Grace to You Resources
Grace to You - Resource

I want us to turn the Word of God.  We do want to worship the Lord through the Communion service, from the depths of our heart in spirit, but also in truth.  And Romans 8 is such an appropriate portion of Scripture to consider as we come to the Lord's Table, because it celebrates, particularly in the opening section of the chapter, the greatness of the work of Christ on our behalf.  Someone has said that if Scripture were a ring, and the book of Romans were the precious stone in the ring, chapter 8 of Romans would be the sparkle in the jewel.

 

So we welcome another look at this dazzling, brilliant, amazing chapter, Romans 8.  And as I noted for you last time, the hero of this chapter is the Holy Spirit.  It is His chapter detailing the outstanding and astounding work of the Holy Spirit on behalf of Christians.

 

Now, as we begin another look at this chapter, it's helpful for us to be reminded that the Bible is a very condemning book.  In fact, the Bible is filled with pledges of divine judgment that are severe and even eternal.  From the beginning to the end of the Bible, there are warnings upon warnings upon warnings of the judgment of God.  There is repeated condemnation of sinners, which provides for them an eternal punishment.  This is clearly the message of Scripture.  And that is why verse 1 is such welcome news.  "There is, therefore, now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  But apart from being in Christ Jesus, there is only condemnation.

 

Scripture makes this very clear.  In John's gospel, for example, in chapter 3 verses 19 and 20, "This is the judgment, that Light has come into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light lest his deeds should be exposed."  And, in fact, this person, who is under judgment because of his sin, according to verse 18, "Is judged already, because he does not believe in the name of the only begotten Son of God."  Condemnation awaits all those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

In Ephesians chapter 2 and verse 1, we read, "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as everybody else."  Condemnation, judgment, children of wrath.

 

Back in Galatians chapter 3 in verse 10, it said, "Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law to perform them."  Cursed is everyone.  Condemned is everyone.  Judged is everyone.  But the good news, as noted in verse 1, is that if one is in Christ there is then no condemnation.  That is the good news, that God in Jesus Christ has provided an escape from eternal condemnation.  God's grace, given to us through Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit, who convicts of sin, produces faith, and regenerates, is that condemnation is forever set aside.  That is the first great work of the Holy Spirit presented in this chapter.  That the Spirit of God, through the work of regeneration, and we are born of the Spirit, it is the Spirit who applies the gospel to us, who produces the conviction, produces the faith, and brings about the regeneration.  It is through that work of the Spirit that we enter into a no-condemnation status.

 

It is because of our life in the Spirit that all the blessings of salvation come to us.  And that, then, becomes the theme of this chapter.  The Holy Spirit gives us no-condemnation status.  The Holy Spirit frees us from sin and death.  The Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the law.  The Holy Spirit changes our nature.  The Holy Spirit empowers us for victory over sin.  The Holy Spirit confirms our identity as children of God.  The Holy Spirit guarantees our eternal glory.  The Holy Spirit aids our prayers.  The Holy Spirit fulfills the will of God in us.  All of that is the flow of the 8th chapter.  That's why, in verse 28, there is a crescendo of praise unlike, really, any in the New Testament, the doxology of the end of this chapter praising God for the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

So as we saw in our last study, it all begins in verse 1, in the fact that we are in no-condemnation status before God because we are in Christ.  And then we started into this chapter, in verses 2 and 3, by identifying the first feature of this no-condemnation status, and it is this:  The Spirit frees us from sin and death.  Sin and death, of course, are part and parcel of life outside of Christ.  All men are sinners. All have sinned and violated God's law.  Therefore, are under the curse.  All come short of the glory of God, and, therefore, are sentenced to eternal death.  But it says in verses 2 and 3, "The law of the Spirit of life or the principle of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law or the principle 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."

 

Those two verses tell us that the first great work of the Spirit in producing our no condemnation status was to free us from sin and death.  We could not be freed from sin and death by the law, as Romans 3 said, for by the works of the law, none of us could be saved or justified.  Why?  Because no man can keep the law.  And as Galatians 3 says, "You break the law in one point, and you've shattered all of it, and you're under eternal condemnation."

 

So verse 3 says the law could not save us.  We couldn't keep it.  The law, as I said last time, can't help us.  It doesn't energize us.  It doesn't provide any assistance to us.  It just stands there as a divine and holy and unattainable standard over which we are smashed by our failures.  The law doesn't assist us.  We can't keep it, and it can't help us.  The law can't do it, verse 3, and we're weak in the flesh, and we can't do it.  We cannot deliver ourselves from condemnation to no-condemnation status, and neither can the law help us.

 

But what can help us?  The principle of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  That's the Holy Spirit, who is the One who sets us free from the law of sin and death.  The Spirit of God comes and frees us from sin and death.  It is because He is the One who convicts.  I say it again. He is the One who produces repentance and faith.  And He is the One who regenerates.  He is the One who applies to us the atoning work of Jesus Christ.  It is the miracle of the work of the Holy Spirit, and that's why it is said that we are born of the Spirit.

 

How does the Spirit do that?  Verse 3, "Because God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh."  It is done by the work of substitution, and we have gone over this numerous times; just briefly tonight to review.  We couldn't please God.  We couldn't keep His law.  The law couldn't help us.  We were in a damnable situation and condition.  We were under severe and eternal condemnation.  There was no way out until God brought Jesus Christ to our rescue.  And He came into this world in the likeness of sinful flesh.  That is He came as a man.  He was not sinful.  He was separate from sinners, holy, harmless, and undefiled.  But He came and took our place.  He was the spotless lamb without blemish that God offered for sin on the cross.  He was the sacrifice that satisfied the justice of God.  He bore in His own body our sins on the cross.  And because of His work of substitution, which we celebrate in the Lord's Table, salvation can be brought to us through the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus, then, paid the penalty for sin.  That's what it means.  He condemned sin in the flesh.  And it was that great and mighty work that He did which made it possible for us, by the power of the Spirit, to be delivered from the principle of sin and death.

 

I'll never forget some years ago reading an amazing story that illustrates this in an unforgettable way.  There was a guard who was in charge of the raising and lowering of a drawbridge that spanned a large river.  And one day this guard decided to take his young son with him to work, so that they could spend the day together.  Even though the job of raising and lowering the bridge may not seem very difficult, it did require precise timing.  At 4 o'clock every day, the bridge had to be raised to allow a ferry boat to proceed down river.  But at 4:15, it had to be lowered to allow a regularly scheduled passenger train to cross the tracks on the bridge.

 

On this fateful day, after the bridge had been raised, the guard unwittingly had allowed his little son to venture out onto the bridge to get a better view of the ferry boat as it passed beneath the raised drawbridge.  To his horror, he saw his son slip and fall into the gears of the drawbridge.  The boy was so entangled in the gears that he was unable to lift himself, and the father realized that he didn't have time to rescue his son before he had to lower the bridge for the train.  The father tried everything he could think of in the moments intervening, but came to no solution.  He was faced with an unbelievable dilemma.

 

It was at this point that the father was shocked back into reality when he heard the whistle of the train warning him of its arrival.  A look at his watch revealed that he had only a few minutes to lower the bridge.  Two choices.  On the one hand, he could save his son and likely kill all the people on the train. On the other hand, he could lower the bridge and save the people at the price of the life of his son.

 

The account says the guard didn't owe the passengers on the train anything.  Thus, if he decided to save them, it would be a free act of love and mercy.  But once he decided to save the people on the train, the death of his son was an absolute necessity.  There was no other way.  The guard, according to the account, made the decision, lowered the bridge, saving the train but killing his own son.

 

It's an unthinkable dilemma, not unfamiliar to God the Father, who gave up His only Son to die for our eternal salvation.  God didn't owe us anything, but freely, out of His matchless grace and mercy, delivered up His Son for us.  And by that work of God, the Spirit was able to free us from the law of sin and death and give to us what verse 2 calls the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  We live because He died, and the Holy Spirit applied His death to us.  We praise God for the Holy Spirit's work in our lives.

 

Secondly, the Holy Spirit, not only frees us from the principle of sin and death, but the Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill God's law.  This is the marvelous truth of verse 4. What is stated in verse 1 to 3 was done in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.  Stop at that point for a moment.

 

If we are going to have a relationship with God, if we're going to be right with God, if we're going to know God, if we're going to come into fellowship with God, we have to keep His law.  We have to be made righteous. And that is precisely what happens.  This is quite a remarkable thing to understand.  The law of God is nothing but a transcript of His holy character.  And nobody has fellowship with Him that doesn't bear that holy character.

 

Augustine once said, "Saving grace was given so that the law might be fulfilled."  We could never come into the presence of God without holiness.  "Without holiness, no man will see the Lord," says the book of Hebrews. So there must be something more than just delivering us from the law of sin of death.  There must also be the fulfillment in us of the righteous requirements of the law.  The question then rises: How can we possibly fulfill the law?  Even if we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we're imperfect.  We're still battling our fallen flesh.  We say we don't sin, we make God a liar, and the truth is not in us.  So how could we ever fulfill the law?  How could every requirement of the holy law of God be fulfilled in us?  Answer:  Only one way, and that is by imputing to us the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

 

And when a soul is regenerated, there is put to that soul's account the perfect righteousness of Christ.  And God sees us as if we lived His perfect life, just as on the cross He saw Christ as if He lived our imperfect life.  On the cross, He treated Christ as if He had lived our sinful life.  And in salvation, He treats us as if we'd lived His perfect life.  And as I told you some weeks back, the reason Jesus had to live a perfect life all those years before He died was so that there would be a perfect life to impute to our account.  So the fullness of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all righteousness in His earthly life, is granted to us.

 

So the Holy Spirit, first of all, in saving us and regenerating us, delivers us from condemnation and from the law or the principle of sin and death that damns eternally.  And then, secondly, the Spirit of God, though the regenerating work applies to us the all-sufficient and perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ, which is put to our account.  Our Lord Himself, by the work of the Spirit in Him, He said, fulfilled all righteousness.  And so when we put our trust in Jesus Christ under the regenerating work of the Spirit, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our accounts.

 

And that's what verse 4 is telling us: "In order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us."  What an incredible and marvelous reality that is.  When we look at the cross then, the negative side would be ex...would be expressed this way:  We are delivered from the law of sin and death.  We are rescued from our just condemnation.  The positive side would be expressed this way:  We are granted the full righteousness of Jesus Christ.  And God sees us as perfect as Jesus Christ.

 

That is the incredible reality of the Spirit's work in giving to us the righteousness of God as fulfilled in the law.  We could never do either of those things on our own.  But by the Spirit, we are delivered from the principle of sin and death, and we are enabled to fulfill God's law perfectly.

 

Extending out of that, go back to verse 4 for a moment.  Extending out of that, you have at the end of verse 4 a further characterization of believers, "Who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."  And that brings us to a third reality that the Spirit produces in us.  And this third reality is of tremendous importance to us.  It starts there in verse 4b and flows all the way down to verse 11.  And it is this:  He changes our nature.  He changes our nature.  Now we're getting into grappling with some of the tremendously important elements of this saving transformation.

 

We have not only been delivered from the just condemnation of the law and been granted the righteousness of Christ by imputation, those are judicial acts, as are often called forensic acts.  Those are declarations made by God purely on the merits of the work of Jesus Christ.  But there is something more than that which would be called justification, the forensic act.  There is also the real transformation, the conversion, if you will.  The conversion that changed, the new birth, the newness of life which comes to us, which is expressed there at the end of verse 4 as, "We who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."  We are now given a new nature, a new disposition, a new operative life principle.  And there is no such thing as justification, that forensic declaration of no-condemnation status and the new status of having fulfilled all the righteousness of the law by virtue of imputation.

 

But there is also sanctification, which is the beginning of a process that goes through all of our life in which we respond now to the power of the ever-present Holy Spirit, rather than being dominated by sinful flesh.  In fact, in Ephesians 2:10, I think it is stated as well as any place, when the apostle Paul says, "For we are His workmanship."  In other words, when you were saved by grace through faith, and you were justified by God imputing your sin to Christ and His righteousness to you, you also, it says here, "became His workmanship."  In other words, He also not only did a forensic deed or declaration, but He did a real work on you.  He... He picked you up and re-crafted you.

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.  That's the new creation, regeneration, involving conversion.  And you were created in Christ Jesus for good works.  You have now a new disposition.  Your life takes on a whole new direction.  To borrow from John's epistle in 1 John 3, "You no longer do what the devil wants you to do.  You do what God wants you to do."  You love God.  You pattern your life after Christ.  You have holy desires and righteous aspirations.  This is because your nature has been transformed, changed, converted.  So it is not just a declaration.  It is a new creation, as well.

 

In fact, in Titus 2:14, it's...it’s said as clearly as it could be said that, "God has purified for Himself a people for His own possession, who are defined as zealous for good works."  That's really a counterpart passage to Ephesians 2:10.  We have been changed.  We have been purged and purified.  Our nature has been altered.  This is the work of sanctification.  We have been transformed.

 

The wonderful promise, by the way, of this transformation is part of the new covenant promise that you find in Old Testament passages. Particularly notable would be Jeremiah chapter 31, where it says, in verse 33, "This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days."  Talking about the future and salvation of Israel.  "I will put my law within them, and on their heart, I will write it, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people."  In other words, something is going to change on the inside.  And then in the next verse, He says, "I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more."  That, of course, is the forensic aspect of it.  The transformation aspect is Him planting His law in our hearts.

 

The prophet Ezekiel also directed our attention, similarly, to this new covenant transformation in chapter 36, verse 26.  "I will give you a new heart; put a new spirit within you.  I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh(or a tender heart).  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."  The...the...the statement of Scripture is that where you have a real conversion, where you have a genuine salvation, you have a changed life, very clearly.

 

The Spirit not only frees us from the principle of sin and death, not only enables us to fully satisfy the law of God by imputed righteousness, but the Spirit changes our nature.  Now, there are only two kinds of people in the world, my grandfather used to say, just two, the saints and the ain'ts.  There are only two kinds of people.  They're, perhaps, better defined at the end of verse 4, as "those who walk according to the flesh, and those who walk according to the Spirit."  Just those two kinds.  That's all.  Only two kinds of people in the world.  In terms of this passage, those who function at the impulse of the flesh and those who function at the impulse of the Spirit.

 

Frankly, God never divides people by culture.  He never really divides them by race or education or sex or material possessions or achievements.  God recognizes there are differences among people in the world.  But the only differences that matter are the differences between those who are of the flesh and those who are of the Spirit.  There are degrees, of course, within those classifications, but the difference in those classifications is absolute and eternal.

 

These two classifications of people then become the theme from verse 4b all the way down to verse 11.  And the rest of this discussion, which we will continue next Lord's Day evening is a discussion of the very clear distinction between a believer and a non-believer, which is the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

Now, the contrast between those who walk according to the flesh and those who walk according to the Spirit is a contrast in behaviors.  The word “walk” means behavior.  It's a word in the New Testament used many, many times, particularly by the Apostle Paul to describe daily conduct.  We're not talking about forensics here.  We're not talking about declarations.  We're not talking about God's justifying act.  What we're talking about here is conduct.  So we've moved into this whole matter of behavior with the word “walk.”  It flows then into verse 5.  Listen to verse 5.  And in verse 5 the contrast is further established.  "For those who are according to the flesh (do this, they) set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit (set their minds, implied) on the things of the Spirit."

 

There is as clear a definition of the distinction between a believer and a non-believer as you will find anywhere.  Believers set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  Non-believers set their minds on the things of the flesh.  That couldn't be more clear.  Again, I remind you that this is a matter of behavior.  Listen carefully.  Behavior based on the word “walk” in verse 4, but behavior is a product of what?  The mind.  Thinking.  And He says then, "Those who walk according to the flesh do so because that's where their mind is set.  And those who walk according to the Spirit do so because that's where their mind is set.

 

To put it in another way, as a man thinks in his heart, what's the rest?  So is he.  So is he.  So what we note then is that at the point of conversion, there is a dramatic internal change.  There is what we would call, borrowing the words of the apostle Paul in Romans, a new nature or a new disposition or a new principle, a new law, a new will; a new disposition, perhaps, is best.

 

And it's out of that new kind of thinking, listen, compelled by the Spirit of God rather than compelled by fleshly desire, that a person's behavior is affected.  Verse 5 gives us a basic axiom then.  Here it is.  This is the self-evident truth.  "Those who are according to the flesh are so because they set their mind on the things of the flesh."  People who live carnal, fleshly, sinful, indulgent lives do so because that's how they think.  That's how they think.

 

The ones being according to the flesh is simply another way of expressing people who are dominated by the flesh.  This is an unsafe person, habitually controlled by unregenerate and depraved and fallen humanness.  They don't know God.  They can't understand God.  They're not connected to God at all.  They may be religious.  They may be atheistic.  They don't know God.  To be according to the flesh is simply to be in the flesh, and that's the way he expresses it in verse 8.  "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."  Being in the flesh, being according to the flesh, simply means being unregenerate and dominated by sinful impulses.  And it is those sinful impulses that effect sinful conduct.

 

Now, specifically, just a...a word about the flesh, as such, because somebody might think it means your...your physical anatomy.  It... It does incorporate that, but that's not its meaning.  The flesh is Paul's word for fallen human nature apart from God.  Okay?  Fallen human nature apart from God; corrupt, directed, and controlled by sinful impulses.  And the flesh is so corrupt, so corrupt, that no matter how much a...a wicked person would like to change his condition, he can't do it.  The Old Testament prophet said, "Can the Ethiopian change the color of his skin?  Can the leopard change his spots?  No more can you change your nature."  The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.  You can't even understand it, let alone alter it.

 

So these people who are in the flesh, who are dominated by unredeemed human nature — both in the physical part and the mental part of who they are — do what their fleshly impulses tell them to do.  And then when it say...it talks about the mind being set.  It's...it's an interesting word.  It's from the verb phroneō.  And it's a word used for the seat of all mental faculties, mental affections, expressing any form of mental activity, including emotion, will, as well as just pure intellect.  Their whole mind and their emotion and their will — the whole realm of mental activity — is corrupted by the flesh.

It's... It's really a word for a disposition, a dominant, controlling disposition.  They have a deliberate mindset.  The unsaved person is dominated by unredeemed carnal, fleshly impulses.  They are bent toward the expression of their depraved nature.  And that's what he says in verse 5.  "They set their minds on the things of the flesh."

 

If you were to go through the New Testament, you would read about the affections of the flesh, the confidence in the flesh, the deeds of the flesh, the desires of the flesh; that's all the same thing.  That's all the ungodly impulses of unregenerate people which are very natural to them.  They love the world, says 1 John 2:18, "And the love of the Father is (not what?) not there."  And all unredeemed people are like that.

 

In some cases, that's this real and true condition might be masked by religion.  You remember that Jesus unmasked the Pharisees by saying, "On the outside, you're painted white.  But inside, you're full of dead men's bones."  Matthew 23, and so they may mask it with religion and external morality, but the fact of the matter is unregenerate people think sinful thoughts and do sinful deeds.  Even if those sinful deeds aren't morally wicked, they're wicked because they are self-satisfying and self-exalting and self-fulfilling rather than honoring to God.  And self-satisfaction, self-fulfillment, prestige, honor from men is a huge area of sin as exemplified in Scripture by many hypocrites, not the least of which were the Pharisees.

 

On the other hand, back to verse 5, "Those who are according to the Spirit (implied, set their minds) on the things of the Spirit."  Now, here you have a whole different category of people.  This is a whole different disposition.  These people are in the realm of the Spirit and are drawn by the truest impulses in their heart to the Spirit.  They submit to His direction.  They concentrate their attention, purpose, desire on whatever is precious to the Holy Spirit.  They love what He loves.  They... That's what it means when it says, "They...they seek the things of the Spirit."

 

This is the disposition of the believer because the Holy Spirit has changed his nature.  That's so important to emphasize that, because we...we can be confused by whether people are Christians or not.  But we shouldn't be as confused as we are. It doesn't mean anything that somebody somewhere in the past made some public statement about faith in Christ or some public act of going into the prayer room or praying a prayer or something like that.  It doesn't really... It doesn't really matter that someone makes a claim.  When you look at their life and you see someone whose behavior is indulging the flesh and whose bent and disposition is toward the flesh, you have categorically defined the person.

 

You say, "Well, what about Christians?  We sin, too, don't we?”  But we resent it.  It's not the truest expression of our nature.  It's an invasion.  It still happens, because we're not all yet redeemed.  Our flesh, our humanness is still there, even though our inward nature has been changed and our longings are toward God and energized by the Holy Spirit toward what is righteous and pure and good and holy.  We still have to fight the battle of that changed nature being incarcerated in unredeemed humanness.  That's why in Romans 8, Paul is so anxious to have the glorification of his body.  And we'll get into that later in the chapter.

 

Now, the results of these two dispositions are given to us in verse 6.  The results are pretty clear.  "The mind set on the flesh...” Literally in the Greek would be read this way, “The mind set on the flesh equals death.  But the mind set on the Spirit equals life and peace."  Now, this further describes the state of these two kinds of people.  In the case of the mind set on the flesh, death is the result.  It doesn't say it leads to death.  It says it is death.  It isn't that they're going to die.  They're dead.  They're dead right now.

 

Ephesians 2:1: "Dead in trespasses and sins."  What does it mean to be dead that way?  It means that you are totally insensitive to God.  I would suggest to you that the... The most obvious characteristic of a dead person is the inability of that person to respond.  Would you agree with that?  That is...that is the most...simple definition of...of death, a person who cannot respond in any way to any part of his or her environment.  And that's what spiritual death is.  It is an inability to respond to the divine presence.  It is an inability to respond to anything in the realm of divine truth and the presence of God.  They are dead in terms of being utterly insensitive.  They are like a corpse in a casket with no awareness of anything going on at the funeral around them.

 

So it is a current death, and it is in that death a spiritual separation from God which someday will become an eternal separation of God...from God.  Now, I want to make this very important.  This kind of death is utterly insensitive to God, but highly sensitive to godlessness.  So that the sinner in this life is highly sensitive to sin and temptation around which dominates his life, and in eternal death will be eternally insensitive and separated from God, but highly sensitive to all of the repercussions of wickedness and sin in this life and all of the consequent punishment that's meted out against them forever.  They'll be completely sensitive to that.

 

First Timothy 5:6 defines this person as dead while she lives.  It says that, "She that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives."  People who live according to the flesh, who have that disposition, are currently dead to all that is divine, and they will be forever.  But they are sensitive to sin now, and they'll be far more sensitive to its consequences in the life to come as they bear that eternal judgment.  To be fleshly minded, equals death.

 

This is a clear statement to me that a mind bent toward the flesh can't be in a state of salvation, because justification is always connected to what?  Sanctification.  And where you have a forensic declaration that someone is out of no-condemnation status and made righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ, you also have the Spirit doing a transforming work of creating a new disposition.

 

Charles Hodge, the theologian, stated it rather interestingly when he said, "Justification is limited to the holy." On the other hand, back to verse 6, "The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace."  Life, what does that mean?  Alive to God.  When you come to Jesus Christ, and you're changed by the Holy Spirit, you are alive to God.  You are sensitive to God.  You read the Word and it comes alive to you.  The Spirit of God moves and prompts your heart to...to give praise and thanks to God.  And you're filled with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and you sing and make melody in your heart to the Lord.

 

You know, you hear these...these people who are advocates of the seeker-friendly churches saying there's nothing more boring to unbelievers than to come to a church and hear a bunch of Christians sing all these songs.  Well, frankly, I would expect that.  I would expect that we would sing songs that are completely boring to them, to which they cannot connect or relate.  And changing the tune and contemporizing it and making it something they can kind of get into because it reflects the culture only masks the real issue.  There's almost justification for keeping the tune obscure, so that they know they can't identify with it.

 

But we identify with it, and it is life to us, and peace.  Those two things simply mean we are alive to God and, not only are we alive to God, listen carefully, we are alive to God without fear.  What is that?  We are alive to God and, at the same time, at peace with God.  The life and peace he's talking about here is not just something so easily defined as, "Well, we enjoy our living, and we really have peaceful, tranquil lives."  That's not the idea.  The idea is we are alive to God.  We're alive to His working, and His Word, and we are alive to Him and not in a...in a hostile way.  We are alive to Him and at complete peace with Him.  Therefore, life takes on consummate blessedness.  We're alive to God, because He gave us His life.  He made us alive together with Christ, Romans chapter 6.

 

We were buried with Him in death, through faith in Him.  We rose with Him to walk in newness of life.  Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life."  What He meant was not a party, a good time, although we have that.  What He meant was that we have a living communion with God, because we share the same life.  And we have peace.  That's the end of alienation.  We have fellowship with God, and we're at peace with God.  We made truce with God.  We're in communion with Him, and that'll never change.  God is never going to cast us out.  We'll see that at the end of Romans 8, won't we?

 

That we'll keep Him in perfect peace is the promise to those who have come to know Christ.  What a thought.  We have life.  We have sme...sweet communion with the living God.  We hear His voice on the pages of Scripture.  And we long to obey and respond, and we long to worship Him and to know Him better and to serve Him.  We have received His grace.  His love has been shed abroad in our hearts.  We have been given permanent peace with God and joy forever.  We have an inner assurance that all is well, and nothing can ever change our eternal relationship with the Lord.

 

He doesn't mean that we're never going to be disturbed in life.  Even Jesus was disturbed about things.  And even Paul said, "Wretched man that I am."  Romans 7:24.  He wasn't talking about psychological tranquility.  He was talking about a relationship with God that is forever settled.

 

We may have trouble.  We will have trouble.  But we'll count it all joy, because that trouble can never change our relationship of peace with God. So we who are believers are not according to the flesh.  We're not in the flesh.  We don't mind the things of the flesh.  We are not compelled by the flesh.  We, rather, are in the Spirit, according to the Spirit, minding the things of the Spirit.  For us, there is a pursuit of the things of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; these are the things of the Spirit.  The things of the flesh: Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.

 

"I'm telling you,” Paul says, Galatians 5:21, “those who practice those things shall not inherit the Kingdom of God."  That can't be more clear.  That can't be more clear.

 

We have a wonderful new disposition, and it was not something we earned.  It was something we were given, in the regenerating, converting, transforming work done in us by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit then, sets us free from sin and death.  What a tremendous truth.  The Holy Spirit enables us before God to have fulfilled completely His law, and the Holy Spirit totally changes our nature, so that we are new creations in Christ Jesus.

 

Next Sunday night, we're going to start in verse 7, and I'm going to show you how these two dispositions manifest themselves as we continue this wonderful truth.

 

Father, we thank You so much tonight.  In these brief moments in Your Word, again, we've been reminded of the greatness of Your salvation.  We've been reminded of the cost of Your Son, as it were, being ground up in the gears that we might live.  Father, we thank You so much for the wonderful work of the Spirit of God, the blessed Holy Spirit. And Holy Spirit, we praise You.  We thank You.  We glorify You for Your work.  And Lord Jesus, we honor and glorify You for Your part, as well.  We're so grateful, as undeserving sinners, that You, the Holy Spirit would do what You're doing in us.  We know that it is all made possible because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and so we come together tonight to remember that mighty, mighty cross work which our Lord did.  And how grateful we are for it.  Our gratitude manifests itself, Lord, in our praise, our worship, our songs, and, now, in the attitude with which we come to this table.  And we pray, O God, that we might have the attitude that honors and glorifies You.

 

Earlier, while your heads are bowed for a moment, Darren sung that very moving song.  I want to share these words with you that you heard him sing.  "Search me, O God.  Reveal my heart.  Expose my sin that it may be confessed.  Search me, O God.  Unveil each thought, and leave no hidden motive unaddressed.  Uncover every action born in pride.  Show me the worldly ways I still embrace.  May every anxious thought be brought to light, and each unspoken fear with faith replaced.  Search me, O God.  Observe my life.  Bring to my mind each idle word I speak.  Search me, O God.  Test my resolve, and alert me where You find it weak.  Reveal all weakened walls within my soul.  Show me potential dangers unforeseen.  Then clothe my conscience with Your holiness.  Help me to guard it well and keep it clean.  Search me, O God, that I may walk in peace filled with the joy of knowing all is well.  My heart surrendered and my conscience clean, so great a joy my tongue can scarcely tell.  O what a joy to know that all is well."

 

And, certainly, that's the reason we're here, for hard examination and confession so that all will be well. You don't want sin between you and God, though He will never condemn you.  He will chasten you for disobedience, and you will forfeit His blessing.  This is a time to examine your own heart and make sure that things are as they should be between you and the Lord.

 

 

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Grace to You
Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time

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