We already have a good jump on February! Spring is in the air! Of late, we’ve been laboring the whole concept of sin. Some would say we have been belaboring the point. Although I don’t think we have even begun to recognize the impact of our own sin in our lives; since it’s Monday, we’ll turn the corner to talk about Romans 8. But before we do, remember that those who have died in their sins will be laboring/belaboring over theirs for all of eternity. Don’t think sin is a big deal? Try sorting it all out while weeping, wailing, and gnashing your teeth. Let that sink in for a while.
However,…… for those who are IN Christ, it’s a completely different story!
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
This is a memory verse if I ever saw one, folks! This is the other side of the coin! I am reminded of Paul’s prayer for us.
Ephesians 3:14-21 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
We could spend a week just dissecting this prayer! Imagine, then, how long we could spend on Romans 8! Here’s the gist of it. God dramatically and irrevocably changes our status from sinner to saint. This is not simply a paper entry. Something actually happens to us:
v. 7-10 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
Again, we see the magnitude of sin. In fact, we will spend the rest of our lives on earth in a transformative process to rid ourselves of the residual effects of our sin so that we will one day be perfect before him. Some of us will cooperate with this process better than others. We’ll all be white as snow on the day we enter heaven, but that final scrubbing might be rough for some. Far better would it be if we cooperate now! Embedded in this part of chapter 8 is the revelation of our new status with God:
v. 12-17 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh. 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. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you do not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption, as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified in him.
Now, suffering in Christ may mean many different things. At the minimum, it means that you will suffer to rid yourselves of sin. Don’t believe me? Try getting rid of that spare tire around your abdomen – and keep it off! You’ll see plenty of suffering because evil fights with everything it has to keep us continuing in our sinful ways. The tragedy of our church, as I see it, is that we have lost sight of this and tolerate sin. Oh, sure, there are some sins that we draw the line on, but that is rapidly changing. Homosexuality is now mainstream in many denominations. Those who still believe it to be sin no longer dare to talk openly about it. That gets us back to our study on the churches of Revelation.
One thing before we close for the day. It is very important to be able to identify fellow believers. Most of the time this is quite easy because our spirit recognizes the Holy Spirit. However, Satan is a master at deception, so he works hard to put his troops in our midst. Why? To lead us into sin so that we might become ineffective as children of God. It is also very possible that a believer, a true brother in Christ, falls into serious, long-term sin. Most of the time, this type of behavior indicates that a person never was of the faith to begin with. They can’t keep up the masquerade forever. Here’s the good news. Believers who refuse to change will be changed. If God gives someone to Jesus, they belong to Jesus. It isn’t optional. However, the behavior will be dealt with. Just see how the early church handled cases like this:
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For thought absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Yes, once saved, always saved. Yet we see that it is far better to cooperate with the Lord. Unfortunately, our churches have ignored this passage, to their shame.
Tomorrow, we’ll continue in Romans 8.
Father, keep teaching us. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers