June 1, 2021
Life is full of pressures: When you were in school, there was always the pressure of exams, the pressure to keep up your grades, along with the pressures of trying to fit and be accepted by your peers. When you started your career, there was the pressure to perform, pressures to meet deadlines, pressures to please your boss and get a good performance review. Once you got married there were pressures to start a family, buy a home, make ends meet and please the in-laws. And you’d think that by the time you reach retirement, there would be no more pressures. But many pressures follow us through life: pressures to please your family, pressures to fit in, pressures to make that dollar stretch and pressures to say or do the right thing. Life IS full of pressures. And sometimes those pressures frustrate us or just make us weary.
Now the same could be said about trying to live the Christian life. It could be said that there are expectations thrust upon us as Christ followers that can frustrate us or make us weary. Pressures like having to behave a certain way, or pressures to serve, or to give, or pray, or even attend worship services. After all, most of us really do all want to please God; glorify God and make a difference with our lives. But, if you are like me, you often experience failure. You pray and ask God to change you, but your impatience still gets the best of you. You want to be more like Jesus, but compared to him, you are far from humble and too self-serving. And wonder why following Jesus seems so easy for some and yet so hard for you. So you commit yourself to trying harder, being better, but you keep on falling short. And so you ask yourself, is there really any hope for me? But what if I were to tell you there’s a reason you keep failing? What if I were tell you that living the Christian life is really not up to you? But it’s up to what God has already put in you?
Here’s the thing: All of us understand that receiving our salvation is a gift of God’s grace; but then we think that living the Christian life is all up to us. We think that we are to follow Jesus out of our own strength, to serve others out of our own abilities, and to make a difference out of our own power. But God’s Word doesn’t teach that.
God’s Word teaches us that just as we need the grace of God to begin the new life God gives us in Jesus, we also need the grace of God to continue living this new life in Christ. So this morning, we’re going to look at the grace God gives us to live this new life as Christ followers. And to do that, I want to encourage you to open your Bibles to Romans 8:1-17 where we will see what God gave you to help you live the Christian life. God never meant for you to live the Christian life in your own strength. God never meant for you to try harder, do more, be better. No, God put His Holy Spirit in you to help you live like Jesus. The good news today is this: The Pressure’s Off! It’s not up to you to live the Christian life, it’s up to the Spirit of God in you to help you live like Jesus. So this morning we’re going to look at four ways the Holy Spirit in you helps you live your new life in Christ. So if you’ve found Romans 8, lets look at the first way the Holy Spirit helps us live this new life:
The Spirit in You Frees You 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. Romans 8:1-4
Before God sent Jesus Christ as the perfect offering for our sin, none of us had the ability to live a righteous life. And the reason we could not live a righteous life is because we were powerless to do so. We were powerless to fulfill the righteous requirements of the law because we were weak. We were by nature sinners. And the law of God could only point out how we failed in righteousness. Living under the law could only show us how we failed to please God. Living under the law was an impossible burden for us then, and it is still an impossible burden today.
That’s why God sent us Jesus. When Jesus lived among us, He fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law. He lived a sinless life so He could become a sin offering for us, so that He might remove the judgment we were under because of our sin.
And so the moment you trusted in Jesus, God set you free from the law of sin and death. And He set you free, by putting His Spirit in you. For when the Spirit took up residence in your life, He gave you new life, a righteous life, the life of Jesus. And now you are set free from the burden of having to measure up under the law.
Now, with God’s Spirit in you, you are free from having to earn your salvation. You are free from condemnation. You are free from death. And you are free from having to obey the law. The Law is no longer your master. You no longer have to earn God’s favor. You have God’s favor, for He has put His Spirit in you. And what God gave you, He promised thousands of years ago when He said: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Ezekiel 36:26-27
What this means for you is this: The pressures off! The Spirit in you frees you from trying to live under the burden of the Law in order to receive God’s approval. You already have it. The reason you have it, is because the moment God put His Spirit in you; He put a new life in you, a righteous life; Christ’s life. So that now when God sees you, He sees the righteousness of Jesus in you. So yes, you no longer have to earn God’s approval. You already have it. That’s grace! The Spirit in you Frees You…. And now with God’s Spirit in you, you are not just free from the burden of the law, but you are now free to live a whole new way of life with Him. Which leads us to the second gift of the Spirit in you, and that is this:
The Spirit in You Changes You Look now at verses 5 through 8: 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. Romans 8:5-8
Paul starts off this portion of Scripture with some strong words, startling words, about those who do not have the Spirit of Christ in them. The reason he does this is to portray a CONTRAST between those who live according to the flesh as opposed to those who live according to the Spirit. And the contrast is not pretty.
God’s Word tells us that the person without the Spirit of God has one controlling power in his or her life: the flesh or sinful nature. Such a person lives only to please his flesh. His mind is set on what the flesh desires, he enjoys living in sin; wants to live in sin; coddles and even treasures his sin. He refuses to submit to God’s law and has no ability to do so even if he wanted to. But he doesn’t want to. He is a defiant rebel who wants nothing to do with God. He’s hostile to God. And the Bible tells us, that the person who is ruled by his flesh, is dead to God. He is spiritually separated from life with God. This is not a pretty picture.
But this picture of the comprehensive nature of sin explains many things. This is why so many people live only for themselves. This is also why so many people are hostile to Christianity and hate you for following Jesus. And this is why Christians will never be fully accepted in this world. This is precisely what Jesus said to his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:18-19
Now, however, look at the change that takes place in you, once the Spirit takes up residence in you. We do an about face. The Spirit changes our inner impulses in life. With God’s Spirit in you, you now want to please God; you want what God wants.
With God’s Spirit in you, your mind has a new ruling force. The Spirit’s reign in your life is characterized by life and by peace. That’s quite a change. Where you once only lived for yourself; where once you lived as a rebel to God, now with God’s spirit in you, you have a whole new disposition in life: You want to please God; you want to make much of Jesus and you want to bring glory to His name. Before God put His Spirit in you, you only wanted glory for yourself. So indeed, the Holy Spirit changes you. You now you want to please God. That’s your new bent. That’s why when you come to faith in Jesus, you become a whole new person than who you were before.
Let me illustrate this for you: Before I came to faith in Jesus at 25, I was selfish. My philosophy of life was to live for today, for tomorrow I might die. So I didn’t care. I just partied and did what I wanted. When I look back at who I was, I don’t like what I see. But then I met Jesus and everything changed. Even before I started learning God’s Word, the Spirit began changing me. I knew immediately that how I’d been living before was selfish and wrong. And I remember telling Jesus, that now that I believe in you, you can have my life –do whatever you want with me. And immediately He began changing me. I now wanted to learn all about this new life. I couldn’t get enough of God’s Word. I saw Jesus differently. Now I wanted to please Him. I saw people differently – I saw them as people whom Jesus loves. All of a sudden I was a different person, a new person, with a whole new outlook on life.
This is why God gave us His Spirit: To give you a new kind of life. A life full of life and peace. Jesus didn’t just die for you to get you to heaven. He died for you to change your life, so you might live for something far greater than yourself.
So let me ask you this morning? Are you living to please yourself or to please God? Are you trying to make yourself look good or to make God look good? Is life all about you, or is it all about Jesus? Here’s the thing: If God put His Spirit in you, the answer is easy: You want what God wants. You have a new mindset, because the Spirit of God is alive in you. He’s changed you. That’s what God’s Spirit does in you when He lives in you. That’s God’s grace to you, and it’s pretty amazing. But that’s not all He does. Which leads me to the next way God’s Spirit works in you, and that is this:
The Spirit in You Empowers You! Let’s pick up Paul’s teaching in v 9, 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. 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. 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. Romans 8:9-11
Once again, Paul points out that there’s a big difference between someone who has the Spirit Christ and someone who does not. If you don’t have the Spirit of Christ, you don’t belong to Christ. That’s not a good thing! That means you are alone in this world; you are still in your sins, you are separated from life with God and are still under judgement. If that describes you, this is why you don’t have peace; and why you are still looking for life; and why you need to trust in Jesus.
But the good news is this: If the Spirit of God lives in you, you belong to Christ. Not only that, but if the Spirit of God lives in you; He gives you life because of righteousness. Not your righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ. Here’s the good news: Because Jesus Christ rose from the grave, the new life in you is His resurrection life. This is why when God put His Spirit in you, He put a new kind of power in you. And that power is the resurrected life of Jesus Christ. Think with me about what this means: It means you have within you the resurrected power of Jesus to help you live like Jesus.
The eternal Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, the Son of man who healed the sick, fed the five thousand, who calmed the seas, who took away your every sin, who died for you then rose victoriously from the grave… NOW LIVES IN YOU BY HIS SPIRIT.
And once you begin to realize the miracle that the risen Savior lives in you by His Spirit, you should have some kind of response. And that’s what Paul calls for now from verses 12-13. He says, Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 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. Romans 8:12-13 God has given you resurrection power to live this new life. Therefore, God wants you to use His power in you, to overpower your flesh, so you’ll stop obeying it’s desires and start obeying God’s desires. And the way we are to overpower the flesh is put it to death with the help of the Spirit in us.
I like how John Stott explains this. He says, “We are in debt to the indwelling Spirit of life to live out our God-given life and to put to death everything which threatens it or is incompatible with it.” And then he explains how the Spirit helps us do this by defining the process known as “mortification.” What is mortification? It is a clear-sighted recognition of evil as evil, leading to such a decisive and radical repudiation of it that no imagery can do it justice except ‘putting to death.’ In fact, the verb Paul uses here normally means to ‘kill someone, to hand someone over to be killed, especially the death sentence and its execution.’
Here is where we work in partnership with the Spirit. Whenever the Spirit shows us something wrong or sinful in us, we need to see it as He sees it: as something that breaks the heart of God; as something destructive to our new life; as something Christ died for. So then we denounce it, repent of it, and put it to death. We refuse to entertain it or justify its existence in our lives, but rather have nothing to do with it. We put it to death by the Spirit.
Another way we do this is by simply walking with the Spirit. Listen to how Paul puts it in Galatians 5, So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Galatians 5:16-17 We’re going to look at walking in the Spirit more in depth next week; but for now let me encourage you with this. The more we pursue our relationship with the Father, the more we fill our hearts and minds with the things of the Spirit, the more we seek to please Him, the easier it will be to recognize and be done with the desires of the flesh.
But for now, remember this: God put in you resurrection power when He put His Spirit in you. And sometimes that means letting His power kill the very thing in you that’s keeping you from pleasing God… For it is the Spirit in you who empowers you to live this new life God gave you. That’s the third way the Holy Spirit helps us live the new life of faith in Christ. Now the final way:
The Spirit in You Leads You Paul concludes his teaching on the Spirit’s work in our lives by saying: For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 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.” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 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. Romans 8:14-17 Here now is the best part of our new life in the Spirit. God put His Spirit in you so you can live this new life as HIS child.
Paul makes a startling statement about your IDENTITY here. He says, For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. In other words, if the Spirit has set you free from the burden of the law, if the Spirit is changing you so you now want what God wants, and if the Spirit is empowering you to kill off the old life and embrace this new life in Christ – that means, the Spirit in You is leading you. And the very fact that you are living surrendered to His leading is a clear statement that you are a new person in Christ. More specifically, you are a child of God. And the good news is that God has done all of this for you. First, the Spirit God enabled you to be adopted as His very own. Secondly, the Spirit God affirms within you that you don’t just belong to God, but that you have a Father, a papa, who loves you deeply, who delights in your presence, and is attentive to your cry. And third, because the Spirit is now leading you, you are not just a child of the Father, but you are a co-heir with Christ. And that means everything that belongs to Jesus belongs to you. You have every privilege and promise of Jesus at your disposal.
Why? Because just a few verses earlier we are told that the Holy Spirit God put in you is the very Spirit of Christ, himself. That is why God adopted you as His child. And t why the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. So that we can have the same kind of relationship with God the Father as Jesus experienced and cry out to Him, “Abba, Father.”
That’s why those who are led by the Spirit are the children of God. We follow Him because we now know Him. And we will cry out to Him because He knows us and loves us anyway. And that is why the pressure’s off. God put His Spirit in you to free you, to change you, to empower you, and to lead you – so you could enjoy life with Him.
This is what our good and gracious Father did for us, so we could live this new life He gave us when we trusted in Jesus. He put His Spirit in us, to take the pressure off us, so we might follow Him. So how might we respond to God’s gift of the Holy Spirit He so graciously gave us? Well, I would say this:
Thank Him. Thank Him for giving you all you need to live for Him.
Rest in Him. Stop trying to earn God’s approval. You already have it.
Walk with Him. And let the resurrection power He put in you begin to change you.
Cry out to Him. Share your sins, your worries, your heartaches and your life with Him, and He will not only give you life and peace, but the greatest comfort of knowing you will always be loved by Him. The pressure’s off. God has given us all we need to live this new life when He put His Spirit in you.