Walking in the Spirit
Ro 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
5 For 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. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. NKJV)
Ro 8:1 There is no condemnation or ďadverse sentenceĒ to those who are in Christ Jesus. When the judgement comes, there will be no condemning to hell for those who are in Christ. It behooves us then, to be found in Him.
Having just discussed Paulís continual struggle with sin, and hopefully recognizing our own ongoing battle, isnít it great to hear these precious words? ďNo condemnation!Ē
It seems that God is more interested in our attitude toward sins than the actual sins themselves. He understands our weakness and doesnít hold it against us. And our weakness, our Achilles heel, is our flesh, the old man within, as it continually attempts to, and often succeeds in involving our members in rebellion against God and His Law.
The second part of this verse defines or describes those who are in Christ Jesus. Do you want to know if you are in Christ Jesus and be assured that you will not be the recipient of an adverse sentence? Then listen up!
The ones who are in Christ Jesus are those who do not walk, (that is do not live their lives) according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. At this point you or I might throw up our arms and ask, ďWho then can be saved?Ē Who really walks according to the Spirit?
You and I know that we spend more of our waking time living according to the flesh than we do living according to the Spirit. The key thing to remember is found in verse 13:
Ro 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Those who live by the Spirit are active in putting to death the deeds of their body. Simply stated, Spirit driven people are convinced of their sins, confess their sins and receive Godís forgiveness. The evil deeds then are put under the blood of Jesus, put on the cross and put to death.
The flesh driven person could care less about his sins and offenses. They cling to him, unconfessed and unforgiven, and he is condemned. Never weary of Godís convicting Word, never resist confession in any area of your life, and never refuse His offer of forgiveness.
Get this straight. Living according to the Spirit is no guarantee of a sin free life, but it is a guarantee of a proper attitude toward sin.
The Spirit filled Christian hates his sin, and leaps at the opportunity for the Word of God to shine light on what is not right in his life, and when we resist correction, we are resisting the Spirit of God and treading on thin ice. So humbly seek correction and from Godís Word and when necessary, confess it to God and to those that you may have offended by your misdeeds.
Moving on to verse two. Why is there no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus? Because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
When a someone comes to repentance and submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they seek to live according to the will of God as it is comprehended in the law. (In His Word) The Law, the Word, ceases to be an enemy and becomes a friend.
The attitude adjustment provided by the indwelling Spirit changes our whole outlook. If your outlook hasnít changed, then you havenít either. Some will seek to change by changing outward appearances. They will attend church, Bible Studies, and do all manner of outward things by legalistic compulsion, but if it doesnít come from the heart, what good is it?
You may be pleasing men, but you wonít be pleasing God!
And by resisting the attitude adjustment that the Spirit brings we become ďChameleon ChristiansĒ Willing to change anything on the outside in order to blend in and be perceived as a follower of Christď. But Christ sees through the outside. He sees the inner man. And God says that He ďresists the proud but gives grace to the humble.Ē And He will not be mocked.
When we are living in the Spirit, we are no longer under the Law as if we were under a dictator, rather we are immersed in the Law, working alongside it and with it and reaping the benefits of sanctified (set apart, Christlike) living.
Last week we talked about the law that is at work in every one of us. The law that is as fixed as the law of gravity. Itís that law that says we will do the things that we do not want to do, and we will not do the things that we should do.
But Paul says here in verse two, that there is another law. The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ, that sets us free from the deadly effects of that law of sin and death! Itís like stepping into an anti gravity machine.
I donít know how they work, but they simulate life without gravity, and as long as the machine is working and you stay inside the machine you will defy gravity. Well, Christ is not going to stop working and as long as you remain in Him, you will defy the law of sin and death that is at work in your members.
Gravity still exists, but itís effects are removed in the machine. Sin still exists in your members, but in Christ, its effects are removed.
3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,
4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The Law is good, Paul has already established that fact. The only weak point in the equation is our flesh. The Law could actually save us, if we could keep it, but we canít, our flesh is too weak. SO what the Law couldnít do, God did.
He sent His Son, (who is Spirit) in the likeness of our sinful flesh. The Bible tells us that Jesus had to be made like His brethren.
Heb 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins of the people.
This had to be done in order to satisfy the demands of sin, ďfor it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. (Heb. 10:4)
Sin is a bloodsucking flesh eating entity. It demands flesh and blood. ďThe wages of sin is death,Ē ďwithout the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sins.Ē
But God made Him (meaning Jesus) an offering of human flesh for sin.
Isa 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (NKJV)
God defeated sin and itís effect on flesh when He sent His Son who died on account of sin. He did this so that we who believe (His Spiritual seed) might fulfill the righteous requirement of the law.
His Spiritual Seed are those who are in Christ or who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
If we would stand back and look at the whole picture here, we would see that God is Spirit and God is perfect. We also know that Jesus is God in the flesh. So we have perfect Spirit in likeness of sinful flesh. Jesus, in the flesh, walked perfectly according to the Spirit of the law.
Therefore, when we receive Christ, we no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, the Spirit that strives to walk in perfection! However, still being in the likeness of sinful flesh, we fall short.
But, the inward desire is to walk as close to perfection as possible, and that is the mark of His true seed. It is not an option, the Spirit of God living in us stirs up that desire and if we are ever successful, it is only by His grace. And by His Spirit, we confess those times when we fall short and receive His forgiveness and move on. That is walking according to the Spirit.
Itís desiring correction by the Word of God, in order to show us where we fall short and then confessing those shortcomings and putting them under the blood of Jesus.
5 For 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. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Paul now shows us the difference between those who live according to the flesh, and those who live according to the Spirit. Itís a ďmind set.Ē plain and simple.
Where is your mind set? On what do you exercise your mind? What is your mind disposed to? What are you interested in? Where are your affections centered? Is it on matters of the flesh or matters of the Spirit?
Simply put, where is the treasure of your heart? Jesus told us not to treasure up things that moths and rust will destroy or thieves will break in and steal, but to lay up treasures in heaven. (read that spiritual treasures)
He told us that no one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon. (Mammon is usually associated with riches, but it can be anything in which we place our confidence. Our biggest problem is our willingness to place confidence in our flesh rather than the Word of God..
This is a huge error as Paul reminded us in 7:18
Ro 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells;
Why would we want to put our confidence in our flesh. Not one good thing dwells in it. It will lead us to serve money, pride, power, sex, or any other idol you can think of.
Listen to the words of Jesus again:
Mt 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. (NKJV)
This is not some whimsical statement from the Lord, it is a spiritual law! If you find yourselves hating the things of God, resisting His correction, If you are despising the things that His Spiritual law is calling you to do, you more than likely have headed over to the mammon camp.
The mammon camp is where your flesh is served. Where your sin is fed. Itís where grudges are held, where pity parties take place, where the Spirit of God is resisted as He tries to point out sin and effect change in our lives. Itís the camp of complacency where we say that we have gone as far as we need to with God.
Oh be careful that your mind does not get set on the things of the flesh. If you find yourself in this self-focused position may the Holy Spirit slay you this morning with a view of who you are truly serving.
This is not childís play! The stakes are high! Read verse 6 again!
Ro 8:6 For to be carnally minded (focued on your flesh) is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (NKJV)
And it is life and peace because the spiritually minded have handed all their sins over to God and moved on! Listen to what Isaiah had to say about this ďpeace.Ē
Isa 26:3 You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. (NKJV)
The idea of a ďstayedĒ mind is one propped up against or leaning against. So prop or lean your mind on God. He will not let you fall. he will not pull the rug out from under you. To lean on something for support is to trust it. This is what God wants us to do.
Pr 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
(Lean not on your own flesh! Lean not on your mammon) (NKJV)
Are you missing peace in your life? Then stop setting your mind on the things of the flesh and set them on the things of the Spirit.
Why is the carnal mind death?
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The carnal mind is hostility, it is war with God. And guess what? You war with God...you lose.
Carnal minds believe that they are not subject to the Law of God. Many donít even believe in the existence of God so obviously they do not recognize the authority of God. How then shall they think they are subject to His Law?
But some profess to believe in God, but their actions clearly indicate that they donít recognize His authority. Godís authority goes only as far as they (read that as their flesh) will allow it. They resist any and all correction from Godís Word. Some people call them ďcarnal Christians.Ē Friend thatís an oxymoron. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian. A carnal Christian is a house divided and it will fall.
Suppose a coup were to take place in our country. A rebel group would come to power. Suppose we did not recognize this group as the authority over us. We would not consider ourselves subject to their laws. There would be emnity between us and them. Hostility!
The only thing we could do to please them would be to turn ourselves in and submit to their authority. This is where God wants us to be....submitted to His authority. Walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh!
But hereís the rub. Our flesh is so bad, so rebellious, it canít get there on itís own! There will be a funeral here later on today. As much as the deceased might try, he will not be able to revive himself.
As much as his loved ones would like to see him revived they will not be able to revive him either. So it is with our spiritual life. If we are serving the flesh, we are dead and we need to be revived. We canít do it ourselves. We canít have others do it for us. It must be done by God!
Only He can bring revival to the heart.
Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (NKJV)
What were we? Dead in our trespasses. Who made us alive? God.
Jesus said in John 15:5 ... without Me you can do nothing. (NKJV)
And in Mt 19 as Jesus was telling His disciples that it is impossible for a man with divided allegiance to enter the kingdom of God His disciples responded with, ď "Who then can be saved?"
Mt. 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
You see, you, your flesh cannot save you. You cannot rely on what you consider to be the good things you have done or are doing. And if your mind is stayed on mammon, the things of your flesh, you will not enter the kingdom of God.
You can join a church, go to church, be on every committee, sing every song, be the best person everyone expects you to be, but if you havenít been broken, if God hasnít brought you and your pride to your knees, then you are going to hell. I canít say it any plainer than that.
You cannot lean on any other props but God. You must allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God, the Law of God to topple all your supports. It is only when you are flat on your back, that you are ready to look up. Itís only when you finally see that you are a sinner, and in spite of all that you have been trying to do, you are destined for hell, unless you get some help. Then you are ready to hear the gospel.
And one of the major reasons that we have so many ďcarnal ChristiansĒ today is because they heard the gospel without first hearing the Law! Itís the Law that breaks up the hard soil of the heart.
It is only in the soil that has been pulverized by the law that the Gospel can be received and bear any fruit.
You will hear the gospel from me, but you will never hear it without the Law, because unless the Law does itís work, Iím doing nothing but feeding pearls to swine. Oh people, do not harden your heart to the Law of God, be ever ready to allow it to do itís work.
Be ever ready to allow it to convince you of your sins, to drive you to confess your sins, and to receive Godís forgiveness. This is what it means to walk in the Spirit. Amen Lord, let it be so. Letís pray.
Oh Lord, strike us with Your Law! Make us see how terrible we really are! Show us Lord those areas of sin that we will not let go. Save us from being a people who will only go ďso farĒ under your authority. Break us Lord, each and every one of us. Make us thirsty for your gospel, for your living water by exposing our need.! Deliver us from our carnality, deliver us from mammon, Deliver us from ourselves! Cause our souls to cry out to You in desperation, knowing that our only hope of revival comes from You!
And if the Holy Spirit has showed you this morning what He is looking for as it concerns walking according to Him in order to be in Christ so there will be no adverse sentence against you on the Last Day then pray with me now,
ďLord I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that in my flesh dwells no good thing. I confess to you that I have resisted Your correction. Oh Lord, by the power of Your Spirit revive me. Breathe Spiritual life into me so that I may walk in the Spirit from this day forth. I know I cannot do this in my own strength, so I ask You Jesus to come into my heart and be the Lord of my life. In Your precious name I pray. Amen..