A Life Led by the Spirit #4 – Victory

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of [b]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘for your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:31-39)

Five questions can be raised regarding the believer’s eternal security in these concluding verses of Romans chapter 8.

Can Opposition Defeat the Christian?
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Since God is for us, who is against us? What a statement! Paul gives answer to his own question in Ephesians 6:11-13, which says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” And Peter reiterates this briefly when he said, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). Who is against us? The Devil and his host of demonic angels, but they cannot ultimately prevail and triumph over believers. God is the self-existent One and the sovereign Creator and, since He is for believers, no one can oppose believers successfully.

Will We Have the Resources?
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
This seems to be a no-brainer. If the Father already gave His ultimate gift, how can we think that He won’t give us the smaller gifts? And yet, more than I would like to admit, I find myself in situations where I do not embrace this truth; when I am deceived into thinking that I am who gives himself things. I think this is a good verse to be reminded of in a morning prayer time.

Will Our Failures Reverse Our Justification?
Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;” (Romans 8:33)
Satan is often described as the accuser of God’s people (Revelation 12:10, Zechariah 3:1). His accusations are valid, because they are based on the believer’s sinfulness, yet they will be thrown out of court, because it is God who justifies. The Judge Himself declares the accused person righteous on the basis of his faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24; 5:1). As a result all accusations are dismissed and no one can bring an accusation that will stand. This refers back to Romans 8:1.

Can Anyone Condemn Us for Any Reason?
Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” (Romans 8:34)
We are secure from all condemnation. If Jesus Himself is our advocate, promoting our benefit, then who can condemn us? Jesus is God’s appointed Judge. Certainly the Judge will not condemn His own who are in Him by faith.

What Kind of Assurance Can We Have of Victory?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)
Paul suggests seven things a believer might experience. He himself experienced them all (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). These things, which are stated in increasing intensity, do not separate Christians from Christ, instead they are part of all things God uses to bring them to conformity to His Son.

Closing Statements
Paul reminds us that affliction is part of our walk with God. Yet this brings us closer to Christ rather than further away from Christ. Victory at all times! A comforting thought.

A Life Led by the Spirit #3 – Preservation

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:18-30)

Christian Suffering
A topic in and off itself for sure, but why do Christians suffer? They suffer to glorify God, to discipline for known sin, to prevent us from falling into sin, to keep us from being proud, to build faith, to cause growth, to teach obedience and discipline, to equip us to comfort others, and to prove reality of Christ in us. Jesus suffered trails, all the apostles suffered trials. Jesus promises trials in John 16:33. Check 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and 2 Corinthians 11:21-28 on how success is measured.

The Three Groans
Verses 19-22 describe the first groan: the groan of creation. The interrelationship of man with the physical creation of which he is a part was established in God’s sentence of judgment on Adam after the Fall (Gen. 3:17-19). This relationship has a future aspect in connection with God’s program of salvation for people. God judged the totality of His Creation along with people for their sin (Gen. 3:14, 17-19). Yet the curse was instituted with a future hope. It will begin with the removal of nature’s curse (Isaiah 11:1-13; 65:17-25; Micah 4:1-5; Zephaniah 3:14-20; Zechariah 14:1-21). For a 1000 years there will be people living on the earth without the curse! Since God’s program of salvation for people is one of a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15), the physical world also will be re-created (Revelation 21:5). This will take place in two stages. First will be the renovation of the present cosmos in conjunction with the return to earth of the Lord Jesus and the establishment of the messianic kingdom on earth (Isaiah 11:5-9; 35:1-2, 5-7; 65:20, 25; Amos 9:13). The second stage will be creation of “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:7-13).

Verses 23-25 describes the second groan: the groan of believers. Believers still anticipate their adoption in its completeness, which is said to be “the redemption.” This is called the revelation of the sons of God (8:19) and “the glorious freedom of the children of God” (verse 21). It will occur at the Rapture of the church when believers will be raised and transformed with glorious bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-54; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Paul called that day “the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). Something that we should hope for. Interesting that in Greek ‘hope’ is stronger than ‘know.’ It’s a confidence, sureness, of future things. He who has the strongest “hope” will have the greatest stability under stress. “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

Verses 26-27 describes the third groan: the groan of the Holy Spirit, so not the believers, and is apparently not stated in words. Even though the Spirit’s words are not expressed, the Father knows what the Spirit is thinking. This is an interesting statement about the Father’s omniscience and the intimacy within the Trinity. The Lord Jesus also continually intercedes for believers in God’s presence.

The Certainty of Sanctification
And then in verse 28, the most important three words: ‘and we know…’ To discuss the goal of sanctification—a believer’s hope, for which he awaits eagerly and steadfastly—is pointless unless one realizes that that goal is certain. God has provided that certainty and confirms the  believer’s hope, since sanctification from its beginning in regeneration to its completion in glorification is ultimately God’s work, which believers appropriate by faith. Of verse 29 Charles H. Spurgeon said: “God chose me before I was born. I’m glad He did; otherwise He might have changed His mind!” This eternal choice and foreknowledge involves more than establishing a relationship between God and believers. It also involves the goal or end of that relationship: Those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son. These last couple of verses show five unbreakable links: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification. These five links is a study in itself, which I will keep for another time.

A Life Led by the Spirit #2 – Realization

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:12-17)

The next couple of verses will deal with the realization of the obligation of what we owe and who we are in Christ. We need to get this right in order to understand the benefits and the ultimate price.

Get Your Debt Right
So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13)
We owe nothing to the flesh. We are not in its debt, and therefore do not need to do its service. For are no longer slaves to the flesh. We need to put to death the deeds of the body, force our sinful nature to submit to the Spirit, and do this by the Spirit. If not by the Spirit then we will try on our own effort, on our own account, which leads to pride. So, it’s not only justification, where we are saved by the work of the Holy Spirit, but also sanctification, where we must walk by the Spirit in order to grow and pursue holiness in the LORD. Don’t be like the Galatians to which Paul writes in Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” It’s a constant process that will be completed upon physical death.

Get Your Sonship Right
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!‘” (Romans 8:14-15)
It makes sense, right? If you’re led by the Spirit of God you’ll be the son of God. Yet it’s not a precondition. We become sons first and then the Spirit leads us. It’s reverse logic. Think you are the son of God? Well, are you led by the Spirit? Do you let the Spirit guide you, draw you, have authority over you, and so you do this all with joy and submissiveness? And does this lead to repentance and think much of God and little of yourself? Does it lead you into the truth, into love, into holiness? Again, do you do this all with joy? For the law of the Spirit is not under bondage and fear, but under joy, for it makes you cry out Abba (Daddy!).

Evidence and Benefits
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:16-17)
But then again, if you know, you know, because the Spirit testifies of His own presence in us. In Deuteronomy 19:15 we read that by Jewish law “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” and so there are two witnesses to your salvation: your own witness and the witness of the Holy Spirit. So, if you realize this then the next step is to realize what the benefits are of being a child of God. And that’s being an heir. Which means that there is an inheritance too, right? The inheritance is a matter of being (not doing). Being in the family of God. Now, this doesn’t mean you are exempt from suffering, for we all share in the suffering of Christ (again, sanctification) which will lead to glorification. Now, justification will always lead to glorification, yet here it is talking about inheritance (in contrast to salvation alone), in other words conditions to our specific destiny. We cannot imagine what this really means, “for just as it is written, things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Now in terms of suffering, Jesus promised us trials and tribulation (not to be confused with the Great Tribulation, which is solely for Israel) when He said, “‘These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.‘” (John 16:33). We could pretend these sufferings will not happen, or become overly anxious and fear for these sufferings, but we should be like Jesus and like Paul. Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and draw your conclusions on how he measured success.

Conclusion
Now let me close off with some reverse logic. In order to be glorified with Jesus and be fellow heirs, we have to suffer with Jesus, which can only happen if the Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, which means that we are led by Spirit, which means we live by the Spirit and have put to death our sinful nature. So, where to start? Indeed.

A Life Led by the Spirit #1 – Deliverance

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But 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.” (Romans 8:1-11)

The depth of the book of Romans may be evident to us all. The Bible itself is inexhaustible, but I dare say that the book of Romans may be the most inexhaustible book within the Bible. Maybe. Frederic Louis Godet in his commentary on this book calls it “the holy of the holiest of the Word of God.” I don’t know if I want to go that far, but it is an interesting statement nonetheless. In any case, I will attempt to write some thoughts on the center chapter of this book, chapter eight, which is also probably the most uplifting chapter.

What an Insurance!
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
What a statement! What an assurance a Christian can receive. No condemnation from any source, at any time. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already,  because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18). The only prerequisite is believe. If you believe in Jesus Christ you are justified, and you will not be judged. It does not depend on your walk with God (your sanctification), only on your justification. That’s how you become to be in Jesus, by believe, which is through faith, which comes from God as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), which means that you are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body (1Corinthians 12:13).

A Different Law
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh
but according to the Spirit.
” (Romans 8:2-4)
Two laws: “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” and “the law of sin and of death.” Those who are in Christ Jesus have been set free from the law of sin and death. That doesn’t mean that we do not experience this law anymore, but that this law does not have any dominion over us anymore. We can overcome it, but it is a choice, daily, moment by moment. Jesus did not only die for your sins (each and every one of them), which makes sure you kept on being justified regardless, but also for your sin nature, so that you can overcome you nature and live by the law of the Spirit of life. Now that’s incredible! Jesus condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement if the Law might be fulfilled in (not by) us, because if we try by our own efforts we will fail miserably at all times. In a sense a terrifying statement as it means that whatever we, how well meant socially or economically, etc, it is useless if it’s in the flesh and won’t do you any good theologically, unless it is done by the Holy Spirit in you acting through you. It’s religion. A tough concept I think!

All is Futile. We Need the Spirit
For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:5-8)
Now remember that the book of Romans is written to believers, not unbelievers. In verse we read a contrast between two types of believers, the one trying to live for God by human effort (and fails) and the one who is walking by the Spirit. By which one are you led? Your own ability or His ability through you. I must confess that I go by my own ability so many times, too many times. It’s a self-glorification. It’s pride. Yet in that case, my mind is death. Sobering thought. Why do I keep on thinking that I know better than God?? It puzzles me. Yet the flesh (the sin nature) will never be improved. We are powerless to change our nature, therefore we cannot in our own effort please God. We need the Holy Spirit, and if we have the Holy Spirit we must use Him.

Live in the Spirit
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But 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.” (Romans 8:9-11)
Every believer of Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit, and it’s one Spirit (Ephesians 4:4-6). Do not divide Christians in camps of “Spirit-filled” or “non-Spirit-filled.” If a person is not filled with the Holy Spirit, they are not a Christian at all. Simple. The question is if He is in control of your life? I think it’s safe to assume that we all want life in the constant fullness of the Spirit. We are missing out. How do you know that you have the Spirit? Has the Spirit led you to Jesus? Has the Spirit led you to honor Jesus? Is the Spirit leading to become more like Jesus? Is the Spirit at work in your heart, convicting you of sin? If the Spirit is alive in you it’s because of Jesus’ righteousness, not our own! That should keep us humble.

Conclusion
First and foremost, you need to be in Christ. If not, then this chapter or acutually this book doesn’t apply to you. You then need to realize that you have the possibility to live under a different law, the law of the Spirit. Yet this is not possible on our own account, you need the Spirit to do that. Now if you are in Christ the great thing is that He, meaning the Spirit, is also in you, and so you can actually live by the law of the Spirit. What an insurance!