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Christianity 101 - Session 1

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Christianity 101 – Session 1

 How?

Romans 8:10-13

How does the Christian live the Christian life?

·         By working hard at it?

·         By firmly making up his mind to do it?

·         By persevering in spite of all difficulties?

At best such answers do not tell us much. At worst, they misrepresent the Christian life by giving an unbalanced view of it. They suggest that the kind of life that pleases God is primarily a matter of effort and striving. In fact, many Bible teachers give the impression that the Christian life is primarily a matter of “dedication”. If you are dedicated to the Lord, you will live right. Though this, undoubtedly, contains a large element of truth, it does not really clarify the fundamental nature of Christian living.

The Christian’s Dead Body

Though there are a number of passages where we could begin, we will consider a passage in Romans chapter 8.

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.[1] 

Here we have the fundamental problem of Christian living – the Christian inhabits a dead body. When one is born again by believing in Jesus Christ for the free gift of eternal life[2] his inward being or nature changes – but his physical body remains unchanged. It is still infected by the deadly virus of sin, and as a result is completely unresponsive to the new life the Christian now possesses. The Christian is inwardly alive but his physical “house” is dead, that is, totally incapable of response to the new life within.

Paul, himself, was acutely aware of this chasm. Earlier in his Christian life[3] he had personally experienced what it meant to desire God’s will inwardly and yet be unable to perform it through his physical body.[4] He exclaims, in exasperation

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?[5]

His own dead body frustrated him. If we imagine that by some effort of our own will we can do what the Lord expects of us, we are seriously mistaken.

The Spirit of Resurrection

However, the fact that the Christian’s body is dead because of sin is only half of the truth Paul is stating in Romans 8:10.  The other half is fundamentally good news: but the spirit is life because of righteousness. In other words, God’s own Spirit of life inhabits the same spiritually dead physical house in which we live. And the reason He can dwell there is because of righteousness. Since the Christian has been justified by faith, he has received the imputed righteousness of God[6] and the Holy Spirit can and does take up residence in the Christian’s very own body. The reality of the Spirit’s presence within us leads us to an astounding possibility. His mighty power can “resurrect” the spiritually dead body we inhabit during our lives here on earth. This is Paul’s meaning in Romans 8:11 when he declares:

But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies, through His Spirit who dwells in you.

This dead/alive theme continues in verses 12-13:

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors – not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die [that is, reap the consequences of the “dead” body]; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live [that is, reap the consequences of the Sprit of life].

In other words, Paul wants his readers to know that the same power that operated in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ can operate in them as well. Since the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us God can give life to our mortal bodies through that same Spirit. The wonderful bottom line for the Christian is this: if we by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body, we shall live.[7] That is, even in these frail mortal[8] bodies of ours, we can have an experience of life that manifests the resurrecting power of God. The Christian life, therefore, is God’s miracle in our mortal bodies. It is not at all the product of human strength, will power, or determination. It is a supernatural work of God. It is just like the prophet Zechariah proclaimed:

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says YAHWEH of hosts.[9]

Conclusion

Paul’s words in Romans 8:10-13 lead to a significant conclusion: if we see a person living the true Christian life, we are looking at a resurrection miracle!  We are not looking at an experience based on human effort or determination but rather at the operation of divine power. It is the miracle of living a resurrected life even before Christ resurrects us physically.


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[1] Romans 8:10-11.

[2] John 3:16, 5:24, 6:47 etc.

[3] See Rom. 7:9.

[4] See Rom. 7:15-25.

[5] Rom. 7:24.

[6] Rom 3:21, 22.

[7] Paul is NOT referring to a FUTURE resurrection in Romans 8:11 [since the succeeding context (verses 12-13) continues the dead/alive theme begun in verse 10].  Neither is he referring to a PAST resurrection (like Eph. 2:5) of coming to life in Christ Jesus [since his readers are already born again and he is discussing Christian living].

[8] subject to death.

[9] Zechariah 4:6.

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