Wednesday the country will celebrate its independence once again. America has been marked by freedom for over 230 years. We are proud of our heritage, our founding documents, our laws, our freedoms, and all of our history. We realize what God has done in blessing this land in that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been spread throughout the world. His blessings on our nation have allowed for all sorts of merciful deeds to be shared in countless nations. The influence of America has been great for these many years, and we believe that it is because of the guidance of the sovereign hand of God. Freedom has been experienced throughout this land and many others because of God’s mercy.
I can stand here in freedom and declare to you today that God has done something even greater, something that has had an even longer effect on the history of the world. He has sent His Son who gave His life as a ransom for many. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” We have eternal freedom in Christ Jesus our Lord. We saw last week in Romans 8:1-2 that, “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. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
The rest of the passage from last week showed that there are two categories in which people can operate. There is the flesh, the nature that all receive from Adam and is dominated by sin and death. There is also the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is dominated by life. We can either be influenced by the Spirit or the flesh. The Spirit’s influence leads to life and peace while the influence of the flesh leads to death and enmity. Today’s text finishes those thoughts from last week. The Apostle is direct when he states to the Christians in Rome, “You are not in the flesh.”
Read Scripture- This is the Word of God
The Flesh Cannot Please God (8)
Those who are operating in the “flesh,” the old, Adamic nature cannot please God because the flesh is not submissive to the law of God. The flesh forces us to set our minds on the things of this world. When we operate under that old influence we are setting our minds on things that will soon pass away, things that will only gratify us for a short period of time. We set ourselves up against God by our own wicked works when we are in the flesh. Living according to the flesh may please you in the immediate, but not God. Don’t ever get your pleasure confused with His. And this condition of being in the flesh is not something that anyone can save themselves from. Those who are in the flesh cannot be pleasing to God in any way. The language is strong.
You are Not in the Flesh (9)
But here’s the thing, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit. How can you know that you are operating under the influence of the Spirit? If the Spirit of God dwells in you, then you are not in the flesh, and you must have the Spirit of Christ to belong to Christ. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is what makes someone a Christian.
The Spirit is Life (10-11)
The body is mortal, destined for death. Yet, our spirits are alive because the Holy Spirit has given us new life in Christ. This is the parallel that is given in chapter five. In Adam we receive death because of his disobedience, but in Christ we receive life because of His righteousness. Christ has secured righteousness for all those who trust in Him. Christ’s righteousness is attributed to our accounts in God’s eyes when we put our faith in that atoning work of the cross.
I want you to grasp something this morning. The same Spirit who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead dwells in you today, if you have been born again! What a thought! Our bodies are dead and our spirits are alive, but we have been promised that our bodies will be made alive as well. Christ has redeemed us. Because of His death and resurrection, we have been given new life in our spirits and our bodies will be raised and glorified. We will be changed at the return of the Lord, and we will be given bodies that are not subject to death.
We are Debtors (12-13)
Our debt/obligation is not to the flesh. We owe it nothing. It has been condemned, and we are putting its influence to death as we keep in step with the Spirit. Based on the argument of the passage thus far, our debt is to the Spirit. We are to live according to His desires and decrees.
The Spirit leads us against sin. If it is sin that brings death, then we must put to death the deeds of the body. Listen, verse three told us that sin has already been condemned. We should act on that condemnation by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Flesh will only bring about death and death eternal, that is, separation from God and His blessings. The Spirit leads us into war against our sinful deeds that are prompted by the flesh. We need to follow His lead. The Apostle says in another place that we are to “put off, concerning [our] former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. . . .” Of course, we must add, this is not always painless. Turn with me to Mark 9:43-48. Now, the Lord is being extreme to make His point. The intensity of His illustrations show the importance of the subject. Sin must be dealt with. The flesh must be done away with. We can do this by following the lead of the Spirit who puts to death those deeds of the flesh. We will set our minds on the things of the Spirit, not the things of the flesh.
Conclusions and Applications