Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Romans 8:37

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

Now we are getting towards the climax of Romans 8, and there are some wonderful verses just ahead of us. This is one of them: knowing that we are more than conquerors. What does this mean? Well, to be a conqueror means to have fought against something and overcome it. We are more than conquerors, because Jesus has fought and overcome on our behalf.
What things have we overcome? The things mentioned by Paul in v35: trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword. Through Christ we are able to come out on top of any trials that happen in our lives. If we are in Christ, we have overcome the world by faith (1 John 5:4-5). This is because Jesus Himself first overcame the world (John 16:33). We are no longer under the power of the world, being compelled to live according to its mores. We are no longer under the power of sin, helpless to resist it. We have also overcome the evil one, Satan, and his followers (1 John 4:4, 1 John 2:13-14). Again, this is because Jesus has conquered his power. Satan has no claim to ownership over us. We are free.
And once again we read of the reason why we are made to be conquerors through Christ: because He loves us.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Romans 8:35-36

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’”

I don’t think we will ever fully comprehend the love that God has for us, at least while we are in our mortal bodies. We know it is vast, stretching across the ages, reaching to us in the depths of human depravity, but we can’t really comprehend just how big it is. It’s like trying to understand the size of the universe – we don’t know for sure how big it is; wikipedia quotes 92 billion light years as the size of the part of the universe observable from Earth. One light year is 9,460,528,400,000 kilometres. We can’t even imagine one light year, let alone 92 billion light years. But guess what? God is bigger than that – He holds all creation – the universe – in His hand. His love is bigger than the universe. In that vastness, there is a single planet that He takes particular care of. And on that planet are billions of people, whom He not only knows by name, but has counted the number of hairs on their heads. How can people say that God doesn’t care about them?
So, God’s love is huge, and it is the strongest force in the universe. Nothing can come between Him and us – no physical thing can pry us apart, no circumstance that can befall us can make God stop loving us. As Christians we are told to expect trials and persecution (2 Tim. 3:12, Jas. 1:2). Some of the greatest men of faith lived in extreme poverty (Heb. 11:37-38). God sees us in whatever state we are in, and loves us all the same. He will never stop loving us.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Romans 8:33-34

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – it as the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”

We know from the Scriptures that Satan is ‘the accuser of the brethren’ (Rev. 12:10). In fact his very name, in Hebrew, means ‘accuser’ or ‘opposer’. Any false accusation against a Christian, ultimately has a Satanic origin. Now, we all know that no Christian is perfect. Sometimes there may even be valid accusations that could be brought against us. But, praise God, He knew about these and He has made provision for them. Nothing we can fall into, will ever change the fact that God has justified us.
And which do you think is stronger: condemnation by Satan, or intercession by Jesus? Yes, we are all guilty of sin. But this is the amazing thing: every time we fall, the Lord picks us up. When we repent and ask for His forgiveness, He is quick to show mercy (1 John 1:9). Jesus stands before the Father on our behalf. When we sin and then ask for forgiveness, He reminds the Father how He has already paid for that sin on the cross. Now this is not a license for us to sin deliberately. How can we do that? – it would only add to the pain our Saviour endured on our behalf.
This verse causes us to remember the first verse of this chapter: “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We are not condemned by God, and no condemnation from the world or Satan can touch us. We are completely safe in the Lord.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Romans 8:32

“He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”

Sometimes it’s easy to take the sacrifice of God’s one and only Son almost for granted. It’s an historical fact, it happened, through it salvation is provided for us, that’s all very nice. But it would be advisable to all of us to stop and reflect more often on the magnitude of that sacrifice.
There is no human experience that can ever come close to how God felt about this event. Our love for our own children pales in comparison to the love God has for His Son. The connectedness between the Father and the Son is far greater than any human relationship. Yet God chose for that to be severed, for His Son to be made into the most repulsive thing He knows – sin – and for what? Because of His love for us. There is nothing greater that God could give to mankind. If there was another way for man to be saved, we can be absolutely sure that God would have taken that option.
Here we can see (even though we don’t understand) the depths of God’s love for us. And Paul follows up here by saying, ‘how will He not also, along with [His Son], graciously give us all things?’ Anything else God could give us, is worth far less to Him than the salvation procured for us. So why do we think, ‘God saved me, but that’s it – He doesn’t love me enough to give me anything else.’ No: the extent of God’s love for you is shown in the cross. His love doesn’t stop there. It continues through eternity. We can be sure of it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Romans 8:31

“What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

This is a great verse to comfort us when we feel like the whole world is against us. That may be so, but with God we will always be on the winning side.
Like it or not, while we are in these mortal bodies, we are in a spiritual battle. We are in enemy territory. Satan has dominion over the world (the dominion God had given to Adam, which passed to him at the Fall). His desire is that all mankind would be enslaved to him and worship him as God. So when we stand up for the true and living God, you can be sure that Satan is not happy about that. Nor is the world system, for as well as being ultimately under submission to Satan, it is also propagated through sinful man and his selfish desires. These desires are for the things that are evil, because to indulge in them is to (often unconsciously) rebel against God. Those who stand for righteousness are a thorn in the side to the people of the world. Despite people saying their life motto is to ‘do right by other people’ (because they have a false notion that if their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, they will go to heaven), when other people are doing more right than them, they want to bring them down.
It’s been said before on this blog, but it never hurts to say it again: we need to see these things from God’s eternal perspective. Recall how Elisha’s servant despaired because of the Syrian army, but Elisha told him not to be afraid, because ‘those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ (2 Kin. 6:15-17). As well as God being on our side, we have the angelic host of heaven. We read in Psalm 34:7, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and He delivers them.” When we are on God’s side, we have nothing to fear.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Romans 8:30

“And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.”

Here we see the different phases of our salvation. We discussed yesterday how God predestined us, according to His foreknowledge, to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. And so He called us, knowing how we would respond. When we responded to Him in repentance, He justified us. This is the first step of the salvation process. The blood of Christ was applied to our lives and our sins were forgiven. We we made to stand before God in His favour, not His judgement. We were ‘just if I’d’ never sinned.
Now to us, all these events are in the past. Has God finished His work – have we been conformed to the likeness of Jesus? I know I haven’t. But God is still working on me. This ongoing work of sanctification – making holy, setting apart, ironing out the creases – will continue until we take our last breath in this body. Then we look forward to the day when we are released from this body of death (Rom. 7:24) and receive our new glorified body, and finally that work of conformation will be complete. The Bible refers to this as glorification.
The interesting thing here, is that Paul refers to us having been glorified – in the past tense. The only way this makes sense is to remember that God is outside time. Just as before the world was created, He saw and knew us, so too from where we are now, He sees what will happen in the future. Past, present and future are all the same to Him. We are safe in His hands – He has promised to take us home.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Romans 8:29

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.”

I don’t want to get into a huge discourse on foreknowledge, predestination and man’s free will. I believe all are involved in our salvation. This verse tells us God foreknew us, and He predestined us to be saved. There are only a few passages of Scripture that refer to us being predestined: Rom. 8:29-30, and Eph. 1:5, 11. The same word (pro-orizo) occurs in 1 Cor. 2:7, translated ‘(fore-)ordained’. Thus there are five occurrences in Scripture – the number of grace. The word ‘foreknew’ (proginosko) is interesting: it also occurs in five places. In Acts 26:5, Paul says how the Jews persecuting him ‘knew before’ that he was a Pharisee. In Rom. 11:2, we read how God foreknew Israel. In 1 Pet. 1:20, it refers to Christ. In 2 Pet. 3:17, Peter is reiterating something that his readers ‘already knew’. To know (ginosko) is to learn by effort or experience, subjectively (in contrast to oida, also translated ‘know’, but in an intuitive or objective sense).
God didn’t just have a sense that we’d turn out to be worthwhile. He knew by experience (He is, of course, outside time). He chose Israel as the seed of Abraham even though He knew they were aa rebellious and stubborn people. Think if He had chosen a nation that loved Him all the time and never went off the rails. What kind of witness would that give to the world? But in Israel, we see God’s longsuffering and His eagerness to forgive.
We may have a similar story. None of us are perfect. But God knew how we would respond to Him, so He has predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I find that truly amazing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

This is a favourite verse of many people, and it’s easy to see why. What a wonderful promise it gives us: that no matter what happens, God is using every situation to work out something good for us if we love Him. The verse doesn’t say, ‘And we know that in all good things God works...’ – no, it says “all things”. God can use trials, persecution and disaster for our ultimate good. These things may not be pleasant at the time, but later we can look back and see how God was working to build our faith, to teach us patience, to strengthen our character.
Another thing to note is that this promise is only for the believer, for “those who love Him [and] who have been called according to His purpose”. There is no such promise for someone who does not love God. Those who love God and have believed on Him have become the children of God, and He takes special care of His own.
But perhaps the most powerful three words are the first three: “And we know”. Do you know for certain, that God is for you and not against you? We can know for sure, that He has our best interests at heart. Sometimes this can be hard to understand when we just look at situations in the superficial, immediate sense. But when we look at them from a spiritual, eternal perspective, we can see how God is protecting and guiding us through them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Romans 8:27

“And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.”

This verse follows on from Romans 8:26, how the Spirit within us ‘intercedes for us’, that is, He helps us to pray as we should when we don’t know how to express our desires other than by groaning. We are told here that the Holy Spirit helps us to pray in accordance with God’s will. This is one of the most critical things about prayer: God will only answer a prayer in the affirmative if it is in accordance with His will (1 John 5:14). As we open up to the Spirit’s leading when we are praying, we will be able to discern God’s will for a situation, and pray accordingly.
God is the one who searches our hearts. With the Spirit within us, we have a direct link to God, and vice versa – God through the Spirit, and the Spirit to us. The latter is where the bottleneck in communication is. Can you see how important it is, then, to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying? Prayer is not just about us talking, it is a two-way communication. He won’t barge into our prayer; He waits for us to seek and ask Him.
So the next time you have a burden on your heart and you don’t know how to pray, just ask the Holy Spirit to help you, and take time to listen to what He would say.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Romans 8:26

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.”

We have been reading in the preceding verses about how we and all creation are groaning, waiting for our glorification. Here we have another key that helps us to wait patiently (Rom. 8:25) for that day: the Holy Spirit with us.
The Holy Spirit is our helper and our comforter (John 14:16-17). He knows our weaknesses and helps us in them: to resist temptation, to stand when the heat is on; He gives us power and boldness to witness to others, He reminds us of the Scriptures and will guide us in all righteousness if we let Him. In this verse we find another aspect by which He helps us: in our prayer lives. Commentators generally agree that the Spirit does not pray to God on our behalf, but He assists us when we pray. In those times when we don’t know how to articulate a deep hurt or emotion and all we can do is groan in our spirit, or those times when the will of God is not clear to us and we don’t know how to pray, this is when the Holy Spirit steps in to help. God knows what is in our hearts. He can understand our unspoken prayers (c.f. 1 Sam. 1:13). We don’t need to be eloquent in our prayers for God to take notice. Sometimes we cannot find the words. It is indeed comforting to know that He hears us all the same.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Romans 8:24-25

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”

The word ‘hope’ in its Biblical usage is different from how we tend to use it. We say, ‘I hope the weather is fine tomorrow’, meaning ‘I wish the weather would be fine tomorrow’, accepting the possibility that it may not happen. However in the Biblical usage, to hope in something is to be sure that it will happen, although it is yet future. We have the hope of eternal life in our glorified bodies – we have not yet received them, but we know God has promised them to us and His promises never fail.
Since hope is an assurance of things yet future, if we already have something, it is in the present and we cannot hope for it any more. We either hope for something, or we have it.
The hope being spoken of here is concerning the restoration of creation and the glorification of our bodies. We were saved, Paul tells us, “in this hope”. If we have been truly born again, being glorified is assured. It will happen. We do not have it yet, however – this is why we hope for it. Right now our spirit has been renewed, but not our bodies. We have to wait patiently for that day, and know for certain that it is coming.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Romans 8:23

“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

In Romans 8:22 we read how creation is groaning, waiting for Jesus to return and make all things new. We too are obviously created beings, but more than that – we as mankind were responsible, through Adam, for the mess the world is in under the curse, because of sin. God has specifically made a way for man to be restored to fellowship with Him, through the death of His Son, who came to earth as a man. Jesus did not come to earth as an animal, because the sin problem did not originate with animals. If He had died as a sinless animal, it would not have helped mankind one iota. Instead, He addressed the root cause of the problem.
Now we have the promise of eternal life, yet for the time being we are still restrained in our mortal bodies. We know what is waiting for us, and we long earnestly for it. One day we will receive our resurrection bodies; we will ‘graduate’ and be formally accepted as God’s children. In Roman times, a child born into a family underwent an adoption ceremony when he came of age. This enabled him to function as a member of society under that family name. Before that time, it was something promised. This is where we are at in the present time. We have been born again into God’s family; we have a foretaste of the Holy Spirit indwelling us as a promise (Eph. 1:14) that we will be formally adopted and receive our eternal inheritance.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Romans 8:22

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

There’s no denying it, childbirth is a painful process. It is used as an analogy several times in the Scriptures, often to refer to the end times (see for example, Matt. 24:8, Mark 13:8, Mic. 5:3). As wars, famines, and so forth increase, we are told ‘these are the beginnings of birth pangs’. These events will increase in frequency and intensity, until the moment of delivery. And what is being born, if these are the birth pains? Through the final judgement, God will bring about the re-creation of the world, the glorification of believers, and the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom.
Consider how creation groans. Wild weather, extremes of climate; earthquakes and other natural disasters. None of these were part of God’s original plan for the world. Sometimes we wonder how much longer the world can endure.
Jesus told His disciples, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:21-22). Now we, and all creation, have grief because of the pain; but when Jesus returns, the Kingdom will be ushered in and we will have great joy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Romans 8:21

“... in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

Despite the predicament that both mankind and creation is in – being under a curse because of Adam’s sin – there is yet hope. One day the curse will be lifted, we as the children of God will be glorified, and creation will be free once again to glorify God. At the present, creation is in bondage to decay (a phrase which bears resemblance to the second law of thermodynamics: entropy in an isolated system never decreases).
Who is the One that liberates both us into glory and creation into a perfect state without decay? Only Jesus, the promised Messiah. As we read in the previous entry, God deliberately placed a curse on Adam and on creation, and promised the Messiah, as we read here, “in hope”. God had promised Adam that when he sinned against God, he would surely die (Gen. 2:17). Death became a necessity, because it would have been a terrible thing for Adam to live forever in a body corrupted by sin. He would never have been able to enter God’s presence. This is why Jesus was sent – because only He could undo the curse and fully sanctify mankind before God. This is the hope that we have.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Romans 8:20

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it...”

The world that we see today is not as God created it. God did not create nature to be ‘red in tooth and claw’. He did not create the world to have the extremes of weather and temperature that we see today (in fact, there was no rain until the flood because of the presence of the ‘firmament’, Gen. 2:5-6). He did not create anything that would harm another animal, be it carnivorous animals, biting insects, or bacteria and viruses. But this is not as we see the world today. We can still marvel at God’s creative power, but we see it in a ruined state. We see the creation in what the Bible here calls ‘frustration’. It is not serving the purpose for which God created it.
We know that Adam’s sin went far beyond his own fall, for God said to him, “Cursed is the ground because of you” (Gen. 3:17). The creation didn’t have a say in the matter. Man had been given dominion over the earth, and just as a whole nation suffers when its leader goes astray, so too the whole creation suffered when Adam handed that dominion over to Satan by giving in to him. Now, it is not beyond God’s power that He could have intervened at that point. But what would that have gained? Adam would still have been guilty of sin, and although God could recreate the earth, He could not simply brush aside Adam’s sin. He was obliged by His holiness to destroy him. Instead, God’s redemptive plan began: the Messiah was promised to come and be substituted for man’s sin (Gen. 3:15). So the fallen creation also serves to remind us of our own fallen state, until that glorious day when all things are made new.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Romans 8:19

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”

Most people don’t realise it, but Jesus’ redemptive work affects far more than just us as a group of believers. In fact, by His work, He has paid the price to redeem all creation from the curse.
Just as Adam’s sin affected the earth, causing thorns and thistles to grow, introducing death, decay, and disease, Christ’s work effectively undoes all of that. And the creation knows this. It knows that one day, when we are made perfect, all things will be made new. These are all tied up together.
We, the sons (and daughters) of God, will be revealed in our resurrection bodies when Jesus comes back to earth to establish His Kingdom. In that day, it won’t be a crowd of people who simply say they are believers, but those who actually believe. The tares will have been separated out from the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30, Matt. 13:40-43). This is what it means ‘for the sons of God to be revealed’. Jesus returns to earth to set up His Kingdom and reign for a thousand years. During that time, according to the Scriptures, the earth seems to return to a pre-Fall state. Satan is bound, and creation is restored (Isa. 65:25). No wonder creation is waiting eagerly for that day!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Romans 8:18

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

We all face sufferings in the present, of various sorts and magnitudes. We may face physical suffering – pain, sickness, weakness. We may face emotional suffering – grief, loneliness, worry. We may face financial hardship, social ostracism, racial discrimination, and a myriad of other things. We may also face persecution as a Christian, to varying degrees. But Paul calls us here to stop looking at these things as occupying our lives, but instead to look to the future and the glory that will one day be revealed in us. Our resurrection bodies will have no physical limitations. We will be free from the curse of sin and its effects on us. We will dwell in the presence of God forever.
Whenever you come to a point in life where you wonder if it’s all worth it, take a moment to reflect on this verse, and others like it. The Christian life is much more than what we experience during the years we are on this planet in our mortal bodies. It is a stepping stone into eternity.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Romans 8:17

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”

Receiving an inheritance is yet another benefit of being a child of a family. Normally an inheritance is passed on after the father dies; however in God’s case, because He cannot die, He grants the inheritance when the old world passes away and all is created anew.
When we stop and think about it, this is an amazing Scripture. We, sinful, pathetic humans, who were drawn to God by the Spirit, can become co-heirs with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus has been promised the earth and the nations as His inheritance (Ps. 2:8). He promises that we will get to sit on His throne and reign over the earth with Him (Rev. 3:21). He shares all of this with us, the Church, as His bride.
We are co-heirs, Paul says, “if we share in His sufferings”. I don’t believe this is referring to us only receiving an inheritance if we suffer for the sake of the gospel, if we are persecuted or martyred for our faith. Rather, sharing in Christ’s sufferings means to appropriate His death on the cross to our lives. We are saved by faith in Him, that His death was sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. Thus we identify ourselves with Christ. Similarly we share in His glory. We do not detract from the glory of Christ, nor are we granted any glory of our own because of our works, for instance. Rather, we reflect His glory, and our presence there shows the power of His sacrifice, and brings glory to Him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Romans 8:16

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Every child’s DNA comes from both of their parents. They will inherit some aspects of their parents’ physical make-up (eye colour, hair colour, height, metabolism, etc.), and even aspects of their character and temperament.
The same is true if we are children of God. The Spirit will develop in us the traits of God’s character. Traits like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We will grow to love righteousness and hate wickedness. We will grow in mercy and grace towards others, seeking that their souls may be saved from the power of sin. We will be angry at the injustice in the world.
The presence of the Spirit within us is God’s testimony to us that we belong to Him. The Spirit does not dwell inside all people, but only in those who are part of God’s family, by faith in His Son. If we have the Spirit – if we know when He is prompting us to do good, or to depart from evil – then we can know that we belong to God. Also, when we are disciplined by God, we know that it is bceause He loves us (Heb. 12:6). If we were not His children, He would simply leave us to suffer the consequences of our sinful actions. But He disciplines us, so that we will learn not to continue in those things. God loves us too much to let us get away with sin.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Romans 8:15

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father’.”

Paul talks about us being released from slavery to sin and becoming slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:18). However, when we become a servant of God, He promises us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt. 11:30). Serving God is not a painful, laborious exercise. He is not a master to be feared. We serve Him out of love (because He first loved us), not because we are afraid of punishment if we fail to live up to His standards – as was the case under the law. Paul reminded Timothy, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Rather than being afraid of God any longer, He has adopted us into His family. We, who were alienated from God, are now brought into an inheritance. We receive all the blessings and benefits of belonging to His family, much as if someone was adopted into a royal family today, they would receive the blessings and benefits of it. How much more so in God’s family!
We also have the privilege of calling God our Father. This was a very rare occurrence in the Old Testament (see Ps. 89:26 and Mal. 2:10). Yet in the New Testament, Jesus encourages us to pray, “Our Father in heaven...” (Matt. 6:9). In the Old Testament, people knew God as the creator (Elohim), and as the One who had made the covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Jehovah), but they did not know Him personally like we do. It is indeed a privilege for us to be able to call God, ‘Father’.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Romans 8:13-14

“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, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Here are two truths that we can be absolutely sure of. If we live to please our bodily appetites and indulge in sin, the end of such a lifestyle is death and separation from God. Those who couldn’t give God a second thought while they were alive, will find their cries to Him for mercy after their death going unanswered. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death”. This encompasses both physical death (which we all experience because of Adam’s sin, passed down to us), but also spiritual death, separation from God, if our spirits have not been made alive through faith in Christ.
There is another way: to live by the Spirit. Through the Spirit’s power – granting resurrection life – we are able to break free from the cycle of sin, and death as its consequences. By the Spirit we are able to ‘put to death the misdeeds of the body’. We are able to say ‘no’ to sin, and to live righteously. This is possible because of an internal rejuvenation. We are brought into God’s family: He imparts to us some of His essence – the Holy Spirit. If we are led by the Spirit, then we are following in our Father’s footsteps. Sure, we will still stumble and fall from time to time, but if our honest intention is to live in a way that is pleasing to God, we can be sure that we have indeed been born again. We can be sure of the promise of eternal life.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Romans 8:12

“Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.”

Once again, we must look at the context of this verse to see what the ‘therefore’ is there for. In verse 11, Paul reminds us of how the Spirit lives in us, with all the power that was manifested in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Because of this indwelling, we have an obligation to allow the Spirit to freely operate in our lives. We are no longer under any obligation to indulge the sin nature. We have a choice.
Even though the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is given to all believers, this is not something to be taken lightly. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not something that any believer in the Old Testament was able to experience. They received salvation by faith in anticipation of Christ’s work on the cross, but their sin was not paid for until that day. They had not been spiritually cleansed, and so the Holy Spirit could not dwell in them in the same way that He dwells inside us. Our sin has been completely dealt with, so that the Holy Spirit is able to make His dwelling in our hearts. His presence within is a great treasure of infinite value. He deserves the effort it takes on our part to allow Him to work in and through our lives.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Romans 8:11

“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.”

There’s a song with the lyrics, ‘Because He lives I can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, life is worth the living just because He lives.’ Jesus’ resurrection is what gives our lives purpose and meaning. And this is incredible: the same Spirit who raised Him from the dead, lives inside us and makes us alive to God. It’s hard to comprehend the power needed to raise a person from the dead. Yet that power is at work in us, transforming us into the image of Christ, day by day. This transformation gives us great hope for what is to come. As we see the difference between Jesus’ physical body and His resurrection body: no longer subject to pain, suffering, ageing etc., yet able to touch, see, smell, eat; this is what we can look forward to as well. One day our bodies will also be transformed, and we will be given bodies like His (1 John 3:2, 1 Cor. 15:49). Our present bodies are suited to the earth, and like the earth, will decay. Our resurrection bodies will be suited to heaven – spiritual, eternal and immortal. Until then, the presence of the Spirit within us is a constant reminder of what we look forward to.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Romans 8:10

“But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.”

In our present existence, our natural body is slowly decaying; every day brings us closer to the end. Adam’s body was created immortal, but became mortal at the Fall because of sin. Everyone, having descended from Adam, has inherited the same kind of mortal body – prone to disease, easily injured, growing old, losing strength. In addition, his spirit was separated from God, the source of spiritual life. All of us are born into this same state, both physically and spiritually. All of us will die physically, but we have a choice as to whether we will endure the ‘second death’ – eternal separation from God. We will not endure this if we are born again by the Spirit of God.
If we are only born once, we will die twice. But if we are born twice, we will only die once.
For those of us who have been born again, we have been made spritiually alive by the power of God. We have regained the connection with God that He created Adam with, and intended for all people to have before the Fall. At the end of the day, this spiritual life is the only life that matters. Who wants to be stuck in their physical body for eternity? And, “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25). Have you got your eternal priorities in order?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Romans 8:8-9

“Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are not controlled 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.”

It may be a hard truth to stomach, but as long as a person continues without submitting to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour, they cannot please God. Living in such a way that your good deeds outweigh your bad, is not sufficient to please Him and gain entry to heaven. The only way to please God is to repent and seek His forgiveness. Indeed, this is the only prayer of an unsaved person that God promises to answer.
Many Christians are concerned that they slip up on a regular basis – losing their temper, saying foolish things, falling into temptation, entertaining unholy thoughts. Sometimes they wonder if God still loves them. The Bible reassures us, time and time again, that His love is unconditional. While these things do not please God, what does please God is when we come to Him in repentance and seeking His forgiveness. Our voluntary love for Him is what He wants from us most of all.
We know what is right and what is wrong, because the Holy Spirit dwelling in us has a hold on our conscience. He will not let us get away with living in an ongoing lifestyle of sin. If you are getting away with it, and do not feel a sense of unease in your spirit, if you have no guilt about what you are doing, then it would seem that the Spirit is not active in your life. We all need to examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5) – do we really belong to Him?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Romans 8:6-7

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.”

Here is the crux of the issue with having a mind controlled by the sinful nature. There is only one outcome if we indulge in sin: death (Rom. 6:23). Sin is not only in opposition to God, but is in defiance of Him. It stems from man exercising his own will against the will of God. Where God has told us ‘do this’ and ‘don’t do this’, the sinful nature says, ‘I don’t like the sound of that’. It is drawn by the present pleasures, and disregards the eternal consequences. The sinful mind is drawn to the deeds of darkness. This is the way sin is: things that are forbidden are made to seem desirable. When God tells us to pursue things that are pure and holy, the sin nature wants to pursue things that are lewd and immoral. Sin is not limited to failing to keep God’s commands, but it seeks to find new ways to do ungodly things. We see this raw behaviour in small children, when they are told, ‘Don’t touch that!’ (a parent’s plea so that they don’t hurt themselves), they will give a mischievous look of open defiance and then reach out. This is what the sinful mind does with God. It does not submit to God’s law. But Paul goes further than this and adds, “nor can it do so”. A person may be openly defiant towards God, or they may be seeking to live a ‘good life’ by keeping as many of the commandments as they can. But without Jesus Christ, both are still dead in their sin.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Romans 8:5

“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 your mind set on? This will tell you whether you are living according to the flesh or according to the Spirit. If we set our mind on gaining fame and fortune, spending our money and time on things for pleasure, indulging in whatever is the latest fad, putting our own interests first and having no regard for whether something is sinful or not, this is a pretty clear indication that we are living according to the sinful nature. Its motto is, ‘if it feels good, do it.’
In contrast, if we have set our mind on the things of God, assessing whether our words and actions are pleasing to Him; if we seek to put others first and let the light of Christ shine forth from our lives in every situation, then we can know that we are living in accordance with the Spirit.
Of course, none of us are perfect. We all have areas in our life that are in progress. We will always have the sin nature with us while we are in these mortal bodies. But now we have the Spirit with us as well. We have two natures, and we must decide if we will follow the sin nature or the Spirit. The one that we feed is the one that will grow strong. So which is it to be?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Romans 8:4

“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.”

Jesus’ act as a sin offering on our behalf means that we switch places with Him in every aspect. He took our frailties and failure, every one of our sins, the punishment we deserve from God. He took our sickness and weakness, and endured the separation and condemnation that we should have received. We are counted according to His perfect righteousness, blameless and justified before God. We are included in the beloved and are destined for eternal glory.
Now if Christ dwells in us, He who met the requirements of the Law imputes that quality to us. We are clothed in His righteousness, as if we were the ones who had lived a perfect life, as He did. He stands before the Father to intercede on our behalf, saying, ‘this one’s with Me.’ And so because He dwells in us, we are no longer compelled to live in subjection to the sin nature, but we have the freedom to live in the new life of the Spirit.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Romans 8:3

“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man.”

The Law tells us, ‘Keep all these commandments and you will live.’ But our sinful nature is incapable of the perfection required by the Law. Thus the Law is powerless to save us – once we have broken it, there is no way to un-break it. For imperfect people – and we are all imperfect – salvation cannot be found in the Law.
God knows all this. This is why He sent His Son to earth as a human being – just like us in physical and emotional capability, but without the sin nature and with the self-discipline to keep the Law perfectly. He became a sin offering for us: our sin was transferred to Him (across the ages, by faith) and He died in our place.
How wonderful it is that God has not abandoned us to die in our sin, and that the Law, with its ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy, has been superceded by Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf. God’s justice has been satisfied, and we are now free.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Romans 8:2

“because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.”

Like it or not, we are all under one of two laws. Either we are under the law of sin, or the law of the Spirit. Paul described his own encounter with each of these in chapter 7. ‘For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body’ (Rom. 7:22-23).
Some people are said to ‘have a law unto themselves’. How true this is: if we have not submitted to the Lordship of Christ, then we are still captives to sin and under its power. Sin, if it is not dealt with and forgiven by the blood of Christ, results in death.
However, there is another law we can live by: the law of the Spirit. This is not something enforced externally to modify our behaviour from outside, but a change of heart inside that is manifested in our outward actions. The law of the Spirit is simple: love. Love God, and love other people as you do yourself (Mark 12:28-31). Seek to develop the fruit of the Spirit in your life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). To live in this way is to live on a higher plane than simply having your actions moderated by ‘don’t do this’ and ‘don’t do that’. The way of the Spirit sets us free from this form of the law.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Romans 8:1

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

As with the start of any chapter in the Bible, we need to read back a few verses to gain the context. We need to know what the ‘therefore’ is there for. In chapter 7, Paul described his battle with sin and how God has rescued him from ‘this body of death’ (Rom. 7:24). Because Paul has died to sin through faith in Jesus Christ, he can confidently say ‘there is now no condemnation’. If we also are in Christ, we can claim this too.
Condemnation is the result of someone being found guilty. A condemned person is awaiting punishment. We are all guilty of sin (Rom. 3:23), and the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). But because Jesus took the punishment we deserve, by dying on the cross, God’s justice has been satisfied. We stand before Him, guiltless, and without condemnation.
Satan may also try to condemn us, reminding us of our past failures and our present ones. But if we are in Christ, we can know that all of these are forgiven.