Monday, August 26, 2013

Grace And Life In The Spirit by Martin Wiles

Romans 8:1-8
Introduction:
A. History affords many lessons of America’s struggle to maintain her freedom. Thousands of lives have been lost in this battle.


B. While we have freedom in Christ-and are therefore no longer under condemnation, we often struggle with feelings of defeat, disappointment and depression. We are forgiven yet we feel chained.

C. Our freedom in Christ does not remove our struggle for freedom to live above sinful practices or to avoid giving in to temptations.

I. Our Position In Christ (vv. 1-4)
A. Believers are no longer under condemnation (v. 1)
1. Have you ever considered the importance and impact of that statement?
2. Suppose you were on death row. Day after day you thought about the needle that would be inserted into your arm-the needle that would cause your heart to stop beating. Or you imagined how it was going to feel when the electricity started flowing. You were without hope. All your appeals had been exhausted. It was just a matter of time.
3. But then suppose you were on death row with your sentence under appeal. It was decided that you would be tried again, and this time when the jury read your verdict it was “Not guilty.”
4. Whereas you were once destined to be put to death, now you are free to leave the bars behind and resume a normal life.
5. Only the person who had experienced the above could really appreciate and understand the meaning of this new lease on life.
6. Perhaps we should contemplate the implications of what Paul says in this one verse more often.
7. Prior to Christ, we were on death row-a spiritual death row. We were in a holding cell waiting for the day when our execution would be carried out.
8. We had no appeals to make, but suddenly we were set free. After questioning how such a thing could happen, we were told that someone else was going to serve our time and take our punishment of death.
9. Such a set of circumstances was beyond our understanding, but we were overwhelmed and overjoyed by our new freedom.

B. Under no condemnation means God has declared us not guilty.
1. We have already examined in great detail sin and its consequences.
2. For Paul to declare we are no longer under condemnation should fill us with praise for what God has done in our behalf and motivate us to serve him with our best abilities.
3. Instead of hell, it means we get to enjoy heaven. Instead of a life of misery ruled by sin, we get to experience abundant living along with God’s power to help us live obediently.
4. Instead of continually missing God’s ideal, we get to experience realizing his plan and purpose for our life.

C. Where do feelings of condemnation come from in the believer’s life or why do we feel them?
1. Paul says we are no longer under condemnation, but all of us struggle with feelings of condemnation at some point.
2. Satan is the primary source of messages that pertain to past failures and sins that bring guilt feelings. He brings messages that lead us to question whether or not God has really forgiven us or whether we are truly a Christian. All messages that do not agree with Scripture’s teachings can be attributed to him.
3. Feelings of condemnation can also be a product of our upbringing. Messages given in childhood by our parents or other significant figures. Messages that informed us we would never amount to anything or that our destiny was such and such.
4. We may feel guilt because of past failures. Perhaps we have some significantly bad things in our past life and we simply cannot believe God can use us under those circumstances. At that point, it is Satan working in our consciences, but these messages are not coming from God.
5. We may have unbelieving friends or even spouses who are good at pointing out our inconsistencies.
6. If we have low self esteem-which can result from childhood messages, this too can make it easy for us to condemn ourselves.
7. Feelings of condemnation can even result when comparing ourselves with other believers. We are not at the point they are, so we condemn ourselves for not doing better.
8. One unfortunate result of feelings of condemnation is that we learn to enjoy it there.
9. For an example, we can return to the example of the prisoner. No prisoner wants to remain in prison but at the same time many learn to find contentment as they become familiar with their surroundings as well as the order or hierarchy that accompanies prison life.
10.  Leaving this instills fear in them, and many cannot cope with civilian life when released. Therefore, they repeat crimes so they can return to life as they knew it.
11.  Christians can grow comfortable with feelings of condemnation and in turn use them as excuses not to step out on faith and believe God can and wants to use them.
12.  At points along the way, believers have these strange yet fleeting desires to return to life as we once knew it. This is part of the daily battle we fight, but we must never return to what Christ has delivered us from.
13.  We have been justified by faith and forgiven by the grace of God, and we will never be what we once were. We can never be under condemnation again.
14.  In the original manuscript, there may have been no break between the last verse of chapter seven and this verse. Paul describes his and our battle with sin but then says we are not condemned for this battle. Rather, it proves we belong to Christ.
15.  We may falter in our faith walk from time to time, but God will remain faithful to his promise of forgiveness. (II Timothy 2:13)

D. Our power to live free from condemnation comes through the life giving Spirit. (v. 2)
1. The spirit is a reference to the Holy Spirit.
2. The Spirit was present at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2) and is the person involved in the salvation of every person as he convicts and convinces them of their sin and need for repentance.
3. The Spirit is also that person of the godhead who enables us to live in obedience to God.
4. The Spirit gives guidance so we can know and follow God’s plan for our life.
5. The Spirit enables us to follow the example of Christ in living.
6. It is the Spirit that produces spiritual fruit in us.
7. Living in freedom, knowing that we are not nor will ever be under condemnation again, energizes us in our Christian walk.
8. Believers can have a richness and fullness about life that is indescribable.
9. Even when we fail, we know sin will never separate us from God’s love for it has been forgiven.

E. Our salvation was in Christ, not through obedience to God’s law or anything else. (vv. 3-4)
1. The law demonstrated God’s standard but gave no power to obey it.
2. The law could make us feel guilty for disobedience but could not deliver us from those feelings.
3. Only Christ completely obeyed the law, and our status is tied up in his through faith. We are obedient because he was obedient.
4. God’s instructions for sacrifices showed the Israelites the seriousness of sin, but the blood of imperfect sacrifices could not remove their sin. (Hebrews 10:4)
5. Even though the animals were to be without known blemishes, they were not perfect. They brought a stay of execution but not a pardon.
6. A perfect sacrifice was needed to satisfy God’s demands, and this came in his Son who was sinless and who came for the express purpose of dying for our sins.
7. We meet the requirements of God’s law by living in the Spirit and letting Christ live through us. God sees Christ’s obedience as our obedience.
8. The power of the Spirit in Christ that enabled his perfect obedience to the Father is available and resides in us.
9. Note that the righteousness we have is accomplished for us but not by us. (v. 4) It is God’s gift to those who repent and believe.

II. We Live Life Under One Of Two Categories (vv. 5-11)
A. We can walk by the flesh or by the Spirit. (v. 5)
1. Paul is referencing two mind sets. When we have a mindset we have our mind set on various things. Paul says it can be on the sinful nature or the Spirit.
2. Our mind sets will determine how we act, it will motivate us, it will influence what we choose as our source of authority and knowledge, it will affect our view of circumstances, it will determine our values, and it will dominate our public and private life.
3. Unbelievers live by the dictates of their sinful nature. This results in a dearth of existence as well as a horrible eternity.
4. Believers can also walk by the flesh, but if we walk by the Spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh although we will do battle.
5. Walking by the flesh for the believer causes us to miss out on the abundant life Jesus said we could have.
6.  When controlled by the Spirit, we think on those things that please God, things that are pure, lovely, true, honorable, right and of good report. (Philippians 4:8)
7. When we think on these things and let God’s Spirit control our life, we will have peace-peace that is not determined nor controlled by circumstances, but peace in our heart that can only be placed there by God himself.
8. Life according to the flesh is opposite. There is no peace but only condemnation that one is missing God’s best.
9. All our choices and moral decisions should result from direction by God’s Spirit.
10.  Paul’s conclusions match that of Christ when he said we could not serve two masters. We must choose. (Matthew 6:24)
11.  A mind controlled by God’s Spirit is a mind aware of God’s presence through the Spirit, a mind that wants to please God, a mind that meditates on God’s Word, a mind sensitive to sin, and a mind that desires to follow God’s will.
12.  Paul’s statements match the sage of old who reminded us that as we think in our mind, so are we. (Proverbs 23:7)

B. Carnal Mind versus Spiritual Mind
1. The carnal mind can be focused on base, immoral, violent, material and physical things.
2. The carnal mind may focus on the moral, upright and cultured things of life (this does not mean God is included, however).
3. The carnal mind can even focus on the religious.
4. The spiritual mind is focused on carrying out God’s ministry and mission.
5. The spiritual mind recognizes all the above without Christ is useless.
6. The spiritual mind is concerned with developing spiritual fruit and character.
7. Those with spiritual minds want to grow into a deeper knowledge of Christ and what it means to follow him.
8. Those with spiritual minds are interested in anything that promotes their conformation to the image of Christ.
9. The spiritual mind takes any thought captive that does not promote spiritual growth.

Conclusion:
A. How wonderful to live with the assurance we are no longer under condemnation.

B. We must feed our spiritual mind so we can live with the mindset of obeying God and living our life for him.