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Where Do We Stand With God?

September 18, 2020 Leave a comment

LifeSpiritBut you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11)

How does God view us, in terms of our sanctification? In other words, what is our position or status with Him as far as our progress in the Christian life is concerned?

 Does He see us as deficient, with mostly demerits on our record? Do we begin each day with a negative balance, with a need to do a truckload of right things to arrive at a positive balance by the end of the day? Are we merely wannabe Christians in His eyes? Or do we have a positive balance in our Divine account, fully legitimate as believers belonging to Him?

 The answer is in Romans 8:9. God declares that we are in the Spirit (and not in the flesh). We wake up each morning with an abundance of credit to our account. We are the real deal in His eyes. God has placed us in the Spirit, and He sees us as in the Spirit. We have a positive balance with Him, always.

 What this means is that believers need not prove themselves to God, trying to gain His favor. God expects nothing from our flesh … He knows that it cannot produce anything good. We simply need to walk in the state we are in; we are in the Spirit, so our need is to walk in the Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can create good things in and from our lives.

 Notice that the Spirit of God is referred to here as the Spirit of Christ. Note also the statement Christ is in you. Putting these concepts together we conclude that Jesus Christ lives within the believer by the Person of the Holy Spirit. That is how He does it … He dwells in each of us by the Spirit.

 Because the Spirit dwells within the believer, there is a continual promise of the experience of resurrection life. The same power by which Christ rose from dead is in us. The same life Jesus possesses is the same life we possess.

 A primary purpose of this life is that we can overcome the weakness and helplessness of our mortal bodies (our bodies subject to sin and death; our bodies which still contain the vestige of sin). In other words, the Spirit’s life in us conquers the flesh life as we trust in and walk in Him.

 Any good work that God does in us by power which does not come from us; the power God grants us is the resurrection power of His Spirit, which is the same power that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead.

 For Further Review

1.  What does it mean to be in the Spirit? According to this passage, who are those that God classifies as being in the Spirit?

2.  Read Ephesians 1:13,14 and answer this question: what are the steps leading up to being sealed with the Holy Spirit?

3.  When you wake up in the morning, what is your view of yourself? How does God’s view of you differ from your own?

4.  Why is it important to have the correct view of yourself as a believer in Jesus?

You Are in the Spirit

September 17, 2020 Leave a comment

lost-savedBut you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11)

How does God view us, in terms of our sanctification? In other words, what is our position or status with Him as far as progress in the Christian life is concerned?

Does He see us as deficient, with mostly demerits? Do we begin each day with a negative balance, with a need to do a truckload of right things to arrive at a positive balance by the end of the day?

Or, does He see as in a positive light with nothing to prove, but only with a need to walk in the Spirit?

The answer is that we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, because the Spirit of God does indeed dwell in the believer. God has placed us in the Spirit, He sees us in the Spirit. We have a positive balance with Him, always.

Notice that the Spirit of God is referred to here as the Spirit of Christ. Note also the statement Christ is in you. Putting these concepts together we conclude that Jesus Christ lives within the believer by the Person of the Holy Spirit. That is how He does it … He dwells in each of us by the Spirit.

Because the Spirit dwells within the believer, there is a continual promise of the experience of resurrection life. The same power by which Christ rose from dead is in us. The same life Jesus possesses is the same life we possess. A primary purpose of this life is that we can overcome the weakness and helplessness of our mortal bodies (our bodies subject to sin and death; our bodies which still contain the vestige of sin). In other words, the Spirit’s life in us conquers the flesh life as we trust in and walk in Him.

For Further Review

1.  What benefits can you think of that come from knowing that as a believer, you are in the Spirit?

2.  How does Jesus Christ dwell in individual believers, according to the passage?

3.  What is the ministry of the Spirit as He dwells in us? What does He provide to us? What difference does this make in our lives?

 

Death … or Life and Peace?

September 16, 2020 Leave a comment

mind-set-on-the-spirit-is-life-and-peaceFor 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. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)

The mind is a powerful thing, the part of a person that thinks, reasons, feels, and remembers. One’s mindset is his particular way of thinking: his attitude or set of opinions about something (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary).

Numerous passages in the New Testament emphasize the importance of having the right frame of mind, of filling our minds with the right thoughts, of using our minds to focus on God’s direction for our lives. For examples, consider 1 Peter 1:13, 2 Timothy 1:7, Colossians 3:2, Philippians 3:15, Philippians 2:4-8, Ephesians 4:23, and Romans 12:2.

Here, Paul the apostle writes of two very distinct, disparate approaches to life. One is the mindset of the flesh; the other is the mindset of the Holy Spirit. Each approach or mindset has its own predictable and definite results.

The mind occupied with the things of the flesh is death (or the absence of life, as in Galatians 5:19-21). The flesh life is at enmity with God; it is opposed to God … and hostile to Him. He cannot and will not bless the life which is lived in the flesh.

The mind oriented in the direction of the ways of the Spirit is life and peace. This kind of lifestyle is pleasing to God, mainly because He authored it. The Spirit enabled life comes from God Himself, therefore He recognizes and loves it.

A believer in Christ has the capacity to operate in either realm at any given moment, but never both at the same time. Therefore, we must choose the way we live, either flesh or Spirit. We utilize the means of grace to make a Spirit directed choice; the promises of the Bible, Christian fellowship, the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and believing prayer.

While God loves the believer whether he/she makes the right choice or not, the actual lives we lead are can only be pleasing to Him when we live them His way.

For Further Review

1.  What is the orientation of your own mind? If you were to be honest with yourself, what do you think about and focus on most of the time?

2.  Consider the fruit of the way you are living. What is being produced overall: the fruit of Galatians 5:22-24, or the works of Galatians 5:19-21? What is the root cause of either result?

3.  Think about it: what does it mean to utilize the means of grace to make a Spirit directed choice? How do we do that?

 

Have You Ever Wondered What God Requires? (see note at the end)

September 15, 2020 Leave a comment

righeousnessFor the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 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, 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. (Romans 8:2-4) 

The answer for death is life. The answer for inner spiritual conflict is also life … specifically, the life of Jesus Christ conferred upon us by the Holy Spirit. 

The law was weak and ineffective to make us righteous or more like Jesus. Its weakness was not because anything was wrong with the law; it is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:12). No, there is nothing at all wrong with God’s law. But there is something drastically wrong with what the law has to work with … the flesh. 

Remember, God always has a solution. His solution for the law’s ineffectiveness was to send His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. [Note the specificity of the language used; God did not send His Son in sinful flesh, but in the likeness of sinful flesh. Jesus never sinned, and did not inherit the sin of Adam.] God, sending His Son to die and be raised for us, did it because of the sin problem. God condemned sin at Calvary, and by extension, in us. 

All of this was so the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us. In other words, God wants the law to have a powerful effect on us, but He does not accomplish His wishes by using our flesh to do it. Instead, He fulfills the law in those who walk according to the Holy Spirit. 

What this means is that the primary need for believers is to walk with the Spirit. All sins and failures that happen in our lives are due to this one fact: we have failed to yield to the Spirit and operate by the Spirit’s power. 

NOTE: Title taken from “When You Gonna Wake Up” by Bob Dylan (Slow Train Coming, copyright 1979 by Special Rider Music). “Do you ever wonder just what God requires? You think He’s just an errand boy to satisfy your wandering desires.” 

For Further Review

1.  What is the righteous requirement of the law? In other words, what is the main thing the law demands? See Matthew 22:34-40 to help with your answer. Use one word to summarize what the law’s requirement is. What one word describes it?

2.  Why is the law unable to produce this righteous requirement in us?

3.  What did God do to remedy this problem?

4.  In your own words, summarize the primary need for believers if they are going to fulfill God’s desires and what the law requires.

 

No Condemnation!

September 14, 2020 Leave a comment

no condemnationThere 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. (Romans 8:1)

~OR~

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) 

Like an oasis in the desert and like clemency to a prisoner, Romans 8:1 brings a huge sigh of relief and hope for victory. The spiritual conflicts and struggles of Romans chapter 7 are met with this tremendous declaration. 

Do not worry, the Lord is saying … I have justified you, and I hold nothing against you. I know your struggles and the battle of flesh vs. spirit that is within you. And I want you to know that I love you, I am for you, and that I have sealed your eternal future. 

  • Even though the true believer struggles at times, there is no condemnation against him. 
  • Even though these struggles include moments of failure, there is still no condemnation. 
  • Even though there can be exasperation and desperation, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. 

The last phrase who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, is not found in some early Greek manuscripts, which has triggered a lively debate among scholars as to the original writing of this passage. Even with the longer version the meaning is not changed if the last phrase is understood as a descriptive statement, as with this explanatory insertion: There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, [these are the ones] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. In other words, those who are in Christ Jesus are identified as those who are walking in the Spirit … this is the overall life pattern of the true believer. 

The believer can take great comfort in his position in Christ. Being in Christ Jesus without condemnation allows him the freedom to walk in a loving, open relationship with God. When sin occurs, it is confessed and forgiven. When struggles with the flesh are intensified, he can go to the One who has justified him for the help he needs. God is indeed on our side in these matters. 

For Further Review

1.  What does it mean to be in Christ Jesus? According to Roman 8:1, what is the position of such a person in the sight of God?

2.  Re-read Romans 7:14-25. What relationship is there between those verses and Romans 8:1? What is the flow of thought? What does the context of Romans 8:1 teach us?

3.  How has the truth of Romans 8:1 been a help and strength in your life?

 

Who Shall Deliver Me?

September 13, 2020 Leave a comment

15_law-deathFor I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God; through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:22-25) 

There are two laws within every believer. One law is the law of God, written on our hearts (Psalm 40:8; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). Another law (or principle) is the one within the members of our body, which is the law of sin. It is the latter that gives us trouble, setting up an internal war for which there is only one solution. 

The internal war is the war between flesh and spirit. It is an ongoing war, one will not cease until the believer goes home to be with the Lord in heaven. New believers are often surprised that this war exists, as the initial days of living as a Christian are often trouble free. But in order to grow, the Lord must allow troubles and pressures … otherwise the believer would never learn how to rely upon God’s strength. That is usually when this war within is discovered. 

Rather than being disillusioned by the inward struggle, the believer must cry out in honest confession: “O wretched man that I am!” Admitting the problem is the first step. We are, indeed, wretched on the inside. 

Notice that the apostle cries out, “Who shall deliver me?” He is not looking for a what or a thing to deliver him, but to a person. Techniques or human solutions will not work, and the law itself (i.e. more rules) is no help either. 

For deliverance of this sort, there is only one Person the believer must have in mind, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. Like Paul, we must realize our own insufficiency; and therefore turn directly to the Lord for help. 

For Further Review

1.  Using your own words, describe the war that is being waged within each and every believer. Find scripture to support your statement.

2.  What happens when a believer becomes disillusioned by the presence of this inward struggle? What are some typical ways we tend to use to deal with the situation? Cite both healthy and unhealthy approaches.

3.  Why is it important to cry out to a “Who” rather than to a “what”? What is the difference between the two?

4.  Remember a time when you cried out and the Lord brought deliverance from the struggle. How did the deliverance manifest itself? How is this a pattern for future times of struggle?