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Grace to You - Resource

Tonight we are going to begin a very special, and I think a very wonderful study of Romans chapter 8. I want you now to prepare by opening the Word of God to that chapter.  As we enter the 8th chapter of Romans, the Holy Spirit's ministry comes into clear focus.  And the richness of this passage is really far beyond calculation.  Its truths are so great that no matter how long or how diligently we studied the chapter, we would...we would never have anything other than a sense of abounding joy and the feeling that we had only scratched the surface of what was here.

This chapter moves to an unequaled crescendo on the pages of Scripture, which is familiar to us from verses 28 to 39.  But the rest of the chapter is equally rich in its fullness.  And I really don't believe that a person can be the same after they have internalized and meditated on these truths as they were before.

To me, this is one of the truly life-changing chapters in the Scriptures.  It is a chapter that every believer must understand. The Holy Spirit, as I said, is the main person in this chapter.  He is mentioned twenty times, or about twenty times.  So all of a sudden, in Romans chapter 8, as the apostle Paul unfolds the wonderful reality of salvation and redemption, the Holy Spirit bursts on the scene with great magnitude in this chapter.  It is the Holy Spirit's chapter.  It is a chapter about life in the Spirit.

And I think it might be best for us, as we introduce this chapter to introduce to you the Holy Spirit, so that we will all understand who He is.  And in that understanding, begin then to tap the riches of this chapter.  There are few subjects more important to the Christian than the one concerning the Holy Spirit.  It is the eternal Spirit who is a member of the Trinity.  It is the eternal Spirit who is the source of the Christian's spiritual life, both as to its origin and its continuation.  The Holy Spirit is to our spiritual lives what the Creator is to the universe.  Without God as Creator, the universe would never have come into existence.  And without God as the continuing, sustaining, preserving power, the universe would crash out of existence.

Similarly, without the Spirit of God, the Christian would never have been born again, never have come into existence.  And without the Spirit's ever-present, sanctifying influence, the spiritual life of the Christian would drop back into spiritual deadness from which it came.

Who is the Holy Spirit, and how are we to understand Him?  Well, first of all, the Holy Spirit is not some impersonal force.  The Holy Spirit is not some influence or some energy that somehow emanates from the presence of God.  But, rather, the Holy Spirit, as the third member of the Godhead, is a person possessing a complete entity and personality of His own, just like the God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.

The Holy Spirit should never be referred to as it, but as He.  That's the way He is always referred to in Scripture.  And if you need some proof that the Holy Spirit is, in fact, a person, you need only to study the Scripture and find out that the Scripture ascribes to Him intellect, emotion, and will.  The intellect of the Holy Spirit is indicated in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, where it says, "The Holy Spirit knows the deep things of God."  The intellect of the Holy Spirit is such that He can plumb the depths of the knowledge of the eternal God.

The emotion of the Holy Spirit is indicated in Romans 5:5 by His love for the saints, and by the fact that He can be quenched.  And He can be grieved.

As to the will of the Holy Spirit, we are told in 1 Corinthians 12:11 that the Holy Spirit makes decisions, that He renders to every person certain spiritual gifts according to His will.  This Being with intellect, emotion, and will then manifests all of the essential ingredients of personhood.

Further, Scripture indicates that he is revealed as one who speaks.  Act 13:2, Revelation 2:7.  He prays, as we will see in Romans 8:26 and 27.  He teaches, as John 14:26 tells us.  He guides, as John 16:13 indicates.  He commands, as in Acts 16:6 and 7.  And He communes or fellowships, as in 2 Corinthians 13:14.  As I said, He may be grieved, Ephesians 4:30, He may be lied to, Acts 5:3.  He may be tested, Acts 5:9.  He may be vexed, Isaiah 63:10.  He may be resisted, Acts 7:51.  He may be blasphemed, Mark 3 and Matthew 12.  This is a person in every sense.

Further, we have to understand that the person of the Holy Spirit is also God.  There can be no doubt about the deity of the Holy Spirit.  He is God and always has been.  This is made plain in three ways:  His attributes, His works, and His titles.  Now the Scripture is clear about that.  In the Bible, for example, thinking about the attributes of the Holy Spirit, it tells us in Scripture that he is eternal.  He is omniscient.  He is omnipotent.  He is omnipresent, that is everywhere at the same time. He is holy, and He is glorious.  All those are attributes of God.  And then if we were to turn to the titles of the Holy Spirit, just in a brief survey, if you read Scripture you will find that he is called the Spirit of God.  Therefore, he is given the title God.  He is called Lord, in 2 Corinthians 3:18, Hebrews 10.  He is called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord.  He is called “His Spirit,” that is associating Him with God.  He is called, in Judges 3:10, the Spirit of Yahweh; in Isaiah 61:11, the Spirit of the Lord God; in Matthew 10:20, the Spirit of the Father; and in 2 Corinthians 3:3, the Spirit of the Living God.

In relation to the Son, He is also called the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Christ, and in Galatians 4:6...6, the Spirit of His Son.  In Philippians 1:19, He is even called the Spirit of Jesus Christ.  In John 14:26, He is “another comforter” just like Jesus Christ.  Titles of deity, titles showing a relationship of equality with the Father, and a relationship of equality with the Son.  Therefore, by attribute and by title, He is clearly God.

Furthermore, if you are to study the works of the Holy Spirit, you find, again, evidences of deity.  Genesis 1 makes it clear that He did the creation.  "The Spirit of God moved upon the waters” you remember, in creation."  It is the Spirit who works by indwelling certain people.  In the Old Testament, the Spirit of God came upon them, and they speak mightily on behalf of God.  It is the Spirit who convicts men of sin, Genesis chapter 3, John chapter 14.  It is the Spirit who enables men and women to serve God, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.  It is the Spirit who energizes, by means of inspiration the writers of Scripture, to pen exactly the inerrant Word of God.

During the life of Christ, the Spirit was the agent of Christ's birth, Christ's baptism.  The Spirit was there strengthening in His temptation.  The Spirit was there anointing Him for ministry.  The Spirit was behind His teaching, so that what He taught, He taught as the Spirit gave Him to teach.  The Spirit was the power behind His miracles, so that blaspheming His miracles was blaspheming the Spirit.  The Spirit was even participating in His death, burial, and resurrection.

When it comes to the world, the ministry of the Spirit continues in dramatically powerful and divine ways as He convicts, as He calls, as He witnesses to Christ, as He regenerates, as in the believer, He glorifies Christ as He indwells, in-fills, imparts the fruit of the Spirit, imparts the gifts of the Spirit, seals, communes, fellowships, teaches, prays, wars with the flesh, comforts, sanctifies, empowers for service.  With regard to the church collectively, He forms the body of Christ, appoints offices, and gives guidance to the church as indicated in Acts 15.  Wow, that's a fast study of pneumatology, as it's called, to acquaint you with the blessed person of the Holy Spirit, who is the main feature, the main person of this great chapter.

Remember the flow of Romans.  Paul is presenting the truth of justification by grace through faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is a whole book dedicated to explaining the meaning of salvation by grace through faith.  It started out in the first three chapters defining the sinfulness of man.  And, then starting just near the end of the third chapter, salvation began to unfold as the only solution to that sin.  And since the middle of chapter 3 or so, right on through the end of chapter 7, there has been a careful discussion of the matter of salvation.  And it all comes to a climactic culmination at the beginning of chapter 8.

Let's look at verse 1.  This really is the high point.  Having discussed the sinfulness of man, the hopelessness of man, the inability of man to save himself by deeds of the law, by the works of his flesh, by ceremony or sacrifice or goodness, Paul has introduced the gospel of grace.  He has introduced it in chapter 3, illustrated it in chapter 4, expanded it in chapter 5, 6, and 7.  And he brings it to a culmination in chapter 8 verse 1, and this is the most glorious of all statements up to now.  "There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  And when you go back to chapter 1, 2, and 3, and you realize that those chapters are all about condemnation, they're all about the wrath of God, which is described from chapter 1 verse 18 to chapter 3, verse 20.  There is this very careful unfolding of the wrath of God, the terrifying damnation that's going to fall from God upon sinners.  And the wrath of God upon the wicked is as intense as God's love is to His saints.  And the intensity of that wrath is unfolded in the early part of Romans.

And so, at the very outset of the book of Romans, there is a great sense of fear upon the reader as he is exposed to this wrath of God which will result in eternal damnation, suffering through all of eternity the just judgment of God.  And then comes the gospel, and the Gospel is delineated.  And when the Gospel has been delineated, then comes this culminating statement, "There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  All that fear, all that horror, all the threats of judgment that took up those early chapters have been set aside.  And chapters 3 through 7 showed us how Christ provided that no-condemnation status. Chapter 8 identifies it and then — listen carefully — chapter 8 goes on to demonstrate how the Holy Spirit secures that status.

We are threatened in the early chapters with damnation.  We are delivered from damnation from chapters 3 to 7 in the gospel.  We are then told at the beginning of chapter 8 that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ who have been justified by grace through faith.  And then chapter 8 begins to unfold how the Holy Spirit secures our eternal redemption.

How can we escape the just wrath of God and be delivered from condemnation or damnation?  By the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It is then because of our life in the Spirit that we are secured forever.  This is the greatest chapter in all the Bible on the security of the believer.  That's its theme.  And that security is true because of the ongoing intercessory work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

Now, this chapter unfolds the work of the Holy Spirit.  Let me just give you a...a sort of a summary of it, and these are the points that we'll look at in the next several weeks.  This chapter tells us that the Holy Spirit keeps us in a no-condemnation status permanently.  The Holy Spirit guards us in a no-condemnation status until we reach glory by doing these things.  First, verses 2 and 3 tell us He frees us from sin and death.  Verse 4, He enables us to fulfill the Law.  Verses 5 through 11, He changes our nature.  Verses 12 and 13, He empowers us for victory over sin.  Verses 14 to 17, He confirms our adoption.  Verses 18 to 25, He guarantees our glory.  Verses 26 and 27, He aids our prayers.

That takes you right through verse 27, and the result of understanding the work of the Spirit is the incredible doxology that comes in verse 28 and runs to the end of the chapter, which is nothing more than a paean of praise for this remarkable work of the Holy Spirit.  Now, these are rich truths, and I'm going to pray that the Lord is going to give you a great understanding of their richness, because they will have a dramatic effect on your life, how you view God, and how you view your salvation, your present, and your future.

First of all, let's look at the first point.  The Holy Spirit demonstrates that we are not condemned.  The Holy Spirit demonstrates, verifies our no-condemnation status in that, number one, He frees us from sin and death.  First of all, He frees us from sin and death.  We are in a no-condemnation status, verse 1.  But then verse 2 and 3 tell us why.  "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did. Sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh."

Now, these words are profound.  They are very carefully selected by the inspired writer, and they must be understood if we are to grasp the wondrous work of the blessed Holy Spirit.  It tells us, in verse 2, that it is, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus that has set us free from the law of sin and of death."  In other words, we were sentenced to sin and death until the Holy Spirit set us free.

Now, let's back up a little bit as we consider this very important and foundational point.  This is absolutely essential to any understanding of the gospel.  The Scripture says that all men and all women on the face of the earth, through all of time and human history, are, by nature, children of wrath.  That is to say, they are objects of divine wrath.  They are targets for God's judgment.  All people are.  All have sinned.  All have come short of the glory of God.  All stand under the wrath of God facing eternal judgment in an endless hell of torment.  This miserable condition in which all men exist, because all men are sinful, this miserable condition has some fearful results.

First of all, in our condition as depraved, as theologians like to call it, under the wrath of God, we are overpowered by sin.  We are, all of us, as human beings, before our salvation, literally overpowered by sin.  It is too much for us.  We cannot restrain it.  We don't have the ability.  Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  It is a defiling disease that cripples the soul of every person, degrading man, disquieting him, stealing his peace, robbing him of joy, and replacing those things with trouble and pain.  It plants in every heart a killing principle of corruption that no person can cure.  We have a fatal and incurable disease called sin.

Not only are we overpowered by this disease and powerless to do anything about it, but, furthermore, we are controlled by Satan.  It would be enough to be overpowered by Satan, but adding insult to injury, we are also controlled to be overpowered...I should say by sin, but to add insult to injury, we are controlled by Satan.  In fact, in John 8:44, it says, we are of our “father the devil."  In Ephesians 2:2, it says, we are controlled by “the prince of the power of the air."  He and his hosts dominate us.  They...they work the world system to infect us in wicked ways.  They dominate our thinking.  They un...they dominate our understanding.  They dominate our will.  "His lusts will you do," the Scripture says.  We do what Satan orchestrates around us in the world that appeals to our lusts, compels us to do.

Thirdly, not only are we overpowered by sin and controlled by Satan, but we are subject to misery.  We are consequently subject to misery.  Romans 8:20 says, "We're subject to vanity or emptiness."  Life is filled with emptiness, bitterness, sorrow, pain.  To borrow Job's words, "We are born unto trouble."  There is no peace.  There is no real joy.  We just go from one tragedy to another, from one disaster to another, from one unfulfillment to another, from one empty experience to another, from one pain to another, one sorrow to another.  That's how life is.

And that's not all.  It is also true that we are then the heirs of God's wrath.  This is simply to define man's depraved condition.  We are overpowered by sin, controlled by Satan, subject to all the miseries of life, and headed directly for the wrath of God.  There remains nothing, Hebrews 10:27 says, "There remains nothing but a fearful looking for of fiery indignation."  There is nothing to look for but wrath.  Galatians 3:10 says we inherit all the curses of God.  All you have to do is violate one law of God, and you get all the curses. The sinner eats and drinks like Damocles' banquet with a sword hanging over his head ...head held by a small thread.  There is a curse on the sinner's name.  There is a curse on the sinner's soul.  A curse on his possessions, on his place, and every sweet thing will ultimately turn into eternal bitterness.

That leads me to the last point, that wrath is forever.  We are exposed to an eternal hell.  This is the second death, judgment without mercy, pain without relief, punishment without compassion.  It is a punishment of sense, because there's pain there.  It is a punishment of loss, because it is out of God's presence.  That's how it is with the unconverted.  That's how it is with all of us.  That's where the sinner stands, under the condemnation of a holy God, with nowhere to turn and no resource in himself to change that inevitable judgment and to keep the sword from falling.

It's in the darkness of this picture that our text brings such glorious light.  It's in the darkness of that picture that verse 2 says, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death."  The law of sin and death is simply everything I described.  You violated God's law, and you're on the way to eternal death.  That's the law that is in action.  That's the operative law in the life of every unregenerate person.

But there's another principle.  There's another operative law, and that's the one of the Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus which sets us free from the law of sin and of death.  Some people actually say that verse 2 is the most wonderful, hopeful verse in all of Scripture. When you think about it, the Bible is a very condemning book.  From beginning to end, the Bible is filled with threats.  The Bible starts with a threat, "And the day you eat, you'll die."  And it ends with a threat, "Touch anything in this book, and I'll add the plagues that are written in it to you."  It starts with paradise lost, and it ends with eternal damnation and a warning.  The Word of God is filled with threats.  It's filled with condemnation.  It's filled with judgment against those who disobey God's law, who do not love His Son, and do not know Him.  That's the reality of man's fallen condition.  Not everybody's as bad as they could be.  That's not what depravity means.  Not everybody's as bad as they could be.  They're just too bad to save themselves.

And Romans 3:8 says, "The condemnation is just, because men are depraved, and they choose sin, because they love it."  John 3 says, "They love sin more than they love righteousness."  It's a just condemnation.  So here is the picture of all men justly condemned by sin, unable to keep God's law, rejecting His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and standing on the brink of eternal hell.

And it's into that terrible condition that the gospel is introduced, and, as a result of the gospel, there is no condemnation, for the Holy Spirit sets us free from the operative principles of sin and death.  No condemnation.  What a glorious reality.  What an incredible thing to think about.  We have to get back to that, beloved, because that's the point.  It's not that Jesus'll fix your marriage and Jesus'll help you enjoy life more, and Jesus'll deliver you from your problems.  It'’s that's that Jesus will save you from hell.

This is the most wonderful message of the Christian faith.  This is the good news.  You see, the believer in Christ has been fully forgiven.  Literally perfected, for Hebrews 10:14 says, "For by one offering, He's perfected forever them that are set apart.”  Those who believe are forever perfected.  Says in verse 2, "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus."  Life is in Christ Jesus.  Verse 1, "Those who are in Christ Jesus."  When your life is joined to Christ by faith, when you accept Him as your Savior, as we saw in baptism tonight, there is a union.  You're joined to Him, and you die in His death, and you rise in His life.  That's being in Christ.  For those who are in Christ, sin is paid for.  There will never be condemnation.  What a tremendous, tremendous truth.  Our sin is set aside.

Like the woman taken in adultery in John 8, the believer is thrilled to hear those loving, forgiving, securing words of the Savior, "Neither do I condemn you."  And Jesus said that he who believes in Him would not come into condemnation, John 5:14, but is passed from death to life.  The believer can sin, yes, but just can't be condemned.  Yes, we sin, but we'll never be condemned.

And so this is the first great ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It is by His power, operative in our salvation, that we are set free from the law of sin and death.  This is a glorious reality.  But the question comes, obviously, how does it happen?  How does it work?  I mean how can it be?  Well, let's dig a little more deeply into this verse and find out.

"The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death."  There will never be, in the life of any believer, listen carefully, any condemnation for sin, in a final sense.  There will be chastening, as the Lord, in this life, chastens you to make you more holy practically.  But there will never be any future life condemnation, never.  Why? Because you have been united with Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for your sin.  And we're right back to this incredible reality that the reason there's no condemnation to us is because of the great New Testament doctrine of substitution, the great doctrine of substitution.

We are free from condemnation, because Christ became our substitute.  Look at verse 3, and this is where it unfolds: "For what the law could not do (and what the law could not do is pretty clear, couldn't save) weak as it was through the flesh (it couldn't save, because the flesh couldn't keep it) God did.” Oh, this is just glory.  This is one of those great verses in Scripture that ranks in the top ten. What the law couldn't do, by the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified, says chapter 3.  The law can't do it.  The moral law could not do anything but condemn you.  Why?  Because you could only break it; you couldn't keep it.  The law was not standard by which men could become holy.  The law was the standard by which they could become aware they weren't holy.

God gave His law so that we would see what His standard was and measure our lives against it and realize we didn't make it.  The law cannot justify.  It cannot save.  You can't be good enough.  Why?  Because it is weak.  Why?  Through the flesh.  There was nothing wrong with the moral law of God, nothing wrong with it at all.  It is holy, just, and good.  Paul said that back in chapter 7.  The law of God is perfect.  It is holy.  It is right.  It is true.  It is good.  The problem is not with the law.  The problem is with us. We can't keep it.  And listen to this, and the law can't help.  That's one thing that I...I...I discovered some years ago when I was studying the nature of the law, that there's no provision in the moral law of God to assist us.  The law, in a sense, is powerless.  The law doesn't have any energizing capability.  The law is not a person.  The law is outside us. It is God's perfectly holy standard. It is merciless. The law knows no forgiveness. The law lows knows no mercy.  It exercises no grace, and it provides no help.

It's just fixed, and we crash against it with our weak flesh, only to be shattered.  Because of our flesh, we cannot keep God's law.  It's way beyond us and we fall short of it.  "By the works of the law” Romans 3:20 “no flesh will be justified in His sight, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin."  All it's going to do is show you your sin.  The law, keep it in mind, is impotent to save.  It is powerless to save.  It doesn't help us.  It just damns us.

Now, were it not for the weakness of the flesh, were it not for the corruption of our sinfulness, the law could save.  Christ was able to perfectly fulfill the law. He fulfilled all righteousness.  And, thus, He needed no savior, because He kept the law perfectly.  He lived a perfectly righteous life.  As I've said to you before, people sometimes ask why did Christ have to live all those years on earth?  Why couldn't He have just come and died and dealt with our sin?  He needed to live a perfect, righteous life that could be imputed to us.  He didn't need a savior, because He never broke the law.  But He was God, and we aren't.  And those who think they can keep God's law are condemned most stringently by our Lord Jesus, who blasted the self-righteous Pharisees and hypocrites for their assumed pretension, imagining they could keep God's perfect law.

So what the law could not do, go back to verse 3, because the flesh was so weak, God did.  And what couldn't the law do?  It couldn't save, couldn't make us righteous.  So God did that.  God did it.  And how did He do it?  By "sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin."  That's how He did it.  God did it by sending Christ to take our place.  That is... That's the glorious reality of the gospel.  What we couldn't do because of our weak flesh, God did.  He saved us.  The law couldn't do it.  We couldn't do it.  God did it, and He did it by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh.  What does that mean?  He sent Him as a man.

He wasn't sinful.  He was without sin.  But He sent Him as a man and made Him a substitutionary offering for sin, and, thus, condemned sin in the flesh, the flesh of Jesus Christ.  He put our sins on Jesus Christ and poured out all His wrath.  In the body, in the human nature, in the flesh of Christ, God unloaded His fury against sin.  It was on Jesus Christ the sentence of execution for sin was placed.  That is the marvel of the gospel.

Back in Romans 6, it says that when you are baptized — not talking about water baptism, but water baptism symbolizes it — when you're united to Christ you're united in His death.  You're buried with Him, and you're raised with Him.  Verse 6, your old self was crucified with Him.  And what that is simply saying is, in a very real sense, you were there when He died, and you were there when He was buried, and you were there when He rose again.  Because He was paying for all your sins, and that's the truest part about you.

Christ took on Himself our nature in order to expiate the guilt of that nature.  He became man in order that He might die in man's place.  He came in our likeness.  This is a tremendous truth. Sin, then, was paid for, and that's why, legally, there is now no condemnation, can't be paid for again, can't be double jeopardy.  Christ paid the penalty. This is the glorious initial work of the Holy Spirit.  It is the Spirit, then, by means, listen carefully, of the new birth, regeneration, who becomes the operative force in our lives, that frees us from the operating principle of sin and death under which we were formerly sentenced.

This is also what we've been learning in recent months from 2 Corinthians 5:21.  “He who knew no sin,” being Christ, “was made sin on our behalf, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”  Christ's life without a sacrifice couldn't save. He had to die.  But a sacrifice without a perfect life couldn't save, either, for He would've needed a savior Himself.  He had to be holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, a lamb without spot and blemish to take our place.  And this is really the heart and soul of the gospel.  This is what it is that we believe.  And it is by that gospel, listen, it is by that gospel of substitutionary death, Jesus Christ, God in human flesh, coming into the world, living a righteous life, dying a perfect death, bearing our sin as the spotless lamb of God, taking the full wrath of God.  It is by that glorious gospel that the Spirit of God frees us from the consequence of our sin.

In fact, I might even go so far as to say “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” is just a long way to say “the gospel.”  The gospel energized by the Holy Spirit.  John 3:3 says that, "When you're born again, you're born of the Spirit."  First Peter 1:22 says, "You have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit."  It is the Spirit who gives life.  The Holy Spirit then was the agent of our salvation.  The Holy Spirit is the deliverer who moves in our lives to convict us of sin, to draw us to Christ.  He always points to Christ, you remember.  It is the Spirit who regenerates us.  It is the Spirit who smashes down the bars of iniquity and the locks of transgression, breaks them open.  It is the Spirit who produces repentance and then produces contrition and brokenness, and then produces faith.  It is the Spirit who then frees us from the mastery and the condemnation of sin.

This is life in the Spirit. Let me give you a second ministry of the Holy Spirit just briefly.  Verse 4, because it really goes together with this.  First, the Holy Spirit demonstrates our no-condemnation status by freeing us from the law of sin and death.  Secondly, by enabling us to fulfill God's law, by enabling us to fulfill God's law.  Verse 4: "In order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."  This is a monumental statement.

Listen carefully, not only did God put our sin on Christ, but He put Christ's righteousness on us.  And that's the first thing to understand about this.  God's law hasn't changed.  Without holiness, you can't see the Lord.  No man can come into His presence unless he's holy.  Now how, then, were we made holy, who are not holy ourselves?  By the fact that the holiness of Christ was imputed to us.  And again I say, that's why He had to live a holy, sinless life, so that that perfect life could be imputed to our account. As our imperfect life was put to His account and brought about His death, so His perfect life is put to our account and brings about our life.

What is the requirement of the law?  Perfection.  The requirement of the law is obey all this or you'll die.  Violate one part of this law, and you've broken it all, and you'll perish.  That's what the law requires.  How in the world, then, could we ever fulfill the requirement of the law?  The Holy Spirit fulfills the requirement of the law in us by granting us the righteousness of Jesus Christ, enabling us then no longer to walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

And I think what he's talking about there is primarily the reality of our newness in Christ. It doesn't mean now that my sins are forgiven, that Jesus died on the cross for me, I...I really got to get my act together, so God will be pleased with me.  Well, that's...that's certainly true.  But it's not as if you now have to go about and establish your own righteousness.  It's not a matter of some painstaking conformity to some external law, but rather the Spirit of God mercifully, graciously grants you the very righteousness of Jesus Christ itself.

And then the outworking of that righteousness, for it is a practical reality, as well as a forensic one.  The working out of that righteousness shows up in the way you walk, your daily conduct, so that justification and sanctification are really inseparable.  So the Lord, by the Spirit, by the way, by the Spirit, fulfilled all righteousness, grants that perfect righteousness to us positionally, and then we are encouraged by the indwelling Spirit practically to fulfill that righteousness by His power.

We move then from a condition of condemnation because of unrighteousness into a condition of perfect righteousness in Christ.  We move from a position of not being able to keep the law of God, to a position of being able to keep the law of God, because of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  And we'll say more about that as we move ahead in this tremendous chapter.

Well, what a mystery unfolds in those first four verses.  As God condemns and punishes sinners, warns them of what is to come, and then Himself sends Christ to be the mediator and the substitute and the sacrifice, so that He can pour His condemnation on Him and free all of us from condemnation.  That's the work of the Spirit.  The Spirit is the one who brings about that regenerating, sanctifying work, so that we no longer walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  In other words, the life bent has changed, not only forensically, just summarizing, not only forensically, but practically.  We not only have been given, by imputation, the righteousness of Christ and it's all put to our account, but we've also been given the energy of the Spirit so that we can keep that law, which is now put to our account.

And I remind you as we close, nobody will ever enter God's kingdom unless all his sins have been completely paid for.  And nobody will ever enter God's kingdom unless his righteousness is equal to that of God's.  And if it were left to us, nobody would enter God's kingdom.  So God, in Christ, pays the penalty for our sin.  And, through Christ, grants us His righteousness so that He may fellowship with us.

Father, we thank You, as we contemplate the wonders of this great and glorious truth. We thank You that Your chief goal is not to make man happy so that multitudes with problems and sorrow flock to Jesus.  Your... Your goal...Your chief goal is not to make us healthy, not to solve our marital troubles, our financial frustrations, not to solve our loneliness, not to meet all the desires of our hearts. As important as happiness is and health and peace and prosperity and companionship, those kinds of elusive earthly things are...are not the issue.  He didn't come to make us happy and healthy.  He came to make us holy, and, unless we be holy, You will damn us forever.

"Follow holiness,” says the Scripture “without which no man shall see the Lord."  And then You knew we couldn't do it, and so You took care of it Yourself, through Your Son who bore our sins and satisfied Your justice, and who lived the perfect life, which is imputed to us. And, therefore, there's no condemnation.  And, Lord, we thank You for the blessed work of the Holy Spirit, through which all of this has been so wondrously accomplished.  We want to honor and glorify the Holy Spirit for this great work, which is still going on in us as we demonstrate that the righteousness which is imputed to us is also granted to us by Your indwelling presence and the work of the Spirit.

We thank You that You've given us, not only grace to stand before You as righteous, but grace to live righteously.  And we bless the Holy Spirit for this great work.  In our Savior's name, we pray.  Amen.

This sermon series includes the following messages:

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Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Since 1969


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Since 1969