Pastor Chuck Smith
Romans chapter eight.
It actually begins the thought process here back in verse 22 of chapter seven, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, What a wonderful, glorious, liberating, verse that is! Later on this chapter, Paul is going to ask the question, “Who is he who condemns?” And he is going to answer that question by declaring, who isn’t condemning. “Who is who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Christ is interceding on our behalf. Interceding for us, He can’t be condemning us. You would never hire a lawyer who would tell the judge what a rat you are. You want him to tell how wonderful you are and all of the wonderful things. Maybe you slipped up, you know, but it wasn’t really in your heart because you are really a very marvelous person. You like someone to present you in good light and not in bad light. Who is he who condemns? So he points out that it isn’t Christ who is condemning you. Who is it then who condemns? When Satan is cast out of heaven, the angels declare (Revelation 8:13, 12:9-10), “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth. . . for Satan the dragon, who has accused the saints day and night before God, is cast to the earth. Satan is the accuser! Satan is the one who condemns the child of God. He pounces upon every weakness. He pounces upon every failure. He uses that as a soapbox to condemn you. But “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus!”
When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus about the necessity of a spiritual birth, if you are to enter the kingdom of heaven, you’ve got to be born again. When Nicodemus asked concerning the process, how it could be? Jesus answered as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up. That whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
So the answer to, how it is to be born again, is by believing in Jesus. For then Jesus went on to repeat that only in a little different way. He said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” I need to see Christ on the cross for my sin. I need to believe that His death on the cross, paid in full the penalty and the guilt that was mine for my sin.
You remember the story of Moses lifting up the serpent in the wilderness. It was a type. It was a foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. The serpent was made out of brass. Brass, is biblically, a symbol of judgment. The serpent is of course, the symbol of sin. The people had sinned against the Lord. The judgment of God had come into the camp of Israel. People were dying. Serpents, deadly serpents, were striking the people and they were dying. And Moses cried unto the Lord. The Lord told him to make this serpent of brass. Put it on a pole in the center of the camp. And it shall come to pass whenever a person is bitten by one of these serpents, if they will look at brass serpent on the pole, they will not die. They had to see that God had judged their sin. What was happening was a judgment for their sin, but there was this symbol of sin being judged on that cross, on that pole in the center of the camp. And so as Moses lifted up that serpent in the wilderness, so much the Son of Man, taking our sin. Our sins were judged there at the cross. And thus, we by faith, look to Jesus Christ there on the cross, dying for our sin. For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him. And thus the emphasis again, believing in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. There is therefore now condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Jesus was saying that God didn’t send Me into the world to condemn the world. He sent Me into the world to save the world! We read that God is not willing any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. For that purpose He send His Son to bring salvation. That whosoever believes in Him. Jesus said that if you don’t believe in Him, you are condemned already! The law has condemned you. But there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. You remember the story told in John’s gospel of the woman (John 8:3-11), that was brought by the Pharisees to Jesus, who was caught in the very act of adultery. And they said our law said we are to stone her. What do You say? And you remember the response of Jesus was, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Then as He wrote on the ground, they began to depart from the oldest to the youngest, until finally Jesus stood up and they were all gone. He said, “Woman where are those accuser of yours?” Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” You see, He didn’t come to condemn. He came to save. So often we feel condemnation and we think that it’s the Lord. The Lord convicts. He doesn’t condemn. Satan is the one who condemns.
There is therefore no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. In the beginning, God! One sovereign, holy, infinite, God! God began to create, invisible and visible things. He created the world of the spirit, the angels, invisible to man. He created the universe, the material universe. He created man and placed him here on the planet we call Earth. But in the beginning when there was just God, and the government of God, all of the created beings within the universe were subject unto God. There was only one government. And that was the government of God. It was the government of light and life. But sometime in the eons of time, one of these created beings of God, of the cherub class, rebelled against the authority of God, seeking to exalt himself against God. And there was formed then a second government in the universe. A government in rebellion against God's government. A government of death and darkness.
So when Adam was created and placed upon the planet, Earth, he was created within the government of God, living in fellowship and harmony with God. And God came into the garden and communed with Adam. God spoke to Adam. There was this beautiful communion between God and man. As God’s Spirit communed with Adam’s spirit. But God said to Adam, you may have freedom to eat of all of the trees that are in the garden except the tree in the middle of the garden. If you eat of that, you will surely die. Satan entered into the garden. He tempted Eve. He deceived her into eating of that tree. She gave to Adam and he did eat. And so by one man, sin entered the world and death by sin because death has passed unto all men. So now here is man created in the government of God, but exercising this capacity of free choice. He has left the government of God, light and life. And he has entered into the government of death and darkness. The government of Satan. Now controlled and ruled by his fleshly appetite. Now mindful of his physical needs. Before that he was oblivious to the things of the physical. He had the mind of the spirit in fellowship and communion with God. But now he is interested and concerned with his body needs. He has the mind of the flesh or the mind of the things of the needs of the flesh, occupying his mind. And so he found that he could not come back into the kingdom of God. His spirit was dead. The door went one way. So God so loved the world. A world that was in rebellion against Him. A world that was in such rebellion against Him that when He sent His only begotten Son, they crucified Him because He represented God. He represented the holiness of God and the purity of God. And man did not want to submit to the law of God. So they crucified the Son of God. But now man has a choice. I can choose to live under the government of death and darkness or I can choose to live in the government of light and life. My choice. I can choose to rebel against God and the things of God. Or I can choose to walk after the Spirit. I can be born again! I can have a Spiritual birth! That is, by believing in Jesus Christ! Seeing that He took my sin and the judgment for my sin on the tree. Looking and living, looking in faith to Jesus. And when I do, I leave the government of death and darkness and I enter into the government of light and life as I submit myself to Jesus Christ and His lordship in my life. And as I am in Christ, there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has made me free from the law of sin and death. People are not sinners because they sin. People sin because they are sinners. The natural man cannot know the things of God. He doesn’t understand them. They are spiritually discerned. The man in the life of the flesh is alienated from the life of God. It is opposed to it. There is an enmity between man’s flesh and the Spirit of God. He’s not subject to the law of God. So when we look to Jesus Christ in faith and have this spiritual birth, we discover that there is a war that then begins. A war of the spirit, my new spirit, the spirit that has been made alive, that which Adam lost, I have gained through the new birth. And my spirit is now at war against my flesh. These two are contrary.
Paul wrote to the Galatians (Galatians 5:17) that the flesh is lusting against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh. And these two are contrary so that we don’t always do the things that we would. There is this warfare going on inside. And the warfare is for the mastery of my mind. Will I walk after the Spirit? Yield to the Spirit? Or will I walk after the flesh and yield to the flesh? And Paul said, don’t you realize that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? So that if you live after the flesh, then you have what the Scripture calls the mind of the flesh, that is you’re constantly thinking of the issues of the fleshly needs of your body. And look at the world around you. That’s exactly where they are. The mind of the flesh, the mind that is occupied by the things of the flesh. But they that are after the Spirit, do mind the things of the Spirit. But to be fleshly minded is death. But to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
So there was the law of sin and death working in my members that was warring the spirit and often times keeping me from victory. Keeping me from doing the things that I know I should do, drawing me into the things that I know I shouldn’t do. And there was this internal struggle, the flesh against the spirit. And often times we found ourselves where the spirit indeed was willing but our flesh was weak. We know what we should but we weren’t doing it. I wanted to do it, but I wanted to do other things too. And that desire for other things, many times, superseded my desire for the spirit. And so there was this warfare, the flesh against the spirit for the control of my mind.
Now, so often we in our folly make the mistake of feeding the fleshly nature. That fleshly side of me. You sit and watch some movie that is appealing to the flesh, that has all kinds of fleshly activity glamorized. And you are feeding that into your mind. Paul said, don’t be deceived. That whatever a man sows that he shall also reap. And he is talking about what your put into your mind. If we sow to the flesh then of the flesh we are going to reap corruption. And many people wonder why they can’t live a life of spiritual victory. It’s because you have sowing into your mind the things of the flesh. And you are reaping what you have sown. You can’t get away from that. That’s the basic law of nature. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap! We need to be sowing to the spirit. If we sow to the spirit, then of the spirit we are going to reap life everlasting. Now tonight we are gathered here for the purpose of sowing to the spirit. Jesus said, My words are spirit and they are life! And so we are here tonight sowing to the spirit. In the same token there were many people who were here this morning, who tonight are sitting in front of the TV watching some worthless film, sowing to their flesh. And they are going to wonder why, this week, they are having such a problem with their flesh. Well, they have been feeding it. They have been planting into their mind the things of the flesh and naturally those are the things that are going to come out. Those are the things you are going to reap. So it is good that you are here, sowing to the spirit. Now this law of the Spirit of life. You see, this other law, the sin and death, the law of the flesh, sin and death. The law of my sinful nature. But now there is another law. It is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which makes me free from the law of sin and death. It is the expulsive power of the greater force. Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world. So this life, the law of the Spirit of life, contrasted over against the law of sin and death. There is always that contrast. The kingdom of God is life, light. The kingdom of Satan is death and darkness. So when you are dealing in the realm of darkness, you are dealing in Satan’s kingdom. Dealing in the realm of light, God's kingdom. Dealing in the realm of death, you are talking about Satan’s kingdom. Dealing in the realm of life, you are talking about the kingdom of God.
It’s interesting that when we go into a dark room, we don’t try to drive out the darkness. We don’t take a bat and begin to swing at it, trying to drive the darkness out. We simply turn on the lights. And the light dispels the darkness. How glorious it is when the light and life of Jesus Christ comes in! You don’t have to drive the darkness out. It’s expelled by the force, the stronger force of life in Christ. So this law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed me from the law of sin and death.!
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, Paul in the previous chapter acknowledged the law is good. It’s fair. It’s holy. I consent, he said, to the law. I recognize that it is right. That’s the right way to live. It’s a holy way to live. But then I find there is this other law, my sinful nature that keeps me from living up to the requirements of God. So what the law could not do. The law could not make a man righteous. For if righteousness could come by the law, then Jesus would not have had to have died on the cross. Jesus said, Father, if it is possible let this cup pass from Me. What cup? The cup of death. If what is possible? If the redemption of man is possible. If man can be saved by keeping the law. If man can be saved by rules and regulations, then Lord, let’s go another way. But the law could not make us righteous because of the weakness of our flesh. Our inability to keep it. The law could not give us the power to keep the law. There is no power in the law for obedience. It points to the path but it can’t give you the power to walk in that path. And thus so often leads to frustration. When I try to keep the law, but I find the weakness of my flesh forbids me keeping it. So Paul describes that struggle in chapter seven. The good that I would I do not. That which I allow not, I do. I hate the things that I do. Wretched man that I am.
But what the law could not do because of the weakness of my flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, Jesus came as a man. But He was born without sin. Adam was created without sin. Adam became a federal head for mankind. In his sin we all sinned. For by one man, sin entered the world, and death by sin, so that death passed unto all men for all sinned. But even so, if one man’s sin could make us all sinners, then one man’s righteousness can make us all righteous. And so Jesus becomes a second Adam. He came into the world sinless. The angel said to Mary, when he announced that she was going to have a son without benefit of a relationship with a man. As a virgin she would bear a son. When she said, how can this be? Seeing that I haven’t had a relationship with a man? The angel answered, the Holy Spirit will come upon you. The power of the highest will overshadow you. So that that Holy One that is born of you shall be called the Son of God. So being born of Mary, the virgin, God’s planting the Divine seed in her. It is interesting that the gene factors that make up the blood come from the man. So that the blood of Christ was without the inherent pollutant of sin, passed on to our flesh through Adam. The life of the flesh is in the blood. So the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for our sins was pure! It was Holy! So God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. In all ways tempted like we are so that He can understand our temptations, the weakness of our flesh when we are tempted. Yet He was without sin. He said to the Pharisees one day, which one of you can prove me guilty of sin? They could not! God made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God through Him. So Jesus acting as a federal head for mankind. Those who would be redeemed, lived according to the law and the righteous standards of the law.
Now Jesus said a very interesting thing in John, chapter sixteen. Jesus said when the Holy Spirit comes, He is going to testify to the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment. Of sin He said, because they don’t believe in Me. Today there is only one sin that can condemn you eternally. And that is the sin of not believing in Jesus because He is God's provision for your sin. If you don’t believe in Jesus, that’s the unpardonable sin. You can’t be saved apart from Jesus Christ. So we find that Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will then testify of righteousness because I ascend unto My Father. Now what does the Spirit of righteousness have to do with the ascension of Jesus? Just this. The ascension of Jesus into heaven was God's testimony to the world that this is the righteous standard that can be received and accepted into heaven. So if you are trying to make it into heaven on your own, you are going to have to be as righteous as Jesus. That’s the righteousness that God will accept. But if you come short of that, you can’t make it. So that Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh. Through His death He bore our sins for God made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin that we might be made the righteousness of God through Him.
4that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us (As Christ is now dwelling in me. I in Him. God sees me in Christ. Not only does He see me in Christ, but He sees me in the finished work. Now as we were back in the fourth chapter, we saw how God can call things that are before they are because He knows that they are going to be. So God speaks of something as already existing though it doesn’t yet exist, but He knows it’s going to exist. So He spoke of Abraham’s son as existing though as yet he wasn’t born. But God knew that He was going to give Abraham a son so He can speak of him as existing because God is eternal. And He knows what is going to be. So He can call things that are which are not because He knows they are going to be. As God looks at me, He doesn’t see me in my present state of imperfection as He is working in me to bring me into that fullness in Christ, which shall be. I haven’t yet achieved or attained the fullness. The Holy Spirit still has “under construction” signs set out in areas of my life. He is still working. But as God sees me, He sees me in the completed work of Jesus Christ because He knows He is going to complete that which He started. The Lord is going to perfect His work in my life. He that has begun a good work in me is going to continue it until it is accomplished. And so it’s wonderful to realize that as God looks at me, He looks at me complete in Christ as the work already accomplished. And that is why there is no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. So the righteousness of the law has been fulfilled now in me, not by me. I could not do that. But it has been fulfilled in me as Christ by faith dwells in me.
It is fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. Now as we said, man is actually a threefold being: body, mind, spirit. The mind is sort of a neutral position. And if I am ruled by my body then my mind will be the mind of the flesh. That is, concerned with body needs. If I am ruled by the spirit, then my mind will be filled with and concerned with the things of the spirit. So whether or not I have a mind of the flesh or a mind of the spirit, determines on which side I am living. If I am living after the flesh, then that is going to occupy my mind. If I am living after the spirit, then that is what is going to occupy my mind, the things of the spirit.
6For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. The carnal mind or the mind of the flesh is in rebellion against God. It is not subject to the laws of God. It is in rebellion against God.
8So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Now we were created for one purpose. That is to bring God pleasure. Basic, bottom line, that’s the purpose of your existence. And if you so live to please God, then you have a life that is rich and fulfilling. As David said, my cup overflows! You know that rich fullness in life because you are living to please God. Your life is pleasing to God. And that’s why you exist! But if you live to please yourself, you’ll never be pleased. You’ll always be wanting something more. There will always be that nagging within. Demanding more. Keeping you in that state of turmoil, frustration. Life has got to be more than this. If I just had. Then I would be happy. If I just could, then I would be happy. And we live in these fantasies of happiness, joy and contentment. And we have devised in our minds what we think would bring us happiness. But when we have achieved those goals, we find they are empty and we still want more. As Jesus said to the woman at the well. If you drink of this water you thirst again. That ought to be written over the top of every ambition that you have and everything that you think is going to bring you happiness and satisfaction. Write over the top of it. Drink of this water, but you are going to thirst again. It won’t satisfy! Because you weren’t created to live for you own pleasure. You were created to bring God pleasure. And your life will only be fulfilled when you bring pleasure to God.
In Revelation, chapter five, as John is there in the heavenly scene, and he is observing the worship of God upon the throne, surrounded by the cherubim, who are declaring the eternal nature of God and His holiness. The twenty four elders as they hear the worship of the cherubim. They fall on their faces. They take their golden crowns. They cast them on the glassy sea that is before the throne of God. They declare Thou are worthy to receive glory and honor for You have created all things and for Your good pleasure they are and were created. You are part of the “all things.” God’s creation. And you were created for His pleasure. Now if you find yourself rebelling against that thought, that is your sinful nature. For our sinful nature rebels against that. I think, that’s not fair! I ought to be able to live for my own pleasure. And you can rebel against it. God allows you that freedom, but guaranteed when you get to the end of the road, like Solomon, who did not withhold from himself anything that his heart desired. When he came to the end of the road, he said, emptiness, emptiness. Everything is empty and unfulfilling! And that’s exactly where you will end a sinning like Solomon, who tasted to the full of the things of the flesh and found it all to be empty and unfulfilling. But a life that is lived after the spirit, is so rich, so fulfilling, peace, joy, blessings. So they that are in the flesh can not please God. But that’s why you were created. That’s the purpose for your existence.
But then Paul declares, 9But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. No longer mastered by the flesh. Oh, yes, we still get caught up. I’m still living in this body. And as long as I am living in this body, there are going to be body needs that must be taken care of. But they are not to rule over me. I’m not to live for that. Yes, I have to eat, but I eat to live. I don’t live to eat. Yes, there are certain physical needs that we have as long as we are in these bodies, but they are not to control our lives. We are to be controlled by the Spirit of God! Mind of the Spirit.
Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. A powerful statement! But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His!
10And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. The old body of the flesh is dead. I reckon my old nature to be dead. Crucified with Christ. To have forgiveness of sin, I must see Christ on the cross, bearing my sin for me. Bearing the punishment of my sin. I look at the cross. I see Him hanging there and I realize that He is purchasing my redemption. I have now forgiveness of sin. If I want power over the sin nature that wants to control my life still, then I must see myself hanging on that cross with Jesus. The old life, the old nature. Dead. I reckon it to be dead. Crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, not I now, but Christ is living in me. And the life that I now live, I am living by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. So seeing Christ dying on the cross brings me forgiveness of my sins. Seeing myself there crucified with Christ, gives me power over the sin principle in my life. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life. The life that I now live. That new life in Christ. Living by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.
11But 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. That new life. If any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation! The old things have passed away. Everything becomes new. This whole new life of the Spirit that I have in Christ Jesus by the power of God's Spirit flowing in me. That same power that raised Jesus from the dead, gave life. It gives life to me tonight. I live by the life and the power of the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
12Therefore, brethren, we are debtors (Paul spoke in the first chapter of his sense of obligation. I am a debtor to share the gospel. Now again, he says, we are debtors)--not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die; I am a debtor! But I don’t owe my flesh anything! I don’t owe anything to the flesh to have to live after the flesh. If I do that I’m going to die.
but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Now, you can’t do it yourself, you see. We need help. If we by the Spirit do mortify or put to death the deeds of the body, that takes the power of the Holy Spirit. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to mortify the deeds of the flesh. To not be governed or ruled by our flesh, we need the help of the Spirit. And if we by the Spirit do mortify those deeds of the flesh, then we are going to live.
Lest we feed you so much, you get Spiritual indigestion, I mean this is just an awful lot to grasp. I’m going to stop here and let it just soak in for a week. And then we’ll pick up at this point next week as we continue this eighth chapter of the Book of Romans. So go over it. Read it again and again and again, until it becomes a part of you. Until the principles are understood, you see. Yes! I see it! Yes! And let God just really work these truths out in a practical way in your life that you might know that victory through the Spirit of God. That you might know the power of the life of the Spirit until you have the mind of the Spirit in control over your life!
Father, we thank You for Your Word. For the work that You have wrought for us. Doing for us what we could not do for ourselves. Sending Your Son in the likeness of flesh, to die for our sin. To impart to us the power to fulfill in us the righteousness and the righteous demands of the law. Lord, help us that we might walk after the Spirit. That we might be led of the Spirit. That we through the Spirit might mortify the deeds of the flesh. Reckon ourselves to be dead. Crucified with Christ. That we might live in that newness of life in Christ Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.
May the Lord be with you. And I pray that this week in many of your lives there will become now a practical outworking of the truth of God. And you will begin to experience the life of the Spirit over against the life of the flesh. The dynamic of the Spirit and the power of the Spirit to give to you victory in those areas where the flesh has once controlled and dominated. That no longer will you be a slave to the flesh and the things of the flesh. But that this week you might experience the peace and the joy of walking after the Spirit. May it be a glorious week! One of real victory in Christ as the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. God bless you!