Romans 8: I Thought So
Like Paul, we have all found ourselves in Romans 7, experiencing the same frustration and wretchedness Paul describes in trying to live a life pleasing to God. The desire to do good is there, but how to perform it we cannot find. It seems as if the only thing we have to look forward to is dying and going to heaven. In the meanwhile, life on this earth seems to be an endless battle some days where we lose more often than we win. Bad news arrives on our doorsteps every morning and what appears to be hopeless situations blaring at us from our televisions every night. Like the generation of Israelites in Exodus, we seemed to be doomed to eke out our lives in the wilderness, having been delivered miraculously from Egypt but unable to enter into the Promised Land. No wonder we are crying out like Paul for someone to rescue us from this body of death.
And then we come to a significant turning point in our journey in Romans 8. It does not mean we will not experience trouble and/or hardship, for that is to be expected, but we are going to the mountain top where we can get a vantage point, and the good news only gets better.
What a wonderful chapter we have come to in Pauls letter to the church in Rome. The chapter begins by telling us there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. One of Pauls most often used phrase is in Christ. We will want to understand what this means for this is a new sphere we live in and is key to understanding the new way we serve Him, since sin is not our master and we are not under the law but under grace. This magnificent chapter also ends by telling us nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And in the middle of this chapter Paul explains how God is working all things together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.
Let us proceed prayerfully and slowly through this chapter of great truths that tell us of the life we now have and can live as believers.
Romans 8:1- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.. (NIV) ( If you are reading the KJV, you will also find the phrase who walk not after the flesh but the Spirit. We will address that phrase in verse 4, where it appears in both the NIV and KJV.) This is actually the first half of a compound sentence with verse 2 completing the sentence. But let us first understand two truths that are in this first half. This verse tells us there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I would first remind you, do not read this statement of fact that says there is no condemnation to mean there are no consequences to sin, for indeed there are. What is it that condemns a person of a crime? The Law. The same is true in the area of sin- what condemns one of sin? The Law of God. But what Paul has told us is now true of our condition is that – sin is no longer our master and we are not under the law, but under grace.( Romans 6:14) And also Paul tells us in Romans 7- we died to the law. And the law has no authority over one after they have died. The law has no claim on you and me as believers because we died with Christ. We have been declared free from the law. There is no condition attached to this freedom from condemnation, for grace is unconditional!
Now let us understand, as best we can, what it means to be in Christ. This is a new sphere in which the believer now lives. A change has come into the believers life at conversion and they have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. To understand this place of security, one need look no further than the first book of the Bible and the story of Noah and his family and the ark. You know the story well, God has decided to condemn mankind with the exception of Noah and his family. He will destroy the world with a flood. Listen to this description in Genesis 7: Come thou and all thy house into the ark. Now the ark had been constructed according to Gods blueprint. The ark was pitched within and without with pitch. ( In fact this presence of pitch in that part of the world tells us there was oil there.) What is interesting is the Hebrew word for pitch is identical to the word used elsewhere for atonement. Once Noah and his family were safely in the ark, we read the Lord shut them in. (Genesis 7:16, KJV) What it meant for Noah and his family to be shut in was God had put them in a sphere where they were safe from His condemnation, safe, secure and saved from Gods wrath as expressed in the flood. The Lord Jesus is our ark in which we are placed. In Christ we are in a place of security from Gods wrath and condemnation. His blood is the pitch that secures us and seals us safely in Christ as Noah was safely in the ark. So just as there was a blueprint for the Ark, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit drew up a plan, a blueprint for salvation before the foundation of the earth. His blood was the pitch that sealed us in Christ, our Ark.
Romans 8:2- because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. There are laws in nature which we recognize. For example- the law of gravity keeps us bound to this earth, and we can jump up, but we always come back down. We can toss a coin in the air, but it will reach a height and the start downward again. What Paul is stating here is in the new sphere in which we live- in Christ, there is a new law in this sphere that overrules the old law of sin and death. This law is called the Spirit of Life. It cancels the law of sin and death. Remember Paul said since sin is no longer our master, we are not under the law, but under grace. As believers we died to the law of sin and now we live and serve in a new way. According to this new law there is complete freedom for the believer both from the penalty and the power of sin. How to live this life daily is what this chapter is about and what this law is about. Paul said in Romans 7- he had a desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. How do I live this new way on a daily basis? How do I make this truth a reality in my life? Jesus said- I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except by Me. ( John 14) Here is an illustration of how one law overcomes another law which many of us have experienced. I mentioned the law of gravity and we all understand that law. But there is another law that allows one to overcome the law of gravity- the law of aerodynamics. An airplane can free one from the law of gravity by the law of aerodynamics. Enough power is exerted to create lift and the plane takes off and is airborne, having power over the law of gravity. The only way I can overcome the law of gravity is if I am in the plane. If I step outside of the plane, the law of gravity will overcome me and down I will come. When we are in Christ the Law of the Spirit of Life can overrule the Law of the Sin and Death in the believers life. But it is possible for us not to enjoy the release from the control of sin through either unbelief or disobedience. And when you do- there will be consequences.
Romans 8:3-4 tells us the law was powerless to overcome sin and death because it was weakened by our sinful nature. It is interesting that Paul writes in I Cor. 15:56- The sting of death is sin, and the POWER OF SIN IS THE LAW. For this very reason, God sent His Own Son, the Lord Jesus in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. The law could not overcome sin, it was only to make us conscious of sin, even arouse sin in our lives. Sin finds its power in the breaking of the law. The more you commit a certain sin, the more you break a certain law, the more powerful that compulsion to sin becomes, until it is a stronghold. Interesting word,stronghold,- this sin has a strong hold on your life and you cannot overcome it. But Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities and cancelled the written code. He disarmed the strong man who had a strangle hold on your life.
In these first four verses, we see three crucial truths:
- We are eternally secure. God has officially declared our justification. He will not rescind His Word
- We are internally free from the control of sin. The Law of the Spirit of Life has set us free from the law of Sin and Death. This is past tense- a truth we must know, reckon to be so by faith, not feelings, and yield ourselves to the Spirit and not the old dead nature.
- We are positionally righteous. For what the law could not accomplish, God has accomplished on our behalf through His Son.
Imagination is a wonderful thing, sometimes. Sometimes it is not. Are you one of those people when trouble arises- your imagination thinks of the worst possible scenario? Imagine, if you will the scenario that took place 2000 years ago in the Upper Room at what we now call the Last Supper. Can you imagine what these disciples were thinking as Jesus began to tell them what was about to occur. They could not imagine a worst case scenario. And as Jesus looked around at these 11 men, for Judas had already departed, the Lord knew what they were thinking and He knew their hearts were troubled. Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. Bad news, the worst of news had just been delivered to these disciples in John 14. Jesus told them He would be arrested and crucified; He told them one of them had betrayed Him; and He told Peter, he would deny Him three times before morning. How could this be happening? How could anything good possibly come out of something so horrible? In their minds, in their thinking, this just did not make any sense at all to them. And we have all had that same feeling of helplessness accompanied sometimes by hopelessness. This is why this message in Romans 8 is so important.
In the next three verses I count ( in the NIV version) the word- mind or minds five times. Paul writes: 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. The mind of the 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 Gods law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. ( Romans 8:5-8)
The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. What a statement. Wouldnt you like to have a mind controlled by the Spirit? I THOUGHT SO.
Our minds are powerful arent they? If our brain is a sophisticated computer, then the mind is a computer programmer. Our thought process is what drives us to act the way we do. For scripture tells us as a man thinketh- so is he. Solomon warns us to guard our hearts- which is our mind, will and emotions with all diligence for out it comes the issues of life.
I cannot possibly in this lesson quote or cite all the scriptures that deal with our mind, but Paul will tell us in Romans 12: Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world; but be transformed by the renewing your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Gods will is His good, pleasing and perfect will. Again Paul writes . Finally brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate ( think) on these things. ( Phil. 4:8) This quote from Philippians is interesting, because when Paul wrote these words, expressed these thoughts- he was in prison.
Do you realize your thoughts can imprison you? That is the power of the mind. Charles Stanley calls it the control tower of character, conduct and conversation.
Ones thought patterns are extremely important to our mental, physical and spiritual health. Doctors attest to the fact that a large percentage of physical illness has a psychological basis. When we got saved we became new creatures. However our thought patterns had to be re-programmed. The enemy of our soul does not want us to think about the things the Apostle Paul told us to- he wants us to think on the things our old nature, the flesh wants to think on. I would pray we would all heed the Holy Spirit when He tells us- Dont even think about it!
Here is what I know- whenever a wrong, sinful thought comes into our minds, we can choose to think about it or we can use that very thought to turn to the Lord. The battle is for the mind. If as Charles Stanley described it is the control tower and therefore the battle is for control of the mind. For Satan knows the mind set on the sinful nature is death and the mind set on the Spirit is life.
First things first- you must began a program of re-programming your mind with the truth of the Word of God for this simple reason: You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. (John 8, Jesus speaking.) I must caution you- freedom is not instantaneous.
How to reprogram your mind, to transform your thinking:
- Recognize you have the mind of Christ in you. ( I Corinthians 2:16) We believe when we are saved, Christ abides in us. He has given us the capacity to think like He thinks. Again there is the potential and we must began the process to engraft the Word so we can begin to think aright.
- You need to choose to think right. If you then have been raised up with Christ, KEEP SEEKING THE THINGS ABOVE, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things that are on earth. Keep seeking is the key here. This is not a once-for-all-deal. You must fight this battle every day until you get to heaven. Spiritual warfare is all about the battle for the control of the mind. And we have weapons which are mighty, not carnal for the tearing down of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every imagination that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every THOUGHT to make it obedient to Christ. ( 2 Cor. 10)
- You must learn to sift your thoughts through the Word of God. You need to ask yourself when a thought comes into your mind that is suspicious. How do we do this? The Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than a two edged sword; dividing asunder the THOUGHTS AND INTENTIONS OF THE HEART. (Hebrews 4:12) The Word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Our part is to sharpen the sword through meditation, thus engrafting it, so the Spirit can wield the sword to not only divide asunder our thoughts- detecting motive and intent; but also to take captive the thoughts.
- You need to refuse to think about some things. You need to turn off the television when what is on there is in no way- true, or noble, or just or pure, or lovely or of good report or praiseworthy- it is in fact filth. And you are putting in your mind by choice. Do you know what got King David in trouble- late night television. Oh, it wasnt on a television set it was across the way on a balcony, a peep show that he did not turn off and look what happened.
Ginas mother used to have a mold, she used to make birthday cakes for the grandchildren in the shape of a lamb. You probably have a mold for cooking a bundt cake. The world system has a mold and the enemy of our soul wants to mold us and conform us to its shape by conforming our thought process. We spent years being conformed by the worlds mold. Now the Word of God tells us to stop being conformed by the worlds pattern but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
We must meditate on the Word of God or we dont have a chance of thinking correctly. Meditation on His Word isnt an option if we want to renew our thinking patterns. It is a matter of survival.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit. ( Aristotle.)
A habit is an intersection of knowledge, skill and desire.
Knowledge is the what to do and why to do it.
Skill is the how to do it.
Desire is the motivation , the passion that ignites the fire in your heart.
Remember when Jesus opened the Word of God for the disciples on the road to Emmaus, where they could understand it? What was their response?
Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?
Why do our hearts not burn within us? I will tell you why.
We do not spend enough time with Christ.
We live as if defeated by sin- our minds on the sinful nature.
We live self centered lives.
We are apathetic, lukewarm and you know what the Lord thinks of luke warm.
Do you want your heart to burn within you with desire to know Him and walk with Him?
I THOUGHT SO .SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?