Live through the Spirit

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 19 & 20
Psalms Reading: Psalm 38
* New Testament Reading: Romans 8

Romans 7 pointed out the fact that we aren’t able to live the righteous life that God requires in our own strength.  “Live through the Spirit” is the title for Romans 8 in my Bible.  The word “spirit” or “Spirit” occurs 19 times in Romans 8, so it must be important.

Yesterday, we pointed out that Paul was describing the war within someone trying to please God by trying to follow a bunch of rules.  That section culminated in Romans 7:24, which says, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Romans 8:1 starts by saying, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”  No condemnation?  Tell me more!  I want in on that.

Paul then said that the law was only able to point out sin, but could not address our sinful nature.

He then went on to describe two types of people, one sinful and one spiritual.  He’s describing someone who lives according to their sinful nature versus someone who lives in accordance with the Spirit – he is not describing two types of Christians. 

Note the contrast:

Live according to the sinful nature
  • Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what the sinful nature desires. (8:5)  
  • The mind of sinful man is death. (8:6)
  • The sinful mind is hostile to God. (8:7)  
  • It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (8:7)
  • For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die (8:13)
​Live in accordance with the Spirit
  • Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. (8:5)
  • The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (8:6)
  • If by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. ( 8:13)
  • Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (8:14)
  • And if sons of God, then heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. (8:15)

Paul said in Romans 8:9, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.”  So if the Spirit of God lives in us, our mind is controlled by the Spirit – we aren’t controlled by our sinful nature.  If the Spirit of God doesn’t live in us, we don’t belong to Christ.

Romans 8:10-11 goes on to say, “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.  And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who lives in you.”  Can you imagine the power it took to raise Jesus from the dead to eternal life?  That same power is in us – if and only if we are controlled by the Spirit of God.

Ultimately, it’s my choice.  Am I going to completely surrender my will, my future, and my all to God, and live for Him (with His help)?  Anything less is failure to surrender to God, meaning I continue living according to my sinful nature, which will result in death.  I get to make the choice.  And so do you.

This doesn’t mean that someone living according to their sinful nature can’t do good.  It also doesn’t mean that someone living according to the Spirit can’t sin.  I picture this as more of what motivates a person’s life and actions.

This doesn’t mean that we won’t have troubles in our lives.  Paul went on to say that suffering will come, but the future reward is more than worth it.  Paul said in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  And I’ll point out that Paul had lots of suffering, as he told us in 2 Corinthians 11:23-26, “… been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.”

Paul then went on to say that these sufferings make us long all the more for the redemption of our bodies we will experience when Jesus returns.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  So even problems in our lives turn out for good for those who love Him.

Paul then went on to say that God is for us, and Jesus not only died for us but currently intercedes for us.  Because of this, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (8:35) and the love of God (8:29).   Because of this, we can not just conquer our sinful nature, we are “more than conquerors” or super-conquerors through Him who loved us.

Romans 8:38-29 closes with, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

If you completely surrender your life to God, the same power that raised Christ from the dead will live in you.  By having your mind controlled by the Spirit, you can overcome your sinful nature and live the life God called you to live.  And if you do, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  And when Jesus returns, you’ll live forever in paradise with God and Jesus.

Only one question remains:  will you completely surrender your life to God?

-Steve Mattison

Reflection Questions

  1. Why did Paul say that the law can only reveal sin, but not save?
  2. If you truly live according to the Spirit, will you break the 10 commandments (or any of God’s other laws)? Why or why not?
  3. What did God reveal about Himself by giving the 10 commandments? (Note: He tells us something specific about Himself with each of the first 5 and had a direct purpose for each of the other 5.) What does He continue to reveal about Himself in Psalm 38 (a psalm about the oppressive weight of sin and guilt) & Romans 8?

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