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Romans 8 is another change in the Paul’s letter to the Romans. In chapters 6 and 7 Paul has been discussing the law and how it is of no benefit for our salvation. He went as far to say that depending on the law was sin! But things move on in chapter 8 as Paul give us great comfort in verse 1 by saying that when we are in Christ we are not condemned for our sin. He then goes on to list the great advantage there is in living life int eh Spirit of God.

But a caution comes at the end of the passage as Paul tells us that anyone who follows Christ will face persecution. So the question comes is it all worth it? The answer is yes, because of the eternal hope we have in Christ.

Romans – The heart of the Gospel is a teaching series from Annalong Presbyterian Church. Find out more at

David McCullagh:

Thank you, Alan, for leading us in our service so far this evening. And, uh, it's good to be back, to get back into Romans. And this evening we're looking at Romans 8. And it's another one of those turning points in Paul's letter to the Romans. Um, there's no denying it, chapter 6 and 7 were heavy. Um, they took a lot of work, a lot of thinking energy needed on all our parts to even try and understand what Paul was getting at. But there's almost a moment where we're delighted to get to what Paul says here in, uh, Romans chapter eight. What Paul has wanted to drive home to us, even within those heavy chapters of six and seven, was how useless the law is for salvation and how useful it is to know how to live well as a Christian. Chapter seven was a passage about how the law can be sin if we think that we can depend on it alone for our salvation. And the closing verse of chapter 7 expresses both the sure hope of the gospel and the tension in which believers live out that hope, where Paul wrote, Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. This is the tension we have. We're still human. We're not perfect. There's a long way to go. In fact, there's eternity to go before we will be perfect. And so even though we can give thanks to God through Jesus Christ because he is our savior, we still live under the influence of sin. That means it's hard. That means it's tough to live because we are bombarded day and daily from every side. If you happened to be out on Tuesday morning as I was, simply to drop the children at school, I came home drenched because the rain was coming at me from every side. I couldn't get a dry side any part of me. And that's what sin is like. It whirls around you. But thanks be to God through Jesus Christ. Because even though we face the whirlwind of sin around us. We stand firm on a solid rock of Jesus Christ. And that's what Paul wants to take us to. So as much as he's been focusing on the law and what it means to, to understand the law in its right perspective, he now wants us to look at the solid rock. He wants us to look at the solid foundation. So if we are day and daily influenced by sin around us, then we need to look to a hope that is beyond this world, beyond ourselves, that frees us from this hold that sin has. And freedom is an interesting concept. In our human terms, we see freedom as being able to live as we want without anyone hindering us, or telling us what to do. Ask a teenager, and maybe we should someday get a teenager up here and ask them, what is freedom? Well, they'll tell you, no rules. Able to do what I want to do, go to bed when I want to go to bed, have the friends that I want to have. To them, that's freedom. What does freedom look like me? Freedom for me looks like getting children to bed at seven so I can go to bed at nine. And how it all shifts and changes. But in some parts of the world, freedom is a serious matter. People are not free because they live under regimes that persecute Christians, that persecute other religious groups as well, never mind Christians, where there's a crackdown on how people can live freely and how they can worship. So around the world, freedom is serious. And so, as we study Romans, Paul has spoken already of Christians being free. Because in chapter 6, he has spoken about how Jesus sets us free from sin. The whole reason why Jesus came was to do that. To deliver us from that bondage that sin holds us in. This is not that we won't ever sin again, of course we're going to sin again, but what Christ came to do was to free us from the penalty of sin. In other words, that the consequence of sin is no longer ours because it's been paid for by Christ. Yes, we will still be influenced by it and indeed we may still fall into sin. But the eternal damnation of sin is not ours because of Jesus Christ. And so in chapter 8 Paul begins again speaking of freedom and in verse 2 he tells us for the law of the spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. And so we're now introduced to something new here. The law of the spirit of life and we're going to come back to that in a moment because the heart of this verse is the freedom it begins with from that freedom from the law of sin and death. And this all follows hot on the heels of verse one, which is that wonderful refrain that we sung at the beginning of our service in our opening hymn. There is therefore now no condemnation. For those who are in Christ Jesus, we sung those words. No condemnation, now I dread. Jesus, or fear, Jesus is mine. That's what Paul is getting at. That's what Wesley wrote and why he wrote it. In that hymn. So that we would know what this means for us. And this is this turning point, a great moment of, of really letting out what has been building up in us to know that we don't have the burden of the law. We have Jesus. And because of that, then we fear no condemnation because we are in him. This is such a beautiful truth. It's such a beautiful heart of the gospel. Because in our salvation, we have something wonderful that we call union with Christ. This means we are in him and he in us. So we are no longer condemned for our sin because he has taken the punishment we deserve. And he has proved his authority over death and the grave so that no one can condemn him again either. You see, it was okay for Christ to die. But all the fingers would continue to point at him to say that he died the sinner's death. What needed to happen was the resurrection to prove his authority over it all so that no one could point the finger. He proved that not only could he bear the weight of sin, but he proved that he could face the ultimate penalty of sin, death, by rising again. This is what Jesus has done. This is what union with Christ means. That not only do we die in a way to our sin as he died, But that we will rise again because he rose again and we'll think of that later this evening. But it's all about this idea of freedom. And I don't know if you've ever been in the presence of someone who was once incarcerated and then won their freedom. Even within days, weeks or a year of that. I haven't. Certainly that I'm aware of. But I do recall this very day 34 years ago. It was a Sunday, and I remember going home after church and sitting at the lunch table. Unusually for us, the television was on and my dad, mum and grandparents were focused on events at the opposite end of the world. I didn't know it at the time, but I was witnessing live on TV the event that would change South Africa. It was on that day, 34 years ago, that Nelson Mandela was being released from prison. No one had seen this man in 28 years. And the cameras were darting across the Assemble, people trying to figure out who he was to try and be the first one to get the shot of this anti apartheid leader. He looked old, but he was strong. On Robben Island, for the years that he was there. When he was chipping away with a pick at the white stone, his eyes blinded. He was a man who was weak in many ways, yet came out strong in his freedom. And that evening he had been brought to Cape Town, and the man who had been locked away was now standing at a window in a government building, speaking about his freedom and the freedom for that nation. He was no longer held for crimes that he was charged with. His freedom meant that he was truly free and faced no condemnation because indeed he received a pardon for each and every one. This is the closest that I have ever seen to the sense of freedom. That there is great delight and great joy. Not because someone thinks they've got away with it, but because they know what it means to be free, having spent time locked in a cell. This was simply one man, 34 years ago. So how much more for God's people today should we celebrate and rejoice freedom? When in Christ we are free and no one can condemn us. Oh, Satan will try, and he does try, but he cannot succeed because Jesus has paid it all. And Romans 8 outlines for us in verses 3 to 11 the difference between freedom in the Spirit of God and the constraints of the flesh. So going back to this term in verse 2, the law of the Spirit of life. is not the law as given to Moses. The law of the spirit of life is not to be viewed as a means of self justification. This law is of grace. God's law is given by the spirit and results in life, that is, eternal life. So Paul wants to affirm what is a major positive outcome in this. He reminds us again in verse 5 of what he said in the second half of chapter 7. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. It turns out that we are to be single minded. We are to have our minds on either the flesh or the things of the spirit, but not both. And James agrees with this in James chapter 1 and verse 8 when he describes the one who is mixed minded by saying he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways. We are to have our minds set on the things of the spirit because there are consequences if we don't. And Paul outlines these consequences for us in verses 6 to 8. Where he says, For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law. Indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Do you see the problem here? You can't have your feet in both camps. You can't have one part of you in the flesh and one part of you in the life of the spirit. You're either fully for God, or you're fully for the world. There is no middle ground. And perhaps to help us see this a little bit more, this is what verses 68 tell us. When we have our minds set on the flesh, well it means death. Not just physical death, but eternal death. Our minds set on the flesh, on the pleasures of this world, means hostility, that we will be hostile towards God. And if our minds are on the flesh, it means we cannot submit to God. And it means we cannot please God. But if we have the mind set on the Spirit, then we have life, and we have it in abundance. Life better than ever you could imagine. Because it's life both now and for eternity, but there's also peace. We've talked a lot about this over recent months, what peace means for us. But only a mind set on the Spirit will give us true peace. It means we can go to bed at night and wake up in the morning not worrying. Because we leave it all with the Lord, He grants us a peace that transcends all understanding. It also means that when we have our mind set on the Spirit, there's a willingness to submit to God. That we're willing to recognize His authority. His ruling over our life as our creator and as our maker. But when we have our mind set on the Spirit, it also means we will live to please God. We will want to live his way. And this is what Paul has been trying to tell us about the law. The law has a purpose. The law is good because the law tells us how to live well for God. But it doesn't tell us or by, by living it out, we cannot save ourselves. I hope this, these two columns are helpful for us because at times we do need to see it in black and white. We do need to see this compare and contrast because we are one or the other. We're not both. You can't be. Your mind is either, either set on the flesh or your mind is set on the spirit. If you think you can play both teams, you're wrong. Because you will have hostility to God and you will be completely against Him. And in our minds we might be weighing up, is a mind set on the spirit worth it? We think that a mindset on the flesh allows for more fun, that allows for more freedom. Nothing could be further than the truth. It is only when we trust Jesus and have our mind set on Him that we have true freedom and true life. Which is it for you? Are you fully for God? If you're not, then you lose so much because you will then be fully against Him. I urge you this evening, don't be double minded about this. Don't think you can play God at this game because you can't. Know Christ as your Savior so that you can know the blessings of salvation. And there's that list again if we put it back up. What are the blessings? Well, it's life, it's peace, it's understanding who we submit to. But it also means that we live to please God. That's the blessing of salvation, as Paul gives it here in these three verses. This is what it means to live for him. But Paul moves on, and so do we, to verse 9, to share more, uh, that can be added to our lesson. He begins with an important statement. He says, You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. You see, there is a change when we know and we come to know Christ. We are not like we used to be because a change happens within. The Spirit dwells within us and takes us to what I mentioned earlier. Union with Christ. One of the privileges of serving as your minister is to officiate at weddings. Weddings are not an excuse for a good day out, or as I used to joke with my grandmother, an excuse to buy another hat. They are more serious because what they do before God and before the assembled congregation The man and the woman become one, they form a union together. This isn't just, in a Christian marriage, a physical union, but it's a spiritual union. And the marriage union, and that's why we call it a union, is so that actually the two become one. They become more like each other, rather than being two individuals who happen to live together. That, that's What is so significant about marriage? Well, union with Christ is central and essential to the Christian faith. Unless sinners are united to Jesus, they remain unable to receive any spiritual blessing from God. As we read in Ephesians 1 verse 3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. So union with Christ, as it is central and essential for the faith, can only happen when we know the blessing of Christ within us. That means we must know him. We must know that we are sinners who need to repent, so that we can receive every spiritual blessing. R. C. Sproul continues to explain it like this. By union with Christ, God confers on the elect all the saving benefits Christ merited by his life. Death and resurrection. Union with Christ occurs in the application of Redemption. Union with Christ is something that the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit moves us closer to Christ so that we may be united with him. The Holy Spirit by whom Christ offered himself without spot or blemish to God regenerates believers when he unites us with Christ. By this, what is a vital spiritual union, just as vital as the marriage union is, God brings believers from spiritual death to spiritual life, as we saw in Romans chapter 5 verse 6. Before this act of union, believers remain outside Christ and are dead in sin and trespasses like the rest of fallen humanity. And it's verse 10 that helpfully summarizes the form, uh, the form that that life in the spirit of Christ takes. Because verse 10 tells us that Christ is in you, meaning believers have faith in Christ like Abraham had faith in God. And therefore Christ is real in our lives and unites us with others in the church as well as with himself. Christian fellowship is not just shared religious individuality, though faith is intensely per, uh, personal, but it's also a common identity generated by Christ's lordship and our union with him and his headship as he shapes us into a unity with him and with each other. You see, this is what it means to be transformed. It means that in Christ we are union with him, and union with each other. We have fellowship with the other, and the purpose for all of this is revealed to us in verse 11. Because we are to be made ready for eternity. This is ultimately where the journey of faith leads. When we have the Spirit in us, through faith in Jesus Christ, then we too, like Christ, and again, because of our union with him, we too will be raised. Our mortal bodies that are born in sin and shaped by it will not dictate our eternal destination. It is life in the Spirit that will take us home because it is the safe Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead. And isn't that a wonderful truth to behold and to hold on to? Because this is the hope that we have. It's not ill founded. It is our assurance. As Paul tells us in first Corinthians 15, verses 20 to 23, but in fact Christ has been raised from the dead. The first fruits of those who have fallen asleep for us by a man came death by a man has come. Also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so Christ, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order, Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to him. This is wonderful assurance that talks about Christ's authority over death, so that we need not fear the grave. Because in union with him as he rose, so will we. But we're not there yet. Our resurrection will come in due course. And so in verses 12 to 17, Paul directs about how we are to live now. And in verse 12, he says that we are debtors. Paul, however, unhelpfully doesn't specify how we are debtors or what debt, or what our debt might be. But we owe nothing to the flesh. That's what he tells us. Because for Paul, the flesh represents sin globally. So that the deeds of the flesh include hatred and envy as well as drunkenness. But it's actually his writings in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 3 that help us understand what this debt is. Because in that passage Paul reminds us that to approach God on the basis of obedience to the law alone means to be a debtor, to keeping the whole law perfectly. Because of Christ's resurrection, Christians are not mired in this hopeless predicament, which would doom them to live according to the flesh. As Paul has said again and again and stressed, the flesh is no match for sin or the law. But in fact combines with them to assure defeat and condemnation for all who pursue that route by completely disregarding the gospel and its truth. So those in Christ, as Philippians 3, verse 3 says, put no confidence in the flesh. And verse 13 explains why. Because for if you live according to the flesh, you will die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. And once again we are confronted with the stark reality of life and death. The way of the flesh can never lead to life but the spirit leads to life in a position that is of not of our own making. I've told you in the past of my circumstances of being a McCullough. I wasn't born a McCullough. I don't know to whom I was born, but the McCullough family took me as their own. They gave me their name and without any form of distinction treated me as a birth son. This is what it means to know the truth of the Gospel. To live according to the Spirit. Because Paul in verses 14 to 15 tells us about this wonderful thing that union with Christ includes, which is adoption into a family. Something that I have known and indeed I cherish. You see, it is through the Spirit of God that we are adopted into the family of God so that we can call God our Father. And it's wonderful there that Paul says those words, Abba Father. The most personal, special, and loving words that we can ever say of God. And the evidence is, that we're part of this family, that we live by the spirit, so that we live as the children of God. And this leads us back to verse 11, as this section concludes with our inheritance, an inheritance that Peter tells us will never perish, will never spoil, and will never fade because it's kept in heaven for us. But notice how verse 17 finishes. And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. So perhaps as we finish off this passage, there's a little bit of something that doesn't sit well with us. Because Paul knows himself, he's now an elderly man writing this letter, that we will suffer for the name that we have if we are Christians. Christians will be persecuted because the world is naturally against the things of the Kingdom of God. But the suffering is worth it because this is what Jesus taught in Matthew 5 and verse 10 in the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. See what these first 17 verses are doing, are pointing us to that kingdom. We have no condemnation, that's how he began. We do not fear the evil one accusing us. Because Jesus has done it all. He's the one who was born so that we can walk out free. And declare freedom. But as we do, we must be mindful that we have to live in the spirit. Freedom in Christ means we live his way. We can't have a foot in the flesh. We can't. We simply can't. Because if we do, then there's truly no hope. It is only in Christ that we can know that sure and certain hope of heaven and that kingdom. that has been made ready for us. And this is how we finish tonight. Living life in the Spirit is blessed. It brings us union with Christ and adoption into the family of God. This life in the Spirit assures us of a kingdom that is ours, even when we face the hardest moments in life. Why would you want anything else? Let me ask you, are you adopted into the family of God tonight? Can you cry out, Abba, Father? Do you know the blessings of salvation? Life eternal? Peace? Knowing to whom is over authority over us? Is that who you are, adopted, taking on the name of God? Do you know this for certain tonight? Because there is so much blessing in this family. And so I ask you, will you know its peace and its unity as you live in the spirit of God? Will you live by that spirit and be attentive to that spirit? Will you allow God to work in your life in ways that you can't even imagine? Because it is truly for our good. And for his great glory. There's a series of cassettes, for those of you who remember what cassettes are, in our house called Kids Praise. And one of the Kids Praise songs I remember is entitled Welcome to the Family. And a church that I used to attend in England, they used to sing this regularly whenever new members would come. Welcome to the family, we're glad that you have come to share your life with us. I've often wondered about should we sing it here. I don't know. Jury's out. Might be too twee, but the sentiment is the same. The sentiment is whenever we come in union with Christ, to live with Him, we are truly welcomed in the family. Not just an eternal family, but a family that is living here and now within these very walls. This is a family you are welcome to. This is a family that needs each other. And by the grace of God, this is a family that will know peace. And we'll know unity. May Christ be each of ours this night as we seek him, as we serve him, and as we love him more. Let's pray. Our Father God, we thank you for the heart of the gospel that calls us to be your own, to be adopted into your family. So may we live as people who are. In our heart of hearts, may we answer these questions honestly and deeply so that we can be right with you and live well as your family. Father, heaven is there, heaven is ours, but until you take us home, we live together. So may we know our union with Christ overflowing into union with each other, that unity of spirit and purpose and worship. So, Father, may we respond well to your word this evening. In Jesus name. Amen.

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