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?

Stuck in a Quandary

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 17 & 18
Psalms Reading: Psalm 37
* New Testament Reading: Romans 7

Romans 6 talked about God’s requirement that Christians die to sin.  Romans 7 points out that we can’t do this in our own power alone.  Romans 8 will give us the solution.

But today, we’re stuck in a quandary.  We know that God requires that we put to death the sinful nature in our life.  How do we do that?  The obvious first thought is by following a long set of rules.  (We call this Legalism – the idea that we can get right with God by following a bunch of rules.)

For a while, things seem to go along well.  We’re following the rules, and we feel more spiritual.  We develop a long list of “dos” and “don’ts”.  Over time, the list grows, and it gets harder and harder to follow.  The problem with this is that it addresses our actions, but doesn’t change our hearts.  In our mind, we want to follow God, but our sinful nature wars against our mind, wanting to do whatever our sinful nature wants.

Paul said it like this in Romans 7: 15, “I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do,  I do not do, but what I hate, I do.”  And in 7:19, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing.”

Over time, it gets harder and harder to follow all the rules.  If we carry legalism to its logical conclusion, eventually, either we get to the point where we just pretend (we become a hypocrite), or we abandon the whole farce and just walk away. 

Paul sums up the desperation like this in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?”  If we are perfectly honest, I suspect all of us who profess to be Christians have experienced this.

Fortunately, the chapter doesn’t stop there.  Paul goes on in 7:25a, “Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We don’t get into the details until Romans 8 of how we can not just overcome, but be “more than conquerors.”

In Romans 6, Paul said that we must die to sin.  Here in Romans 7, he goes on to say that we also die to the law.  This may seem crazy, since God’s law was good – pointing out what sin was.  So we’re not bound by the law, and we’re not free to continue to sin.  What is the solution?  

We’ll find out tomorrow.  

Spoiler alert:

Romans 8:10-11 says, “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.”

-Steve Mattison

Reflection Questions

  1. What has your experience been with your sinful nature? What good do you want to do that you haven’t? What evil have you done that you didn’t want to do?
  2. Have you had any experience with legalism? How did you do at trying to follow every rule? Where was your heart? Did you tend more towards hypocrisy and going through the motions or giving up and walking away from God?
  3. What is God’s desire for you? How do you know? What does He reveal about Himself in your reading of His words today?

Self-improvement Help Needed

But Not From Yourself

Romans 7

I think everyone can empathize with Paul when he states, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15)

Even in every day routines there may be areas we want to improve or change. Just look at the huge amount of self-improvement and renewal books that are printed each year. Maybe we want to: lose weight, get fit, stop bad habits, eat healthier, get out of debt and save money, spend more time with family, be less stressed or read through the Bible. Ok, hopefully this one is happening.

So wanting to overcome sin and do good is a great goal, but maybe you feel as Paul did, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” On our own, we cannot overcome sin, but as Christians we are not on our own. Thank the LORD, He is with us and He has provided what we need to overcome sin. In verse 25 we see that Paul is relying on God’s provision in Christ. “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

We are no longer condemned because we are in Christ Jesus, but sin is condemned. Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. We no longer live by our sinful nature, but according to the Spirit. And as we will discover in Romans chapter 8, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and nothing in all creation, is able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. We truly need to realize the love that God has for us and rely on His Spirit working in us. 

-Rebecca Dauksas

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Chronicles 15-16 and Romans 7

My Sinful Nature

Romans 4-7

I’m skipping right to the end of chapter seven, to a dilemma that many Christians wrestle with.

Starting in verse 15, Paul says, I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Paul really nails what I and so many other Christians struggle with – the question of why do I continue to sin if I have turned my life over to Christ?  Certainly all Christians still sin.  I know my sins, and you know yours.  But why do we continue to repeat certain sins over and over, if we know they are wrong, and we want to change our behavior?  It’s frustrating.  Many new Christians especially think they have left sin behind once they have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, only to be discouraged to discover that their sin nature is alive and well within them, as Paul points out.

I cannot begin to attempt to explain or examine every facet of sin, and why Christians still find themselves caught up in various sins, but I can offer at least one strategy that has worked for me, dealing with a specific sin.  We should all have strategies for overcoming our biggest sin obstacles. 

The following is an excerpt from the marriage book From This Day Forward by Craig and Amy Groeschel.

-“I have a special software installed that, although it allows me to get on the internet when I need to, filters what sites I can get to.  And it sends reports of everything I see to my accountability partners.  Maybe this sounds extreme to you (which doesn’t bother me at all).  Maybe it sounds like a lot of trouble.  It is.   An obvious question might be, “So are you really that weak and vulnerable Craig?  That if nobody was watching, you’d look at things that were immoral or impure?”  I can honestly say the answer is, “No, not really.”  Right now as I’m writing this, and as I’m thinking about these things, I’m in a really good place.  My resolve is strong.  I’m confident in my relationship with Christ, and everything is going really well.  So why bother?  Because if you are honest, you know that not every single moment of your life looks like that.  Sometimes I get tired.  Sometimes my feelings get hurt, or I get angry, or I feel like I’m not getting everything I deserve.  And then, in those fleeting moments of weakness, every door to temptation that I might otherwise try to turn to is completely, thoroughly, securely locked.  Strong Craig of this moment is looking out for weak Craig of those other moments.”

This is great advice.  (By the way, the software he is speaking of is likely called Covenant Eyes, which we use in our house).  When we are strong, we often don’t think about our weaknesses.  But that is the best time to acknowledge them and plan what to do in case they return.  If we can cut off access to committing some of the sins we have struggled with, then do it, if at all possible.

But when we do sin, whether large or small, habitual sin or not, we need not be discouraged to the point of giving up.  Remember that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.  And Paul humbly acknowledged that even he struggled with continuing to commit sins after accepting Christ.   Our sin nature will not be completely shed until, Christ returns, and he delivers us from it.  Until that day, we should be working to sin less and less.  There are certainly strategies we can employ to try to accomplish that, as mentioned already.  But thanks be to God that Christ’s blood covers us, despite our sins. 

-Greg Landry


Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Romans 4-7.

Tomorrow we continue with Romans 8-10.

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