“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.) And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.”
Romans 8:9-11 NLT
Through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, who resides in all who have truly been born again, we have been set free from sins power, which is death (see I Corinthians 15:56). As we have said previously, death to us is cessation of natural, human life. Death to God is separation from Him spiritually. Spiritual death is removed in Christ. Physical death is still a part of our natural, human experience because of sin. However, just like Jesus resurrected from death, the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. Therefore, even though physical death comes, we live on in eternity and, one day, at the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we will experience physical resurrection. (See John 11:25-26; I Corinthians 5:1,6,8; 15:51-58; I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I John 3:1-3).
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God."
Romans 8:5-8 NLT
Our sinful nature wants to control our thinking and, thus, control our actions. If we choose to obey our fleshly desires we will reap death as its ultimate end.
However, if we truly have the Holy Spirit living inside us, we can listen to His direction concerning our decisions. We can talk about being a true follower of Jesus but the evidence is in our submission to the Holy Spirit who resides inside those who truly know Jesus. As we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our steps, we can be led by Him into the ways of righteousness. If we choose to listen to our selfish, sinful nature we will be lead down the path of destruction. Sin always has a price. It takes us further than we intended to go, makes us stay longer than we wanted to stay, and makes us pay more than we wanted to pay. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 both say “There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death." NLT.
Which way will you choose?
“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.”
Romans 8:1-4 NASB
Thank God!!! Thank God!!! Thank God!!!
Jesus has removed the judgment that was upon us. As born again believers in Jesus Christ, the wrath of God toward our sin is gone. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."” John 3:36 NASB.
The law of God establishes the holiness of God. Because we are sinners by nature, we are incapable of keeping the laws requirements. Death is the penalty for sin. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NASB
Spiritual death came immediately to Adam and Eve. Physical death came eventually. Death by God's definition is separation from Him. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2:1 NASB
Since the law was given to show us the holiness of God and to, correspondingly, reveal our sin, we are left hopeless in our ability to save ourselves. That is why Jesus came. He lived the sinless, perfect life and was thereby qualified to be the substitutionary sacrifice for our sin. Jesus is the only man who ever lived in full display of God's holiness. He was God in human flesh. He died in our place. He overcame the power, penalty, and practice of sin. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB
Through Him, and Him alone, can we be free. As we trust Him to be our Savior, we then become recipients of His Holy Spirit. Only in the power of the Holy Spirit can we walk in newness of life.
“I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”
Romans 7:21-25 NLT
All of us are susceptible to the natural tendencies of our fallen nature. We all battle against the desire to do wrong although our inward man knows better. Robert Robinson, author of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing", penned these words in 1758: "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I Love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it, Seal it for thy courts above."
May we pray the same today.
Here is my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for your courts above." Have my whole life, Lord Jesus!!
“So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”
Romans 7:14-20 NLT
Ever had this struggle? I know I have! The natural man is sinful by inheritance. We don't have to learn to sin. We must learn how to submit to the Holy Spirit so we can bring the sinful nature into subjection. Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we overcome the flesh (natural man) and its desires. The struggle is real and it can get intense. We can even go through seasons where we think the struggle has faded and perhaps behind us. Then, out of nowhere, WHAM! Satan hits us with an unexpected attack. During the season of comfort, the enemy (Satan) sets us up for his next strike. He allows us to get complacent and makes his move. Satan is a masterful deceiver. He has been doing this since Genesis 3:1 - “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made..." KJV. Subtil in this verse means clever. Without question, the enemy is a cunning foe. In John 10:10 we are told “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:..." KJV. Also, in I Peter 5:8 we read “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” NLT
There is a constant warfare going on in the heavenly realm that affects us here in the natural. We MUST recognize our need to lay down our feeble attempts to win this battle in the flesh. We cannot win it that way. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 spells this out for us - “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ". NASB.
We know, then, that this battle will continue. We know what is right. We also know what is wrong. For the born again believer, our salvation is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Our sanctification is in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. The only way to overcome is in the power of God. Jesus came to display and dispense that power. When Satan knocks at your door, let Jesus answer!
“Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.” But sin used this command to arouse all kinds of covetous desires within me! If there were no law, sin would not have that power. At one time I lived without understanding the law. But when I learned the command not to covet, for instance, the power of sin came to life, and I died. So I discovered that the law’s commands, which were supposed to bring life, brought spiritual death instead. Sin took advantage of those commands and deceived me; it used the commands to kill me. But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good. But how can that be? Did the law, which is good, cause my death? Of course not! Sin used what was good to bring about my condemnation to death. So we can see how terrible sin really is. It uses God’s good commands for its own evil purposes.”
Romans 7:7-13 NLT
God's commandments are not a burden, rather, they are a blessing. I John 5:3 says “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.” NLT. God, in His mercy, gave us laws (standards) to live by. It wasn't because He was restraining us from living life to its fullest potential. To the contrary, He is the author of life and knows full well the potential of life. The problem is sin. Because of the fall of man to sin, we all now have, by inheritance, a sinful, corrupt, and perverted nature. Left to ourselves, we would self destruct. Only a foolish man would believe otherwise. God's commands were given to us to set the boundaries for wholesome, productive living. The command gives us the standard to see where God wants us to be and also to see where we are in our current state. As we look upon the commandments, we see our failure in meeting its standard. It shows us our transgression (violation). It is not meant to beat us over the head in abuse. It is meant to show us our fallen condition. Here in today's passage, Paul uses the commandment "You must not covet" as a case in point. This command is found in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21 as the last of the Decalogue (10 commandments). We wouldn't know that coveting is wrong if we didn't have the standard set forth in these commands.
Now, we must not look at the command as a kill joy but, rather look at it as a restraint from evil. The law of God isn't evil. Sin is evil. Our only problem is that we see how high God's holy standard is and how far down we are in sin. This gives us the proper perspective of life. We have all sinned (Romans 3:23). Sin is defined as missing God's intended standard. So, how do we reach that standard? We turn to Jesus, the only human (God who took on human flesh) who ever lived that was perfect and holy. His substitutionary sacrifice enables us to come to God acceptably. Once we have acknowledged our sin and turned from it in repentance, and ask for forgiveness through Jesus Christ, we are placed in right standing with God.
Now that we are His adopted sons and daughters, we are to represent Him in the most holy fashion! Not as religious Pharisees, but in our character and conduct. We will want to please our Father. Jesus didn't come to set us free to sin. He came to set us free from sin!!!
“Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:19-23 NLT
Thank God we are no longer slaves to sin! We are delivered! Now we are slaves to Jesus. The interesting thing about serving Christ is that we do it out of our desire to please Him because we love Him. In the Old Testament, when a slave was set free, he could choose to stay with his master and continue serving him. This was called a bondservant. A bondservant would no longer be eligible to have his own freedom. He would be under his master for the rest of his life. (see Exodus 21:1-6). Bondservant, by Greek definition, is one who is subservient to, and entirely at the disposal of, his master.
Jesus is the one who set us free and yet we, as bondservants, desire to stay with Him as our master because we love Him and we are completely devoted to serving His Kingdom. Everything we have is now His by our own submission to Him as Lord. He, then, has all authority over us for eternity.
The beauty of this mystery is that when we become willing slaves of Jesus, we are truly living in freedom (see Galatians 5:1). He keeps us secure and safe from the bondage of sin and its consequences. Otherwise, we only suppose ourselves to be free to do our own thing. When we choose to do things our way, we are inviting death and destruction into our life. Jesus wants us to trust Him as owner of our lives and do as He says. The result is a blessed life and eternal life. In eternity, we will be rewarded for our service to Him. Live to live again!
“Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.”
Romans 6:15-18 NLT
Sin once held us captive and made us slaves to unrighteousness. Now we are redeemed (purchased, bought) by the blood of Jesus. We are free from the bondage of our former nature. We are now free to live as children of righteousness. Through the name of Jesus we now have authority to live righteously. As Philippians 4:13 states “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” KJV
Trust Jesus to help you overcome any sinful desire. Although we are new in Him, we are still living in a sinful world. Temptation will knock and we must choose to let Jesus answer the door. We are spiritually brand new, but our bodies are still under the curse of what sin has done to our world. The only way to overcome is through the power of the Holy Spirit! We must choose to obey Him rather than our corrupt, human tendencies. Ask Jesus to be Lord of all you think, say, and do. Then, let the Holy Spirit train your mind, will, and emotions to submit to righteous choices. We are saved by Jesus. We live righteously as we submit to the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:16). What choice will you make today?
“Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
Romans 6:12-14 NLT
How many people have used the reality of God's grace to condone their sinful practices? Far too many! Grace is often used as a license to do as someone pleases without the conviction of the price that was paid to give us this grace. Grace is defined as "unmerited favor". We cannot achieve it. We must receive it. It is a gift from Almighty God! How we respond to this amazing gift indicates our understanding and value of it. Grace was given to free us from the power of sin, not to give us license to commit sin. Let me site an example:
A man has a faithful, kind, and gracious wife that loves him unconditionally. Does that give him the right to commit adultery and have multiple relationships with other women? Of course not. Her love is not a permission slip for him to do as he pleases, rather it is, and should be, a motivating factor for his loving, faithful response.
How have you taken advantage of God's Amazing Grace?
Rev. Curtis Norris