Sunday, December 26, 2004

TODAY'S SUNDAY SCHOOL NOTES.

ROMANS 8

LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

8:1-4 (No Condemnation)

This great verse tells us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. “Condemnation” means a judicial declaration that you are guilty of sin and must face punishment. You might here a news report that a murderer was condemned to death. That person has been found guilty of a crime and sentenced the punishment of death.

In our situation, we are found guilty of being sinners and condemned to death unless we believe in Christ. John 3:18 tells us that whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

However, those who are “in Christ” are not condemned. God does not look at us and see as sinners He condemns. He sees us “in Christ”. So, you do not need to live your life as if God is mad at you or condemning you. He may discipline you along the way, but he will not condemn you.

This applies to those who are “in Christ”, those who have believed in him and been changed into children of God.

Verse 2 begins to tell us why we are not under condemnation. It is because we have been set free from the law of sin and death. (I do not think he is speaking of the commandments and ordinances here as the law of sin and death, but the power of sin in the lost person’s life.) Those who are saved live by the Spirit. Here he says the law of the Spirit. We have been set free from sin, death, and condemnation under the law because we have been saved to live by the Holy Spirit.

Verse 3 reminds us that the law was powerless to make us righteous because our sin natures weakened it or prevented it. Sinful people do not see the law as the path to righteousness. They see it as an unfair limitation on their freedom and will.

So, God fulfilled the requirements of the law by sending his Son in human flesh to be a sin offering (NIV), or “for sin” (ESV), or “on account of sin (NKJV). Christ fulfilled the law by living without sin. Hebrews 4:15 says he was tempted in every way just as we are, yet lived without sin. Christ also paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross for us.

This again shows God’s justice, although this passage does not mention it specifically. Verse 3 says that he condemned sin in sinful man. God is, therefore, the just judge of sin. But, the righteous requirements of the law were fully met in us. They were met when we accepted Christ as Savior by faith so that his righteousness was credited to us.

Who is “us”? It is the saved, the converted, the church. Verse 4 calls us those who live not according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit. Those who have believed and been redeemed, are now guided by the Spirit and do not live according to the sinful nature.

In John 14:16, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to us who believe. He is our Counselor or Helper (parakletos). He will provide us with encouragement, counsel, and strength. John 14:26 says the Holy Spirit will teach us. John 15:23 says the Father and Jesus himself will come and make their home with us.

8:5-8 (Flesh v. Spirit)

Paul offers us a contrast between those who live by God’s Spirit and those who live according to the flesh, or the sin nature. They do not want the same things. Galatians 5:17 tells us the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with ech other.

Here are the traits of those who live according to the sinful nature. First, they have their minds set on what that nature desires. The sinful nature desires stature or significance, and physical gratification in food, drink, drugs, and sex. These desires lead to the acts described in Galatians 5:19-21 and Matthew 15:19. So, we should not be surprised that people want to get drunk, take drugs, have sex outside of marriage, lie, cheat, steal, boast, and seek to justify it all. That is what the Bible says they will do.

Second, the mind of the sinful person is death. It is death in that it seeks the life of sin that leads to eternal death, and that is spiritually dead today. That life leads to dead thinking and dead feeling. Notice it is contrasted with the life and peace of the believer. The life lived according to the sin nature is ultimately meaningless and useless, so it leads to depression, emotional deadness and detachment, and confusion.

Third, the sinful mind is hostile to God. It is hostile in the sense that it is the opposite of what God wants for us. It is also hostile in the sense that sinful man opposes God and seeks to remove his influence. Welcome to America, where people want a king sized God eraser for our society. They want to remove the crèche from the lawn, God from the pledge, Christians from public discourse, and the Creator from Creation.

Fourth, the sinful mind cannot submit to God’s law and cannot please God. The sinful man can only become reconciled to God through accepting the work of Christ on his behalf and receiving salvation from him.

In contrast to the sinful mind or the person controlled by the sin nature\flesh, we have the person who lives in accordance with the Spirit. What are the traits of this person?

First, this person has their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The believer may stumble and sin, but his or her overriding desire is to do God’s will, to do what the Spirit desires. In John 14:15, Jesus said “if you love me, you will obey what I command.” The Believer, because he loves the Lord, wants to obey him by doing his will and living according to God’s instruction. He reads the Bible and applies it to himself. If the Bible says God loves humility and opposes pride, he examines himself for arrogance and conceit, repents if he finds it, and submits himself to God to sanctify his attitude. He becomes humble through the work of grace in his life and his submission to Jesus through his love for him.

2 Corinthians 3:18 tells the Spirit is transforming us into the Lord’s likeness with ever-increasing glory. The Spirit produces in us that fruit listed in Galatians 5:22: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.

Second, the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. We have eternal life, we have spiritual life, because we have crossed over from death to live by faith. In John 14:27, Jesus told the Disciples “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Matthew 6:25-34 tells us not to worry about our physical life, for God knows what we need. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The mind of the Believer is in peace, because he trusts God with his present and his future, because he communes with God through the Spirit and he is a God of peace, and because the Believer, through the Spirit, learns the priority of living for God rather than for himself, and that brings order and peace to life.

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