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NEW LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

Romans 8:1-8:17
Key Verse: 8:6

At this conference, we heard beautiful messages with the theme of “Repent and believe.” From John chapter 8, we heard Jesus’ forgiving voice “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” From Luke 19, we heard Jesus’ welcoming voice for Zechaeus, “Zechaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” And from Luke 9, we heard Jesus’ encouraging words for his followers “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” What about today’s passage? Today’s passage shows us what it means to repent and believe in our daily lives as well as in our journey of faith.

I No condemnation in Christ (1-4)

Let’s read verses 1–3. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.” Romans chapter 8 begins with a proclamation: “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” As we learned from Samuel’s message, the woman who got caught in the act of adultery was to be condemned to death according to the Law. However, Jesus did not condemn her, but forgave her. By forgiving her, Jesus set her free from the condemnation of the law and from the condemnation of others as well as herself. We are all sinners like the woman. For the Bible says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... For the wages of sin is death,…”Because of our sins, we are doomed to be condemned. But Jesus set us free from the condemnation. It is because Jesus died in our place. It is because Jesus paid the debt of our sin on the cross. Jesus shed his holy blood on the cross, was cursed, and condemned and received our judgment. That is why there is no condemnation for anyone who is in Christ Jesus. This is good news for all of us. We are sinners who cannot but cry out like Apostle Paul, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (7:24) But because of Jesus Christ, we can shout with Paul, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ.” Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Do you know Martin Luther, a German monk, who started the Reformation? He suffered from self-condemnation. When he was preparing reformation of the church, one night he had a dream in which he was attacked by the devil. The devil showed a long scroll containing a list of Luther’s many past sins and asked “Are these all true?” When Luther read all the sins he made, he could not but acknowledge them. The devil showed another long scroll containing a list of Luther’s more recent sins. Then he accused Luther saying “Luther, you committed a lot of sins. How dare you attempt to reform the church? Reform yourself first!” Luther was speechless. But at the moment, he remembered the word of God from 1John 1:7b and shouted, “Satan, you have forgotten something on your scroll. Quickly write them down. That is, “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Then suddenly, the devil disappeared.

That’s right. The blood of Jesus washes away all our sins so that God does not remember our sins any more. Therefore, we are free from the devil’s accusation as well as condemnation. Then, why did God set us free from the bondage of sin and condemnation? Is it for us to live doing whatever we want without feeling any guilt? No. Look at verse 4. “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” God set us free from sin and condemnation so that we may live not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Then how can we live according to the Spirit?

II. Live by the Spirit (5-17)

First, set your mind on what the Spirit desires (5-8).

Look at verses 5 and 6 “Those who live according to the flesh have their mind set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their mind set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death. But the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Here Paul contrasts two kinds of people.

The first kind is those who live according to their flesh. They set their mind on what the flesh desires. It means that they do not know the spiritual realities. As a result they think only their physical desire and things of the world, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, sex, and enjoying pleasures of the world. It does not mean that they think only evil things. They can think noble things and even do noble things. But the general tendency of their mind is following their sinful nature. They may think they are free men. But in fact, they are slaves of their sinful nature. So they try to enjoy their sinful desires anytime anywhere if possible. 1 John 2:16 says they pursue the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Those who live according to the flesh pursue to satisfy their sinful desires. Then what is the consequence ? The end of living according to the flesh is death, which is separation from God in this life as well as in the life to come.

The second kind is those who live in accordance with the Spirit. They set their mind on what the Spirit desires. They are those who are born again. So they seek what God wants. Their mind is not limited to their physical desire or to this world, but over to the things of God. They set their mind on the glory of God. They struggle to please God and to build up others. Whatever they do: study or work, they pray that God’s will may be done in and through their lives. That does not mean that they do not sin. They also stumble by their sins. But those who live by the Spirit have a basic life direction to please God. Even though there are ups and downs, but eventually they press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called them heavenward in Christ Jesus (Php 3:14). They may also suffer in this world, but have life and peace in their souls.

Our Physical body health depends on what we eat. When we eat junk food every day, our health will be deteriorated and we become sick. But when we eat healthy food, we will become strong and healthy. So “you are what you eat!” Likewise, what you think will come out in action. Controlling our thinking is important in our life. Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We may have all kinds of sinful thoughts, but we should not let them take a root into our heart. When we allow sinful thoughts to rule our minds, we will become slaves of the sinful thoughts. Proverbs 23:7a says “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” People say “I live in a free country. So I can think freely” But thinking is not free because we will face the consequence. Nobody sees what we think, but we have to be careful of what we think. St. Paul admonishes: “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.” (Php 4:8) How to discipline our mind is very important. We must set our mind on what the Spirit desires.

Second, put to death the misdeeds of your body (9-13).

Verse 9 tells us who Christians are. “You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh, but in the realm of the Spirit if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Who do you think Christians are? Can anyone become a Christian with his or her own effort or will? No, You cannot become a Christian because your parents are Christians. You cannot become Christians because you did good volunteer works or even religious activities such as attending Sunday worship service or praying to God. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ are not Christians. Christians are the ones who were born again through the Holy Spirit. This happens only when we repent and believe in Jesus from our deep heart. When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, he will lead us. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ to us. Our bodies die. But as the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead, he will give us eternal life and resurrection bodies.

God gave us his marvelous grace of salvation. Jesus paid the price for our sins with his blood. And the Holy Spirit helps us to grow to be like Jesus as we are led by Him. We are great debtors to God who made all these things possible for us. How can we go back to our old sinful life? No, definitely not! We know that we should not, but the problem is our bad habit of sin, which got stuck to us. They are sexual immorality, impurity, lust, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, greed, selfish ambition, dissension, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and the like. What should we do with them? Let’s read verse 13 “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Paul admonishes us to put to death the misdeeds of the body. How can we do that? Can we put to death the misdeeds of the body by mind control or by running on a treadmill? No, we cannot because it is not a physical battle, but a spiritual battle. Then, how can we put to death the misdeeds of the body? Paul encourages us in Romans 6:13 “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” He encourages us to offer ourselves to God, not to sin. We should not feed our sinful nature until it becomes weakened or powerless to control us. Those who are weak to Pornography need to struggle to be away from internet sites. Surfing dangerous internet sites, while hoping to live a pure life, is like putting fuel into flame. What about those who are easily tempted to TV soap operas or games? They need to find a useful things and productive activities. How then can we practically offer ourselves to God? There are many ways. One of the best ways is to study the word of God. The word of God is word of life. Psalm 119:9 says “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” The word of God is the sword of the Holy Spirit to fight against our sin. When we have the word of God in our deep hearts God helps us to put to death the misdeeds of the body and grow to be like Jesus. When we accept and obey the word of God, we can put to death the misdeeds of the body by the help of the Holy Spirit. Another way to put to death the misdeeds of the body is to give ourselves to a life of mission positively. It requires denying ourselves, taking up our own cross daily. Then we will experience many victories in our spiritual battle against our sins and taste the joy and peace of God in our lives.

Living by the Spirit is not easy. It is difficult and tough. We need a carrot. Then, what privilege do we have when we live by the Spirit?

Let’s read verses 14-15. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry ‘Abba Father.’” The children of God are those who are led by the Spirit. In the past we were not the children of God, but slaves of fear of death. Many people live in fear, fear of losing friends or close ones or jobs, fear of rejection, fear of failure, ultimately fear of death. But the Holy Spirit assures the children of God that we are not slaves of fear any more because we are God’s beloved children. The Holy Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children purchased by the precious blood of Jesus, God’s only Son. The Spirit enables us to call God “Abba Father.” In the past, we feared God, but now we call Him “Abba Father” “Daddy!” What a intimacy between God and us, his children! You don’t call anybody as your father, do you? Except my three children, nobody calls me “daddy.” My second daughter Maria often called me “baby daddy.” When we call God “Abba Father,” we are not afraid of God, but feel very close to Him. Some people are still afraid of God as servants are afraid of their master. However, the Spirit dwelling in us assures us that we are not servants any more, but dear and beloved children of God, since we are adopted into God’s family in Jesus Christ. We, as his children, have a privilege to ask whatever we need or want. My son, Sam constantly takes my school I-Pad without my permission and plays games because he knows that he is my son. He enjoys the privilege of being my child. When we become God’s children, we are protected and safe in the arms of God. God is our everlasting Father. When we fall into the same sin again due to our weakness, Satan accuses us, “How can you say that you are a child of God, or a servant of God?” Then we become helpless and fall into self-condemnation in despair. However, the Spirit who dwells in us reminds us of what Jesus has done for us on the cross and assures us that we are God’s children purchased by the blood of Jesus so that we can repent again and come to God as we are. When Satan tempts us to sin, let’s shout “I am God’s child, not Satan’s!” When we fall, let’s claim that we are God’s children, forgiven by the blood of Jesus and there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

What are the privileges of the children of God? Look at verse 17a. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” Children inherit their parent’s estate. When we become the children of God, we also inherit God’s estate, the kingdom of God. Recently, a young man claimed that he is a son of the late Michael Jackson. It was because if he turns out to be Michael Jackson’s son, then he will inherit his estate. Even being an heir of Michael Jackson was regarded as a great privilege to him. What about being an heir of mighty living God, the creator of the whole universe? My son, Sam thinks whatever belongs to Daddy is his. Likewise whatever belongs to God will be ours. We children of God will inherit the kingdom of God and reign with Christ. What a privilege, honour and glory!

That’s not all. Look at verse 17b “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” God surely blesses us and glorifies us on earth as well as in the kingdom of God because we are his children. We will receive the crown of righteousness. Not only that, we, children of God have a privilege to share in his sufferings. As the saying goes, “No cross, no crown.” Suffering and glory go as a pair. They are inseparable. Here, suffering does not mean suffering due to our sins, but suffering to do what is good, to obey God’s word, to follow Jesus’ footsteps. When we share in this kind of suffering, it produces perseverance; perseverance character, and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame. (Ro 5:3-4) In other words, when we share in the sufferings of Jesus, we do not become miserable, but become more like our Lord Jesus. Therefore sharing in His sufferings is a great privilege for the children of God.

Today, we learn that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are set free from sin and death to live according to the Spirit. In order to live according to the Spirit we need to set our mind on what the Spirit desires and practice putting to death the misdeeds of the body. God is our Abba Father and we are his beloved children, heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. We children of God not only rejoice in the glory, but also share in His suffering. May God bless each one of us to live by the Spirit, enjoying the privilege of the children of God!

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