The Spirit Living in Us
Have you ever pondered what it is that controls the way you think, the way you react to good news and bad news?
Our internal makeup, our minds and our hearts contain what the scriptures call our spirit and soul. The things that create our response to life’s situations, good or bad are driven by what controls our inner self. This is one of the complexities of humanity, it’s a complexity that the bible dives into as the key to all things spiritual.
Last week we introduced the book of Romans, looking at the first seven chapters that lead up to chapter eight. We determined an understanding of the complexities of how difficult it is to do what is right, to do what pleases God in our own power, and abilities.
Through faith in Christ we have been saved from condemnation, saved from the burden of the law, given the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Paul challenges us in the early Part of Romans to realize that there are two possible powers that can control how we think, how we live. There is evil or “the flesh” and there is the Holy Spirit.
In other words many of us that profess faith in Jesus have not taken advantage of the gift that was given to us. The indwelling Spirit of Christ. It is only through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit that one can overcome their sinful nature, there tendency to do things God hates.
This week we are going to continue to look at Paul’s perspective on the Christian life and exactly what Jesus did for us on the cross.
You can open your bibles to Romans 8:9-11.
But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Before we continue in today’s passage I need to digress for a few minuets. It is important that we understand Paul’s understanding of salvation. Up to this point in Romans Paul has laid out for his readers three aspects of salvation. What God did through Christ, what God is doing now, and what God is going to do.
These theological concepts are called justification, sanctification, and glorification. I have taught on these concepts before, but we need to review them if we are going to understand Paul’s letter to the Romans. To give you context here are some of Paul’s words to explain each:
Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.
And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
These are passages that we will get into more as this series moves along, But, today we need to review a basic understanding of what Paul is presenting as salvation.
Put up chart:
Now that we have an understanding of how Paul views salvation, lets get back to Romans 8. Paul is giving us the answer to a common question. So how do we go about living saved?
The Key is the Spirit of Christ in Us
The Key is the Spirit of Christ in Us
Paul says that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all. It is the presence of the Spirit in a believer's life that defines an authentic relationship with Christ.
The apostle John agrees with Paul on this, he sees the Spirit as the key to life in Christ.
Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us.
The Holy Spirit living in us is the proof that we live in him, and he in us. It is the proof that we are truly saved.
This is why the New Testament writers speak of the experience of the Holy Spirit as an essential part of Christian salvation. Without the Spirit of Christ there is no comprehension of the Good News, no spiritual sensitivity. It is the Spirit that draws us to faith and understanding.
But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means.
In other words faith in Jesus Christ is foolishness to anyone who ignores the nudging of the Spirit, faith in God doesn’t make sense to them because they don’t believe.
Also, without the power of the Spirit in the believer's life we would have no ability to live the kind of life that God wants. There would be no sanctification. We would be justified by faith, but not be able to live our lives free from the power of sin.
This is what Paul is stressing in verse nine. We are no longer controlled by our sinful nature, the Spirit of God controls us if we have submitted our lives by faith in Him.
Without the Spirit of Christ there is no personal relationship to Christ.
Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
Without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, there is no living experience of God. This is why the reception of the Spirit should not be viewed as a secondary or later stage of Christian conversion.
Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.
The book of Act’s makes this clear:
Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The receiving of the Spirit is part of the essence of the salvation experience.
Our Body and Salvation
Our Body and Salvation
Because Christ lives in us, our bodies matter, our bodies become the Temple. The place where God resides in us. This is where Paul takes this passage.
This is a difficult thing to understand because of our thinking around the flesh. Many of us associate the flesh with sin, but this is not a Christian doctrine. It’s an agnostic belief that has penetrated Christian thinking ever since the time of the early church. The apostles write against this thinking often.
So lets look at what Paul says about the importance of our current and future bodies.
Our bodies are doomed to die because of it’s susceptibility to sin. This is the one thing that is guaranteed, our bodies will one day give out on us and we will die.
But, those who have the Spirit of God have received a powerful new life - eternal life. God having made us right with himself, has now come to live in us. So, those who demonstrate the presence of his Spirit in their lives - those whose lives authenticate their claim to spiritual life - can be sure that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the power of the Spirit, so they too will experience “resurrection power” in their mortal bodies, both now and in the age to come.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
The Cornerstone Bible Commentary says this about Romans 8:11.
In this context the reference to receiving life in one’s mortal body pertains not so much to a future resurrection as to the renewal and transformation of one’s lifestyle here and now, by the life-changing power of the Spirit.
Paul has not moved into glorification yet, he is teaching us about our lives in Christ right now!
To Paul transformation is everything. Our lives are to be transformed, made new. Our minds are to be renewed and we are to live our live “in Christ” allowing the Spirit of Christ to control our minds, which controls our actions.
If we think rightly, then we act rightly. But, it’s more then just our minds. It’s our bodies too.
The Spirit of Christ is at work in every believer. This is why Paul writes to the Colossians:
For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.
To the Galatians he writes:
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And last week Paul taught us:
And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.
This reality of Christ living in us, our bodies being the Temple of Christ, the place where the Holy Spirit resides, radically affects Paul’s view of Christian living and Christian ministry: No longer is it Paul himself who is the primary agent at work but the resurrected Lord Jesus at work in and through him.
In order to be free from the power of sin, we must give up our whole self, our spiritual self, and our physical self. We give up control and live by the Spirit.
Many Christians live justified, but never move into being sanctified. Actually, many don’t truly believe they are justified, instead they live under the burden of the law.
This leads to a life that is always trying to live up to what one thinks God expects. But, never meeting up to these expectations. Living like this is not freedom, it’s oppression.
We are forgiven, for our past, for our present and for the future. We need to live forgiven, which Paul calls living by the Spirit, or being “in Christ”.
This means we are now giving our lives to Christ and allowing him to sanctify us, change us into who he has called us to be.
We do this by giving up our minds, and our bodies, so that the Spirit can guide our lives, and change our hearts.
This is what Paul calls life in the Spirit, a Spirit filled life is a life that is not controlled by sin because Jesus freed them from the power of sin.
Jesus did this for us on the cross. He saved us from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and in the future he will save us from the presence of sin.
Big Idea: Our sinful nature no longer controls those who give their whole self to Christ through faith. We have been saved by grace offering us a new life through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.