Romans: The Clearest Gospel of All
by E.H. “Jack” Sequeira

#22 – Life in the Spirit
(Romans 8:4-13)

It is not until chapter 8 of Romans that Paul brings in the Holy Spirit.  Have you wondered why?  Is it because Paul doesn’t have a high place for the Holy Spirit?  Is it because the Holy Spirit is of less importance to him?  The answer to those questions is a definite “No!”  But, you see, Paul is a very systematic theologian and, of all his writings, Romans is his most systematic presentation of the plan of redemption.  It is important that we follow his logic and his steps.

Since we’ve been covering this for many studies, let me put in a nutshell where he is coming from and where he is going.  Having introduced himself and the purpose of writing Romans, the first thing that Paul begins with is the universal sin problem.  He begins in Romans 1:18 right up to Romans 3:20, and in that section of Romans he paints a very dark, dismal, hopeless picture of the human race, both Jews and Gentiles [meaning everyone].

Then, having destroyed any confidence his readers may have in themselves and their ability to save themselves, he introduces the gospel.  To Paul the gospel is “The righteousness of God realized in the holy history of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  There, in that righteousness, is man’s only hope of salvation.

He then expounds on this from every conceivable angle.  He defends it, he expounds on it, he looks at it from every angle, and he comes to the clear conclusion that “not I, but Christ” is man’s only hope of standing righteous before God, both now and in the judgment.

When he has finished this, then he turns to the work of the Holy Spirit in the plan of salvation.  You see, that’s very systematic.  Now, why does he do that?  You will notice that in Paul’s writings and in the writings of the New Testament — especially the teachings of Jesus Himself — every member of the Godhead has a very important vital part in our salvation.  If you read your New Testament you will notice God the Father is the “Chairman.”  For example in John 3:16 and 17 we read:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

In Galatians 4:4 we read that:

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son....

And all through the life of Christ he made it clear, “I have come to do the will of Him Who sent Me.”

The Father is the Director, the Chairman of the plan of salvation.  Christ is the Savior.  If you turn to Matthew 1:21, please notice the instruction that was given to Joseph when the angel announced the birth of the Savior.  In verse 21, the angel tells Joseph that Mary, whom he was to marry, will bring forth a son:

...You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

You see, the word “Jesus” means “Savior.”

What about the Holy Spirit?  His work is to communicate to the human race what God has already obtained in His Son Jesus Christ, which is eternal redemption.  So the Holy Spirit is the Communicator, and it is this that Paul expounds in Romans 8.  The work of the Holy Spirit is not to save us but to make the salvation which has already been realized in the holy history of Christ, to make that effective, and to make it real in our experience.  The work of the Holy Spirit may be divided into three stages:

  1. The first stage is justification.

  2. The second stage is sanctification.

  3. The final, third stage is glorification.

We have spent some time already in justification.  I want to simply remind you of some important facts by looking at one passage from the words of Jesus Christ.  Paul has expounded on it clearly, that the Holy Spirit points us to Christ as man’s only hope of salvation.  But this Christ also expounded very clearly, and so turn to John 16.  Jesus put in a nutshell how the legal justification which Christ already obtained on the cross is made effective in the human race.  In John 16:8 Jesus described to His disciples what one of the missions of the Holy Spirit was:

When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment....

When the Holy Spirit had come, when His dispensation begins, He will convict or convince the world of three things:

  1. of sin
  2. of righteousness, and
  3. of judgment.

John 16:9:

...In regard to sin, because men do not believe in me...

In other words, man is lost not because he’s a sinner; man is lost because he’s without Christ.  The Holy Spirit convinces the world that without Christ there is no hope.  That’s what Paul has been trying to explain in the first section of Romans.  The whole world is under sin, the whole world is guilty before God, man’s only hope is Christ.  Then, in John 16:10, Jesus goes on to explain in what sense the Holy Spirit will convict the world of righteousness: regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer...

What Christ meant is that God sent Him to this world to prepare righteousness for the world, and the fact that He has gone back means that His work of preparing that righteousness, of obtaining that righteousness is a finished work.  He’s gone back to the Father, having finished the work.  In fact, one of His last prayers that He prayed, found in John 17:4, is:

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

Then, of course, John 16:11 says that the world is judged, and that if you reject that gospel, if you reject the gift of God, then you have judgment.

...and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

But what happens when a person realizes that his only hope is Christ and accepts Jesus as his personal Savior?  Is the work of the Holy Spirit finished?  The answer is no.  Then His work is to reproduce in the believer, who now has peace and assurance, His work is to produce in the believer the righteous character of Christ.  And that is what He intends to do with each one of us who has accepted Christ as a Savior.

I want to emphasize, because of confusion, sanctification must never be taught as contributing to salvation.  Our salvation is only in the history of Christ.  But sanctification is extremely important because it is the fruit, it is the evidence of justification by faith.

The world today will not believe until they see.  The world today has become like Thomas.  He refused to believe that Christ was raised from the dead until he saw the Savior with his own eyes and put his fingers into those nail holes in his hands and side [see John 20:24-29].  The world today is living in a scientific age, and the scientific method will not allow, will not accept anything as a fact unless it is demonstrated.  So sanctification has a very special significance for those of us who are today living in the last days.

But we need to know the place of sanctification.  Because sanctification, at its very best, only gives us one-third of what is true of us in Christ through justification.  In Christ we have three things:

  1. We have a perfect character.  We stand perfect in Christ in performance.

  2. We stand perfect in justice in Christ.  “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”  Why?  Because He liberated us from that condemnation.  Every sin that you have committed, and every sin that you will commit to your dying day, has already been taken care of on the cross of Christ.

  3. But that is not all.  We have a third wonderful blessing in Christ.  We stand perfect in nature in Christ.  Why?  Because, as we saw when we studied the first three verses of Romans 8, He condemned the law of sin and death in His flesh.  He condemned it, He executed it.

Sanctification is the process of experiencing only the character of Christ, not the justice.  Because the justice is realized only by dying the second death, and only Christ has died the second death for us.

In sanctification, no change takes place in your nature.  Your nature will remain sinful as it was before your conversion, 100 percent sinful until your dying day.  It is only at glorification, at the second coming of Christ when “this corruption will put on incorruption.”  In fact, in Romans 8:22-25 Paul will tell us, and we’ll come to that in another study, that the whole creation, including ourselves who have received the Holy Spirit, are groaning waiting for the redemption of the body.  When that happens, the struggle will be over.

In Philippians 3:20-21, Paul tells us that he is anxiously waiting for the coming of Christ — he called it the blessed hope — not because he wants to walk in golden streets and live in mansions.  That’s an egocentric view of the second coming.  He wants the second coming because he’s tired of this sinful body.  So he says, “I look forward to the second coming of Christ, that this vile, corrupt body may be transformed to be like His glorious body, which He prepared for us.”  Philippians 3:20-21:

But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

This study, Romans 8:4-13 is dealing with the life in the Spirit, or the life led by God’s Holy Spirit, which is what God intends for every Christian.  The Christian life is a Spirit-led life; that’s the goal.  What Paul is doing here is laying the foundation for that.  Then, in chapters 12, 13, 14, 15, and a part of 16, he will give us practical applications to that foundation.  But right now, in this passage, he’s laying the foundation.  Let us now go to the passage.

Please notice verse 4 is a continuation of verse 3.  In verses 1, 2, and 3, Paul tells us that the answer to the sin problem is Jesus Christ.  In Romans 7:24, at the end of his argument there, he concludes with this cry, a desperate cry for help:

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  [This body that is dominated by the law of sin and death.  And his answer is...] Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Then in Romans 8, verses 1, 2, and 3 he tells us how God liberated us.  The Spirit of life that was in Christ, and the law of sin and death which He assumed by taking our humanity, met in Jesus Christ, and there, Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was victorious and He executed the law of sin and death.  He did that for two reasons:

  1. 1.  The first reason is in verse 1, that there may be: condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus....

  2. The second reason is in verse 4:

    ...In order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

What does Paul mean by the word “us”?  When he spoke of the gospel, he said Christ died for all men.  But when he uses the word “us” here in verse 4, he is not talking of all men, he is talking of the believer who has said in his heart, “O wretched man that I am, who will save me?  I thank God through Jesus Christ.”

I am going to ask you a question:  “Do you say ‘I thank God through Jesus Christ’?”  I ask that question because there is another passage in the New Testament which uses the word “wretched.”  By the way, let me remind you, the word “wretched” in the original appears only twice in the whole of the New Testament.  This is the first time, Romans 7:24.  The second time it appears is in the Laodicean message, where Christ, the True Witness, speaks to a group of people.  I won’t have to tell you who they are.  He says to them, “You do not know that you are wretched.”

The day we can say, “What a wretched man I am,” we can say, “I thank God through Jesus Christ.”  Because the formula of the gospel is “Not I, but Christ.”

To such a people he is talking.  The “us” refers to those who have no confidence in the flesh, but are rejoicing in Christ.  He is saying that if there’s a condition there for sanctification), if we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, the righteous requirement of the law will be fulfilled in us, and by that Paul is not referring to the mechanical obedience to the law.  You don’t have to have the Spirit to mechanically obey the law.  The Pharisees were experts at mechanically obeying the law.

When the Bible talks of obeying the law, when Paul talks of obeying the law, and he will bring this out in chapter 13, verse 10 especially, he will tell us that love, this unconditional agape love of God, this love is the fulfilment of the law.  In other words, when we are led by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is love and love is the fulfillment of the law.  But there is a condition:

...who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

May I make it clear that the word “live,” which is the key verb in verse 4, is in the present continuous tense.  So what Paul is saying here is, “The righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in we believers who continually do not live according to the sinful nature but continually live according to the Spirit.”

Now there are two words here in verse 4 that we need to be clear on:  the word “flesh” [in some translations] and the word “Spirit.”  What does Paul mean by those two words?  We spent some time in chapter 4 in dealing with the flesh.  Because Paul asks the question:

What shall we say about Abraham pertaining to the flesh?

I made it clear then that the word flesh does not mean the soft part of your body.  Some of you may have more of it than others, but that is not what Paul is talking about.  What does he mean by the word flesh?  He means the natural life that you and I were born with, which we received through our parents, who, in turn, received from their parents, until we come to Adam.  In other words, “the flesh” refers to the sinful human nature which is ours by birth, the natural life.

What does he mean by the Spirit?  He means the life of Christ which He laid down for us on the cross, and which comes into us through the indwelling Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the One Who communicates the life of Christ to us.

So you have two lives, which is what makes you different from the unbeliever.  The unbeliever has only one life, the natural life.  With that life he can do only two things:  he can do sin and he can do self-righteousness.  But in God’s eyes both of those are not acceptable.  For I read in Isaiah 64:6 that:

...All our righteous acts are like filthy rags....

But the life of the Spirit is something only the believer has.  In fact, please look at Romans 8, verses 9 and 10:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

You don’t belong to Christ if you have not experienced the new birth.  Jesus made this clear to Nicodemus.  Nicodemus was trying to produce righteousness by the flesh, and Jesus said in John 3:6:

Flesh gives birth to flesh....

You can’t change it!  That is what the terrible thing is about legalism.  Legalism is righteousness produced by the flesh.  And I’ll tell you what it looks like:  it looks very nice outwardly, very holy outwardly, but inwardly it is full of rot.

One of my pastors in Ethiopia, a die-hard legalist who thought that I was preaching heresy, came up to me one day and said, “Can you please help me?”

He had been opposing me all this time and now he comes and says, “Will you help me?”  I said, “Sure.  What’s your problem?”

He said, “My daughter has left the church and has joined the Pentecostal church and she has brought disgrace to my ministry.  I have tried,” he said, with tears in his eyes, “I have tried to put sense into her mind and she won’t listen to me, but I know she has a high regard for you.  Please, can you convince her to come back to God’s remnant?”

So I said, “Well, I’ll try and do all I can.”  She was a university student, so I went to the university and visited her.

This is what she said to me.  “Pastor, you want to know the truth?”

“Yes,” I said.  “What’s the problem?”

She said, “I’ll tell you.  When my father comes to church, when he stands behind that pulpit, he looks like a saint.  In fact, you can even see a halo over his head.”  (That’s because he had my hairstyle [bald].  And when a light shines on my hairstyle there is a halo, but it is artificial, folks.)  “But,” she said, “when he’s at home, he’s a devil.”

That’s exactly what legalism does.  It produces hypocrites, people who in church look like saints but at home are devils.  Do you know, folks, that we have a problem in our church because of legalism?  We keep it hidden underneath but we have a problem of child and wife abuse in this denomination.  It’s a problem.  We don’t confess it publicly, but you speak with those who are working with those kids from Adventist homes, in foster homes.  Why?  Because legalists appear holy when they come to church, but at home they are devils.

That is why we need to understand that it is only in Christ, and as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh, that the life of Christ is reproduced in us.  He will only do it for those who are resting in Justification by faith.  Because sanctification is not the fruits of legalism; it’s the fruits of justification by faith and nothing else.  So it is important that we come to grips with this, and Paul will bring this out, especially in Romans 8.

But let’s look at Romans 8:5.  Why is it that we should “not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit”?  He’s told us in verse 4 that’s the way, by living according to the Spirit, the righteousness of the law is reproduced in us.  Then in verse 5 he says:

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

What is he saying here?  As I mentioned, the flesh [used in some translations] has to do with our sinful nature.  The Spirit has to do with the life of Christ which has come into us through the Holy Spirit.

By the way, maybe before I explain verse 5, let me give you a text that puts it very nicely.  Please turn to 2 Peter 1:4.  Listen to how Peter puts this, because Paul is doing the same thing here and you will notice that Peter is in perfect harmony with Paul.  In verse 1-3, he talks about the wonderful promises that are ours through Jesus Christ.  Please remember how he addresses Christ in verse 2; he calls Christ our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is our Savior, that was His part of the salvation plan.  But in verse 4, I read:

Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

You see, the flesh, the natural life of man, is dominated by three drives, and you’ll find these three drives in 1 John 2:16:

For everything in the world — the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does — comes not from the Father but from the world.

[In some translations these three drives are called “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.”]

The other day I was in a supermarket, trying to buy an oil filter for my car, and there was a lady with her son shopping, too.  Everything the son saw he wanted, so he grabbed it.  His mother kept reminding him, “Put it back!”  But he kept on doing it and she kept reminding him and, in the end, she couldn’t take it any longer and she gave him a paddy-wack, which he needed in the first place.

Then he cried and said, “Mother, why can’t I HAVE it?”

I nearly told her, “Sister, he is simply being natural.”  Because the flesh wants what it sees.

You know, that’s one blessing we had in Africa, especially some parts of Africa.  You went to the supermarket and you saw nothing but rows and rows and rows of toilet paper.  My kids never said, “I want one of them.”

But it is a problem in America.  You see things that you have never thought of before.  I was in Los Angeles, California, at the campmeeting there, and the pastor took me to what they call a price club where he was a member.  They had a microwave pressure cooker.  And I said, “Boy!”

The lady behind the counter said, “You can cook your food in one minute, less than half the time than the microwave itself, because you have now two things working, a microwave which is fast, and now a pressure cooker in the microwave.”

“Fantastic,” I said, “I should buy this.”  Then I reminded myself:  the flesh wants everything.  What’s wrong with waiting one more extra minute?  So I said, “No.”  But, you see, that’s the flesh, it wants everything:  bigger fireworks, bigger cars, bigger houses, you name it.  And when you fathers buy a train set for your kids, please, it’s for you that you want it.

I was in Mexico for the first time and I saw something wonderful.  I saw hammocks.  I said, “I’ll buy one for my son and one for my daughter.”  Guess who is enjoying it?  Folks, the flesh wants everything.  The lust of the flesh, and then the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life:  you want to be number one.

But Paul says the mind must not be set.  The word “set,” by the way, in Romans 8:5 means “direct.”  The people who are controlled by the natural life will let their minds be dominated by the flesh.  Remember, your flesh, my flesh, our nature, is unchangeable until the second coming of Christ.  Don’t you ever get the idea that your nature will improve as you grow older and older as a Christian.  Your nature will remain flesh to your dying day.  What changes is your character.  The reason why it changes is because the change that has taken place in the Christian is not in his nature but in the mind.

The Greek word “metanoia,” which we have in English “repentance,” means a change of mind.  Paul is saying, “Let your mind be controlled now by the Spirit and no longer by the flesh.”  How do we do it?  How do we direct our minds onto the things of the Spirit?

Paul gives us a help in Philippians 4:8.  Here he’s simply admonishing us to walk in the Spirit, but what does that mean?  It means setting your mind on the things of the Spirit.  What does that involve?  Look at Philippians 4:8 where he’s giving the same counsel:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

So the question I want to ask you is, “What goes on between your ears when you are driving your car on the freeway, or when you’re having your shower, when you are in those free moments and not concentrating on your work?  What goes on between your ears, what do you think about?  Is it about worldly things, is it about making money, is it about improving your standard of living, is it about trying to keep up with the Jones, or is about the things of God?  What goes on between your ears?”  That is the way to tell whether you’re walking in the flesh or walking in the Spirit.

Paul does not say that the Christian walking in the flesh is lost.  He does say that a person walking in the flesh is on dangerous ground.  For I read in Romans 8:6:

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace....

The Greek actually says, “To be carnally minded leads to death.”  That’s how the text is.  Now what does the word “carnal” mean?  The word “flesh” in Greek is “sarks.”  The word Paul uses for carnal is “sarkicos,” which means “a mind controlled by the flesh” or we would say in English, “fleshly mind.”  In other words, if you let your mind dwell on those three basic drives of the flesh, that is what it means to be carnally minded.  If your mind is always preoccupied with the things of this world, the material things of this world, then you are walking in the flesh.  And if you do that, it will lead you unto death.  In other words, to be carnally minded is dangerous, because the flesh is the tool of Satan that he will use to eventually pull you out of Christ.

We had a teacher in the mission field who once told me a very interesting experience in her own life.  She said when she was in college, she had one desire, and that was to be a missionary.  So she got friendly with a student who was a theology major, because he had the same desire.  They decided to get married even before they finished college.  They married, and then, in the last year of his schooling, he changed his major from theology to engineering.  They were from Colorado.

She was very disappointed that he had changed his major but he felt that he was not called to the ministry.  But he was still a good Adventist, he graduated, went back to Colorado, got an excellent job, and was an active member in the church, in fact, became an elder.  Sometime later his workmate said to him, “Why don’t we go out golfing?”

This man said, “I have never played golf in my life.”

He went golfing and liked it, so they went once a week.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But the trouble was that he began to crave it.  So they went twice a week.  That was not enough, so they went three times a week.  And the third time, of course, was Wednesday, so he stopped going to prayer meeting.  Then he was going four times a week, and then he would come home dog tired and so Sabbath was time for lay activities, he didn’t have time to go to church.  So he slept on Sabbaths and very seldom came to church.

His wife saw that he was very gradually slipping away from Christ.  She realized that, if this continued, he would be lost.  So she went on her knees after pleading with him, “Please, don’t you see what’s happening to you?”

He would not listen, he would not take advice.  So she finally went to the Lord, after spending three days in fasting and prayer she said, “Lord, I don’t care what you do to him; please, I want him in heaven.  I can see that he’s slipping away from Christ.  Do whatever is necessary.”

She was on her knees, pleading with the Lord, and the telephone rang.  It was her husband’s firm.  He was in a tank, welding, and there was some gas that was not removed, and he went to sleep and he died in the tank.  God laid him to rest.

She believed, and I believe she’s right, that God laid him to rest as the only way of resurrecting him in the kingdom.  She said, “When I discovered that there was no longer any need for me to remain in Colorado, I applied for mission service.”  And there she was in Ethiopia.

God will do anything to save us.  But the thing is this, if you keep walking in the flesh, you are following the road that leads to death.  Because the flesh has no right to live.  That is the clear verdict of the Bible.  The only place for the flesh is the cross.  And I read in Galatians 5:24:

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

“But if you walk in the Spirit,” says Paul, “you have peace and you have life.”  Because the life of the Spirit is a life that brings peace and it brings victory, it brings the righteousness of the law.  Look at Romans 8:7:

...The sinful mind is hostile to God.  It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.

Our sinful natures and a holy God are not compatible.  The law of God and our flesh are incompatible.  We spent a whole study when we dealt with Romans 7:15-25.  That is the whole emphasis of Romans 7, that your natural life and the law are incompatible.  It is impossible for me, naturally, to keep the law.  It’s impossible.  I can keep the letter of the law, but never the Spirit.  That is what Paul is saying here.  Verse 8:

Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

You may please man, you may please yourself, you may please the brethren, you may please the pastor, but you cannot please God, because God doesn’t look at your acts, He looks at your heart.  And only the heart that is transformed, that has repented, can be pleasing to God.  But now look at verse 9:

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.  And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.

Paul is saying, “If you do not have the Spirit, you may be a church member, your names may be in the books, but if you have not experienced the new birth you are none of His.”

One day a Jehovah’s Witness came to my house.  We were discussing theology and, because I know something about the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I said to her, “Do you belong to the 144,000?”  They divide their members into two camps — the 144,000 who will go to heaven and who are allowed to take the Lord’s Supper, and the rest who will not go to heaven but will enjoy heaven on earth.  I said to her, “Do you belong to the 144,000?”

She said, “No.”

Then I said, “According to your theology, you don’t have the Spirit.”

“That’s right,  she said. “I don’t have the Spirit, only the 144,000 have the Spirit.”

Then I read her this text, and she was shocked to read that text that says that if you don’t have the Spirit you don’t belong to Christ.  I said, “Take this to your brethren and have a Bible study.”  If you don’t have the Spirit you are none of His.  But verse 10:

But if Christ is in you...

Please notice:  to Paul, the Spirit of God dwelling in you and Christ dwelling in you are synonymous because the Spirit is Christ’s representative.  He is the Paraclate.  He’s the One Who is representing Christ.  If he dwells in you...

...your body is dead because of sin...

In other words, you have surrendered your natural life to the cross.

...yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Can you see in verse 10 the formula, “Not I, but Christ”?  There you have it.  Verse 11:

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Do you understand what Paul is saying here?  Paul is saying that there are two forces in you:  one is the force of the flesh, the law of sin and death; the other one is the law of Spirit and life.  Which of these two are stronger, are greater?  What is the power of the law of sin and death?  What is the greatest power of the flesh?  It is the grave.  Sin kills.  If you can conquer death, you can conquer sin.  No human being in and of himself has ever conquered the grave.

But there is one Man Who has conquered the grave and that is Jesus Christ.  He did it by the power of the indwelling Spirit.  That’s what Paul is saying.  This same power which demonstrated the power of God greater than the power of sin in Christ is now available to us.  Romans 8:12:

Therefore [now is the application], brothers [you believers, you and me], we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.

We have an obligation, but the obligation is not to the flesh.  Why not?  Because a Christian is a person who has surrendered the flesh to the cross.  That’s where it belongs.  It has no right to control us.  Romans 8:13:

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live....

In other words, let the new life that you received at your conversion now dominate you, direct you, control you.  When the Holy Spirit lives in us, two things will happen:

  1. We will put to death — that means we will put to an end — the sinful deeds of the body.

  2. The righteousness of the law will be fulfilled in us.

But, please remember, all these wonderful privileges are the fruits of justification.  Never look at sanctification for assurance of salvation.  But we must be concerned about sanctification, we must be concerned about Christian living.  I’ll tell you why, because we are a spectacle to the world.  The world is keeping their eyes on us.  I have said before, and I will repeat many times, the words of the famous pagan philosopher Nietzsche, when he said to the Christian church, “If you Christians expect me to believe in your Redeemer, you will have to look a lot more redeemed.”

No longer should we be concerned about ourselves; heaven is ours, guaranteed.  “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.”  Then there must be only one concern, “Lord, please, let the world see what You are like in me.”  When that happens, we will turn this town upside down, we will turn this state upside down, and we will turn the world upside down.  God is not depending on numbers, He’s depending on men and women who, putting self aside, are willing to totally surrender themselves to the Spirit that dwells within them.

When that happens, we will no longer have to push people, “Do this and do that.”  There are some who want me to push from the pulpit, “Tell our people what they should not do.”

Folks, I can tell you till I’m blue in the face, but if you’re not walking in the Spirit, I’ll lose more hair and you will lose your patience with me.  My dear people, we have a Spirit Who is willing to walk in you.  We have a power that is available to us.  And that power is to reproduce in us the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The world desperately needs to see Him.  Please, don’t disappoint Him.

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