Life in the Spirit (Romans 8:1-11)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Saturday, May 1 and Sunday, May 2, 2021
I read the following:
One of the more humorous quirks of scientific history is the debate over who should get the
credit for discovering oxygen. Joseph Priestley, an English scientist and clergyman, is often
given that honor because he was the first to publish his findings, doing so in 1774. Interestingly,
Priestley originally called the gas, “dephlogisticated [de-phlo-gis-ti-cat-ed] air.”
However, in 1772, two years prior to Priestly’s find, a Swedish chemist named Carl Scheele
independently discovered the gas that is so crucial to human existence. Strangely enough, the
term oxygen didn’t actually come into use until 1775, when yet another chemist, Frenchman
Antoine Lavoisier (La voi ze), discovered and named the gas we breathe. Lavoisier was also the
first to recognize oxygen as one of our natural elements.
Regardless of who gets the credit, it’s odd to think of a human being “discovering” oxygen. What
did we breathe before this important discovery? Does a fish discover water? The truth is that
oxygen literally surrounds us every day, and even if we choose to call it “dephlogisticated air,”
we can’t live without it.
Well, friends in Christ, the same is true of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians we have new life, we have life in the Holy Spirit. That is our focus today.
My theme and application today is:
We are NOT under condemnation if we are in Christ Jesus, we must set our minds on the things of the Spirit.
We are going to walk through Romans 8:1-11:
The New American Commentary shares the following:
With chap. 8 we arrive at what may be called the inspirational highlight of the Book of Romans. Here the apostle is swept along in a wave of spiritual exaltation that begins with God’s provision of the Spirit for victory over the old nature, breaks through the sufferings that mark our present existence, and crests with a doxology of praise to the unfathomable love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Nowhere in the annals of sacred literature do we find anything to match the power and beauty of this remarkable paean of praise. Although the pinnacle of this exalted prose awaits our arrival at vv. 28–39, the earlier sections provide the setting against which the culminating truths will break forth with an even greater brilliance. We are not dealing here with mere theology. As Paul wrote, his pen gave evidence that he was caught up in an experience of profound worship and spiritual adoration.
- The Believers’ relationship to the Holy Spirit (verses 1-4).
- No condemnation (verse 1): There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
- Remember the context, remember chapter 7.
- In chapter 7 Paul wrote about how we cannot keep the Law. In verse 6 Paul wrote about how the Law exposes our sin. In chapter 7 Paul wrote about how there is a war between the two natures. There is a war between the flesh and the Spirit. I made the case that Paul was writing about either his pre-saved self or writing as a Jewish non-believer.
- This verse now says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. The verdict is delivered, and we are NOT condemned. That is the past, the trial is over. “On the sole basis of Christ’s righteousness imputed, then a reversal of the court’s verdict is impossible.”
- The next few verses build on this idea.
- Verse 2 gives the contrast between the Law of the Spirit and the Old Testament Law. The Law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Verse 2 reads: For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
- This is why there is no condemnation. Jesus took our condemnation on the cross.
- God never intended us to go it on our own. Did not Jesus say, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)?
- Verse 3 builds on this idea.
- Verses 3-4: God did what the Law could not do. Verses 3-4 reads: For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
- One could restate the logic this way: Christ accomplished for us the condemnation that the law demands so that he might accomplish in us the sanctification that the law commands. The key phrase for our purpose is the phrase “so that,” or “in order that.” When God put Christ in our condemned place, he did this not only to secure heaven, but to secure holiness. Or even more precisely, not only to secure our life in paradise, but also to secure our love for people.
- The Spirit is mentioned only in 1:4; 2:29; 5:5, and 7:6, but is mentioned 19 times in chap. 8.
- He frees us from sin and death (vv. 2, 3); enables us to fulfill God’s law (v. 4); changes our nature and grants us strength for victory over our unredeemed flesh (vv. 5–13); confirms our adoption as God’s children (vv. 14–16); and guarantees our ultimate glory (vv. 17–30).
- The Holy Spirit dwells in you (verses 5-11).
- In verses 5-8 we see the contrast of those according to the flesh versus those according to the Spirit. Verse 5 reads: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
- According to the flesh means the fallen, sinful nature. If we are not in Christ, if we do not know Christ, we set our minds on the things of the world.
- However, if we know Christ, if we live with Him (John 15), if we live according to the Spirit, we set our minds on the things of God.
- Verse 6 continues the contrast: For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
- We are to “set our minds” on the things of the Holy Spirit. This is partnering with the Holy Spirit to let Him work within us (Phil 2:12-13). To set the mind on the flesh means to think continually about and constantly desire the things characteristic of fallen, sinful human nature, that is, to think just the way the unbelieving world thinks, emphasizing what it thinks important, pursuing what it pursues, in disregard of God’s will.
- We receive life and peace by being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This means peace with God, reconciliation with God.
- How is the mind set on the flesh death? Verses 7-8 answer this.
- Then verses 7-8 shows that the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God. The mind set on the flesh does not submit to God’s law AND IT CANNOT. Verses 7-8 reads: 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 in the flesh cannot please God.
- This is because the mind set on the flesh is focusing on the fallen, depraved things. One could go further that we have eternal death without being regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
- Notice when in the flesh we CANNOT please God. We must be born-again. We must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
- Verses 9-11 are all about how the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Verses 9-11 reads: 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. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
- Notice the pointedness of verse 9: YOU, however, are NOT in the flesh…
- You are in the Spirit.
- That is, if the Spirit of God dwells in you.
- This means that if we are saved, the Holy Spirit dwells in us.
- If you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you do not belong to Him.
- Notice how Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ are used interchangeably. ESV Study Bible: By definition, Christians are not in the flesh, for all who believe in Christ are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Paul alternates between the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ here, showing that Christ and God share the same status.
- Verse 10: But if Christ is in you the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is alive because of righteousness.
- Verse 11 is powerful, “if…” this is assuming you are saved. If the Spirit of Him Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He, who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies. How? Through His Spirit who dwells in you.
- The Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus is in you. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you. Powerful!
- The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and He will also raise us.
- Who raised Jesus from the dead: All three members of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were involved in the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is individually ascribed to each one of them.
- We must be encouraged that we do not live under condemnation (verse 1).
- We must be encouraged that Jesus did what we could not do on our own (verses 2-3).
- We must give thanks to the Lord and worship the Lord and serve the Lord for His awesome free gift.
- We must set our minds on the things of the Spirit (verse 5; also Galatians 5:22-23).
- We must understand that when our mind is set on the Spirit we have life, real life, abundant life, eternal life, and peace, that is, peace with God (verse 6).
- We must understand that the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God (verses 7-8).
- We must understand the dichotomy between God’s ways and the ways of the flesh (verses 7-8 and James 4:4).
- We must understand that if we are in Christ we have the Spirit of God in us (verse 9). We must worship God for this awesome truth and walk by the Spirit.
- Praise God that the Holy Spirit Who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in me! He will also resurrect my body.
On the night of March 29, 1848, Niagara Falls completely and mysteriously stopped flowing. The estimated 500,000 gallons of water that customarily rushed over the falls stalled to a trickle. James Francis Macklem, a village justice of the peace in the Niagara area, wrote that he had witnessed the subsidence of the waters and the phenomenon of the Niagara running dry “caused great excitement in the neighborhood at the time.”
To some, the mystery of this sudden “turning off” of the river seemed to be an ominous portent, and nightfall found most of the churches packed with people praying or talking in frightened voices about the end of the world. Fear grew into the proportions of panic.
The cause of this unusual event began along the shores of Lake Erie near Buffalo. For several days, the wind had been blowing to the east over Lake Erie, driving much of its ice flow down river. Then the winds suddenly shifted to the west, driving the lake water west and causing the lake’s ice to break up and dam the river. The Niagara River ceased to flow for almost 30 hours until the ice shifted and the dam broke up.
When we become cold towards Christ and do not let the Holy Spirit flow through our lives it can become disastrous. Has your love for Christ grown cold? Today in prayer, confess any sin to Christ and remember the love you had for Him when you first became a Christian. Walk with Him and do not let your love grow cold.
 Dr Michael Horton in “ For Calvinism”
 Piper, John. Providence (p. 590). Crossway. Kindle Edition.
 John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ro 8:2–30.