothing, nothing at all to please God. It is only by accepting the work of Christ on the cross in faith and believing it that puts a smile on the face of God.
You are no longer living in the flesh but in the Spirit when you are born again, accepting the work of Christ on the cross in faith and trusting Him to be Lord and master of your life. (Verse #9) You are living in a totally different sphere, just like a fish lives in the water, not in the air when you are born again. A believer lives in the Spirit, not in the flesh when he/she is born again. He not only lives in the Spirit, but the Spirit lives in him.
If you have not the Spirit of God living within you, we are told in verse 9, you do not belong to Christ at all. You are disowned by Him as if you belong to another family as we are told in John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of the father you want to do (NKJV) Those who do not obey the words of Christ are of the devil, doing the lusts of him.
Now, in verse 10, Paul gives us the next benefit of A Spirit Filled life. Paul says that if Christ be in you, the body is dead. (KJV)
Oh my! This doesnt really sound like a blessing to me. But, wait now. Note, our mortal bodies from the moment they are born, have already begun to die because of sin. Did you catch that? Your body was born to die. But, the Spirit led life is life, because of righteousness. Because of the righteous work of Christ in His death and resurrection, the believers body is made alive. The life of the saint lies in his soul, while the life of the sinner goes on no further than the body. When the body of a believer dies the spirit of that believer is yet still alive. Death to the saint is but the freeing in a sense, of the heaven born spirit from the clog and load of this body, so that it may be fit to partake in eternal life.
What am I talking about you may say? Even though this mortal body that you and I possess is subject to death, yet it will live again with the Lord.
There is yet another great promise given to the Spirit led life. And what is that? Verse 11 tells us. Just as the Holy Spirit raised up Jesus from the dead, this very same Holy Spirit which lives within you will likewise also give life to our mortal bodies, raising us up and providing us with glorified bodies like that of our Saviour Jesus Christ. This is the final act of our redemption from sin. We will no longer be living with a body indwelt with a sinful nature; we will no longer war within ourselves, warring between doing what is right and what is wrong.
Now we are given a stark contrast between the flesh and the spirit. Verse 12 Now, that you a believer you are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. You are no longer in debt to do the will of the flesh. The evil corrupt nature living within us has been nothing but a bummer. It has never done us once ounce of good. If Christ had not saved us, the flesh would have dragged us down to the pit of hell. Why should you feel obliged to obey the whims of such an enemy?
Therefore the apostle Paul tells us that by living the ways of the flesh, we shall die. This is like self-examination. Are you truly saved? In contrast the true believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit is given another blessing. And that is that by the enabling of the Holy Spirit, the deeds of the body the flesh, are put to death. And you, the true believer even now are free to begin living an eternal life to its fullest, especially when we are joined with our glorified bodies in heaven.
Yet still another blessing is given to us in verse 14 for the Spirit led Life. Many people today think it would be awesome to be born or adopted into a wealthy family, living in a mansion, owning the best cars etc. But far better still is the promise and gift of the Spirit Led Life. All believers, the moment they are saved, whether they be man, woman, boy or girl are automatically adopted into the family of God, who promised to prepare a place in heaven where there are many mansions. (John 14:2) The implication in verse 14 is a promise that we shall all enjoy all the privileges of living in His family. Just as you enjoy all the privileges given you with your earthly families, you will likewise enjoy the inheritance granted you to enjoy living in the family of God.
Furthermore, according to the promise of being adopted into the family of God, we are also given the awesome privilege of addressing God as Abba Father. This is no less different than your calling your earthly father, dad or father.
According to verse 16, another blessing is that the Holy Spirit Himself makes our own spirit aware of the special relationship we have with God the Father as sons of God.
Verse 17 again reminds us that we are heirs of God, inheritors of His estate. All that our Father has is also ours. Though we do not have that inheritance yet, it will be ours one day after we are taken home to be with Him.
Just as Christ Himself has a special relationship with God the father, we to will also one day enjoy that very same relationship, being as close to the father as an earthly son should have with ones father. Yet this relationship will be perfect with no flaws at all.
And like Jesus, we may also suffer persecution. Though we may not suffer as wickedly as He did, God looks upon us as if we had incurred all the same hostility as He did, with all the shame and disapproval.
Yet, on the more positive side, like Jesus and as heirs of Gods kingdom, we shall one day inherit a glorified body perfected with no more earthly pains, sickness or sufferings of any kind. Verse 18 explains further the special blessing we shall enjoy in our relationship to our suffering with Christ. We are told, that although we may suffer for Christ in our present state, it will seem a trifle in comparison to the glory which will be revealed to us when we are joined together with him in heaven. In other words, on a balance scale, the glory to be revealed to us will far outweigh our present sufferings to such an extent that, it will seem as if there was nothing in the plate of our sufferings. As we read in 2 Cor. 4:17 the apostle Paul says it thus; For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. KJV
And it is not just ourselves who look forward to the end of these present sufferings. But, also all of creation is waiting the day when Christ shall return and renew them to the state which all creation once enjoyed. That is, that at this time all of creation is groaning because of the judgement of sin passed on to mankind because of Adams first sin. All of creation looks forward, or looks back if you will to the ideal conditions that existed in Eden, when all was as God said; Is Good Soon all of creation will be delivered from the bondage of corruption to enjoy the freedom of the day when Gods children will be revealed in glory.
In comparison, we to groan within our mortal bodies for that day of deliverance verse 23, from this present bondage of corruption. We as Spirit Led Lives, have that guarantee of the coming adoption, the redemption of the body. Although in the one sense we have already been adopted and redeemed, we await the full complete redemption of our bodies and spirits when we will be redeemed at the time of the Rapture. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
We are also saved by hope verse 24. Even though we do not receive all the benefits of our salvation at the moment of conversion, we look forward to a full and final deliverance from sin, suffering, disease and death.
So Paul urges us verse 25 to eagerly await our deliverance with perseverance for this promised blessing. Our happiness is not with this present possession, but with what is unseen. By faith we await the full deliverance of His promise. We do well to await this hope of glory with patience.
Briefly, verses 26 & 27; likewise as the Holy Spirit sustains us with the Blessed Hope of our final deliverance into glory, He likewise sustains us in our weakness. That is, in times of prayer we know not what to ask for, so he intercedes for us in prayer smoothing out our requests to God. As God searches the minds of believers, He likewise interprets the mind of the Holy Spirit who is interceding for us according to the will of God.
The next few verses declare another amazing blessing. First of all in verse 28 we read, All things work together for good " (KJV) This at times can be a very difficult verse to understand. What good people may wonder may come from sufferings, or heartbreaks, or tragedy? We all know someone who has been suffering in one manner or another. Perhaps you yourself are going through some sort of trials and tribulation. What possible good can come from this?
The following verse gives the answer. Verse 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn of many brethren. KJV Whatever God has permitted to come into our lives is designed to conform us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
It is not by chance or luck that things happen to us whether good or bad. Our lives are controlled by Him who has a plan for each individual life. We may not understand why some things are allowed to happen. But when we are raptured and begin our eternal lives with Him, then perhaps we will understand.
Now Paul traces the majestic sweep of the divine program designed to bring many sons to glory. Verses 29-30
Firstly, God foreknew us in eternity past. This was not mere intellectual knowledge as far as knowledge is concerned. But His foreknowledge embraced only those whom He foreordained or predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son. It is not enough to say God foreknew those whom He realized would one day repent and believe. Actually it is His foreknowledge that ensures eventual belief and repentance.
It is an amazing truth that ungodly sinners should one day be transformed into the image of Christ, to be morally like Him, free from sin and have glorified bodies like His.
Now this verse is outstanding among many in the Bible. Verse 30 tells us that everyone whom God predestined in eternity past is also called in time. That is, he, the believer not only hears, but responds to the gospel. It is therefore an effectual call. All are called, but only a few respond, or to put it another way, all are given the gift, but few keep it. And all who do respond, who keep His gift, are justified, given a righteous standing before God, made to stand sinless before Him. And being justified, we will also be glorified one day to be in the same image of Him.
Verses 31-39 I might call The Holy Triumph of a Spirit Led Life. These verse are the likely the strongest verses in all of scripture which attest to eternal security, once saved always saved.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. KJV
When we consider the unbreakable links in the golden chain of redemption, the conclusion is inevitable. If God is for us, marked us out for His own, then, no one can be successful against us. V: 31 if an Omnipotent God is working on our behalf, there is no less power that can defeat His program.
Listen again to the argument proving this point, verse 32: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (KJV)
When a world lost in sin needed to be saved from its sin, God did not hold back His greatest gift, a substitute to pay for the sins of the world. Instead He gave His son over to a death of shame on our behalf. If therefore God has given His greatest gift, would He also not hold back any lesser gift? If he has paid the highest price,
would He hesitate at any lower price? If He has gone to such lengths to procure our salvation, will He ever let us go? Will He ever renege on His promise of eternal life if we are given and receive His gift? Will He ever take back His gift?
If God has already justified His elect, who can bring a charge against them? No one can!
Another challenge sounds out in the court room, verse 34, to separate Gods love for His people. Is there anyone present to condemn if God loves His justified elect enough to pay the penalty Himself? No because Christ Himself has paid the penalty of death. Rom 6:23 And He is now raised from the dead and now sits at the right hand of God interceding for the accused. If Christ to whom all judgement has been given does not pass sentence, then who will?
Now, there yet remains one final challenge to be flung forward. Is there anyone or anything that can separate us from the love of Christ and ultimately from the promised fulfillment of our salvation? A thorough search is made verses 38- 39 for all possible circumstances. But none is found. Nothing! Nothing in all the heavens or the earth can separate you from the love of Christ if you are His child. Nothing!
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
By faith in Christ therefore we are conquerors in this life as followers of Christ. We cannot be defeated. With the enabling power of the Holy Spirit we are led to walk a Spirit led Life. Although we may stumble at times, nothing in all the world can separate us from the love of Christ and ultimately from eternal life.
Is it no wonder then that many a martyr has died singing and a smile on his lips?
The Blessings of a Spirit Led Life are many. The destiny of one following after the flesh is death.
So my challenge to everyone is this. Choose to die, or to be blessed.
I am reminded of the song by Michael Card Immanuel (click here)
(Some scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Other quotations from the King James Version)