Right Living Means Tough Choices

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23 Jun 2024

Right Living Means Tough Choices

Passage Romans 8:1-17

Speaker Hugh Bourne

Service Morning

Series Training for Mission

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Passage: Romans 8:1-17

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – 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.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Now, at the moment, it's a difficult time to be an english person and a football fan.

It happens every couple of years or so. A major tournament comes round and the same thing always happens. We have an almost flawless qualifying campaign and everyone starts talking. Well, I say everyone, everyone in the english media starts talking about how wonderful the England football team is. They'll throw out phrases like, it's a golden generation.

I mean, I'm not that old, but I've already seen several golden generations. And there's a little bit of hype and expectation and then the tournament comes round and reality hits. The joy of qualifying and the joy of the hype before the tournament is quickly replaced with the fear when, frankly, expectation that England will then fall at the final hurdle, although probably more likely the semi final hurdle or the quarter final hurdle even before that. And it makes you wonder, well, is this what the christian life is like? Is the christian life the joy of qualifying and all that we've seen throughout the book of romans so far, that Jesus has died for us and welcomed us into his family.

We're loved and accepted. We, through him can qualify. And then the fear that I'll fail or fall, the joy replaced with fear. Perhaps the christian life feels like that for you. I've made it this far.

Now what am I going to do to keep going? How will I stay in? What if I fall? What if I make a mistake? Especially if we just messed up again.

Is this the christian life? Well, no, not according to romans. Chapter eight. Far from the fear of failure, this chapter begins with the most victorious and liberating verdict. It's there in verse, verse one.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus right now, christian believer, there is no condemnation, no guilt, no shame, no trial, no judgement to come for the one in Christ. No condemnation. I wonder how we felt. I guess many of us will have watched that BBC drama, the post office against Mister Bates, the story of the postmasters and the horizon scandal. And I think if you watched it, as we watched it, we felt that weight, that burden of condemnation.

Now, of course we knew they were innocent, but I think we felt with them the injustice, the threat of legal punishment and fines, that crushing weight.

And then in the news afterwards, we heard the verdict. Not guilty. What a relief. What a burden lifted that must have been. What a joy through all that trial and pain, to be vindicated, to be told.

Not guilty. No condemnation. And that's how Paul begins, chapter eight. No condemnation for those who are in Christ. You see in chapter six, and seven, where we've been the last few weeks, Paul has been building his argument around this key idea that christians are in Christ or united to Christ.

You might remember Steve's thread and needle illustration. If Christ is the needle, we are the thread. We're united to him. Him. And where he goes, we follow.

He died, and so our old life died with him. He was raised, and so too we are given new life. But here at the beginning of chapter eight, he reaches the conclusion of this point. For those who are in Christ, there is now no condemnation. Let me say that again in case you didn't get it.

For those who are in Christ, there is no condemnation. Now, Paul has already made this point. In chapter five, he's already said that condemnation has been replaced by justification. No longer condemned, but in Christ, justified. But here the scope is even broader.

He's saying that condemnation is no longer even a category for the Christian. For the Christian, it doesn't exist. When you're in Christ, there is no condemnation. And this is life giving freedom for the Christian. And at the same time, the most wonderful invitation to come to Jesus.

Here in Jesus, there is no condemnation. Now for the Christians. Sometimes we feel like, well, Jesus died for my sins. I've been rescued and welcomed. Now, Johnny, well, better be good to stay in.

You know, he's done the hard work. Now I'm in. Over to me. But for the Christian, in spite of fears and failures, there is no condemnation because you are safe in Jesus. How liberating.

How freeing not to sin, as we saw in chapter six, but free to live without fear. Here's the truth for those in Christ. Jesus has taken away the penalty for sin. The penalty for sin has been dealt with. Sin has already been condemned.

And so we can sing as we did earlier. The chains are released. I can sing. I am free. The penalty for sin has been paid.

No condemnation now for those outside of Jesus, for those not yet following him, if that's you this morning, you're so welcome here among us. Thank you for being here. For you, there remains a wonderfully generous invitation. Come to Jesus to find this life and this freedom. But how's that possible?

You might be thinking, well, if anyone knew my life, my past, my fears, my failures. And even when I think about my own future, I think that doesn't hold much hope. Why would anyone want to welcome me? And perhaps you even feel like it's been the church, it's been religious people, where it's felt like the most condemnation has come from. Well, if that's the case, I'm really sorry.

I'm sorry. That's been your experience. But let me tell you, the invitation here is wonderful. It's an invitation to know condemnation. Jesus says, come.

And Paul says, to those who come to Jesus, verse one, there is. Have we got it now? No condemnation. It goes on. Verse two.

Not only is there no condemnation, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. You've been set free. You've been given a new life when you came to Jesus. But how's that even possible, especially for someone like me or friends? Only through the cross.

Only through the cross of the Lord Jesus. And here we're given another little picture of the good news there in verse three. It's quite a wordy section, verse three. Let's read that again. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did, by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in the flesh. Here's what he's done. He's condemned sin already. There's no condemnation for sin because he's condemned it already. The law.

The law was good, but it couldn't make us righteous. It couldn't make us perfect. It couldn't change us. It couldn't change what we're like on the inside. All the law could do was to show us where we fail and fall, to show us where we get it wrong.

But God did something about it. God made us righteous. It says he sent Jesus in the flesh to be a sin offering. He took on flesh so that in him he might bear all the weight and penalty for our sin. So when he died, sin, our sin, was condemned in him.

But when Jesus came in the flesh, he lived a perfect life, not giving in to the temptations of the flesh, but living a perfectly righteous and obedient life. It's as though our sin was condemned in him and his perfect life credited to us as righteousness, his righteous life gifted as though it were ours. And so, friends, if you want to know that truth, really, if you want to know the fullness of life, the invitation is there. Come to Jesus for no condemnation, to be set free and given a new life.

But he goes on. That's not the end of the story here. There's this wonderful good news of us being in Christ that he's been talking about for the last few chapters, and he reaches that climax in verse one. You're in Christ. And so there's no condemnation.

But there's even more good news he wants to share. Yes, Christian, you're in Christ. But let me tell you, too. Christ is in you. Christ is in you.

Look at verse ten with me.

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the spirit gives life because of righteousness. We saw last week in romans chapter seven. And indeed, we see it every day when we look in the mirror. Our bodies aren't perfect. We still physically live in the flesh.

And as Paul puts it later in the chapter, along with all of creation, we're groaning. We're groaning to be fully renewed. But God has not given up on us. While we wait for renewed bodies, he has come to live in us by his holy spirit, Jesus Christ, living in you by his spirit. Look onto verse eleven.

He says, if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his spirit who lives in you.

Now, when I read Romans chapter seven just before, there's a danger that I despair. I feel the weight of that battle. I feel the pain of that war that rages. I feel that sense of wretched man that I am, that desire to do good and the body that so often seems to fail. Now, if I were to enter this battle alone, thinking that it's me against the world, then the war would be lost before it had begun.

But the truth here that Paul wants to outline is you're not Christian. In the ring alone, the spirit of God lives in all verse nine, who belong to Christ. If you're in Christ, the spirit lives in you. If the spirit lives in you, you're in Christ. And he goes on to say, well, that's the same spirit, the same holy spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

And if he raised Jesus from the dead, if he took Jesus dead body and brought it to life, how much more? How much more can you be assured that he will give you, you new life? Life to live for Jesus life, to fight sin and temptation. Life, not to be a slave to sin, but to be led by the spirit. You see, when God's spirit comes and lives in me, I'm now freed from the power of sin.

When Jesus died, he took the penalty for my sin. But now he comes to live in me and releases me from the power of sin. It no longer rules or dominates my life. Now, someone else, someone more powerful, lives here. Not my sinful nature, but the spirit of God, the one who raised Jesus from the dead can give life to me.

Okay, so how do I live this new life? How do I know I'm in Christ? How do I know Christ is in me? How do I know I'm being led by the spirit? What does it look like to live this life?

That's what a lot of the New Testament is given over to, talking about what it looks like to walk in this way, to walk in the light, to walk by the spirit. And here he gives us a few pointers as to what it looks like for the Christian. Here's the first one. The Christian has a new mindset. You see that in verses five to eight?

Oh, look at verse five there with me. It says, those who live in accordance with the spirit have their mind set on what the spirit desires. Saying the Christian has a new mindset, a new focus, new desires, new hopes, a new way of seeing the world. And what is it that the spirit desires? Well, the phrase here is literally just the things of the spirit.

What are those things? I wonder if it's similar to what Paul picks up in one corinthians, chapter two. He uses a similar phrase. There's a little section where he talks about christians having the mind of Christ. And there he's talking about really understanding God's wisdom, grasping his word, appreciating his will.

What is it that God desires for his people? And more richly, knowing his character. What is God like? Because that's what the spirit really desires. The spirit desires relationship with son and father, and he wants to draw us into that relationship.

How do we know the Son and the father better? Through his words. Through knowing his character, through praying to him, meditating on his word.

Do you think more and more about what Jesus has done for you? Do you think more and more about how to please God, to love his people, to serve his church? Do you want to understand his word more deeply? Do you want to appreciate his character more richly? That's what the spirit does, sets our minds on the things of God.

What are you filling your mind with? What do you think about in the quiet moments? What content are you consuming? Who do you listen to? Because, of course, still living in the flesh.

The flesh wants to fill our minds with the desires of the world. It wants us to meditate on the dreams of Linfield, the perfect house, the perfect grandchildren, the perfect holidays. That's the dream that the flesh wants to fill our minds with. But the spirit, more and more, wants to fill our minds and our hearts with a fresh focus on Jesus. The Christian has a new mindset.

Secondly, the Christian has a new discipline that's there in verses twelve to 13. Look at verse 13 with me. It says, but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Jesus has taken the penalty for our sin. The Holy Spirit has released us from the power of sin.

But we still live with the presence of sin. We still live in bodies of flesh. But here's how the spirit filled believer lives in that body. They put the flesh to death.

In Romans chapter seven, Steve preached for us last week and he gave us some gruesome jobs that the apostle Paul was doing. He was the coroner doing the autopsy. He was the surgeon operating on himself. And now here in chapter eight, there's an even more gruesome job. He is the executioner.

You see here, we're told the Christian is the one who takes sin seriously at not waving the white flag because it's too hard to live this life, nor thinking that because Jesus won the battle, it doesn't matter how I live. But recognising that while still in the body, I'm empowered by the spirit to say no to sin. And Jesus uses similar stark language. Doesn't he remember some of these words? He says, if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

If your eyes cause you to sin, gouge them out. His point is to be ruthless with sin. But the same is true, isn't it? If your phone causes you to sin, switch it off. If your credit card causes you to sin, cut it up.

If the language you use, the food you eat, the alcohol you drink, if what you watch on the tv, if when you go to bed, if any of those things cause you to sin, cut them out.

It says here, with the ruthlessness and precision of an executioner, the Christian, filled with the spirit, says no to sin. He puts them to death.

But it's a strange thing going on here, because the spirit led believer is simultaneously becoming more like Jesus. They're dealing with their sin, they're putting sin to death and at the same time becoming more aware of their sin, more aware of their failure. That's what happens when Jesus makes his home. Here. Here's the third thing.

Here's the third change for the believer. We're given a new family. Verse 14. For those who are led by the spirit of God are children of God. Now, that word in verse 14 translated children, it's really sons.

And that's not to make a point about gender here, but rather what he wants them to know is that they are true children, heirs, the ones who inherit all the blessings of the family, the one who are closest to the father. He wants them to know that they're not just adopted children, they are true children. They become very much part of the family. At the very centre in chapter six, Paul reminded us that we have become slaves to God. Do you remember?

He says, you're no longer slaves to sin. You're slaves to righteousness. You're slaves to God. He's now your master. But that's not where the metaphor ends.

Paul continues it here in chapter eight. And he says, actually your relationship with the father goes much deeper than that. Sure, youve been set free from sin. Hes a new master. But hes so much more than a master.

Hes a father. Hes a father because he says, youre no longer a slave. You are actually a son, a true child loved by your father. So now we live to please our father. We take on the family likeness.

We aspire to be like our elder brother. We're proud to call this place home. This, now, is where we belong. And we're told that each day the spirit reminds us of this truth, reminds us that we're children, that we've been brought into his family, loved, adopted, accepted, welcomed. This is your home.

The spirit there in verse 15 helps us to cry from the very depths of who we are. Who are we? We're his children. And so we cry. Abba father, is the name that Jesus would have spoken to God father.

It's how he cries out in the garden of Gethsemane. Abba, Father. At that most intimate moment, that point of pain and hope meshed together, that's the name that Jesus cries out. And so the spirit cries out that same name from our hearts. God, you are our father.

And so just like Jesus, how he calls God Father, we echo that cry with our brother Jesus. God, you're our father because we've been adopted into your family. Wonder if you picture the scene you go to, I don't know, a national trust property or something like that. Some attraction. Let's picture in mind something like Hever Castle.

Think of a castle and you get to the start and you see one of those boards that the maps laid out on the board and it says it's got that arrow on that says, you are here. You picture the map and you are here. And when you think about a castle, you might think about the different places that you could be. You might feel like you're still back in the car park. Perhaps you're new to church and you're just exploring, what is all this about?

You're kind of looking in far off. You might feel like you're in the maze. This is all really confusing. I feel a bit lost, not sure where I am. You might feel like you've ended up in the moat, made a mistake, or even worse, you feel like you're in the dungeon.

You feel like you're in the pit, like I've messed up again. But if Paul were to do a map of where we are, he'd be pointing to the very heart of the castle.

Not even the kind of throne room where the king might sit on a throne. Now he's pointing us to the family quarters, where the family of the king sleeps and eat and chat. The very heart of that family home. The very heart of where the king lives. That's where you are.

And if you like, this is a bit of a map. In Romans chapter eight, he's saying, Christian, where are you?

He said, you might feel like you're in the moat. Sometimes you feel like you've messed up, you've dropped in the moat. But, Christian, that's not where you are.

He says, you're in Christ. That's where the arrow is pointing. You are here, Christian. In Christ. And where is Christ?

Christ is fully embraced in the love of God, Father, son and spirit. He's right at the heart of the family, and you're there with him. Where are you? You're in Christ. And Christ is in you.

So we might think to ourselves, is this the christian life? The joy of getting in, and then the fear of drifting away, failing, falling at the final hurdle? It says, by no means. That's not where the story in Romans ends. That's not where the gospel ends.

That's not where Jesus work ends. And we're going to see that laid out in Romans chapter eight over the next couple of weeks. I like to think of Romans chapter eight as the mastermind passage. Yeah, mastermind. How do the questions finish?

You hear the buzzer I've started, so I'll finish. And that's what we see laid out well in the whole book of Romans. But in Romans chapter eight, especially, God has started a work in you. He's brought you into his family. Jesus paid the penalty for sin.

His spirit has come to release you from the power of sin. And he's not given up. He's still got work to do. Now he lives each day by his spirit, applying the gospel to my heart, freeing me from the power of sin, guiding my steps, pointing my eyes, moving my heart more and more to love and follow his dear son, the Lord Jesus. Amen.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation – but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs – 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.

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

This transcript has been automatically generated and therefore may not be 100% accurate

Now, at the moment, it’s a difficult time to be an english person and a football fan.

It happens every couple of years or so. A major tournament comes round and the same thing always happens. We have an almost flawless qualifying campaign and everyone starts talking. Well, I say everyone, everyone in the english media starts talking about how wonderful the England football team is. They’ll throw out phrases like, it’s a golden generation.

I mean, I’m not that old, but I’ve already seen several golden generations. And there’s a little bit of hype and expectation and then the tournament comes round and reality hits. The joy of qualifying and the joy of the hype before the tournament is quickly replaced with the fear when, frankly, expectation that England will then fall at the final hurdle, although probably more likely the semi final hurdle or the quarter final hurdle even before that. And it makes you wonder, well, is this what the christian life is like? Is the christian life the joy of qualifying and all that we’ve seen throughout the book of romans so far, that Jesus has died for us and welcomed us into his family.

We’re loved and accepted. We, through him can qualify. And then the fear that I’ll fail or fall, the joy replaced with fear. Perhaps the christian life feels like that for you. I’ve made it this far.

Now what am I going to do to keep going? How will I stay in? What if I fall? What if I make a mistake? Especially if we just messed up again.

Is this the christian life? Well, no, not according to romans. Chapter eight. Far from the fear of failure, this chapter begins with the most victorious and liberating verdict. It’s there in verse, verse one.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus right now, christian believer, there is no condemnation, no guilt, no shame, no trial, no judgement to come for the one in Christ. No condemnation. I wonder how we felt. I guess many of us will have watched that BBC drama, the post office against Mister Bates, the story of the postmasters and the horizon scandal. And I think if you watched it, as we watched it, we felt that weight, that burden of condemnation.

Now, of course we knew they were innocent, but I think we felt with them the injustice, the threat of legal punishment and fines, that crushing weight.

And then in the news afterwards, we heard the verdict. Not guilty. What a relief. What a burden lifted that must have been. What a joy through all that trial and pain, to be vindicated, to be told.

Not guilty. No condemnation. And that’s how Paul begins, chapter eight. No condemnation for those who are in Christ. You see in chapter six, and seven, where we’ve been the last few weeks, Paul has been building his argument around this key idea that christians are in Christ or united to Christ.

You might remember Steve’s thread and needle illustration. If Christ is the needle, we are the thread. We’re united to him. Him. And where he goes, we follow.

He died, and so our old life died with him. He was raised, and so too we are given new life. But here at the beginning of chapter eight, he reaches the conclusion of this point. For those who are in Christ, there is now no condemnation. Let me say that again in case you didn’t get it.

For those who are in Christ, there is no condemnation. Now, Paul has already made this point. In chapter five, he’s already said that condemnation has been replaced by justification. No longer condemned, but in Christ, justified. But here the scope is even broader.

He’s saying that condemnation is no longer even a category for the Christian. For the Christian, it doesn’t exist. When you’re in Christ, there is no condemnation. And this is life giving freedom for the Christian. And at the same time, the most wonderful invitation to come to Jesus.

Here in Jesus, there is no condemnation. Now for the Christians. Sometimes we feel like, well, Jesus died for my sins. I’ve been rescued and welcomed. Now, Johnny, well, better be good to stay in.

You know, he’s done the hard work. Now I’m in. Over to me. But for the Christian, in spite of fears and failures, there is no condemnation because you are safe in Jesus. How liberating.

How freeing not to sin, as we saw in chapter six, but free to live without fear. Here’s the truth for those in Christ. Jesus has taken away the penalty for sin. The penalty for sin has been dealt with. Sin has already been condemned.

And so we can sing as we did earlier. The chains are released. I can sing. I am free. The penalty for sin has been paid.

No condemnation now for those outside of Jesus, for those not yet following him, if that’s you this morning, you’re so welcome here among us. Thank you for being here. For you, there remains a wonderfully generous invitation. Come to Jesus to find this life and this freedom. But how’s that possible?

You might be thinking, well, if anyone knew my life, my past, my fears, my failures. And even when I think about my own future, I think that doesn’t hold much hope. Why would anyone want to welcome me? And perhaps you even feel like it’s been the church, it’s been religious people, where it’s felt like the most condemnation has come from. Well, if that’s the case, I’m really sorry.

I’m sorry. That’s been your experience. But let me tell you, the invitation here is wonderful. It’s an invitation to know condemnation. Jesus says, come.

And Paul says, to those who come to Jesus, verse one, there is. Have we got it now? No condemnation. It goes on. Verse two.

Not only is there no condemnation, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. You’ve been set free. You’ve been given a new life when you came to Jesus. But how’s that even possible, especially for someone like me or friends? Only through the cross.

Only through the cross of the Lord Jesus. And here we’re given another little picture of the good news there in verse three. It’s quite a wordy section, verse three. Let’s read that again. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did, by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.

And so he condemned sin in the flesh. Here’s what he’s done. He’s condemned sin already. There’s no condemnation for sin because he’s condemned it already. The law.

The law was good, but it couldn’t make us righteous. It couldn’t make us perfect. It couldn’t change us. It couldn’t change what we’re like on the inside. All the law could do was to show us where we fail and fall, to show us where we get it wrong.

But God did something about it. God made us righteous. It says he sent Jesus in the flesh to be a sin offering. He took on flesh so that in him he might bear all the weight and penalty for our sin. So when he died, sin, our sin, was condemned in him.

But when Jesus came in the flesh, he lived a perfect life, not giving in to the temptations of the flesh, but living a perfectly righteous and obedient life. It’s as though our sin was condemned in him and his perfect life credited to us as righteousness, his righteous life gifted as though it were ours. And so, friends, if you want to know that truth, really, if you want to know the fullness of life, the invitation is there. Come to Jesus for no condemnation, to be set free and given a new life.

But he goes on. That’s not the end of the story here. There’s this wonderful good news of us being in Christ that he’s been talking about for the last few chapters, and he reaches that climax in verse one. You’re in Christ. And so there’s no condemnation.

But there’s even more good news he wants to share. Yes, Christian, you’re in Christ. But let me tell you, too. Christ is in you. Christ is in you.

Look at verse ten with me.

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the spirit gives life because of righteousness. We saw last week in romans chapter seven. And indeed, we see it every day when we look in the mirror. Our bodies aren’t perfect. We still physically live in the flesh.

And as Paul puts it later in the chapter, along with all of creation, we’re groaning. We’re groaning to be fully renewed. But God has not given up on us. While we wait for renewed bodies, he has come to live in us by his holy spirit, Jesus Christ, living in you by his spirit. Look onto verse eleven.

He says, if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his spirit who lives in you.

Now, when I read Romans chapter seven just before, there’s a danger that I despair. I feel the weight of that battle. I feel the pain of that war that rages. I feel that sense of wretched man that I am, that desire to do good and the body that so often seems to fail. Now, if I were to enter this battle alone, thinking that it’s me against the world, then the war would be lost before it had begun.

But the truth here that Paul wants to outline is you’re not Christian. In the ring alone, the spirit of God lives in all verse nine, who belong to Christ. If you’re in Christ, the spirit lives in you. If the spirit lives in you, you’re in Christ. And he goes on to say, well, that’s the same spirit, the same holy spirit who raised Jesus from the dead.

And if he raised Jesus from the dead, if he took Jesus dead body and brought it to life, how much more? How much more can you be assured that he will give you, you new life? Life to live for Jesus life, to fight sin and temptation. Life, not to be a slave to sin, but to be led by the spirit. You see, when God’s spirit comes and lives in me, I’m now freed from the power of sin.

When Jesus died, he took the penalty for my sin. But now he comes to live in me and releases me from the power of sin. It no longer rules or dominates my life. Now, someone else, someone more powerful, lives here. Not my sinful nature, but the spirit of God, the one who raised Jesus from the dead can give life to me.

Okay, so how do I live this new life? How do I know I’m in Christ? How do I know Christ is in me? How do I know I’m being led by the spirit? What does it look like to live this life?

That’s what a lot of the New Testament is given over to, talking about what it looks like to walk in this way, to walk in the light, to walk by the spirit. And here he gives us a few pointers as to what it looks like for the Christian. Here’s the first one. The Christian has a new mindset. You see that in verses five to eight?

Oh, look at verse five there with me. It says, those who live in accordance with the spirit have their mind set on what the spirit desires. Saying the Christian has a new mindset, a new focus, new desires, new hopes, a new way of seeing the world. And what is it that the spirit desires? Well, the phrase here is literally just the things of the spirit.

What are those things? I wonder if it’s similar to what Paul picks up in one corinthians, chapter two. He uses a similar phrase. There’s a little section where he talks about christians having the mind of Christ. And there he’s talking about really understanding God’s wisdom, grasping his word, appreciating his will.

What is it that God desires for his people? And more richly, knowing his character. What is God like? Because that’s what the spirit really desires. The spirit desires relationship with son and father, and he wants to draw us into that relationship.

How do we know the Son and the father better? Through his words. Through knowing his character, through praying to him, meditating on his word.

Do you think more and more about what Jesus has done for you? Do you think more and more about how to please God, to love his people, to serve his church? Do you want to understand his word more deeply? Do you want to appreciate his character more richly? That’s what the spirit does, sets our minds on the things of God.

What are you filling your mind with? What do you think about in the quiet moments? What content are you consuming? Who do you listen to? Because, of course, still living in the flesh.

The flesh wants to fill our minds with the desires of the world. It wants us to meditate on the dreams of Linfield, the perfect house, the perfect grandchildren, the perfect holidays. That’s the dream that the flesh wants to fill our minds with. But the spirit, more and more, wants to fill our minds and our hearts with a fresh focus on Jesus. The Christian has a new mindset.

Secondly, the Christian has a new discipline that’s there in verses twelve to 13. Look at verse 13 with me. It says, but if by the spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Jesus has taken the penalty for our sin. The Holy Spirit has released us from the power of sin.

But we still live with the presence of sin. We still live in bodies of flesh. But here’s how the spirit filled believer lives in that body. They put the flesh to death.

In Romans chapter seven, Steve preached for us last week and he gave us some gruesome jobs that the apostle Paul was doing. He was the coroner doing the autopsy. He was the surgeon operating on himself. And now here in chapter eight, there’s an even more gruesome job. He is the executioner.

You see here, we’re told the Christian is the one who takes sin seriously at not waving the white flag because it’s too hard to live this life, nor thinking that because Jesus won the battle, it doesn’t matter how I live. But recognising that while still in the body, I’m empowered by the spirit to say no to sin. And Jesus uses similar stark language. Doesn’t he remember some of these words? He says, if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off.

If your eyes cause you to sin, gouge them out. His point is to be ruthless with sin. But the same is true, isn’t it? If your phone causes you to sin, switch it off. If your credit card causes you to sin, cut it up.

If the language you use, the food you eat, the alcohol you drink, if what you watch on the tv, if when you go to bed, if any of those things cause you to sin, cut them out.

It says here, with the ruthlessness and precision of an executioner, the Christian, filled with the spirit, says no to sin. He puts them to death.

But it’s a strange thing going on here, because the spirit led believer is simultaneously becoming more like Jesus. They’re dealing with their sin, they’re putting sin to death and at the same time becoming more aware of their sin, more aware of their failure. That’s what happens when Jesus makes his home. Here. Here’s the third thing.

Here’s the third change for the believer. We’re given a new family. Verse 14. For those who are led by the spirit of God are children of God. Now, that word in verse 14 translated children, it’s really sons.

And that’s not to make a point about gender here, but rather what he wants them to know is that they are true children, heirs, the ones who inherit all the blessings of the family, the one who are closest to the father. He wants them to know that they’re not just adopted children, they are true children. They become very much part of the family. At the very centre in chapter six, Paul reminded us that we have become slaves to God. Do you remember?

He says, you’re no longer slaves to sin. You’re slaves to righteousness. You’re slaves to God. He’s now your master. But that’s not where the metaphor ends.

Paul continues it here in chapter eight. And he says, actually your relationship with the father goes much deeper than that. Sure, youve been set free from sin. Hes a new master. But hes so much more than a master.

Hes a father. Hes a father because he says, youre no longer a slave. You are actually a son, a true child loved by your father. So now we live to please our father. We take on the family likeness.

We aspire to be like our elder brother. We’re proud to call this place home. This, now, is where we belong. And we’re told that each day the spirit reminds us of this truth, reminds us that we’re children, that we’ve been brought into his family, loved, adopted, accepted, welcomed. This is your home.

The spirit there in verse 15 helps us to cry from the very depths of who we are. Who are we? We’re his children. And so we cry. Abba father, is the name that Jesus would have spoken to God father.

It’s how he cries out in the garden of Gethsemane. Abba, Father. At that most intimate moment, that point of pain and hope meshed together, that’s the name that Jesus cries out. And so the spirit cries out that same name from our hearts. God, you are our father.

And so just like Jesus, how he calls God Father, we echo that cry with our brother Jesus. God, you’re our father because we’ve been adopted into your family. Wonder if you picture the scene you go to, I don’t know, a national trust property or something like that. Some attraction. Let’s picture in mind something like Hever Castle.

Think of a castle and you get to the start and you see one of those boards that the maps laid out on the board and it says it’s got that arrow on that says, you are here. You picture the map and you are here. And when you think about a castle, you might think about the different places that you could be. You might feel like you’re still back in the car park. Perhaps you’re new to church and you’re just exploring, what is all this about?

You’re kind of looking in far off. You might feel like you’re in the maze. This is all really confusing. I feel a bit lost, not sure where I am. You might feel like you’ve ended up in the moat, made a mistake, or even worse, you feel like you’re in the dungeon.

You feel like you’re in the pit, like I’ve messed up again. But if Paul were to do a map of where we are, he’d be pointing to the very heart of the castle.

Not even the kind of throne room where the king might sit on a throne. Now he’s pointing us to the family quarters, where the family of the king sleeps and eat and chat. The very heart of that family home. The very heart of where the king lives. That’s where you are.

And if you like, this is a bit of a map. In Romans chapter eight, he’s saying, Christian, where are you?

He said, you might feel like you’re in the moat. Sometimes you feel like you’ve messed up, you’ve dropped in the moat. But, Christian, that’s not where you are.

He says, you’re in Christ. That’s where the arrow is pointing. You are here, Christian. In Christ. And where is Christ?

Christ is fully embraced in the love of God, Father, son and spirit. He’s right at the heart of the family, and you’re there with him. Where are you? You’re in Christ. And Christ is in you.

So we might think to ourselves, is this the christian life? The joy of getting in, and then the fear of drifting away, failing, falling at the final hurdle? It says, by no means. That’s not where the story in Romans ends. That’s not where the gospel ends.

That’s not where Jesus work ends. And we’re going to see that laid out in Romans chapter eight over the next couple of weeks. I like to think of Romans chapter eight as the mastermind passage. Yeah, mastermind. How do the questions finish?

You hear the buzzer I’ve started, so I’ll finish. And that’s what we see laid out well in the whole book of Romans. But in Romans chapter eight, especially, God has started a work in you. He’s brought you into his family. Jesus paid the penalty for sin.

His spirit has come to release you from the power of sin. And he’s not given up. He’s still got work to do. Now he lives each day by his spirit, applying the gospel to my heart, freeing me from the power of sin, guiding my steps, pointing my eyes, moving my heart more and more to love and follow his dear son, the Lord Jesus. Amen.

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