Life Through the Holy Spirit
Introduction: Have you ever seen a beautiful creation? Maybe it is a car. Maybe a work of art made of glass. Maybe it is jewelry. Maybe it is a flower. If it is really beautiful, you look at it from every direction to appreciate every aspect of it. It just feels good to take in all of the beauty! I feel that way about our series of studies about the Holy Spirit. We have looked at the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have looked at the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Last week we studied how the Holy Spirit leads in our life - with an emphasis on His physical direction. This week our study moves to how the Holy Spirit leads us spiritually. Let's dive into the Bible for a closer inspection!
- First Truth: No Condemnation
- Read Romans 8:1-2. If you have repented of your sins and accepted Jesus as your Savior, what is your status before God? (You are saved. You are not condemned.)
- Why, according to Romans 8:2, is this true? (The law of the Spirit of Life set us free from death.)
- What is the "Law of the Spirit of Life?"
- Let's read on to help us understand the "Law of the Spirit of Life." Read Romans 8: 3-4. Based on these additional verses, what do you understand to be the "Law of the Spirit of Life?" (The New Bible Commentary explains: "This deliverance has been accomplished by the triune God: the Father sending the Son as a sin offering for us, on the basis of which the Spirit liberates us from the power of sin and death and secures complete fulfilment of the law on our behalf." The Law of the Spirit of Life is that the Holy Spirit is able to free us from the power of sin.)
- How, exactly, do you see the Holy Spirit freeing us from the power of sin and death? (If you look at Romans 8:1-4 you see that Paul begins this explanation with Jesus. From this we can conclude that the very first work ("first truth")of the Holy Spirit is to convict us that Jesus is God who took on human form and died and was raised on our behalf.)
- How does this first truth free us from death? (Jesus kept the law on our behalf. He suffered the penalty for our failure to keep the law. See 2 Corinthians 5:21.)
- If this is true, what would you look for first in determining if a teaching comes from the Holy Spirit or another spirit? (Whether it makes Jesus the focus of our salvation. If a teaching deviates from the idea that Jesus was fully God and fully man, then it does not come from the Holy Spirit. If a teaching suggests that we can earn salvation, then it does not come from the Holy Spirit.)
- Second Truth: Live According to the Spirit
- Once we are firm on the first truth, that Jesus alone is the source of our salvation, what do you think is the next goal of the Holy Spirit for us? Or, does it end with the conviction of Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf?
- When Romans 8:4 talks about us living according to the Spirit and not living according to "the sinful nature," what does it mean? (Read Romans 8:5-7. It means that the Holy Spirit has a role in teaching us about how to live. His first work is to bring us to Christ and His second work is to transform our lives.)
- Is this just a fancy way of taking us back to the old situation: that we need to keep the Ten Commandments to live? (The Ten Commandments are not some idiot ideas that God now regrets. Instead, the idiot idea has been that we do not need God. We are so smart, so educated, so refined, so cultured, so determined that we can read and understand the ideals of God and put them into place in our life. We are far too dumb, weak, confused, unrefined and uncultured for that. It is only by the power of God (the Holy Spirit) that we can live a life pleasing to Him.)
- What does this say about human logic? (If you read these lessons regularly, you know that much of my approach is just logic. We read the Bible to see what it is that God has said. Then we ask, "What, logically, does that mean?" But, friend, logic is no substitute for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Logic is simply the power of the human. The Holy Spirit opens to us the mind of God!)
- In the end, must we ( Romans 8:7) "submit to God's law?" (The whole flow of Romans 8:5-7 is that we live in conformity with God's law because this is the way the Holy Spirit acts in our lives if our mind is set on the Holy Spirit.)
- Romans 8:6 promises us that the mind led by the Spirit is at peace and is enjoying life. Why would we not want to live that way? (We would not want to live that way if we cannot. Romans 8:5-7 also describes a group of people whose minds are dominated by sinful impulses. This group cannot submit to God's law in their present mind set. It is just impossible for them.)
- What hope is there for humans whose minds are controlled by their sinful nature? (Read Romans 8:9-11. They can choose to repent, accept Jesus and live a Spirit-led life.)
- Read Romans 8:12-14. If we end up having to live in accord with the Ten Commandments, what has changed from the time before Jesus died on our behalf? (We are not obeying the Ten Commandments because they save us. Instead, because of the leading of the Holy Spirit in our life we want to please God and we are led and strengthened in our desire to live a life pleasing to Him.)
- The Spirit-Led Battle
- If you are like me, you are reading these texts and thinking, "I have evil impulses all the time. If people who want to do evil 'cannot please God' ( Romans 8:8), then I'm toast. I went through the steps of repenting and believing in Jesus and I still have evil impulses." Would you hate to have an actual measurement of your thoughts to see if evil thoughts dominate over good thoughts?
- Let's go back in Romans and read something that may encourage you. Read Romans 7:14-24. Does this sound like Paul was writing about you?
- Read Revelation 3:17. What church is being described? (Laodicea - the church of the end time. Thus, Paul says that his evil impulses make him feel wretched, and Revelation tells us that the members of the church in the last days are wretched. So, if some of this strikes a responsive cord in our mind, we should not be surprised.)
- What would you say is the difference between the attitude of the Laodiceans and Paul? (Paul knew he had a problem that made him feel wretched. The Laodiceans did not.)
- Read Romans 7:25. What hope do we have? (The righteous life of Jesus. The sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf.)
- Look at the last line of Romans 7:25. Is this a conflict that continues with Christians who have the Holy Spirit living in them? (I think so. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says, "While awaiting freedom from the presence of sin [meaning when we are taken to heaven], believers still face conflicts between their regenerated minds (or new natures or capacities) and their sin natures or capacities.")
- How do we handle this conflict? (Read Romans 8:12-14 again. We cannot "handle" the conflict. What we can do and what we must do is make the decision to live a Spirit-led life. Our evil nature will be present. We are going to want to do evil. But, "by the Spirit [we are able to] put to death the misdeeds of the body.")
- Read Romans 8:15-17. Do we suffer in this struggle to choose what is right? (I think that is what Paul means. Look again at Romans 8:6. When we choose to be led by the Holy Spirit, we are given peace. But, we still find this struggle going on between our sinful and our Spirit-led natures.)
- Friend, you have two goals. First, will you stop trying to obey the law on your own? Second, will you, by God's grace, stop obeying your sinful nature? Will you today repent, accept Jesus as your Savior and ask the Holy Spirit to lead in your thoughts and actions?
- Next week: The Restorer.