Romans 8b

Life Through the Spirit

Romans 8: 9- Paul is writing as he often does in a conversational tone, as if he were in the same room with the reader. It is as if, he is looking at their very faces and after just telling them in verse 8- ‘those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.’. But you, however are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.’

In Acts 1, the resurrected Lord Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the gift promised by the Father. He told them,’  After this you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you…”

We are to be : Controlled by the Holy Spirit; living in accordance with the Spirit; having our minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Paul tells us the key right here in this verse:  “ You , however, are controlled not by the sinful nature, but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” ( Romans 8:9)

Let us consider what we know and are told about the Holy Spirit for the new life is lived through the power of the Spirit. The Christian life begins with spiritual birth, as Jesus describes in John 3. We are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian life is a personal, daily relationship between the believer and Christ. This new birth results in an entirely new kind of life. Basically it changes your perspective on life. One begins to see things from God’s point of view. The Word of God tells us:  “ Therefore if any man/woman is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” ( I Cor. 5:17)

There are many wonderful scriptures that tell us what has happened.  Paul says we are to know these facts and reckon them to be true by faith and then to yield ourselves not to temptation but to God. We have as believers become:  new creatures; have a new relationship with God and mankind, and a new motivation for life and how we live.

There is a freedom from fear. One of the most often repeated commandments from the Lord Jesus was ‘ fear not’. Fear not, Jesus said, for I am with you and He told us He would be with us until the end of the age. The Holy Spirit is in you , if you are a believer. And as Paul writes we have not been given a spirit of fear, but of love and power and a sound mind. I love the great hymn by John Newton, ‘Amazing Grace’. Listen to this truth from that hymn- “it was Grace that taught my heart to fear, and Grace, my fear relieved. “

The Holy Spirit brings freedom from fear, condemnation, defeat, discouragement and even death. The Spirit brings new life while putting the old nature to death. We have been given the Spirit to lead us and it is the Spirit Himself that testifies with our spirit we are the children of God. ( Romans 8: 16)

So before we go any further let’s talk about who the Holy Spirit is and why He came. Since this is the source of power Jesus was referring to, then we want to know how we live our lives through the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a person, the third person of the Trinity- the Father, the Son and the Spirit. He is not some impersonal force, like from Star Wars; He is a person equal in every way with God the Father and God the Son.

The Holy Spirit has intelligence for He knows the thoughts of man.

The Holy Spirit has emotion for we read the love of the Holy Spirit in Romans 15:30.

The Holy Spirit exercises His will in I Corinthians 12- where we read ‘the Holy Spirit gives them(spiritual gifts) to each one, as He wills.’

Listen to this prayer of Paul’s in Ephesians 3: “ For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,that He would grant you according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.”

To experience the phenomena of Christ living in you, one must be born again. Just as you were born physically the first time at a particular time and place and given a name, there is a definite time when you personally received Jesus Christ as your Savior and were born again spiritually and were given a name- Christian.  I am a partaker of my parents nature via their DNA, and Peter tells us we are now partakers of His divine nature.

The comparison between the first birth and second birth continue as Peter tells us we are babes in Christ. “ Like newborn babies , crave  pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation having tasted that the Lord is good.” ( 1 Peter 2:2)

Do you know what is the whole story and the divine purpose of creation and redemption? It is simply this-that God should have many children.  God wants us for His own family. God wants us to want Him. Do you realize who Jesus is?  He is God the Son, the Only Begotten.  The Lord is an ‘only child.’ He had no brothers. God the Father sent God the Son the Only Begotten so He would be the First Begotten  and have many brothers and sisters. God is all about family. John writes in John 1:12-13:” Yet to all who received Him, to those who believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

In Romans 8:23, Paul mentions “ we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”    Again it is Paul who writes in Ephesians 1- “ He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.” The Only Begotten Son cannot become the First Begotten Son- unless there are more children born in the family.  The Holy Spirit is the agent of adoption in that He testifies we are God’s children.  But when we were born again, the Holy Spirit who is the third person of the Trinity came to live in our hearts.  Listen to what Jesus tells us: “ On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” ( John 14)

So as you realize God’s purpose from the beginning through creation and redemption was to bring many sons ( and daughters) into glory.  God wants to populate heaven with sons and daughters to live with Him forever in heaven. And even now as we speak, the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing places for us to live with Him and the Father throughout eternity.

Paul tells us this fact: “ .. 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. 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. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are 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.” ( Romans 8:13-17)

Now we begin to see the ‘big picture.’ God is building a family. Whereas Jesus sometimes refers to believers as ‘many brethren’- to God the Father we are His children. It begins with justification as Paul as explained in the earlier chapters. We are justified by faith, and receive the righteousness of Christ the Only Begotten and the First Begotten. Realize Jesus will always be the Only Begotten.  He and the Father are one. He has always existed.

So after being born again into the family of God, God’s desire is the desire of all parents- to see His children grow up. “Then we are no longer infants tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things  GROW UP INOT HIM WHO IS THE HEAD, THAT IS CHRIST.” ( Ephesians 4)  God wants us to grow up to be like Jesus, the Only Begotten and the First Begotten.

Understand what has happened. God desiring to have a family of many children, had to deal with the problem He cannot abide in the presence of sin. Since all  have sinned, God must do away with not only the sins, but the sin nature that produces them.  Look again at the Cross and we will see, perhaps fresh and anew, the process of adoption that God the Father went through in order to adopt us.

First part of constructing this bridge that would span the chasm between unholy man and Holy God is the journey of God the Son, the Only Begotten Son to earth to be born of a virgin and live a perfect life , without sin. We call this the Incarnation. God the Son took on a body prepared for him which no sin had tainted. He did this to offer his body as a voluntary sacrifice unto God that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, the evil serpent from the garden, the devil. His body was prepared not only for death, His body was prepared to bruise the head of the serpent

When the Lord Jesus was crucified, He, who knew no sin took my sin and paid for it. My old nature was crucified with Him. Our dual problem was our sins and sin which resided in our old nature. The blood deals with our sins, what we have done. The Cross deals with what we are- sinners. The blood disposes and cleanses us of all our sins. The Cross deals with our old nature by crucifying us with Christ.

My old nature was crucified with Him- notice past tense. The body of sin has been done away with…stay with me now, for this is still all part of the adoption process. But next comes the resurrection, this is the First Begotten, the grain of wheat. Jesus said- “ The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12) Jesus died that He might be resurrected and that we might live in Him. I in Him at the Cross, He in me at resurrection, walking in newness of life.  So the resurrection is part of the adoption process. But also the ascension and exaltation to the right hand of God in heaven, for then is when the Holy Spirit came. The power given to us , Christ in us to live the new life and one day be glorified and live eternally with our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever. Amen.

This is why Jesus said to the disciples, it is to your advantage that I go away. To bridge the span between Holy God and unholy man in order that God might have a family who He desired so much- He sent His Only Begotten Son that whosoever should believe in Him should have eternal life.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ in us.

Listen to what the Spirit does:

He regenerates- imparts new life. He indwells- promised to never leaves us- be with us always until the end of the age. He teaches us revealing truth . He seals us, He is the earnest of our inheritance. Our guarantee.

Our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit. Which means we are indwelt by the Trinity. God the Father built this body, this temple we live in. (For it is God who created us and not we ourselves.) God the Son paid for this temple- He redeemed us with His precious blood at Calvary. And God the Holy Spirit has moved into this temple to make it His home and live within us. Now does this not make you want to sing- Holy! Holy! Holy! God in Three Persons- Blessed Trinity!

Back to Acts 1:8- “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses.”

“ Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord Almighty.” ( Zech. 4:6)

“Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it.” ( I Thess. 5:24)

“The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly” ( Proverbs 20:27, KJV.

The spirit of man, while he is lost is dead in sin, is compared to a candle in this Proverb. Listen to how John describes the Lord Jesus: “ In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:4-5

Until the Holy Spirit lights the candle of man’s spiritual life, he cannot see and know God. Man is spiritually dead, an unlit candle., but when a lost person gets saved, when the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the spirit – he becomes spiritually alive- the candle is lit.  That is why we sing- this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, let it shine , shine shine.

Jesus said : “ You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” ( Matt. 5)

And sadly Jesus tells us:  “ This is the verdict: Light has come into the world but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” ( John 3)

Have you seen the Light?  I Have. And His Holy Name is Jesus.

APPLICATION:  The master key to spiritual growth is the Word of God. Listen to this promise:  “ And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with EVER-INCREASING GLORY, which comes from the Lord, who is Spirit.” ( 2 Cor. 3:18)

As you get into the Word of God, the Word of God gets into you and it is then the Holy Spirit who transforms you from the inside –out in ever-increasing degrees. It is the process of spiritual maturity. It does not happen at once but over time- a life time of personal devotion to the Word of God.

If this is the KEY to Spiritual Growth- we turn the lock by the following steps:

  1. Believe this is the Word of God.
  2. Study the Word to show yourselves approved.
  3. Honor the Word of God.  Defend it.
  4. Love the Word of God. How can you not love the Word, when you so love the Author.
  5. Obey the Word of God.

The Word of God has changed my life. Listen to what these men of God have to say about this all-important facet of the Christian life:

Charles Stanley:  “ The most important activity in the life of any Christian is their private devotions, reading and meditating upon the Word of God and prayer. Your devotional life determines the effectiveness of everything else you are and do.”

Henry Blackaby: “ My quiet time is not for a devotional thought, but for a deeper relationship with my Heavenly Father. My quiet time alerts me to what God wants to do in my life the rest of the day.”

Dr. Stephen Alford: “  The barometer of the Christian life is the daily, disciplined and directed communion with the Lord in the light of His Word and the leading of His Spirit.”

Dr. Bobby Moore: “ The success or failure of your Christian life, ministry and witness can hinge on your personal devotional life.”

“ As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “ Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me. “ Martha, Martha, – you are worried about many things, BUT ONLY ONE THING IS NEEDED. MARY HAS CHOSEN WHAT IS BETTER AND IT WILL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER.” ( Luke 10)

The day I got saved in Nashville, on September 16, 1977, there was another man who that morning had his ‘quiet time in the Word and in prayer’.  In doing so, this man, a recovered alcoholic was prompted by the Spirit to attend an AA meeting that morning he did not usually attend.  So it was our paths intersected as I came to that Friday morning meeting at 10:00 a.m.  After the meeting, this man ( whose name I cannot remember) took me to his office and it was there he told me of how in his quiet devotional time that morning he was impressed to come to this meeting. He is the one who reached for the phone and dialed my home number and called Gina and I told her what had happened.  And that was the beginning…..

But only one thing is needed- and this man had done that as he sat at the Lord’s feet that morning listening to what He said.


Paul said I want to know Him.

Moses said I want to see Him.

Phillip said- show us the Father.

Look into the Word and the Holy Spirit will open the eyes of your heart that you might see….

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14