The Spirit Filled Life (Pt. 1)

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Romans 8:1–11 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power* of the life-giving Spirit has freed you* from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.* So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

 

Romans 8:1 is one of the most beloved verses in the Bible.  I think because there is so much negativity in modern expressions of faith, this verse comes as a breath of fresh air.  It expresses the freeing truth of God’s grace:  “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  In Ch. 8, Paul goes on to express the assurance of salvation that comes through the Spirit-filled life.

Why are those who are in Christ Jesus not condemned?  Because the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  (v. 2)  The Holy Spirit is the One who frees us from the bondage of the law of sin that leads to death.

The Law of Moses could not save, as Paul points out in ch. 7.  The Law could only point out our sin and show us how sinful we are really.   If it were possible for us to be saved through obedience to the Law, then we should all still be Jews and following the Law.  There would have been no need for God to send Jesus Christ in a body like the bodies that we sinners have.

The fact that the Son of God came as a human being is significant.  It expresses how the mission of God (missio dei) works.  God sent his Son in the flesh.  There is a sending:  God sent the Son of God.   And there is a form of ministry:  in the flesh.   (John 1:14)  So our ministry should reflect God’s ministry.  We are sent to the people to whom we minister.  And we should minister with them, among them, as one of them.  And the Son of God gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  (Rom. 8:3)  So also in our ministry, there must be a dying to self.  Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  Taking up one’s cross implies a dying to self – sacrificial living.

Paul’s explains how the atonement works in vv. 3, 4.  First, he says that through Christ’s sacrificial death, God ended sin’s control over us (v. 3)  Secondly, he says that God “did this so that the requirements of the law would be fully satisfied for us.”  (v. 4)  Paul’s explanation here suggests a theory of the atonement.  He introduces the concept of satisfaction in these verses.

How does satisfaction work?  In this case, he may be suggesting that by setting us free from the law of sin and death, Christ enables us to please God, and so fulfill the true intention of the law:  to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  Jesus said that the entire Law and the Prophets (that is, the entire OT) is encapsulated in these two verses.

As a result of Christ’s saving work, we “no longer follow our sinful nature, but instead follow the Spirit.”  (v. 4)  The final part of v. 4 introduces the subject of the Spirit-filled life, which will continue through Rom. 8:1-30.

 

 

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