Sermons

Assurance Through The Spirit

April 25, 2021 Speaker: Chris Jessee Series: Romans

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Romans 8:1–8:11

Romans 8:1–11

[1] There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. [3] 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, [4] 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. [5] 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. [6] For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. [7] 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. [8] Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

[9] 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. [10] But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] 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.

 

-Pray- (Racial Reconciliation & Health of Members)

 

I want to give us a word of caution this morning.  Back in the studio, we have a family Bible for anyone that serves on our worship team, our tech teams, etc. where individuals highlight their favorite Bible verses… it’s beautiful.  I know that Romans 8 is lit up like no other chapter in scripture.  That’s wonderful and I encourage finding strength and hope in these verses.  I do want to make sure that we don’t misunderstand what’s happening in chapter 8… Paul is still talking about Sanctification, that is: how we are changed as a result of our salvation.

 

Here’s the caution: We’re not finally “getting to the good stuff” - we’ve been in the good stuff and Paul is continuing to build out a foundation for our faith so that we rightly understand What it is that God has done for us, how He defines the curses and blessings of our relationship with Him as His Covenant people.  

 

Not only does Paul have more to say to this today, I believe God wants to speak to our hearts in a calming way today… perhaps Romans 8 is better understood, not as ‘the good stuff’ but where we realize how strong, big, firm, sure, steady, massive, etc. the foundation of our faith is.

 

I offer this at the start today because, even as Aron shared last week about the 3rd reality of sin that remains, for those who believe, where we might be tempted to write the law off as sinful itself.  

 

Today we’ll address something else in the life of the believer, something many of us don’t want to talk about, because we don’t want to admit some of the efforts that we add back in to the Christian life, the result of which is, quite frankly; doubt. 

 

What Paul wants to bring to us today, what I believe reflects God’s heart for us as his people today and what the Holy Spirit can bring to life in us is something far more powerful and wonderful than doubt - that is, an assurance of our faith.

ILLUS: The merry-go-round of doubting salvation

For many of us, any sense of assurance can be based on how well we’re doing for any given amount of time, it doesn’t even have to be a long period of time but; our ability, performance, doing right - well, it can seem that something’s moving but we’re not going anywhere!  

 

At times we are actually enjoying our own efforts but assurance is as fleeting as the end point on a merry-go-round.  Each day the same as the day before, wondering if what we do will be enough, how we act will accomplish enough, etc.

 

In Colossians 2:2 Paul prayed for the Christians in that city that they might "reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding." - this is my prayer for us today as well… 

 

These verses are rich, full of benefits for those who are in Christ, who have made the declaration to be a follower of Jesus.

 

As we turn our attention to our passage today we should note that there is a beauty in the way this chapter begins and the way it ends. It begins as was just read with the words: No Condemnation in Christ (v. 1) and ends with No Separation from Christ (v. 39) which we’ll get to in the weeks ahead.  

 

These provide the bookends of assurance.  Paul doesn’t want us to confuse our sanctification (how we’re being changed -as we’ll see later in Romans 8- more and more into Christlikeness) - He doesn’t want us to confuse our Sanctification with our justification (how we’re made acceptable to God through Faith in Jesus Christ alone!)

 

Throughout Romans 8, really through the entire book of Romans, we’ll see the triune God at work: 

it is God the Father who justifies, 

it is Christ the Son who lived, died and was raised again on our behalf -and- 

it is the Holy Spirit that brings to life the empowering work of his presence.

 

What does this accomplish?  We go back to the benefit of the type of relationship with God, that communion with him that once was only available in the Garden of Eden at Creation.  This is because...

 

Sin’s power is broken through the Holy Spirit working in us

 

How does this happen?  Well, Paul wants us to begin by making sure we understand something crucial about what we’ve been saved from.  He once again reiterates for us...

The Law and Its Condemning Power (v.1-4)

Covenant Blessings, Relational Living (v.1)

[1] There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 

 

What a staggering sentence in light of the 7 chapters before it… NO CONDEMNATION!  It’s not found in the nuance of the greek that there might be a little condemnation, it’s not lost in translation that there can be some condemnation, it’s not there because: FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST, THERE’S NO CONDEMNATION.

 

This is where we begin to understand that what we have been called to, In Christ, is not only a covenant- something that can seem very dry, cold, that legal standing but not something you wrap yourself in- it’s not ONLY a covenant… it is a COVENANT RELATIONSHIP.

 

There’s relational warmth, comfort, acceptance… yes, legal standing but the relational blessing of love.

 

I want to try to illustrate this for us, to a degree, with a covenant relationship that we know here on Earth. Now, Stephanie and I have not had a conflict that led to this illustration…  I have plenty of stories to draw from in our past. 

 

This week, I met with someone who very kindly prayed as I referenced that I was working on my sermon, that Stephanie I would be spared relational conflict so I didn't have to have any recent illustrations… this was very kind and sweet, it made me laugh (in a good way) that people have picked up on that happening in our relationship.

 

Here’s how I’d like to illustrate the combination of COVENANT & RELATIONSHIP.

 

I am in a covenant marriage to Stephanie, she’s stuck with me, legally.  When I wrong her - thought, word or deed - when I wrong her, we are not instantly unmarried - THANK GOD!  

 

My eye roll, side eye, -really anything related to my face- a harsh tone, that forgotten item I’ve told her a ton of times I’d do, the lustful lingering look, the selfish response to our circumstances, the... 

- you know, at this point I hope someone can relate so I don’t have to keep going 

- you see, those wrong things, that I hate and I am working to change in… they don’t instantly null our covenant in marriage.  

 

But, things aren’t right if I act in these ways, I do know and feel the effects of relational hurt - I have an increasing desire to make amends for wrongs I’ve done.  

 

I believe the Biblical term for this is repentance: that is sorrow for your actions and then -making amends in return- that is; turning from those actions to how we are called, created, saved to act. (repentance is key both in salvation & sanctification as well)

 

Taking this illustration much further becomes unhelpful, I hope you get the point: if amending my actions through repentance -turning away from how I was acting- is a natural response to a human relationship, it’s a natural response to a heavenly one as well… 

 

Here’s the thing I want to draw our attention to today, as I think back to my covenantal relationship with God… If ‘making amends’ becomes the whole basis for my relationship with God - getting my actions ‘just right’ so that we’re good, I’ve submitted myself to the law again.  

 

Why?  Because I’ve decided that grace isn’t enough, I’m going to give the law a try… it’s never worked before, but I might just be that determined to make it on my own...To that Paul says, no!  For those who are in Christ there is no condemnation!  

 

Why?  Let’s look at verse 2

 

[2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 

 

You see, for those who are in Christ, there’s freedom from both the Law of Sin as well as Death.  When we sin, the Law Only Leads to Condemnation.

 

This is a good place to clarify a few different ways that Paul again uses the word Law - in this instance He is talking about what might be called a natural law - perhaps you’d think of gravity, it’s something that is a part of the world around us, natural, normal.  

 

Not something we have to think about acting upon, it’s happening naturally 

 

- for the one who is in Christ Jesus you have been given a new nature, a new normal, it’s actually quite supernatural as we’ll see in a bit!

 

Paul, in the verses to come, will reference the law as the Moral Law given to Moses, the rules for living rightly (they still have a role in teaching us how to live but they’re powerless to actually overcome sin)

 

In the coming verses we’re also going to better see the contrasting principle or "law" 

  • of "SIN & OF DEATH" and how it does "pull us" downward into death - that’s the gravity and weight of it
    • But, the Spirit of Christ works to pull us upward toward God - reoriented, a different center of gravity…
      • How does this happen? Because… 

Christ Has Solved the Problem of the Law’s Condemning Power (v.3-4)

[3] 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, [4] 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.

 

Consider the richness of these verses, it may be easy to pass over because of how dense the truths in it are, but if we slow down and savor it a bit more we’ll see things like:

  • The result of Adam’s sin and fall - weakened flesh, a need for the law (moral rule)
  • The reason for Christ’s Incarnation
    • Jesuss comes as the one who can rescue
    • Born, not of Adam but of the Spirit, sinless
    • Takes on flesh but is both fully man & fully God
  • The Result of Jesus life
    • The law, upright morals fulfilled for you and for me through his sinlessness
    • In the same way that Christ wears -or, takes on- the very flesh that he created, fulfilling the righteous requirements of the law.  He now, because of his work on our behalf offers to clothe us, not in sinful flesh but in robes of righteousness

 

Amazing, isn’t it?  Remember, Paul is not wanting us to doubt, he wants to point us to something more powerful that we have for an assurance in our faith.  He wants us to live in the good of the truth that 

Sin’s power is broken through the Holy Spirit working in us

 

So, that’s verses 1-4, which reminds us of the law and it’s condemning power, but for those in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation.  As we turn to verse 5-11 we’ll see we now have...

The Holy Spirit’s Power Dwelling in You (v.5-11)

Throughout the book of Romans, thus far, the Holy Spirit is mentioned 1 time, early on in Chapter 1… in Romans 8 alone there are 20+ references to his work in the life of the believer: bringing us to life and empowering us for life.  Without the Holy Spirit there is a...

Lifelong decay from life in the flesh (v.5-8)

[5] 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. [6] For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. [7] 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. [8] Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

 

We’ve talked about the various types of death throughout this series (Spiritual, Physical & Eternal).  This is where Paul points (v.5–6) out that both our present possession -and- final destiny are “life and peace”. 

 

Without the Spirit what is our present possession?  Spiritual Death.  Without the Spirit what is our eternal destiny?  Eternal Death.

 

Why is this?  Because, as Paul shows us (v.7–8) without the Spirit, we “cannot please God”.

 

Thank God that we are not left in this state.  Thank God that we’re not just saved and then kind-of, just, you know… left to linger in this weird state of ‘saved’ without anything else in this life.

 

Don’t get me wrong - if we were ‘just saved’ that would still be amazing, it would still be enough to praise God, it should still draw our hearts toward Christ… but we weren’t ‘just saved’, we are given a new nature, a new kingdom to live for, a new mission for our lives, a new way to see the world around us, a new power to change from one degree of Glory to another.  

 

Acts 17:28 reminds us that… ‘in him we live, and move, and have our being…’ 

 

Why?  Because this brings God glory in this life until we’re glorified with him forever.  We can live in our homes for his glory, we can go to work for his glory, we can interact on our campuses with our studies for his glory.  Our relationships, new and old, can reflect his glory… it goes on and on how our lives can be lived for his glory!

 

We don’t become isolated in order to be perfect - that’s not what ‘set apart’ in the holiness of sanctification means, NO, we’re engaged with the world around us in a new way, for a new purpose, no longer any sense of condemnation because we have… 

  A fruitful future through our Life with the Spirit (v.9-11)

[9] 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. [10] But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] 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.

 

  • Paul wants us to understand:
    •  the reality we can celebrate in Christ: that is, no condemnation!  
    • The reason for this celebration is our justification before God the Father.  
    • The resulting work of justification through the Holy Spirit is our sanctification.

 

It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the source of divine power for sanctification -AND- It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is the strength for spiritual victory in daily living.

 

The Risen and Eternal Christ has taken up residence in you, never to leave so… consider this with me now: 

 

The Only sin that we’re able to overcome... is sin that is forgiven… empowered by the Spirit we can experience victory over sin and live in the blessing of Christ’s victory and our new nature.  

 

Sin that is forgiven can be overcome, let that not only give you a strong sense of assurance today, let that give you hope to overcome, let that change the way that you see others in your home and give you hope in the way that you pray for them.

 

If you struggle with doubt, I hope this passage today offers you hope and assurance in your faith, you will not fall apart, you can have assurance of Christ’s work as enough for you, because...

Sin’s power is broken through the Holy Spirit working in us

 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

O what a foretaste of glory divine!

Heir of salvation, purchase of God,

Born of his spirit, washed in his blood.

This is my story, this is my song,

Praising my Savior all the day long. -Fanny J. Crosby

More in Romans

May 16, 2021

What We Know and What We Don’t Know

May 9, 2021

The Suffering/Glory Paradox

May 2, 2021

Empowered Assurance
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