Living by God’s Spirit by Rev. Roger Rohde (4-2-17)

Living by God’s Spirit

Romans 8:1-11

This is examination Sunday. It is not an examination with regard to the

knowledge we have in our heads, but rather an examination of our hearts to see

what makes us tick. I looked up this expression, “what makes us tick,” on the

internet and found the following meanings: “What motivates us to do the things

we do? What makes us behave the way we do?” Today’s text leads us to closely

examine whether or not we are living by the Spirit of God.

Our text begins with the word, “therefore,” indicating to us that what

preceded our text is directly connected to what we find in our text. At the end of

Romans 7, Paul speaks of how Christians go through a daily conflict between the

desires of the sinful flesh and the Spirit of God that dwells within them. Paul

notes that we will not always successfully live pure and holy lives. We will sin

against the Lord and stand in need of His forgiveness. Yet, to win the spiritual

battle each one of us needs to examine ourselves and honestly see what it means

to live by the Spirit of God.

To live by the Spirit of God starts with God’s Spirit living in us.

Paul opens our text by saying: “There is no condemnation for those who

are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me

free from the law of sin and death.” How can we be free from the law of God that

condemns us as lost and condemned creatures? No one can nullify God’s law not

even God Himself. For God to nullify the law He had given would make Him

unfaithful, a liar. The law of God shall always stand and it shall always show us

the reality of our sins. God’s law with its demands cannot be nullified, but it can

be fulfilled.

That is the point of the opening words of our text: “There is not

condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the

law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Paul in our text

goes on to say: “God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin

offering. And so He condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous

requirements of the law might be fully met.”

The point is this: Jesus did not nullify the law of God but fulfilled it.

Remember Jesus words earlier in His ministry: “Do not think that I have come to

abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but fulfill them”

(Matthew 5:17). Because of our sinful flesh, we were too weak to fulfill God’s

Law and save ourselves. For this reason God sent Jesus “in the likeness of sinful

man.” This does not mean Jesus sinned. It means He took on human flesh and

blood. He lived to fulfill God’s law we failed to keep and then died as if He was

the violator of God’s law rather than us. He experienced the pain and

punishment of our sins so that we would not be under the law’s condemnation.

We are blessed by this saving work of Christ as the Holy Spirit works faith in

our hearts. This gift of faith comes about not by a resolution or an intellectual

decision we make (John 1:12-13). This gift of faith is just that, a gift of God

created in us by the Holy Spirit. The Bible clearly tells us in I Corinthians 12:3: “No

one can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit.” Dr. Martin Luther noted this

Scriptural truth in these words of his: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or

strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has

called me by the Gospel.” Living by God’s Spirit begins as the Holy Spirit works

faith in Christ within our hearts.

To live by the Spirit of God continues as we are Spirit-minded. Paul writes

in our text: “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on

what the Spirit desires.” Like a plant positions itself toward the sun, those who

are Spirit-minded direct themselves to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

This, of course, does not come easily. So often we become trapped and

strapped by the things of this life that we really don’t set our minds on the things

of God. We may talk the Christian talk, but our lives show the lie of our words.

Our dwelling place, our spouse, our children and grandchildren, our job and

hobbies can become more important to us than the Lord. Yet, God clearly states:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will

be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Seeking the things of God’s kingdom does not

mean we cannot have goods, job, child, and wife. It does mean, however, that

these are not our greatest worth. He who lives by the Spirit of God has God first

and foremost in his mind.

This means that some of us need to loosen our hold on the things that do

not last eternally. We cannot take our homes, belongings, job, family and friends

with us when we die. The only One Who can go with us through the valley of the

shadow of death is Christ, so we need to hold onto Him tightly. We better do this

for Paul says very bluntly in our text: “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to

set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.”

To live by the Spirit of God concludes as we are Spirit-guided. The last

section of our text speaks about being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Christianity is

not merely a message that our sins are forgiven and we will have an eternal home

in heaven. Christianity is about living in the forgiveness of sins we have received

in Christ, and living for the One Who has blessed us with everlasting life in

heaven.

Being Spirit-guided means we will bear the fruit of God’s Spirit in our lives.

If you want to read more about this turn to Galatians 5:16-25. We don’t have

time to reference this in more detail right now. Suffice it to say, living by the

Spirit of God means that we bear the fruit of faith in our lives. We not only speak

the Christian talk, but we walk the Christian way in all things. We show by the

way we live that the Spirit lives within us and has made us to be His temple, Spirit-

minded and Spirit-driven.

What makes you tick? What governs your life in this hour? Draw near unto

the Lord with repentant hearts and He will forgive you of your sins and empower

you with His Spirit to be a Spirit-minded and Spirit-guided person who praises our

Lord and Savior in this life and for all eternity. Amen.

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