Freedom in Christ
Introduction: Last week, Paul finally got around to being brutally honest about life. His mind was a slave to God, but, he admitted, his sinful nature a slave to sin.( Romans 7:25) I was glad to hear that I was not the only one struggling with sin! Bet that made you feel a lot better about your own struggle with sin. But, the bad news for you and for me is that we still have this sin problem. We don't want to be slaves to sin. Paul describes our collective situation as being "wretched." ( Romans 7:24) What can we do? Do we need to do anything? Let's plunge into Paul's continuing discussion about sin and salvation and see what we can learn!
- No Condemnation!
- Read Romans 8:1-2. What is the absolute best news for us wretched, struggling sinners? (We are not condemned!)
- Does that mean that sin has vanished from my life? (No. It we obeyed the law, Paul would not use the phrase "no condemnation." He would say you "merit eternal life." Christians who desire to obey Jesus properly identify with Romans 7:24-25. We deserve death. But, despite our situation, we are not condemned.)
- Is that all you want to be - free from condemnation? (I'll gratefully take it. But, I want to be free from sin altogether. That is consistent with our minds being slaves "to God's law." Avoiding condemnation is the critical bottom line.)
- How did I come out from under condemnation? (It was through Jesus and something called "the law of the Spirit of Life.")
- Notice that we have two laws here. What about the nature of a law helps us to understand what Paul is saying? (A "law" is a rule that is not supposed to be broken.)
- What is the law of sin and death? (We understand that rule. You violate the law and you will die.)
- What is the law of the Spirit of life? (Let's read on.)
- Read Romans 8:3-4. How are the righteous requirements of the law met in our life? (This is the answer to the "law of the Spirit of life." Jesus came "in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.")
- How is what Jesus did a law - a law more powerful than the Ten Commandments?
- What was the purpose of the sin offering in the Old Testament sanctuary system? (It was the means of taking away the sin of the person making the offering. This helps us understand the "law" aspect of this. Part of the legal system set up in the Old Testament was that a sin offering excused the sinner from death. The law of the Spirit of life is that Jesus died in our place. We can claim the benefit of this very generous law!)
- Notice that verse 3 says that Jesus "condemned sin in sinful man." In what way does Jesus condemn sin in us? (The very fact that Jesus died because of our sin shows that sin is a very bad thing. We do not want its acid in our life.)
- Look at the very last phrase of verse 4: "us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." Must we live according to the Spirit to take advantage of God's "law of the Spirit of Life?"
- If your answer is "yes," how can this be reconciled with Romans 7:25?
- Our Obligation
- Read Romans 8:5. How does this answer our concern about our obligation to "live according to the Spirit?" (What a clear answer: Paul tells us that the key to right living in the eyes of God is setting our minds on what the Spirit desires. This works out the conflict Paul describes in Romans 7:21-25. Our minds want to do good, but our sinful nature is not cooperating. Paul says that those Romans 7:25 Christians who desire to do God's will find "there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!")
- Read Romans 8:6-8. Is this just another kind of work that we must do to be saved - the work of the mind? (We have to make a choice. That is not a "work" in any traditional sense, but it determines the outcome of our life. If we choose to set our minds on what our sinful nature desires, we are hostile to God, and we are eternally lost.)
- Read Romans 8:9-11. What happens if we choose to set our minds on what the Spirit of God desires? (The Spirit of God will live in us. Our spirit comes alive and we will be raised from death just as Jesus was raised from death!)
- Is sin gone from our life? ( Romans 8:10 says our "body is dead because of sin." This suggests that the issue is not whether our lives are free from sin, but rather whether our lives are "controlled" by the Spirit or the sinful nature.)
- Read Romans 8:12-14. Last week we learned that the law has no more authority over us. Why? Because the penalty for sin is death and we already paid that penalty in Jesus. Is that the end of our concerns about the law and sin? What obligations do we have in our day to day living? (We have an obligation to put to death our wrong actions. The fact that we find that we are not sin free, does not mean that we should tolerate sin in our life.)
- How do we kill, stamp out, and otherwise obliterate sin in our life? (By the Holy Spirit.)
- Why does Romans 8:13 say "if by the Spirit you put to death [sin]?" Is the means of ending sin important? (Yes. It is not possible any other way. We have an ongoing obligation, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to put to death the misdeeds of the body.)
- If I have already died to the law, does that mean that I am forever saved? (Paul is writing to fellow Christians for he says "brothers." These brothers are told ( Romans 8:13) "if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die.")
- Read Romans 8:15. What fear is Paul talking about? (I think it is the fear of dying because of our sins.)
- What takes away that fear? If I know I can be lost by living according to my sinful nature, I should be apprehensive, right? (My earthly father loved me. He wanted me to succeed. He was behind me. He never tried to block my success, he only worked for my success. That is the attitude of God towards our salvation. Our God is our Father and He is pulling for our success.)
- Read Romans 8:16-17. How can we have assurance of salvation? (The Holy Spirit testifies to our spirit that we are children of God. We know when we seek to live a Spirit-led life. We know when a major life choice is not a Spirit-led choice. We know when the motive is self and not God's kingdom.)
- Notice that we are called "heirs." Why is that? (Heirs have a legal right to their inheritance. We started out talking about the "law of the Spirit of life." We are not against the law. We are claiming the laws of the Spirit of life and of inheritance.)
- Friend, how about you? Have you made the choice to live a life led by the Holy Spirit? Or, are you leading a life led by your sinful human nature? It is that choice of law that makes the difference between eternal life or eternal death. Why not choose today a Spirit-led life?
- Next week: Redemption for Jew and Gentile.